Sir Brizz

When you first fire up Section 8, you may be overcome with a desire to complete the single player portion of the game in its entirety before you will be willing to take the game online. Let me be the first to tell you, don't bother. The single player portion of the game will help you learn the ropes of completing missions and the bot AI, but it won't help you any further than that. Jump into the multiplayer and figure out how the game works, it will be better for you that way.

While not much has changed from the closed and public betas of the game, most notably Games for Windows Live has been added to the mix. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to reduce the quality of getting in to a game or how games play out. In fact, the existance of GFWL is almost unnoticeable as it resides in the background and doesn't seem to do much more than track your stats and achievements.

If you haven't read or seen anything about the game, that's alright. The gameplay is solid and plays out much like any other team-based tactical shooter of the last few years, with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure and to make the game more interesting than just "run to point A, stand still for ten seconds. run to point B, stand still for ten seconds." Entertainment value is found here by the dozens, as there are roles for just about anyone to play. Finding a hiding spot and sniping? Check. Running in guns blazing? Check. Sneaking around and stabbing people in the back? Check, Check! Still, Section 8 is a game that must be experienced more than viewed. The videos floating around out there of gameplay from any source mostly don't give you the right idea of what the game will be about, and the lack of a demo (for PC; there is a demo for Xbox 360) means that people who do want to give it a try before they pull the trigger simply won't be able to. The game is still not without issues, however. The machine gun, for example, is probably the most widely used because at medium range you can take down just about anyone with less than half of a clip. This makes other weapons in the game almost pointless as they don't kill fast enough in most cases and, due to the lack of much depth in terms of combat skill (which comes down to the sometimes annoying lock-on ability, or steadiness of your hand), the end result is you feel like you are dying much more often than you deserve. In fact, the one on one combat in Section 8 is probably one of the things you will learn to hate quickly. Much of the time your success depends on getting the drop on someone with your lock on charged up and has little to do with your actual combat skill.

Graphically, there are much better games out there. Despite the fact that the game uses UE3, in most areas it looks like it could be UE2. But the enormous size of levels and the character and vehicle models often prove that theory wrong. Additionally, the game supports 64 players in a single server (and the maps grow to accommodate that) and having 64 Marcus Fenix' running around would probably drain your framerate faster than any other sole thing in this game possibly could. Still, the high player count server often feel very chaotic and strategy doesn't come in to play nearly as much when you have people standing on practically every square inch of some maps. The textures are not going to blow you away, and the character models all look exactly the same making it nearly impossible to determine from a distance whether someone is on your team or not.

In terms of netcode stability and accuracy, the game feel very good. Again, the high player count servers tend to start feeling a little laggy and like none of your shots are hitting (even though they often are) so it still doesn't do many favors for the game itself. On lower player count servers the netcode feels very tight and shots connect easily. The worst offender for shots not connecting is, sadly, the tank. Shooting someone in the face with a tank shell, even on servers with hardly any players, almost never results in that person's death, nor their health indicators changing whatsoever. This makes playing with the tank often feel like a chore as you end up having to shoot the same person several times to get the desired result.

Overall Section 8 is a fun game. You probably won't be comparing it to Batman or Mirror's Edge or Mass Effect or any of the other great UE3 games that have come out, but you probably will find yourself firing it up for an hour or so of plain old fun consistently. If you're into team-based games like Battlefield, XMP or any of their contemporaries, this is a must buy. If you hate those games, you may want to avoid this one.