Review by Mileyu

"A well thought out, absurdly polished mixture of smart squad play, and smart action gaming."



Introduction:

Brute Force, developed by Digital Anvil also of StarLancer and FreeLancer fame, has been a long time coming.

Seen even before Xbox's launch, and shown off to a larger crowd as a video on the Halo disc, it's been touted as many things.
But more or less attempts to live up to a psuedo Halo legacy by providing a semi-strategic, polished, option filled game that is amazing alone, and truly shines in co-operative mode.

Accessable to lower key gamers as a run' n gun action game in lower-tiered difficulty, and spanning to, a strategic, satasfying, challenging and ultimately fun sci-fi squad experience.
Brute Force excells in most areas, and overall just feels darn good to play.

Overall Gameplay:

Brute Force, upon coming out of the gates, was unfairly compared to higher end squad sims, such as Ghost Recon.

Brute Force is not, and never was attempting to offer a fully high end squad based experience.

However, it is a squad game, grounded in the likes of sci-fi fiction which offers a smart, stategic experience that is fully intuitive, but not shallow, and doesn't have to skimp on the action. Brute Force completely delivers ten times over on what it sets out to do. The controls are amazing solid, and easy to pick up, the action is tight, with a fair level of depth along with solid enemy designs, the level design is linear, but solid with lot's of nooks and crannies, hills, alternate paths, buildings, gates, and sniper posts amoung other things. Enemies are well placed and objectives are quite clear.

Squad control, which is handled with the D-Pad is quick, tight, and very smart. The team AI never makes silly mistakes, never disobeys, and can reach it's goals clearly. Commanding three squad memebers is as easy as commanding one, and it's even easy to dish out more obtuse commands such as ''use a medkit'' or ''switch to your character special''.

The game has a massive mixture of diverse weapons, and each character, like Halo, can equip two, and swap them with others found in the enviroment or off of dead enemies.

Grenades, also like Halo, are treated as a seperate entity, and along with other items, are chained to the L Trigger. Other items include mines, med packs, the power blade, etc.

There are three well built levels of difficulty and overall game experience. Standard, Hard and Brutal.

Standard provides more of a guns out run n' gun action experience, squad play is fully optional, and completeting the title (outside of a few levels) is obtainable with minimal squad commands.

Hard offers a more thought out experience a few levels in, squad play becomes a nessicity, and teamwork is highly encouraged for maximum level goals and overall preformance.

Brutal is an all out difficult squad play enforcement, while the action in Brute Force never loses a beat, team work is nearly required every movement for optimum team survival and level preformance.

The game also features a solid score system presented as bounties for the mercenary team. Losing a character, even when recovering their memory chip results in a drastic bounty loss and a loss of a medal, the squad play ramps up even higher for medals and scores

Characters:

Brute Force's characters are very balanced, and each one is useful in their own ways.

Brutus is a Feral male that is one of the more balanced members of the squad, his abilities contain:

~Spirit of Vengar, Brutus can run on all fours like a beast and charge down enemies

~Sense of the Beast: Brutus can sense enemies, and display them in a bright orange, infa-red like display, he can also sense traps.

~Spirit Warrior: Brutus rengenrates health and is more resistant to damage.

Flint is the dedicated sniper, she's also the most alert and is a synthetic.

Her abilities contain:

~Advanced Targeting: Flint will raise her equipped gun and auto-target any enemy within range, very good for quick kills

~Air Recycling: Since Flint does not required oxygen as a synthetic, she isn't hurt by gas attacks

~Threat Analysis: Flint can view the HP of any enemy within her sights

~Advanced Sniping: Flint can zoom far further than any character of the game, and her aim is far steadier.

Hawk is the teams scout, and stealth expert, she's also a decent sniper herself.

Her abilities contain:

~Stealth: Hawk can move around undecetable, and invisible. Firing a gun decatives this, and it only lasts about 15 seconds, but it is fantastic for scouting, and even clearing out an entire camp of unaware enemies

~Powerblade: Hawk carries a laser dagger that provides instant kills, it's most effective when in stealth, but can be used as an assault weapon.

~System Bypass: Hawk's tech skills allow her to hack, and bypass security systems that would otherwise trip alarms

~Awareness: Hawk has a higher sense of awareness that allows her to notice things others would otherwise miss

Tex is the teams firepower and demolitions expert, he is the main character

His abilities contain:

~Assault Gear: Tex can uses any mix of heavy weapons and has heavy armor

~Explosives dissarmament: Tex can disarm traps and mines

~Berserker: Tex can pull out both weapons at once.

Visuals

Brute Force offers up a powerful plate of next-gen visuals, high geometric models, absurdly high res textures, bump mapping, excellent particle effetcs, amazing lightly and it all glides along at a butter smooth 30 FPS in any situation in any form of co-op

Presentation and low-key polish

Brute Force, in addition to having obscenely polished visuals, gameplay and controls in addition to possessing no real bugs, also offers up a lot on the basic presentation scale.

Each and every mission is presented in a high end FMV video, on par with works even out of Squaresoft, espically the character introductions.

Menu transitions are smooth, and loading time is minimal. The feature set is large and offers plenty between single player, up to four person seamless co-op, deathmatch, squad deathmatch, downloadable content and more.

The music is very high-end, partly orchestrated war styled fare. It's generic, but highly immersive and of good quality.

Value

18 missions, some with multiple chapters, 4-player co-op, three vastly different difficulty settings, deathmatch, squad deathmatch, downloadable content. The package is sealed, games don't come more packed than this without online treatment, which Brute Force was too late in development for.

Overall score: 10/10.

An amazing single player, and even better co-op experience that paved a new presentation of squad based gameplay along with the action, brains and beauty of Halo.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/02/03, Updated 06/02/03


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