If you want to make a name for yourself in the console sector of the gaming market -- especially the Xbox 360 portion -- then you pretty much have to make a first-person shooter that's worth more than the weight of its polycarbonate plastic (Ed's note: that's the material used to make DVDs). With so many first-person shooters already staring eager consumers in the face, and with such a relatively high percentage of them being of a high quality, times have never been tougher for a fledging game developer to break onto the scene. But Texas-based game maker TimeGate is undeterred thanks to their latest creation known as Section 8, a futuristic FPS that borrows elements from games like Counterstrike and Battlefield and puts them into its own unique universe.
Last week we got an early look at what was being called a "pre-pre-alpha" build. Section 8 isn't scheduled to surface on store shelves until late 2009, but the groundwork has been laid for what sounds like a fun gameplay experience. We were shown pieces of the multiplayer in which players are charged with roaming around a huge battlefield -- the environment that we were shown stretched for miles -- and taking over capture points. We know what you're thinking: "Capture points? Again?!" But Section 8 plans to do it with a twist.
Rather than having capture points add to a numerical value, they'll instead provide you with a strategic advantage on the battlefield. Capturing a radar array will let you scan the battlefield while taking over an engineering bay will lessen the cost of vehicles. Hold more capture points on the field of play than your opponent and they'll be backed into a corner until their only option is skulking away in defeat.
The story behind Section 8 is centered on two warring factions: the Arm of Orion and the EDF. The Arm of Orion is the tyrannical, megalomaniacal group hell-bent on taking over the installed government. Section 8 is the prized eighth armored infantry division of the EDF, and as such it's their job to put a stop to Orion's hopes of conquering the land. TimeGate was quick to point out that this is not a massive world war but rather an isolated hot spot with the potential to spread into something more if you don't put a stop to it.
Just as with Battlefield before it, Section 8 will have vehicles playing a large role in its gameplay. But unlike Battlefield, Section 8's method of earning these vehicles is based around a monetary system where players build their wad of cash by taking down enemies and capturing command points. There are massive EDF and Orion ships orbiting the planet and they'll be the ones dropping tanks and jetpacks to aid you in battle.
These ships also provide the means for the inventive respawning technique used in Section 8. Rather than having players materialize from thin air in a base or at one of the capture points TimeGate is employing a new system called "burning in." When players die they'll have to wait for a certain amount of time before one of the orbiting ships can send in reinforcements. At that time you're presented with a first-person view of your heavily armored soldier blasting through the atmosphere and hurling towards the ground below. The entire map is visible as you start your descent with the ground coming more into view as you descend. You'll need to time a burst of your jetpack to brace your fall or you'll slam onto the field of battle thus removing your shields for a time.