Brick-Force – MMO Game Review
Brick-Force. Developed by EXE Games. Published by Infernum Productions. Free game with download and browser clients. Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and MAC OS X (browser client only).
Passed Inspection: Surprisingly fun combat action, with plenty of depth, yet kept within very simple controls. Minecraft with guns!
Failed Basic: No achievement system (yet); rough out-of-game user interface; glaring differences between the download client and the browser client.
In a gaming world full of increasingly sophisticated military-themed first-person shooters, it’s nice to find a game that returns to the basics of the genre, yet keeps the fun factor high. That game is Brick-Force, recently launched out of the beta cannon and into Web browsers and desktop clients everywhere.
Brick-Force is a free-to-play sandbox shooter built on the Unity 3D engine, and centers gameplay around the three factors of playing, building, and sharing. You can create a simple account at the official website, and choose to either quickly log into your character and play through your browser, or choose the US or EU download client and play from your hard drive. You can choose from an ever-widening list of multiplayer maps to do battle in, create your own battle maps and share those maps for public use, or keep them locked and private for only you and your friends.
There are currently 14 official Brick-Force maps available, tailored to Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Defusion, and Build and Destroy modes. Even better, the number of player-made maps in the Map Search section reveals countless more maps. I clicked through a thousand pages with 10 maps each page before my mouse hand tired out, and I still wasn’t at the end of the list.
Once you get into play, it’s all very simple, probably even if you’ve never played an FPS before. You have four item slots geared for a rifle, a pistol, a wrench, and a single grenade. Rifles and pistols have limited ammo, so you had best focus on making each shot count. When ammo runs out, switch to your wrench for some enemy-bashing melee action, provided you live long enough. Depending on the map size and number of players available, deaths and respawns may be swift and often. Your ammo count is refilled when you respawn, and you have a few seconds of invulnerability to guard against annoying spawn killers.
As noted above, Brick-Force is free to play, but it comes with an in-game Item Shop that sells cosmetic items (various uniform and equipment styles), upgraded and upgradeable weapons and armor, character heads (including a female one), and tools to help the map-building process go smoother and faster. Buying tokens with real money is the main way to pay for items, but many can also be purchased with Brick Points and Force Points, which are accrued through completely playing through a game session, and by Ranking maps from 1 to 10 stars after playing them.
So far I’ve not seen players with upgraded (bought) items having a huge advantage over players that don’t. I’ve fought players with increased armor that are harder to kill, and fought some with upgraded weapons that can kill much better, but it has only made me and other players up our own tactics and techniques in order to beat them.
Building maps in Brick-Force is almost as fun as playing them, at least for me. I’ve not played Minecraft, but I’ve watched many videos of those who have, and it seems more complicated than I have the skill and creativity to handle. Brick-Force’s building sandbox has a simple interface with a wide variety of building options to choose from. Armed with your handy-dandy Brick-Gun, choose a block from a selection of different colors and textures, point the Brick-Gun where you want the block placed, and R-click. Repeat to your heart’s desire. Embellish your battle map with gun turrets, fire, boxes, traffic cones, lamps, tires, flowers, chairs, tables, and many more items. Judging from the constructions I’ve seen, which include pirate ships, bus depots, and—one of my faves so far—a mock up of the D-day landings, whatever you imagine can be built.
Of course, Brick-Force is not without problems, even fresh out of beta. I’ve seen other players calling out a player for being a (possible) hacker, using some hack to gain a greatly increased advantage. My own knowledge is much too small to be able to tell if the claim is fact, so I just take their word for it and move on to another map.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have unlimited ammo, and only a single grenade per life. I would really like to see ammo caches available at random places, especially on the larger maps. Some randomly placed health buffs would be cool, as well.
The interface is in need of some work, both in the download client and in the browser client. It’s more than a little confusing at first navigating through to uploading and playing player-created maps, even your own. There’s also a wide gap between the Item Shop screen and the item equipping screen; took me more than a few hours of play before I discovered I had items in inventory that I could equip and use.
The download client allows you to choose from a list of graphics settings, whereas the browser client doesn’t. Full screen is not really full screen; the background and window go full screen, but the main game window stays the same small-ish size. Currently, tracking your Battle Stats (wins, loss, draws, kills, deaths, etc.) and Map Stats (played maps, registered maps) is only available on the Website. I’d love to see that included in the download client. Not to worry, though, as the Brick-Force forums list these and many other items (including the addition of Achievements) as soon-to-be-fixed items in upcoming patches.
If you’re looking to take a break from the complexity of big-budget military FPSs but not ready to quit playing shooters outright, then give Brick-Force a try. Tired of running through the same old multiplayer maps? Create your own, or choose from the vast list of player-created maps already there. Either way, Brick-Force may be just the quick-gunning action sandbox game you’ve been looking for.
Armchair General Rating: 85%
About the author
Jim H. Moreno dropped his first quarter into a video game back in 1977, and has been avidly gaming ever since. He joined up with Armchair General just before the website went live as a game reviewer, and remains a regular contributor of war, combat, and strategy articles here. When he’s not working on an ACG piece, he’s freelancing MMORPG articles for The WarCry Network and The Instance Podcast, catching some sci fi shows, or just being zen with his cat, Spritzer.