It seems like only yesterday when I got my first taste of Brute Force for the XBox. It was E3 2002 and the MS booth was already flooded with so many great titles I barely had time to sift through them all. Being dubbed “the next Halo” by the overactive gaming press Brute Force sure had some large shoes to fill but Digital Anvil and Microsoft seemed up to the challenge. The promise of seamless co-op play with up to three friends was a gamer’s dream come true. If only they could pull it off, now over a year later BF finally makes it’s way onto store shelves and the end result? Well let’s just say that the XBox now has two grade A shooter titles exclusively on it’s console the question is can the gaming public stop comparing it to Halo long enough to realize it’s greatness? Only time will tell but for now I will fill you in on why this could be MS’ top game of 2003!
For those out of the loop Brute Force is a squad based tactical shooter developed by Digital Anvil (Freelancer) exclusively for the XBox console. You take control of four elite operatives in 18 missions spanning across 6 worlds. The missions can range anywhere from retrieving technology to simply eliminating an entire race of aliens rejects. The worlds are massive and each time you re-visit them it’s a vastly new experience. Each member of your squad has a unique ability that will aid you throughout the game. For instance Tex is the gunner, when you need bullets sprayed across the terrain he is the one to call, while Hawk is all about stealth if you need someone to scout ahead and check for enemy placements she is the one for the job. Utilizing each character properly and wisely is what makes this game so much fun. Finding new tactics and strategies to clear the levels makes the replay seem endless. I found myself wanting to go through many of the levels multiple times just to find new ways to take out everyone and everything in my path. Aggressive players may become frustrated because if you expect to go in guns blazing every time you will die.
The graphics in BF are nothing short of extraordinary, all of the XBox goodies are here such as great textures, bump mapping, and gorgeous character models. The levels are extremely well designed and very open for exploration. Thank goodness for the map otherwise you could get lost in these jungles! The frame rate rarely misses a beat and even in split screen mode it keeps a constant speed thus not detaining from the action onscreen. My only gripe is that in four player split screen the action can become almost too intense for split screen so system link is recommended. The animations are also nicely done for a third person game, I hear the moans now “Isn’t there a first person option?” No my friends this game is all about third person action and I couldn’t be happier. Playing a squad based game is a bitch in first person, Ghost Recon anyone? Overall the visuals are what you would expect from an exclusive XBox game, stellar!
There is nothing like a dynamic score to truly set the mood of a game. Thankfully Brute Force has enough sound quality to spare, the soundtrack is excellent only losing it’s appeal with it’s lack of play time. Similar to Halo the music is triggered by events and level progression but trust me when it kicks in your adrenaline begins flowing. The melodic anthems pour through your speakers like spreading suntan oil on one of the DOA chicks, simply exhilarating. The voice overs are also nicely done, each character has a distinct personality and adds to the overall appeal of the game. Some of Tex’s one liners crack me up, of course some of them make me wonder “Who is writing this garbage?” as well so I guess it’s a win/lost situation. All of this of course is coming to you live in Dolby 5.1 w00t could the audio side get any better?
With the ability to utilize so many moves and tactics a perfect control scheme had to be implemented. This is where the folks at Digital Anvil decided to get some help from the masters at Bungie. The control scheme is almost identical to that found in Halo. You move and aim with the analog sticks while firing with the right trigger. The left trigger is for using your inventory items (which by the way you team shares everything so if you pick shotgun ammo it’s because one of your team has a shotgun) and you can zoom with your weapons by clicking on the right thumbstick. The face buttons are mapped almost identical to Halo, Y changes weapons, X reloads weapon, A jumps, and B changes your inventory item. The one MAJOR complaint I have is that you cannot toggle the crouch movement. Having to hold down the left analog stick is annoying as all hell. Imagine trying to push in the stick while strafing left and still aiming, where is my toggle DA?? OK for controls that is my only complaint because otherwise this game plays like a dream.
Brute Force not only looks, sounds, and plays good it is also packed with enough replay to make any other system jealous with envy. First off you have Campaign which can be played 1-4 players. There is also Deathmatch where you and up to 7 buddies can duke it out on up to 8 Xbox’s!! Then there is also Squad Deathmatch which is basically DM with groups of four either controlled by you or computer bots. The amount of replay is uncanny, the best part is the seamless co-op play which allows your buddy to join in and quit at anytime. Say you are in the heat of battle and your bud drops by and decides to join in on the action. He picks up the controller and dives in no probs and it’s seamless. Now let’s say your GF stops by and wants you to spend time with her but your bud don’t wanna quit playin’ no sweat simply quit and he can continue on his own! Simply marvelous!
Well I think I have rambled on long enough about this amazing game, honestly it was worth the wait and the more I play it the better it seems to get. Sure there will be plenty of people who think the game should be online and plenty who think it could have been better. My advice is this, it’s a videogame…did you enjoy playing it? If the answer is yes then the developer has achieved his goal. Comparing this game to a certain other shooter is only going to cause you to question it’s greatness even more simply because it’s a different game. The co-op modes and sheer fun factor of this game outweigh any complaints I could have had about lack of live support. Brute Force is simply put, THE best co-op experience of all time and destined to go down as one of THE best Xbox games ever. So for those that feel it left a little to be desired jump back on your bandwagon because honestly you are NEVER going to be satisfied with any game ever again! Highly recommended!