Section 8 Preview
We all know the first-person shooter is evidently attempting to corner the video game market, and the powerful new consoles are only furthering the popularity of this widespread genre. However, it's up to the developers to produce something innovative within that genre, and we're hoping that TimeGate is prepared to give the world a truly unique FPS. It's called Section 8, and it's set in a futuristic setting that boasts a massive world we can explore, a compelling storyline, and an engaging combat mechanic that goes beyond the same ol' same Ďol. This isn't just another Unreal Tournament and even though we'll have familiar gameplay - IGN mentioned Capture Points, for example - Section 8 should implement a variety of new elements that will separate it from the rest of the FPS pack. Essentially, the basics behind Capture Points are simple: the more you hold, the bigger advantage you'll have over any given battlefield. But what about the rest? All that potentially revolutionary stuff?
First up, let's start with the story. As you might expect, there are two sides to every conflict and this one has the Arm of Orion on one side and EDF on the other. The Arm of Orion can be considered the rebels in this scenario, but they're like super ultra-dramatic rebels who aren't interested in subtlety. Now, Section 8 is the eighth armored infantry division of EDF, who has been called in to quell the Orion uprising. Evidently, the developers say we're not facing a full-scale galactic war; rather, we're looking at a spike in underworld activity, and if you don't shove it down now, it could spread. We don't know about you, but we're already starting to formulate a theory about the plot: perhaps in its investigation into the Arm of Orion, Section 8 will discover that they're not the bloodthirsty animals the EDF makes them out to be, and the government may be hiding something big. In other words, if our theory is true, we may be controlling a character that switches sides at some point during the battle, which wouldn't be an entirely alien environment. But then again, that's just a theory, and we like the idea of a solid storyline, regardless of the outcome. Thing is, we dislike it when character development and script is ignored completely...too many FPSs have done that in the past, and it's growing tiresome. We need a change!
Well, how's about some vehicles? Remember back when the likes of System Shock and Red Faction first introduced vehicles into the first-person shooter group? They just plain kicked ass, even though they've become more of a mainstay in most FPSs these days. You can expect plenty of cool vehicles in Section 8, and you'll earn them in much the same way you'll earn other items and equipment: gathering money. As you dispatch enemy after enemy, your financial stability will increase, and with those added funds, you can get ally ships to drop things like health packs and even crazy vehicles like tanks! At this point, it's fun to speculate...what else might be falling from the sky in the form of assistance? And how do we go about buying these things? We keep thinking about Mercenaries, which had you call in the order from anywhere on the map, and then the cavalry came and dropped your requested item(s) in an open spot via helicopter. Given the sheer size of the map in Section 8, we'd love to start requesting all kinds of stuff, at all times.
Next up is the very unique respawning system found in the game. In most FPSs (or in most games, in fact), you will magically respawn at the last checkpoint after dying in the field of battle. Here, the developers are trying out a brand new mechanic called "burning in," which requires that you wait a bit after succumbing to a hail of bullets; long enough for a support ship to appear and help you out. These things are orbiting the planet all the time, which means you shouldn't have to wait long, but still...that's a new take on the whole resurrection process, isn't it? By the way, when you reenter the battleground, you'll be dispatched from one of the aforementioned ships in mid-air, and you'll fly towards the ground far below. Furthermore, you'll have to time a burst from your jetpack just before impact so your shields don't suffer a massive blow, which could - theoretically - turn out to be a major issue. The only question we have is: how far away from the previous point of death will we be? In other words, if we die and have to "burn in," will we have to hotfoot it back to the latest checkpoint when we're back on the field? Just wondering...
Lastly, we will find classes in this game, so you will be able to choose the job that best suits your play style. The actual classes haven't been revealed, but it seems that each will fall into the support, sniper and all-out assault categories, and each will have their own set of skills and abilities, along with equipment. This leaves a lot of options open, and it should be a ton of fun to experiment with the different classes throughout our adventure! Section 8 isn't due out for a while (Q3 2009 is the tentative release estimate), but by then, we'll probably be in dire need of a fresh new take on the first-person shooter genre. With everything we've learned so far, we do have confidence that TimeGate is headed in the right direction to achieve that goal...all that's left is to implement a great control scheme and top-notch gameplay overall. We're sure it can be done!
3/13/2008 Ben Dutka