If you know you've not necessarily got the hottest product in the release schedule, a good idea is to pin an affordable price tag on it and hope the public nod appreciatively at your generosity. This is how Section 8: Prejudice is being marketed and, despite entering the cut-throat arena that is the first-person shooter marketplace, it's bargain price of just under a tenner should bring more players to its multiplayer-focused table than would otherwise have bothered with it.
Because let's face it, a quick glance at the screenshots and perhaps a read of the blurb won't intrigue the majority, especially when the visuals are lacklustre to say the least and the gameplay looks, on the surface, to be just like any old Halo-esque blaster. And, also, nobody cared about the first Section 8 game, so why should they care about this one?
Well, it's got more bang for its proverbial space buck now, certainly. There are eight offline missions telling an utterly generic story and then there are two multiplayer modes with a big “Coming soon!” section in the main menu promising more delights in the future. Like the original Section 8, multiplayer is the focus, with the single player essentially acting as a training tool to get you ready for the online challenges ahead. One with horribly wooden voice acting too.
However, that's a slightly unfair a summary this time out. While generic, the single player mode is juicier, a more substantial meal than its forebear. Concentrate on killing faceless armoured enemies with the reasonable selection of weapons, explosives, vehicles and deployable turrets, ignore the plot and while you won't be wowed by the experience, you'll at least be compelled to finish the campaign.
Unless, of course, your game happens to crash like it did for us, and upon reloading you discover that your saved game has been wiped from existence, forcing a restart of the campaign. Even for a classic title, this would wreck a player's experience. For a game like Prejudice, it's even more catastrophic an event.
The merits of forcing players to rely on a flaky auto-save system aside, you'll soon be moving onto the two multiplayer modes. The first is Swarm, which essentially sees you repelling wave after wave of increasingly tough faceless armoured enemies attempt to breach your defences and complete a map-related objective, such as hacking a power core or whatever.
Up to four players can attempt to survive as a team against the waves, with all the deployables and weapons from the single player available. You can choose to pick a predefined character class or create a custom one, selecting which primary and secondary weapons you can carry, plus allocating a set number of ability points to different categories that can boost how much damage your weapons do or how long your jet pack's charge lasts for.
The jet pack, as it is in most games, is the best thing about Section 8: Prejudice. Not only does it work very well in all contexts, providing an extra dimension to the play, it's indicative that despite the relatively low budget environs and a lack of ingenuity in the game world and storyline, there are slivers of originality that help set the game apart from its peers.
While nothing here hasn't been seen before, combining jet packs with deployable hover bikes, and stomping mechs, plus how you can choose to spawn anywhere and be dropped into the battle from orbit, keeps things interesting for far longer than you'd expect. Without these additions, the game would be monumentally dull and average, but with them, things improve from that to the giddy heights of “it's not too bad, really.” The second multiplayer mode is Conquest, which is a team-based control point capturing affair, with 32 players competing in a Battlefield-style conflict.
If it was full price, Section 8: Prejudice would get a severe doing, but for ten quid straight off the bat, it's deserving of some leniency. The single player, if you don't get your saved game wiped, is standard, undemanding and fairly unrewarding fare, while the multiplayer is better, with the jet packs and deployables adding an edge to the otherwise generic big-armour-suit-men combat.
With the promise of new online modes to come in the near future, you could do worse than invest in Prejudice. Although if you didn't, it's not as if you'd actually be missing out on much bar the jet packs.
- Jetpacks! Deployables! Orbital spawning!
- Very cheap for what it offers
- Decent class customisation options in all modes
- Weak visuals
- Will anyone actually play it this time?
- Single player campaign is unimpressive
The Short Version: A budget shooter with budget production values, but with more appeal than you might think, specifically in multiplayer. The jet packs and deployables pull it out of the mire, but will people actually buy into it this time after the relative failure of the first game?