Brute Force

Review

posted 6/20/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
A few years back Chris Roberts, the creator of the treasured Wing Commander franchise, left Origin systems and founded his own company, Digital Anvil. Under the watchful eyes of Microsoft, the company promised two premiere titles, Freelancer, a PC-only space simulator, and Brute Force, a squad-based game that many referred to as the next HALO. Two years and a cavalcade of delays later the game has hit store shelves.

This is not HALO. Let’s make this clear for a moment. Aside from the fact that the game is a shooter that happens to reside on the Xbox, the two titles share very few similarities. They’re developed by different studios; have different directions and have a significantly different feel to them. After having played both, there’s no mistaking HALO for Brute Force or vice-a-versa. While the two may look similar in screenshots they’re worlds apart when set into motion. Unfortunately, this severed analogy works out far better for HALO than it does for Brute Force.

Not that BF is a bad game by any means. Far from it, to be more precise. In fact there are times when BF actually outshines HALO. It’s just that it’s an entirely different game that tries to succeed on an entirely different premise. Sure HALO contained a multi-player campaign but the main focus was placed squarely on the shoulders of the game’s single-player elements whereas in Brute Force the main focus has been placed on the multi-player elements and the single-player facet is just ho-hum.


Meet Barney. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Brute Force unfolds via a series of non-connecting missions that are related in some facets, but are basically self-contained. You’ll receive your mission briefing via a short CGI video but most of the time they’ll tell you very little about the task before you and only serve to show off the CGI talents of the folks at Digital Anvil. Mission objectives basically range from blowing the hell out of everything in sight to, well, blowing the hell out of everything in sight. Mission design could be stated as amateurish at best. At times the game even resorts to bringing back the old “kill all of the guys in order to unlock the door” tactic that was all the rage in 1996. There’s not much structure or design to the missions and most of them just serve as a reason for you to land on a planet in hopes of causing a ruckus. And trust me, you’ll be doing a whole lot of ruckus-causing throughout the duration of this game.

Brute Force has you controlling a squad of four soldiers who have different abilities and purposes. Serving as the group’s muscle, and requisite wannabe Duke Nukem, is Tex, a bad-ass who has the ability to wield the bulk of the game’s heavy weaponry. Complementing him in the fracas is Brutus, a lizard-like creature whose quick speed makes him great in combat. Taking point from a distance is Flint, an enhanced human who has the ability to see further with weapons than her squad mates. Rounding out the cast is Hawk whose main asset is stealth and agility. As the game’s tagline implies, they’re dangerous alone, deadly together.
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