While we had that single capture point sewn up, we could concentrate on the various missions that the game spawns. These are events around the map which also earn points towards your overall victory, including moving a convoy truck across the map, escorting a VIP and delivering intelligence. They are sort of mini-game types within the larger game. If we could foil the enemy's missions and succeed in our own there we would hardly need to waste our efforts taking one of the other points on the map. That's precisely what we did, to a resounding victory.
As we played, the high-hitpoint value of the individual soldiers (and low damage of the automatic weapons) demonstrated how important team play could be. With the enemies at range some of us could not engage them effectively, but we could heal our comrades or call in support tools. When the enemy was in close our high-armour, close range set-ups came into play. Having a variety of tools at our disposal made the game all the more interesting to play. Section 8 is, I think, aiming to keep players alive longer than other shooters: respawning is instant, and easy, but staying alive on the ground is much more interesting.
At this point I should probably be drawing the review to a close but there's still a load of other stuff to talk about: the awesome personal mortars, the jetpack use, the "power-run" which kicks in after some time spent sprinting, the mechs and their melee, the tank, the possibilities for weird defence structures built via deployables... The list goes on which bodes well for the game; it's a thing that can't be learned and mastered in a day.
One thing which deserves special mention is the auto-aim. Everyone gets a few seconds of auto-aim, which can be very useful when trying to do tricky Y-axis tracking of a suddenly jet-leaping target. You can see exactly why TimeGate has included it (to counter vertical evasive moves) and why they included counter-measure modules to defeat it, but it nevertheless feels like it should not have been included in the final build of the game.
Section 8's biggest problem could be in finding an audience that is happy to sidestep "hardcore" FPS conventions and accept this is a game that demands teamplay. It's likely transfix a certain type of player, the kind who doesn't necessarily demand pin-point accuracy from his weapons, and would rather win out with a plan than pure skill. I do wonder how many of those kind of players are out there - we can be rather particular in our tastes.
Section 8 definitely rewards time but it is initially disconcerting. I wonder whether it will be another one of those shooters that develops a small, dedicated community that is difficult to crack. Being on the inside of that community, however, is likely to be glorious. I have already spent weeks playing through some of the best firefights in years: dropping from orbit through a skylight into the midsts of a base assault, leaping from rooftops into a gunbattle in my two-tonne mech armour, valiantly defending a capture point with turrets and persona repair tool while my squad races to my aid...
Section 8 is capable of scintillating multiplayer drama, and it is impeccably solid throughout. I've had some maginficent tooth-and-nail matches, which is all I can really ask for. For all the offbeat design decisions and mechanistic foibles, I've been enjoying the hell out of it.
8 / 10