Brute Force Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Xbox
Release date:
May 28, 2003
Publisher:
Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:
Digital Anvil
Players:
1 - 4
Genre:
Third-Person Shooter
ESRB:
M

Brute Force

Alone they're strong, together they're deadly.

Review by Chris Bahn (Email)
August 4th 2004

If there's one thing playing Brute Force makes predominantly clear, it's the fact that by no shape, fashion, or form is it to be considered a Halo clone. The essence of the game is focused on team-based combat, featuring unique weapons and special abilities. On paper, Brute Force could have merited the right to sit alongside the blockbuster sci-fi shooter. Unfortunately, linear level design and weak story elements pull down the game and prevent it from becoming a potentially fulfilling title.


A force to be reckoned with?

Brute Force is based on a squad of the same name, consisting of highly trained military operatives that the player controls throughout the game. Sadly, there's really nothing memorable or engaging about the cast of heroes (they could learn a thing or two from Hannibal and his A-Team). What we have is your typical big, all-around tough guy, a feral alien who for some reason runs like a dog (go figure), and two vixen femme fatales.

Those who place story and character development in high regard will be disappointed to find that both elements are marginal and lacking. Whereas one would expect to find a relative degree of depth and personality amongst the entire cast, the story does little to get the player involved or interested as to what Brute Force is all about. Usually there's a significant reward offered to players through the story's progression, or when certain elements are revealed. None of that is present here.

I remember when I first sat down to play Halo (in fact, I returned to it recently to reflect and compare the two titles); I recall how captivated I was with the story, Master Chief (the lead character), and the significance behind Halo and its importance to the Covenant. Throughout the entire game, I felt motivated to keep playing. However, the story scripted for Brute Force left me to conclude that the developers must have been intentionally going out of their way to create an over-the-top corny theme which sours the appeal, fun factor, and the solid voice talents that grace the game. Such typical, contrived nonsense has no place in a potentially entertaining title. In the end, it does little more than compel an intrigued gamer to look elsewhere (which I am sure we've all done from time to time).


Deadly alone; dangerous together

While we're on the subject of the unit itself - players can only assume control of one soldier at a time. In the beginning, you'll start out with Tex (the tough guy) and receive new additions to your team as you progress throughout the game. As your team gradually expands, you can optionally take control of any member during any given time using the d-pad. Basic commands such as "Cover me" or "Hold this position" can be assigned to specific members or the entire unit as a whole simply by highlighting the appropriate icon(s). Initially, this may seem a bit awkward for some players, especially if they're not used to regularly taking the leadership role (or just playing games of this type). Fortunately, the team's AI code was programmed very well, so there's little concern that you'll have to babysit your team every step of the way.

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