PSN Review: Section 8: Prejudice



As more and more developers embrace the sales potential of downloadable gaming, the PlayStation Network is becoming increasingly crowded with titles trying to deliver high-grade gaming entertainment for a low price tag. The larger challenge for games studios is how to deliver a title that competes with full retail releases in terms of size, quality and value while contending with the limitations and minimal price points of downloadable platforms. Most opt to turn those online store limitations into an advantage, embracing the lo-fi charm of retro-themed graphics and gameplay, but incredibly few developers have tried to go all out and cram everything you’d expect from a big budget release into a PSN title.

A couple of games have tried offering the thrill and variety of a AAA first-person shooter in downloadable form (like Blacklight: Tango Down and Modern Combat: Domination), but at the expense of a metaphorical hacked off arm, releasing multiplayer titles with no real single player content. Section 8: Prejudice has the commendable honour of being the first downloadable FPS console title to come packed with everything you’d expect from a title you’d pick up in a brick and mortar store for four times the price, and while a few rough edges and a generic story call attention to the budget price, the gameplay is a top-tier experience for both solo and multiplayer gamers that’s overflowing with value and variety.
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Following on from the original Section 8 – oddly enough, a full retail game – Prejudice takes the bare game mechanics of its predecessor and expands on it with a full single player campaign and a lot more variety. The plot itself is undoubtedly the biggest black mark against the game. A cacophony of clichés, slapdash dialogue and uninspired characters, Prejudice is essentially every Halo knock-off you’ve ever avoided crammed into one game. But though the storyline is merely a lazy, derivative bit of connective tissue to string together each gameplay set piece, thankfully that gameplay is a billion times more inspired and engaging than the instantly forgettable ‘space marine grunts need to kill stuff’ plot.

Tossing in a few fun ideas from the get-go, Prejudice enlivens the familiar first-person shooter formula by equipping you with a Tribes-style jetpack and the ability to launch into a superpowered dash while traversing each level. Your fuel supply for both is limited and has a cool-down period while it reloads, so you won’t be flying around at all times, but it certainly makes for a fun way of quickly escaping an ambush, vertically strafing an enemy or speedily leaping across canyons. You’re also given a limited-use lock-on ability, which fixes your aim onto a chosen enemy with the push of a button.
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The diverse arsenal at your disposal throughout the game places a heavy emphasis on thought and strategy. You’re given access to a wide selection of tools (which repair friendly vehicles), mortars (which you can use to airstrike targets) and guns, from pistols to pulse cannons, each with their own variety of different ammo which is tailor-suited to certain enemies and targets. Some ammo tears through shields like butter but has all the impact of a spit wad against armour, while some does massive damage against vehicles but is ineffective against infantry. The limited lifespan of your resources and the diverse ammo system means that you’ll have to strategically switch your loadout to suit each situation and use your abilities when they count most, making Prejudice a more engaging and worthwhile alternative to the usual run-and-gun FPS.

The campaign does suffer a lot from Halo/FPS deja-vu, though, ticking off checklist obligatory set-pieces as it goes. You’ll get the standard ‘hop onto a speeder bike or tank’, ‘escort the friendly vehicle through enemy territory’ and ‘fire rockets at a helicopter for the big boss fight’ sections, and sadly the vehicles handle quite awkwardly – the tank being especially cumbersome. Prejudice looks a little dated, too, drawing even more comparisons to Halo with its decade-old visuals. Even so, it’s forgiveable considering it’s a downloadable title with high aspirations that crams so much content in. And despite the familiarity, there’s plenty of gameplay variety, from mech suit showdowns to tower defense sections, and the excellent core mechanics make Section 8 a more enjoyable experience than most full-price shooters. Enemy AI is sharp and challenging, and your foes will give you a run for your money throughout the lengthy campaign, which clocks in at a satisfying 5-7 hours.
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After you’re done with the single player campaign, Section 8: Prejudice has a robust selection of multiplayer content to keep you busy long after the credits roll on the story. ‘Swarm’ offers a co-operative multiplayer mode which sees you and three pals defend a control point from a wave-based onslaught of enemies. ‘Conquest’ is a competitive team mode which pits two teams of up to 32 total players against each other on the battlefield as they capture control points and face off through a shifting series of dynamic combat missions – from escort tasks to infiltration and hacking of command posts. The engaging set of missions mean that gameplay is constantly changing and offering more variety than the usual hum-drum deathmatches. As you earn cash, you can call in vehicles, turrets and supply points to make your battle more destructive and weighted in your favour.

‘Skirmish’ follows a slightly similar approach to ‘Conquest’, only control points cannot be captured, while ‘Assault’ sees teams rushing to either steal control of or defend all command points. And if you die during multiplayer games, rather than randomly respawning on the ground, you can select where you drop in and free-fall down from the sky as respawning players leap from overhead dropships. There’s a stunning array of multiplayer value, especially for a downloadable title, with a huge stack of modes, each offering a tonne of inherent replay value, great ideas and excellent gameplay.
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The outdated visuals and generic story are a shame, but while Section 8: Prejudice never particularly redefines the first-person shooter genre, it does push the boundaries of what you expect from a downloadable title. With a lengthy and engaging single player campaign full of great gameplay and a huge amount of robust, worthwhile multiplayer modes, all for a fraction of the cost of the average retail game, Section 8: Prejudice is insanely great value and a must-have for FPS fans on a budget.

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Section 8: Prejudice is available to buy on the PlayStation Network Store now priced £9.99/$14.99.