Game Review

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  • Platform: Xbox
  • ESRB: Mature
  • Genre: Action
  • Players: 1-8
  • Online: Yes, content download
  • Developer: Digital Anvil
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: A
  • Sound: A-
  • Gameplay: A
  • Replay: B+
  • Fun Factor: A
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: A+


Xbox action comparable to HALO

By Troy Roberts     June 03, 2003

Originally planned to be one of the first Xbox games developed by Digital Anvil for Microsoft Game Studios, BRUTE FORCE was first announced in 2001. After a few scraps of the game had taken place and numerous delays, BRUTE FORCE has been released and the wait has really been worth it.

In BRUTE FORCE, you are a member of the 23rd Special Forces Unit, which is aptly named "Brute Force." You, as a member of this elite squad of soldiers, must put an end to an alien threat and help the Confederation secure the galaxy once more.

The basic idea behind BRUTE FORCE is that you are in control of a group of four commandos, each with their own special abilities, who have come together to stop a common threat. Basically, your job is to use the right character at the right time. At your command, you will have Tex, a hardcore assault trooper; Brutus, an alien warrior; Flint, a sniper; and Hawk, a scout. At the beginning of the game, you only have control of one of these characters, but as you progress, you will be able to control others. When you can control the four characters, all are on-screen at a time, but all can be controllable by a simple press on the directional pad that switches your character to another.

If you've played HALO before then you will likely feel right at home the first time you play BRUTE FORCE except that the latter is played in third-person. Literally, the controls are almost completely similar and HALO fans will feel right at home. BRUTE FORCE focuses a lot on action, aiming for fast and furious firefights. There has even been a medkit button placed into the control scheme so you don't have to pause the game to use one, making sure the action keeps going.

Just to get this out of the way, if you were expecting an extremely strategic game here, you have been misled. Yes, Microsoft did market this saying that is was a team-based strategy game, and in some ways it is; but, for the most part, the game is hugely action-oriented. To control your squad mates, you have four basic commands. "Fire at will" will mean that they go looking for trouble, while "Cover me" is a bit smarter meaning they will stick around you. "Move" is where you can order them to move somewhere, and "Stand ground" means they'll just stay there and let you handle everything.

The main problem with the team-based strategy element of BRUTE FORCE lies within the computer AI of your teammates. If you set up a sniper to take our enemies from a distance, more power to you, but don't expect her to know how to cover you at close range. In other words, they will fire at things but their priorities might not be right. But hey, as long as you keep them alive, keep switching back and forth and keep the ammo coming.

BRUTE FORCE really shines with its multiplayer modes. No, there is no Xbox Live support (and why I do not know because this game would be awesome over Xbox Live), but the System Link actually works well in this case. And I point to the cooperative play. You can literally play through the whole game this way, and while the game does get a bit choppy at times with three other friends, this is really the way to play. Also included is standard deathmatch and squad-based deathmatch. In other words, it is your squad of four against their squad of four, and you can get up to eight players on this at a time.

BRUTE FORCE is probably one of the best looking games on the Xbox, no questions asked. While the character animations are kind of weak, the rest of the game looks great, be it weather effects or just the constant explosions during a firefight. The environments might possibly be the best looking part of the game, be it the first level you're on with the volcanoes or Brutus' homeworld in the trees.

While the music and voice-acting are a bit on the cheesy side, it actually fits in with the game. While the game is supposed to be taken seriously, BRUTE FORCE has the feel of an old sci-fi movie or show and doesn't try to hide it with the cheesy one-liners.

BRUTE FORCE is probably the best action game on the Xbox since the release of HALO back in 2001 (and that is some high praise). If you're wanting a good action game, don't look much further than this.


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