STAFF REVIEW of Brute Force (Xbox)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003.
by Queasy Buddy

Brute Force Box art I think it is now safe to say that this is definitely the game everybody should be saving up for. It is the first video game to suck you in with its sheer depth of gameplay, since Microsoft debut on the Xbox with its wondrous fps?.Halo. Brute Force is not a first-person shooter like Halo, but don't let that stop you! The game is a third-person shooter published by Microsoft and just like everyone expected this game takes full advantage of the Xbox?s capabilities. Now let?s talk more into depth about this games one of a kind features.

Fitting loosely into the tactical action genre, Brute Force attempts to take the Halo concept to a new level. You command a squad of four well equipped commandos. Each character has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and special abilities. You will need to use their special ability to develop the best strategies for a variety of situations. The ?gun?s a blazing? tactic won?t do you much good in this game; you will actually have to use your noggin? for something besides crushing beer (or pop) cans.

First off I would like to present each character that Brute Force has to offer.

Tex is the first character you get to use in Brute force. And as the hard !&%$@#* of the squad he will stay true to his role through the game with his ?take no prisoners? attitude. His special abilities include firing two large weapons simultaneously. His ability is referred to as Berserk.

Brutus is the first character you encounter that decides to team up with Tex. Brutus is a fairly primitive fellow, right down to his looks. At first glance, he?ll remind you of those big bad monsters from Donkey Kong from back in the day, but most of the alligators from Donkey Kong couldn?t see through mists and in low visibility using night-vision type sight. Even fewer had the ability to heal themselves. By the way for those that didn?t catch it that is his special ability.

Hawk resembles a female version of Sam Fisher. Actually I would have to say that her stealth abilities are a bit more impressive than Sam?s. Her ability to turn invisible in a matter of seconds is handy for sneaking up behind large groups of enemies to ?spy?, you could even use it to hide if you desperately need recuperation.

Last but not least, Flint. Flint has excellent sniper skills at a distance and her special move aids her to use those skills for close range, accurate, rapid combat. Also Flint doesn?t have to breathe, due to the fact that she isn?t human nor is she an animal, which makes her immune to biological weaponry.

Normal gameplay is seen through a third-person perspective which allows you to see the big picture. You can control each character individually, rotating between them using the D-pad. The three characters you aren?t controlling can be given ?auto-pilot? commands such as: follow, defend, engage, or flee. Commands can be even more specific, such as ?follow aggressively?, at which point your commandos will follow and defend you with an attitude.

Every team member can carry up to two weapons just like in Halo. Throughout the game you?ll come across about 30 different weapons (including Sonic Cannons and Psychic Blasts) and several types of grenades. Although your commandos can hold two weapons each, each character will handle a specific weapon differently than another. As far as this concept goes, some commandos can?t handle certain weapons at all (too heavy, etc.). This should make for some deep strategizing, along with an occasional dose of good ol? frustration. ?Oooh Happy Days?

The control scheme is actually very simple. It reminds me a lot of the rock solid scheme that was used in Halo, but in a third person perspective. Your two joysticks take care of the movement while the right trigger fires your primary weapon. The left trigger uses the item you currently have selected, such as grenades, med kits, landmines stuff of that genre. Switching between characters is even easier, as previously stated, it?s achieved using the D-pad. The D-pad also pulls double duty ? you?ll use it in tandem with the colored buttons (A, B, Y, X, Black and White) to issue orders to your commandos. Select the character receiving the order using the D-pad, then use the appropriate colored button to assign them a command. The ?Y? button switches your weapon and the white button initiates your character?s special move. All this makes the control very user friendly, from basic combat down to micro-managing your squad.

Now just imagine yourself chomping away through the campaign mode. While you?re finally starting to get the hang of things your buddy walks in and decides he wants to raise a little hell. Where this used to be a problem, Digital Anvil has done you right. Plug in a controller right in the middle of the game and your buddy will assume control of one of your commandos. But after a few hours of hearing you constantly nag about his strategies, he gets fed up with all your orders and decides to bring his business else where and heads on out. Not a problem either for this game. All you need you need to do is unplug his controller and his character returns to your command. Pretty innovative stuff we?re dealing with here?eh. Other than the fine co-op mode there is also a death match mode and a team death match mode. This can become very addictive. And let?s not forget system link. (Oh boy, where just gonna have a jolly ol? time with this game, aren?t we now?)

Brute Force's graphics are, in a word, breathtaking. Its enormous outdoor levels are painstakingly detailed with flowing streams of lava, towering mountains, and rushing waterfalls. The rare indoor levels are a bit less dramatic, but look fantastic none the less. Every living thing moves so realistically that you'll swear you are watching a movie, and, in a sense, you are. The game is so well laid out that it is like watching a movie. Brute Force?s storyline rivals most movie scripts in terms of plot. And the game gives you such a sense of realism; in some areas. Everything is done so seamlessly that the game draws you in to the point where you feel like you are right there in the heat of the battle. At one point, I actually felt a sense of remorse when I lost some of my fellow squad members. And although I did question my sanity at this point, I think it is just a testament to what the developers put into this game. One point that seems to have gone missing from a lot of previews/reviews of this game is the animation, it's wonderful, I really have been impressed by the way enemies move, defend, run away with their arms in the air screaming and fly through the air when blasted with a frag grenade.

The sound can't be faulted one bit; playing the game is a joy to the ears with the great dialog, music and background sound FX. Every single item makes a different sound in this game well at least it sounds like it. The music starts off the game superbly right from the intro with an intense melody. If you have a Dolby 5.1 setup you are going to be in for a treat. And all of the 30 weapons all have there own distinct sounds. But the most impressive part of the audio according to me would have to be the sound of Brutus breathing while he is running along with his special ability activated. It just sounds so intensively realistic.

But the hardest question I had to ask myself was, what is it about Brute Force that makes it so special? Perhaps it has something to do with the attention to detail that have gone into this game. While graphics don't make a game, it certainly adds to the experience, especially when the graphics look as good as they do in this one of a kind title. but perhaps it is the presentation. From the very beginning of the game, you are given a sense of urgency, of realism, the kind that makes a good movie so engrossing. The music is also excellent, and like everything else, perfectly compliments the atmosphere. But according to me, what makes Brute Force so special is that every aspect of it was given an enormous amount of thought. Every piece of Brute Force is excellent, but more importantly, each one of those pieces fit together so perfectly that they create an incredible, intense, satisfying experience. Is Brute Force really all that and a bag of chips? YES. Has it accomplished things that no game before it has? Yes. Is it revolutionary? Yes. Brute Force will remind you why you play games. It has raised the bar for every third person shooter that will follow. But don't take my word for it. Go find out for yourself. You are about to witness the next level in gaming. Welcome to Brute Force.

I have no suggestion for the developers. All of our hats here at Xbox Addict are off to Digital Anvil for attempting and succeeding on raising the bar for next generation games. Excellent Job!!!

Overall: 10.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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