It's easy to dismiss sci-fi first-person shooter Section 8. It looks dated, it's utterly generic, it's initially bemusing and you won't find many worse single-player campaigns. But in many ways this TimeGate Studios-developed shooter gets away with it, because with Section 8, it's all about the multiplayer.
From a graphical perspective the game looks like a last gen Halo rip-off, although the gameplay is really rather different once you get into it. The focus is on 32-player Conquest, the one and only game mode. Across large, open maps, two factions wage war - Section 8 and the Arm of Orion. Each team competes to complete objectives and score victory points. When one team earns enough points to meet the victory point goal, they win. Simples.
Those objectives are many and varied, and are Section 8's greatest strength. You might fancy capturing control points, in which case you'll score victory points. Or you might fancy a spot of player killing, in which case you'll score victory points. Then you might dip your power suit armoured toe in a dynamic combat mission, in which case you'll score victory points. Whatever your choice, you'll always be contributing, you'll always feel you're making a difference. In the current Halo/CoD-obsessed world, this is rare and welcome.
DCMs, as they're called, occur periodically during Conquest and are activated through the accumulation of Feat Points. Once an entire team's got enough, a DCM will start. There are six in total - you might be escorting a commando one second, protecting a VIP the next, then rushing off to somewhere else on the map to deploy and protect an outpost. If you're on the opposing side, you'll need to stop their successful completion. It's the DCMs that rekindle memories of Killzone 2's excellent online multiplayer, and ensure Section 8 rarely gets boring.
Section 8's biggest problem, however, is that most won't stick around long enough to get under the skin of the game. There are just too many turn-offs. If the awful graphics don't turn you off, then the generic design and clichéd space marine story will. It's a shame, because Section 8 has its moments, especially when you're on a team willing to work together and communicate.
Spawning involves Orbital Burn-In, essentially sky diving onto the battlefield from 15,000 feet. You first pick an area of the map to land on and then hit the action button (A on the Xbox 360 controller - the version tested). Then you're sent spiralling to earth. It's a clever idea - death doesn't mean a minute's trek towards the action, and even if anti air guns force you to land away from your target, the Overdrive sprint mechanic, which kicks in after sprinting for a few seconds, helps cover the ground in the blink of an eye. Burn-In can even be a weapon. You're able to hit the brakes at the last second and slowly adjust your landing - aiming for enemy heads is quite the thrill. Section 8's interesting in that you don't only have to watch your back, but watch the skies, too.