We gamers are a spoiled bunch. Nearly every month there’s at least one title promising the triple-A, multi-million dollar cinematic experience that will surpass all media that came before in sales and enjoyment. We are outraged when detractors dare say our pastime cannot be considered “art” and woe betide any developer who ships late or with zero-day patches. In the middle of this clamor, amongst gargantuan publishers pushing their latest opus, sits Section 8: Prejudice, quietly reminding us that we’re here to, above all, have some fun.
Sequel to an undersold and overlooked original, Section 8: Prejudice places you once more in the boots of… some guy. I’m going to have to be honest and say right now that, if you’re buying this game for the story, you’re doing it wrong. Two minutes into the campaign intro I found myself relentlessly hammering the escape key, deciding that the macho posturing and details of a generic threat weren’t important enough to keep my finger off the trigger for one second longer.
Prejudice is a purebred multiplayer experience. Contrary to the recent disappointing trend of epic single player titles tacking on a multiplayer mode and calling it innovation, this is a game to jump in and learn by the seat of your pants, campaign be damned. I did struggle through a few missions to learn the ropes but, beyond learning how to crouch and that my backpack had jets in it, there wasn’t much to offer from following Space Marine Dude’s journey from grizzled veteran to savior of the human race. Or something.
Released from my bot-filled prison, I dove into the full online experience only to emerge hours later, blinking happily in the morning light. Section 8: Prejudice takes the traditional mass multiplayer experience and adds its own unique elements, resulting in an engrossing and original experience every time.
The game currently has two modes (with more to be unlocked), both team based. Swarm pits you against waves of oncoming enemies, forcing you to manage your ammo and keep your wits about you as you defend a lone control point in your squad of four. Conquest is Prejudice’s bread and butter, however, throwing 32 players into a huge team deathmatch with additional sub-objectives to complete in order to gain domination of the expansive maps on offer.
Not content with requiring you to obliterate your fellow man, Section 8: Prejudice demands that you learn to function as a member of a team. Your team has a mission to fulfill beyond reducing the enemy to a smooth paste. Objectives include conquering control points, executing enemy VIPs, gathering intel and causing general mayhem for your opponents. These objectives are updated on the fly, making every game different and encouraging a constant awareness of your team’s situation as you dodge oncoming fire. It’s a thrilling experience that still manages to retain the lighthearted joy that can only come from letting rip with a ridiculously big rocket launcher.
It’s this wonderfully varied gameplay that masks Section 8: Prejudice’s shortcomings. In the face of the manic, ever-evolving matchups, the simple visuals and generic soundtrack fade away into insignificance. For each cut corner is a perfectly justified extravagance. Spawn points aren’t static, for example, but a dynamic aspect of the gameplay as you choose where to appear and are dropped from 15,000 feet onto your target, crashing down on top of them.
One area that definitely needs work, unfortunately, is vehicle combat. After completing enough objectives or racking up a decent number of kills, you can afford to drop a wide selection of mounted turrets, sensor arrays, supply depots or working vehicles. Steering these hunks of metal and bombs is sluggish and feels nothing like the zippy soldiers, able to dash and boost their way over any terrain.
Making up for these issues is the ease with which you can find a game and jump straight into the action. Borrowing from its higher-budget cousins such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, you enter each round with a fully customizable loadout, allowing you to be the soldier you want to be. Rough classes are suggested but it’s easy to stock up on your favourite guns, tools and grenades and unleash hell in a matter of moments. Upgrades unlock as you level up, improving your kit and providing an armory worthy of your skills.
One minor item to note is that the game does, for some inexplicable reason, default to battles populated by bots unless you disable the option before searching for a game. For a good hour I reveled in the belief that I was a sudden FPS prodigy, destroying slow-witted players with very similar looking names, all the while chatting merrily and throwing out my best banter. It never occurred to me that no one was talking back…
For £10, Section 8: Prejudice is an essential purchase. It may not move you to tears with its challenging script, nor will it enthrall you with jaw-dropping visuals. Provided you can look past a few of its minor issues, what it will do is pull you back in over and over again as you faithfully chant the mantra: “just one more round”.
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