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Tycho / on Mon, Apr 14 2003 at 7:31 am

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Tart As A Double Entendre

Seeing the new McFarlane “Twisted Land of Oz” toys got us thinking about American McGee’s Oz, about which fairly little is known.  We do, however, have some insights on his next project.

As I mentioned on Friday, we did indeed go check out Brute Force - and came away with a pretty good feeling about it.  The feeling wasn’t good the whole time, as you’ll see below.

The PR Manager initially tried to cloak the game conceptually in a “Tactical Shooter” motif, but since your tactical options often amount to shooting your gun or not shooting it, we needn’t spend much time meditating on that moniker.  There is nothing wrong with a game where all you do is shoot things, provided it is fun and rewarding to do so.  And it is.  The ragdoll physics, as seen in games like UT2k3 or Raven Shield, are satisfying and well executed.  The areas we saw were visually diverse, but you may not have much time to appreciate them as mutants will be shooting you almost the whole time.

Brute Force is the name of a special forces unit that is built, soldier by soldier, into the skill-balanced entourage you might have seen in glossy promotional materials.  You have the Tank, the Assassin, the Sniper, and a Primal Reptile Man, which means they could also make a decent rock band.  Each has special abilities which correlate to their function, like the ability to dual-wield firearms, engage a cloaking device, and so forth that are powered by an ability bar below your health.  Each character also has varying levels of health and ability, so trying to act out of a given soldier’s role is inadvisable.  You can give orders and assign waypoints via an easy-to-use command system you control with the D-pad and face buttons.

We were told that other editors have come away from the game wowed by the graphics, but that was most certainly not our initial assessment.  It looked alright, but it wasn’t until we got it off the High Definition TV and onto a regular television that it really started to shine.  On the first television, the aliasing was fairly intense and robbed otherwise scenic vistas of their power.  Honestly, I think it might have just been this build, because the graphics are indeed very good, I’d even say great, on a regular television.       

I think that the Lizard Man looks stupid.  All the characters are extremely generic in appearance, take a gander at some art if you think I’m just being jaded - but the Lizard Man is inexcusable in my opinion.  Our offer to look at concept art and initial screenshots still stands, developers.  If you are thinking, “I wonder if my ridiculous Lizard Man looks too stupid,” that is a question you can get answered the same day.  Our addresses are on the site.     

Brute Force sports two sorts of multiplayer, Deathmatch and Squad Deathmatch, which may require some explanation.  In deathmatch, up to eight can play as any of the main characters or the enemies, provided you have collected their “DNA” which is sometimes hidden in level.  Since each of these enemies also has a special ability, collecting them can be an excellent way to keep things fresh in that mode.  Clever rolling bombs that seek out your foes also keep things fresh by destroying human beings.  Squad Deathmatch gives each player a team of four, and - using the sensible and ergonomic interface for controlling squadmates in single player - humans may do battle with an AI entourage. 

It might sound like I didn’t like it very much, and it’s true that I like some things better than others.  But, let’s remember - this is a shooter we’re talking about, and a fun one, so a Lizard Man being dumb or a Jagged Edge on Some Polygons in High Definition Mode isn’t something that is going to keep me awake at night.  I have every intention of purchasing the game, but let’s be clear - I am getting it for the four player co-operative campaign, and that’s about it.  I appreciate that new missions will be made available over Live, but without actual Live play I doubt I am going to see much DM.  If a Deathmatch game comes up when we have Xboxes hooked together, it’s not going to be Brute Force.  I’ll give you a hint which game is going to get played:  It’s Round, And Angels Wear it.     

Before we left, apparently press copies of Phantasy Star Online for the Xbox had just arrived, and we were treated to them.  They are likely to regret that come Wednesday.

(CW)TB out.

that’s all i drop


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