Sometimes when a game is delayed and put out a little later than planned, the anticipation surrounding the title can help it with the fan base that had been waiting for it. However, that anticipation can cut both ways with folks who had been waiting for a game to release and end up just losing interest altogether.
In the case of Brute Force, the game was featured prominently at the Xbox Press Event during the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Indeed, it seemed the title was only a few short months …way during the press activities at the show. Now, nearly a year after it was showcased during the Press Event, Microsoft has unleashed Brute Force onto the Xbox console–a game some have wondered may be the next HALO, and will have many thinking it most definitely is not.
Players assume the role–at least initially–of Tex, a battle hardened veteran soldier of the Confederation, the ruling military force in 2340. The Confederation has mastered the art of cloning, and as such, all training and military recruitment is handled by the Confederation. Once a soldier dies, they just clone another copy of them and move on–thereby replacing the need for fresh recruits and expensive training.
Tex is paired up with three other mercenaries to run down separatists, aliens, and a madman bent on destroying what the Confederation has built in the solar system of 2340. Each squad member will use his or her abilities to curtail the activities of these rouge factions.
Although Brute Force is not a total eyesore to look at, it does not represent what the beefy graphics engine of the Xbox console can do. Most of the textures, colors, and environments are drab and mundane. The squad finds themselves doing battle in levels which are made of up three or four repeating levels–in the fact that they look almost alike. At least the levels are rotated so that the players are not seeing the same surroundings as the previous level.
The characters themselves are made up of a fair number of polygons, and are detailed sufficiently, although not excessively. The squad is made of Tex, Brutus, a walking lizard, Hawk a sexy assassin, and Flint, a synthetic hottie with a powerful sniper rifle.
The four are detailed fairly well and their movements and actions are fluid and believable. Atmospheric effects in the levels are kept to a minimum, but there are the rain, snow, and blowing leaves effects which add some interaction with the surroundings.
One of the reasons to own the Xbox console is the advanced visual and audio features the black box can provide. Players with the Home Theater hookup can play and listen to Brute Force in Dolby Digital which really brings the sound of combat home.
Voice acting and music is standard fare here with no surprises or extended features. One drawback seems to be the inability to decipher what is being said by your fellow team members at certain times. Brutus growls his way through a conversation, and as such, much of what he says is lost.
The majority of gameplay with Brute Force is based on squad tactics and team work between the other members in your squad and you. Players have the option of switching out the active player (the character you are playing as) at any time during the mission with a quick flick of your left thumb on the D-Pad. If one holds down on a direction of the pad, a squad directive screen comes up which allows you to assign different members of the team to new areas, or to cover and hold a position.
The squad tactics are really the meat and potatoes of gameplay with Brute Force, and the result can be some interesting play at times. There are a myriad of weapons to be had in the game–up to 30 with some being default equipped at the beginning of the mission, and others picked up from fallen enemies. All of your team members will share any health and weapons you pick up, but they always save the last of everything for the character you are playing as.
The enemy soldiers you will go up against range from mutant zombies to experienced soldiers. As such, using the right tool for the job–i.e.using the right team member to breach tough areas–is tantamount to getting through the missions. Each of the four team members has a special ability that they can use for short bursts during combat. The Stamina gauge, which shows how much special ability you can use at a moment, refills on its own over a short period of time.
The biggest redeeming quality to Brute Force is the inclusion of the LIVE service which players can use to download new content from the web. Players can download not only multiplayer content to use with the multiplayer feature (one to eight players using the system link), but also new single player missions as well.
This does add extended playability to the title, but overall Brute Force just falls short of the mark many players–including myself–were hoping it would reach. At the most, Brute Force is just an average action shooter appetizer on the way to the feast that will be HALO 2.