Section 8 Review on Eurogamer

By Jim Rossignol on September 8th, 2009 at 10:22 am.


The response to my Section 8 review on Eurogamer seems to have been tempered somewhat by the release of a demo on the 360. It’s worth stressing that I haven’t seen 360 code and can make no judgment there, but impressions have not been favourable. I tried playing it on the 360 pad and, well, yes. Mouse and keyboard will be the default choice. It seems like the release of a demo on the console might actually have seriously damaged the chance of the game on there. As a relatively complex multiplayer FPS it does seem to me like it carries some serious PC heritage, however, and you won’t win any prizes for guessing what version I would recommend. One other thing that I didn’t mention in the review was how impressed I was with the way the game scaled. I played a bunch of five-on-five games pre-release and the smaller maps still delivered tight games with so few people, which is pretty impressive.

However, ugh. It also seems that the PC version of Section 8 is having some technical difficulties in its US launch. The culprit: Games For Windows Live failing to intiate. Another fine game marred by Live? Why oh why… Developers: use something else, please.

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72 Comments »

  1. dalig varg says:

    games for windows live is a pile of dog shite. thats about it i guess

  2. Pavel says:

    Hmmm, I do not mind Live….when it works.

  3. Lars Westergren says:

    Was it Alec that wrote “The eternally slack-jawed Games for Windows Live” a while ago, when some other game was seriously delayed and bugged out because of it? Gave me a chuckle anyway.

  4. KindredPhantom says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed playing the open beta of Section 8. It really does come together when you play as a team, setting up an ambush for an enemy convoy resulting in knocking it off the bridge. Individual doesn’t matter as much in the game as team work which is probably why it won’t be too popular, I agree that it will have a small but dedicated community of players.
    But after all that I don’t think I’ll be buying it, it was fun during the open beta but it isn’t enough to make want to play on a regular basis.

  5. KindredPhantom says:

    Gah, i meant “Individual skill doesn’t matter as much in the game”.

  6. Seniath says:

    I just read 2 pages worth of comments on that review. Remind me never to do that again.

  7. Mungrul says:

    I found myself getting shafted by GFWL last night when I was trying to playing the single-player games of both DoW2 & SFIV.
    For some reason, the GFWL client launched by the games themselves wouldn’t connect, but at a Windows level, the client would connect.
    This prevented me from playing single-player games, which I really shouldn’t need an internet connection to play.
    Big bag o’ shite.

  8. Greg Wild says:

    Great review Jim.

    I’m still not ready to part cash with it yet, honestly. But when I’ve got more, perhaps if it comes down in price, I’ll definitely be getting it at some point.

  9. Garg says:

    I remember reading somewhere that Relic with DoW 2 only used Live because it had an in built match making thinger. And since before Live they’d have probably used Gamespy I can’t say it’s a great deal worse. Hopefully people will start using Valve’s L4D matcher in future games though.

  10. ChaosSmurf says:

    I don’t really get why any developer would use Live at this point – do Microsoft pay them or something? Surely Steam would be better in 99% of cases, if they want to use anything? Can it really be hard to develop your own matchmaking system if companies like S2 can do it?

  11. Half Broken Glass says:

    Waitwaitwait – Section 8 uses GfWL? Fuck, and it looked so promising. Next!

  12. Cooper says:

    I’m tempted to get this once I’m back home – I like my team based FPS games, but things like ARMAII are a little too hardcore…

    I gather (By the 8 page thread I haven’t bothered to read) that there’s a fairly activeish group of RPS forumites involved?

  13. Lack_26 says:

    I really enjoyed the game, I didn’t find the gun-play fantastic, but the game kept drawing me back for reasons I cant quite word (especially dropping just out side the AA range with CC passives and then swooping into the AA range below it’s FoF like some sort of crazy combat swallow). I’m pretty damn sure I’ll be buying it eventually, but not quite now (I sort of need the money) but I should be able to pick it up in a month or two.

  14. Jim Rossignol says:

    As far as I understand it, GFWL is free and offers decent peer to peer match-making. Having your online game tied to GFWL also makes things more tricksy for pirates? I don’t know. Either way, it’s definitely seen by developers as a decent shortcut for handling all that stuff on PC.

    I might do a little more nosing into the subject and see what we can find.

  15. dr_demento says:

    I played the demo on the 360 and really didn’t like it – the unbelievably slow movement speed, the odd hyper-run, the curiously weak weapons but vulnerable player …. apparently all of this would be explained if I’d played the full game. So yes, I’d have to conclude that the demo was utter rubbish, since it totally turned me off the game – but if Jim says the game’s good, then I’ll take your word for it.

    That aside – even if the game is much better than the demo, the fact that the developers released that demo says a lot about their competency. If they cocked up the demo this much, why would I trust them with the full game? For the opposite of this, see WET.

  16. Chaz says:

    I tried the demo, and thought it wasn’t a bad game, but then again there wasn’t anything particularly outstanding about it either. I’m going to have to say it but it’s still not as good as the original Tribes, and I don’t know, it just lacked soul, you know? I thought the weapons lacked punch too. Yeah, not a bad game, but nothing there that would make me want to buy it or play it for any length of time.

    There’s just too much compertion out there for a multiplayer only game to be merely OK. There are plenty of games that offer great multiplayer content as well as a great single player game. So when you make a mulitplayer only game, it needs to be absolutely fricking awesome, and sadly Section 8 isn’t.

  17. Cooper says:

    Not to make this a thread about GFWL, but I’ve managed to avoid it so far. I’ve bought other games instead of GFWL involved games, keeping the need to get involved at bay as long as possible. Without any first hand experience of it, my only reason has been that I’m a bit pissed that, as a PC gamer, I’m tied entirely to Microsoft as an OS. Yet they seem to have put very little real effort into making that experience smooth and rewarding. I end up feeling jilted and impotent with no where to turn. It’s an abusive relationship.

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    “the curiously weak weapons but vulnerable player”

    This isn’t explained properly in game, but different weapons have different advantages and they aren’t immediately obvious. Whether you survive a fight depends on how you are loaded out, and what you you are using, ditto your opponent.

  19. crumbsucker says:

    I think the publishers have deals with Microsoft regarding the Games for Windows branding and the use of GFWL. The devs probably know very well that GFWL sucks, but they have to use it because of their publishers force them to. This is just my speculation.

  20. rocketman71 says:

    “GfWL” and “decent” shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

    Developers who use it to finish their game earlier are either looking for problems post-launch or simply don’t care about buyers. GfWL is the typical POS from Microsoft. Who knows, perhaps GfWL9 will be decent, but for now developers should stay well clear of it.

  21. Lack_26 says:

    I’ve taken a liking to GfWL since it accidentally gave me Point Lookout for free, I was messing around in the store with no Microsoft Points and the thing sort of went funny. Anyway, I ended up a screen saying I had paid successfully and I got to download it, I’ve never had anything like it since but I was happy.

  22. lumpi says:

    “Games For Windows”

    D: Oh god. Fail by default. Why do developers pollute their games with crappy software like that? Do they get payed by Microsoft?

  23. l1ddl3monkey says:

    GFWL games I own:
    Kane and Lynch (yes it was me, I bought it)
    Gears of War
    Fallout 3
    Dawn of War II

    GFWL games I own that have failed to work properly specifically because of problems with GFWL:
    Kane and Lynch
    Gears of War
    Fallout 3
    Dawn of War II

    So to recap: 100% of the GFWL enabled games I have bought have had problems with the GFWL aspect.

    Can anyone tell me any company, other than Microsoft, that would be allowed to force you to use anything that has a 100% failure rate? Anyone? Why do we continue to put up with this shit?

  24. MacBeth says:

    Well done for resisting the ‘Section 8/10′ headline, anyway.

    Apparently Zavvi are ‘sorry’ that my cheapo pre-order hasn’t arrived yet… doesn’t fill me with confidence. GFWL better not screw it even further…

  25. Dominic White says:

    What I don’t get is WHY GFWL has had so many problems. It’s just the PC side of the Xbox Live network, which is generally reliable and stable. Surely having another variant of client connecting to it shouldn’t cause such crippling problems.

    Somehow, Microsoft have managed to cock up every single aspect on the PC that we KNOW they can handle quite easily on the 360. The storefront falls over, billing is fucked, DRM is shonky, and matchmaking/server browsing often fails to work entirely.

    How? I’m genuinely baffled as to how a company with Microsofts resources could manage to fail so spectacularly at something they’ve already proven that they can do.

  26. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m beginning to see why people loath gfwl now, i know you will be excited to know Jim that i agree with your section 8 review, although the final score might’ve been a smidgeon high as if the number actually means anything.

  27. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Dominic White
    it’s not the network it’s the problem and the fact that Microsoft don’t profit from it means they don’t commit as many resources to it’s maintenance, in this instance I’d all but garuantee that it’s a bug caused by the recent Zero Day Piracy “Upgrade”.

  28. Fenchurch says:

    @Dominic White

    I know! I keep looking at the 360 stuff they seem to manage quite well, admirably even, then looking over the PC side of things and throwing my hands up in despair. x-D

  29. The Sombrero Kid says:

    EDIT: whoops where it says “it’s the problem” read “it’s the client”

  30. dsmart says:

    As I said the first time it was announced, GFW is complete and utter crap. Period. It is Microsoft’s lame attempt at extracting money from gamers as well as compete with Steam. When BOTH attempts failed – miserably – they realized that they either needed to abandon it or add scotch tape. Being Microsoft, guess which path they chose.

    EVERY SINGLE developer I know, hates it. The problem is that if you want the “Games For Windows” badge, you have no choice but to use most – if not all – of the subset.

    Go ahead and add Steam + GFWL authentication to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Anyway, I played Section 8 and I am in the same camp that thinks that while it adds nothing new to the genre, its just not the kind of game that is going appeal to a wide audience. Kinda like our hard core games – which is ironic when you think about it. Anytime you try something new, you either miss the mark or you end up alienating quite a few people. It is a lose-lose situation for the most part and thats why derivate games are so rampant in the industry.

    Section 8, like most under the radar games will most likely fail at retail (once the numbers are out) due to the budget (paying back the $1m+ cost of the Unreal engine is pretty much 1/10th of the climb) behind it. If it were from a smaller outfit, hence smaller budget, overhead etc, they would be fine. But given Southpeak’s trend, only the publisher will make money, the devs won’t. My guess is they’re not going to see a dime due to the high recoupment cost associated with UE games. Sad really.

    As I said over here, Jim’s reviews are always solid, but I don’t understand the score at all. Yet another reason why I think this whole numeric (or scoring for that matter) scoring business simply isn’t a good yardstick.

    ps: Jim, are you guys getting my emails? I was getting bounces, then nuthin’.

  31. distended says:

    Genuine question: is the desire for a “GfW” badge that strong? Does it significantly increase sales?

  32. dsmart says:

    It has nothing to do with sales, but more to do with branding. Your game apparently gets to sit in a nice “Games For Windows” section – that apparently MS pays for (or subsidizes?) in stores. So basically it is the different between the game being on an end-cap or being tucked away in a shelf along with a bunch of other titles.

    Yes, it is a marketing gimmick.

  33. AbyssUK says:

    wait a minute did the beta use gfwl ? because that worked effortlessly

  34. dsmart says:

    No, it didn’t.

  35. H says:

    Okay, I’m going to ask something which might well sound stupid and I’ll get slated for but I’ll ask anyway as I genuinely don’t know.

    I assume your review didn’t touch on GFWL because you didn’t need to use it for the review code? If this is the case, I would have thought that this was a downside to the reviewing process – oh god I’m not picking holes, for the record I happen to love the work RPS do, I’m literally just asking not the face not the face argh!

    But seriously, if the review process doesn’t touch on all aspects of the game, from installation to logging into the dumb and unhelpful GFWL, how am I going to know how this game is going to perform for me?

    Okay, okay, I can see that you can’t cover everything, such as how the game will perform on every machine. I mean you only have access to the one PC I assume, or at least only try it on one. But something like GFWL which will touch every user…

    Would this be something that a developer/publisher would purposefully avoid by giving you review code that doesn’t use/circumvents GFWL/etc?

    Sorry, these comments sound overly negative, but I was severely bitten by GTA:4 and haven’t forgiven GFWL since!

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    H: “I assume your review didn’t touch on GFWL because you didn’t need to use it for the review code?”

    The beta didn’t need it, and the review code uses a non-public version of GFWL, for which there were no problems. It was smooth enough that I didn’t consider it a issue, which it obviously was. Which is why I am mentioning it now.

    I think it’s a great game, and when it works fine for me it’s easy to miss out on the technical big-picture.

    Derek: I’ve not had any emails from you in ages. Are you sending them to the RPS addresses?

    Also my feelings about numerical scoring systems should be clear from the way we run RPS.

  37. Dominic White says:

    Just to clarify – GFWL has nothing to do with the Games For Windows branding. The latter is a pretty much uniformly GOOD thing, in that it ensures Vista/W7 installation standardization, automatic support for the 360 controller where appropriate, and a bunch of other nice bits of standarization that PC gaming could use.

    GFWL is their multiplayer/matchmaking/achievement-charting/shop network which apparently works perfectly on the 360 (and is cross-platform), but has a terrible failure rate on the PC.

  38. hellsyeah says:

    Kinda like our hard core games – which is ironic when you think about it

    Derek, the reason your games don’t enjoy mainstream success is that they are rubbish. Section 8 is a good game that may not be successful for entirely different reasons.

    And yes, I have played All Aspect Warfare. It’s a joke.

  39. AbyssUK says:

    Seesh when will programmers develop a spine, and just point blank refuse to use crap like GFWL. As in all technical jobs, it is us (i am a research scientist) who actually design/make the thing and its our heads that roll if they fuck up (actually if I fuck up people have a good chance of dying which is fun). So start refusing to program in rubbish, use rubbish components etc.. which are going to make you/your company look bad, screw the publishers, screw microsoft and there special advertising spaces. Get a grip and just say no.

  40. H says:

    Jim: Thanks for the comment, hope you didn’t mind the question. Wasn’t picking :)

  41. Vandelay says:

    @dsmart – Are the GFWL stands a US thing? Don’t think I’ve ever seen them over here in the UK.

    That would explain some incentive to get in the GFWL brand, but I wonder if the desire to be part of the brand comes from the publishers rather than the developers. Outside of the marketing of the product it doesn’t seem to do anything but damage the final game.

  42. distended says:

    Also, isn’t it up to the retailer which stand a game goes on?

    Surely if the shop thinks it’s worth putting a game on an end shelf, then he will, regardless of what the branding on the box is?

    I don’t see what leverage MS could possibly have that means they can dictate where a game is displayed in a private shop? I can’t imagine MS stumping up the cost for a metal rack would be enough to influence them.

  43. wm says:

    I always though GFWL was short for God Fucking aWfuL.

  44. dsmart says:

    @ Dominic

    Just to clarify – GFWL has nothing to do with the Games For Windows branding.

    Not sure that anyone said that they were related. GFW and GFWL are part of the same package. The former is about branding, specific features that are needed to obtain the branding etc. The latter is a subset of the former.

    @ Jim

    Yeah, I figured as much. I am sending to both the RPS email as well as your @googlemail.com email. Same with Kieron.

    I haven’t heard from Kieron since his last email to me of 07-06, which is why I thought something was up since he is fairly good with emails.

    I also tried calling you on the last number I had in my contact dB, but thats no longer active.

    Can you check your spam filter? My last email to you and Kieron was on 08-26-09 and it contained download links to the final game builds (and unlock keys) for reviews as requested by Kieron awhile back.

    If you don’t see my emails, please send me email (dsmart – at – 3000ad.com) or catch me on Skype IM (dsmart.3000ad). cheers

  45. dsmart says:

    Also, isn’t it up to the retailer which stand a game goes on?

    When it is GfW branded, it has to go on an end-cap. Thats the deal that MS has with the retailers and the whole branding thing they’ve got going.

    Since the publishers don’t have to spend any additional money on PC endcaps, they try to get their devs to implement GfW whenever they can – IF – they think its worth the hassle since its basically free for them as MS is picking up the tab (nobody knows if it is financial or tied to other incentives). Since MS has pretty much killed PC gaming, my guess is that there is no financial incentive to the retailer but rather some sort of incentive of sorts.

    GfW Live is a whole other beast entirely.

  46. Tei says:

    Games for Windows, from the authors of Zoo Tycoon and Flight Simulator, a middleware that will make life a pain to both the user and the dev’s and at the same time make happy the people that will never play these games.

  47. Tei says:

    About my last post: Ignore it.

  48. ChaosSmurf says:

    You know, with the money that likely went into server structure for/development of GFWL, Microsoft could probably have just bought Valve and slapped a tag on Steam.

    Or you know, made some good games for a change (dum tish)

  49. Optimaximal says:

    @dsmart – Are the GFWL stands a US thing? Don’t think I’ve ever seen them over here in the UK.

    There’s no such thing as a GFWLive stand, rather just ‘Games for Windows’, of which there are loads.

    Whilst there are a few stores that still run ‘PC DVD’ or ‘Windows PC’ stands (mainly HMV & Gamestation because of the store layout), most retail outlets (including supermarkets) in the UK run with the ‘Games for Windows’ display, which features the Vista/7 Orb and the cloud/squiggly background.

    As Dominic says, GfW is a good idea that really should have been done sooner – it unifies the PC as a centralised brand and gives it a store presence akin to the consoles. The extra requirements like consistent support for the 360 pad and wide-screen out of the box are bonuses.

  50. The Innocent says:

    As a sidenote to this GFW discussion, I bought Section 8 and I think it’s fantastic. So far it’s scratched my Unreal Tournament itch better than UT3 did, and so many of the little things in the game feel so right. On the other hand, I had GFW problems at the start, but half an hour later it was running fine. This seems to happen to me with every GFW game I buy: it doesn’t work for the first hour or so, and then it’s fine for the rest of the time.

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