Section 8 MP Beta Impressions
Section 8 multiplayer is Tribes like with jetpacks, deployables and open terrain maps. It also includes ranking and customised loadouts.
The Section 8 PC beta does indeed compare well to Tribes in many respects and it has some interesting changes that could see it being more than just another failed multiplayer game tacked onto a single player game. The gameplay is relatively fast and there are some good teamwork elements and character progression – both during a game and over your career. Only two maps are present in the beta, but they are open and fairly large with a number of different player classes that can provide support or offensive power to your team. Players can sprint and use jetpacks for a short time adding more dimensionality to the battles. The combat seems fairly enjoyable with some of the one on one battles lasting longer than usual first person shooters.
The first thing you will notice about Section 8 is how you enter the battlefield, after choosing your loadout you will be dropped via a pod to the combat area, similar to BF2142, in a place of your choosing or next to your squad. This may be in the middle of nowhere or just outside a base. There is a slight trick pulling off a good landing, you need to brake at the right time – a technique mastered after a few rounds. Captured bases will have AA turrets that will prevent successful landing in that area. What this does appear to do is keep the action around these capture points, pods will spawn in around the bases more often than not. Once inside an enemy base a capture point will have to be hacked to take control of the resources. Once hacked you will briefly need to ensure no enemies defuse it. Holding these points will give your team points and help you towards victory. Defending your bases once captured seems to more exciting than similar games due to the close proximity of the spawn pods dropping nearby. In this case it’s more like BF2142 with a spawn beacon being constantly available near the front line. The essential principle is people will want to get in amongst the action, unless perhaps you choose the sniper class and set yourself in some isolated section of the map.
Throughout the game you will earn money towards accessing deployables, these can range from supply depots, mini turrets and power armour. The turrets aren’t incredibly powerful even though they look quite imposing, but they are a nice little way to assist your team if you have the resources. The supply depot lets you change loadouts and automatically repairs nearby teammates and armor. The power armour though basically lets you dominate for a short while. Small arms fire from regular units doesn’t doo much damage to it, only rocket launchers will put a dent into these guys. Basically you call for a deployment and they drop the armour, and you can get in and out just like a vehicle. The power armour is imposing but most of all its incredibly powerful against infantry. This is due to its miniguns and the ability to get up close and melee the enemy. Once up close you can basically perform a finishing move to grab the enemy for an instant kill, very handy in indoor areas. Power armours can’t use jetpacks and are quite slow so they have restricted manoeuvrability. There are several deployables that are unavailable during the beta, the tank and the anti air turret for example. I’d imagine both will play a fairly key role in the overall battle.
There are a few classes to choose from each with a few different special powers and different loadouts but you can also customise your own kit, the player model will remain the same. The repair power is available to a few classes; with it you can repair yourself, teammates and friendly structures or vehicles. Some classes have access to grenades, which can be very handy during battle but throwing them seems clumsy when using your jets or just moving around, they explode on proximity but they could use some work. The other powers aren’t very well explained or demonstrated during battle but they have brief descriptions in the custom loadout section. One is a sensor jamming device blocking you from showing up on enemy radar, Tribes had a similar item. Another is a knife that you can use on enemies, although you need to be very close for it to work and I did not have success during combat situations. There is also the motion sensor that can be deployed around the battlefield to detect enemies; again something similar was in Tribes. Unlike Tribes however you can freely mix and match these combinations with passive modules. These passive modules alter your characteristics – your armour, speed, jetpack recharge to name a few. These weighted modules creates more natural combinations for players should they choose to focus on key attributes. I have to say I found some items much more useful than others, but that was probably due to play style more than anything.
It is clear Timegate have spent quite a bit of time working on the multiplayer component, it has shades of Tribes and Battlefield rolled into the reasonable looking Unreal Engine 3. It certainly needs to explain the game much better to new comers when the retail version hits and will probably have to tweak the balance of the various items. There are mini combat objectives that come up during the battle, including a VIP mission where one team must escort the VIP to a secure location. Players will not stay long if they don’t clearly understand all the elements including these objectives. There are lots of servers set up for the beta, and not just in the US. The server browser also seems quite adequate for the PC. The full game will be able to host 360 servers on the PC allowing for 32 players on the 360, 40 on PC – these numbers seem adequate for the map sizes. Initial impressions are good but the game is due out in weeks and I’m not sure they have the time to progress the multiplayer that few extra steps to make it great rather than just good; it’s certainly something to keep an eye out for.
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