By Yap Hui Bin, a trigger-happy freelance writer
SECTION 8 is a United States military term for soldiers classified as being mentally unfit.
However, Section 8 the game makes scant reference to this except for the insanely difficult and suicidal missions that the soldiers take part in.
In this intense first-person shooter (FPS), you play a soldier decked out in modern futuristic gear fighting to reclaim territories from the opposing force.
Designed for online play, the game allows you to buy and deploy vehicles and turrets on the ground when you have gained enough requisition points. The points are, in turn, awarded when you complete objectives and defeat enemies.
Section 8 is also unusual in that you can swop roles and weapons midway in a match (or do a load-out, in gamespeak) and at a supply depot which you can choose to place anywhere.
This means lots of room to move in team battles since you can take on roles such as assault, engineer or sniper, depending on your team's strategy.
Soldiers are armed with a jetpack (a special backpack that allows them to fly) for some nifty evasive manoeuvres during shootouts which are reminiscent of the team-based shooter, Tribes.
An overdrive mode enables your character to run at superhuman speed, which helps you traverse the game's large maps quickly.
The game's varied landscape can also aid in your strategy.
For example, snipe from rooftops or lay an ambush in buildings. If your character dies in battle, select a drop-point from a map and freefall to your landing spot.
This lets you control where to land - drop on the roof to commence sniping at once or go away from the heat of the battle to sneak into an enemy base.
For the multiplayer modes, the US servers I went to were playable except for occasional timeouts. The experience was intense but chaotic as the large maps, multitudes of objectives and hordes of players make it hard to focus.
Based on the Unreal engine, graphics and animations are not bad with variety in landscapes such as deserts and seas. However, the flat buildings and structures look drab up close.
Despite that, the game demands a decent graphics card - the likes of GeForce 7800 or ATI X1800 - as heated battles between 32 gamers simultaneously can cause frame rates to drop drastically.
Section 8's eight-mission single-player campaign is disappointingly short: it is over even before you warm up.
If you are not a big fan of playing online, give this game a miss. However, if you enjoy team play in an intense multiplayer shooter that also calls for strategy, sign up for Section 8.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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