Brute Force
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Microsoft
Developer
Digital Anvil
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood
 
Grade
The Good

• Team based action is pretty good
• Nice audio and visual package
• Mutliplayer and co-op gameplay

The Bad

• Ally A.I. needs a little refinement
• Some repetitive environments
• No Xbox Live online modes

 
Grade
B+

In Brute Force, players are given a team of four specialized troops which they must use to work as a team to complete their mission, hopefully with all four of the members coming back alive. But, even if they do die, they can just be recloned to go onto the next mission or even to restart the current mission if your whole team gets wiped out. Set in the 24th Century, the game starts players out with Tex, the standard gun-toting marine, who is, mission by mission, introduced to his three team mates - Brutus, the lizard man, Hawk, the stealth expert, and Flint, the sniper. As a team, you'll be set to visit and even revisit certain planets to complete your missions. Each mission is preceded with a CG cutscene of the briefing, which adds to the character interaction.

In the campaign mode, players will have to use the strengths of the team members to complete their objectives. With the D-pad, you can select one of the team to use while the others move on their own accord, only with some slight, suggestive orders that can be issued by holding down the D-pad to enter an order screen, where the player can tell separate members to cover them, charge in, hold their position or even use health packs or their special abilities. Those familiar with Halo's control scheme will pick up Brute Force with little effort. The two analog sticks control the character (the camera is always behind your selected character). The Right Trigger fires your gun, while the Left Trigger uses the equipped item, which is often grenades of one type or another. The A Button jumps, X reloads your weapon, Y switches between one of two weapons each character has (but you can pick up more from defeated enemies) and the B Button cycles through items. The Black Button allows you to use a Medkit quickly and the White Button initiates your character's special abilities.

Before too long, you'll learn how each of your characters differ from each other, and in more ways than one. First and foremost is their different special abilities - once turned on, the ability drains their stamina gauge while in use. Tex goes into a berserk mode that allows him to use both weapons at the same time, Brutus slowly regains health and his senses are vastly improved, Hawk turns invisible and Flint has a much wider window for hitting enemies with her guns. Also, certain weapons can not be used by certain characters. Throw in different hitpoint and stamina levels for each and you'll be quick to find effective ways to move your team from location to location.

While technically you could run-and-gun your way through most levels, it's often in your best interest not to, not because recloning your allies costs money, but because you're better off trying to tackle the enemies with a full team. While finishing objectives and killing enemies earns you money, this really only serves as a means of getting a score for each mission. While most of your objectives are simple enough and the trip from mission start to mission end is often linear, the fact that your faced with enemies that exhibit particularly good artificial intelligence (A.I.) and that the game engine has some convincingly accurate physics really makes the action quite enjoyable. Throw in DNA canisters that you can find to unlock characters for the multiplayer mode and most everyone should enjoy the action.

And while the single player mode is pretty fun and fleshed out, fans of co-op and multiplayer will have more than their fair share of modes to enjoy. First and foremost is the ability to play the main campaign with three friends. Along with that are deathmatch, team deathmatch and even system link support. While there is no Xbox Live online play modes, you can still try XBConnect or GameSpy as an alternative.

The graphics engine that Brute Force is built on is pretty sharp and shows a lot of environmental details that go a long way to drawing you into the game. You'll feel right at home on any of the alien worlds and once the action gets going, the number of on-screen enemies, gunfire volleys and explosions are pretty impressive. Throw in some nice lighting effects, sharp animation and a pretty sweet level of detail in just about every aspect of the game and you'll definitely have very little problem with looking at the game as you go. While the water may not look too spectacular, things like the tall grass and the ambient effects in the air really do a great job at creating a living world. My only complaint with the graphics lies in the repetitive aspect of some of the background tenements. Often, you'll find the same run-down tenements or structures repeated not only in the same levels but throughout multiple visits. With some varied textures or even a larger variety of designs, this repetitiveness would have easily been handled. Outside of that, you'll be pleased with the way the game looks.

Audiowise, Brute Force delivers impressively. Both the soundtrack and sound effects are clean and varied, providing a a great backdrop to the action on screen. The soundtrack is appropriately dramatic and the musical themes fit the concept of the game well. Except for a few odd sounding weapons, the sound effects really capture the hectic action. The voice acting tends to be decent, even if it can be a little cheesy, especially considering how clichéd some of the characters are. If you can look past some of the stereotypical one-liners your team members spew out during combat, you'll at least enjoy the added flavor that the commentary adds to the combat.

The only outstanding aspect of the game which I wish had been refined was the A.I. of your allies. Since they act on their own accord on a fairly base level, you'll often find them at one extreme or another. Either they'll rush off into the fray, leaving you to catch up in hopes of keeping them from dying in the line of fire, or you'll wish they were a bit closer to give you more adequate cover during an ambush. Most of the time, they tend to work all right, especially with some dedicated effort in giving commands, but if a little more work had gone into giving them a more customizable A.I., I think the team-based strategy of the game would have been a stronger aspect.

With all that said and done, Brute Force is a fine single and multiplayer action title with a few things to hold it back from greatness. If you can look past the minor issues, you'll have another fine title to add to you Xbox collection. If you're still a little unsure, at least give this title a rent.

- - Kinderfeld

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