Brute Force is by no means the new Halo, as some people made it out to be before its release, but it’s a solid title nonetheless. If you look at it without those massive expectations, it actually is a pretty good game for its genre, and its true saving grace is the cooperation that can be had with four people playing through the game together.
The graphics of Brute Force are very well done. The character models are top notch, especially those in your squad. The enemies don’t look quite as good as the members of your squad, and everything gets scrunched together in four player co-op, but it still handled pretty well for me. I’ve heard of some people complaining slowdown in certain areas, but I’ve yet to see that for myself.
The real selling point of Brute Force is squad based gameplay. That is, having four people going through the game together as each member of Brute Force. Whichever way you like to play action games, there is somebody in the squad of Brute Force who can accommodate you. There’s Tex, the assault trooper of the group, who loves to use heavy weapons like chainguns and assault rifles. He has the special ability of using two weapons at once (called Berserk Mode) in which he generally just goes all out and is best used when surrounded by enemies. His other special ability is disarming mines, which comes in very handy if you like to stay alive.
Next in the group is Brutus, a lizard-like creature called a Feral. He serves as a shock trooper, and is one of my personal favorites. He also can use heavy assault weapons, and is much faster than Tex. His special ability is called the Spirit of Vengar. This switches Brutus’ sight to sense the heat of his enemies which allows him spot them quickly. I found Brutus to be a very good scout because he is very good at detecting people hiding in the grass as well as in dark.
Then there’s Hawk, the stealthy one of the group. She may not have that much health, but she is the speediest member of the team and is very good at infiltration. She can cloak herself, predator style, to sneak into areas and can use a vibro-blade to kill enemies in a single blow. If stealth is your thing, this is the character to use.
Lastly is Flint, a cyborg who specializes in sniping enemies from afar. She also doesn’t have that much health and not quite as fast as Hawk. Still a valuable asset in your group, she has special vision to see far away. Her special ability allows her to lock onto enemies and basically kill them instantly with her sniper rifle, even without using a scope. I found Flint to be kind of cheap in multiplayer, but as far as the main story goes, she’s pretty good, and my personal favorite. As you can see, there are plenty of choices in terms of how you’d like to play through the game.
All characters can be switched inbetween or on the fly for whatever situation you may need. Another cool feature is that people can join or leave a game at any time, even while in a level. This is an excellent idea which I really hope becomes a trend in future multiplayer games. I can’t stress enough how fun this game can be with four people playing cooperatively through the entire campaign. Speaking of campaign mode, the storyline is typical sci-fi stuff, involving stopping an alien race from taking over the universe. Nothing too memorable, but entertaining nonetheless. Unfortunately, the AI in campaign mode that your enemies exhibit isn’t all that great, as they usually just wait around for you to shoot them, and the objectives are typical shooter fare (go blow up this, go here to grab that) but in all honestly I didn’t start playing the game expecting mind blowing AI or original objectives, so I wasn’t too disappointed, but some people might be.
These are probably my biggest gripes with the game, but the multiplayer makes up for these faults easily. Multiplayer has plenty of modes, with the possibility of more being added along with new levels through Xbox Live downloads. Unfortunately, you can’t play Brute Force over Xbox Live, which is a real let down, but if you can get a few people together it’s still enjoyable. Regular deathmatch is very fun, with up to 8 people able to go head to head using the four members of Brute Force, or with characters from the campaign that you can unlock by finding DNA canisters in the campaign’s 18 levels. There’s also team deathmatch, in which you choose different teams of four, and the last team standing wins. For example Brute Force could go up against a team of 4 different ferals, if you’ve unlocked all four of them. Each character has its own special abilities and varying degrees of health and defense and weapons they can use, which really adds a lot of variety to multiplayer sessions.
Sound in Brute Force is pretty decent, with nice little touches like footsteps being heard in the grass, or hearing an enemy scream in the distance or one of your teammates talking to each other from far away. The music in the game changes depending on the situation, such a calm music during down times and faster when in combat, which is more interesting than say, hard rocking tunes no matter what you are doing.
As I stated earlier, the multiplayer portion of this game really is its saving grace. The campaign is infinitely more fun with friends playing alongside you, and the multiplayer portion (though minus online play) is a blast. Going through all the levels looking for the DNA canisters for multiplayer also adds a bit to the mix, and squad Deathmatch can be very entertaining after unlocking entire squads. Once more levels and modes are added for download off Xbox Live, I think it may extend the fun of the game even longer, though for how long remains to be seen.
All in all, Brute force is a fun game to go through, and if you take it for what it is, a basically mindless action game and not Halo 2, you should enjoy yourself immensely. I know I did.