Format: PC / Android / iOS / Browser
Developer: EXE Games Inc.
Unless you’ve been living in a… well… mineshaft… you’ll know all about Minecraft, the block building indie sensation.
Unless this mineshaft really is very deep you’ll also be aware of Counter-Strike, the classic and ever popular FPS.
Now, take these two and mix them up with a good dose of social gaming and you’ve got Brick-Force, a new block building, head shot sniping, team death-matching multi-player shooter from Exe Games Inc.
We’ve been lucky enough to be afforded a Beta slot for this fascinating mash-up, and we’re here to report on what we’ve been making of it thus far.
Right, as befits such a mesmerising mash-up I’m going to chop this one up into a couple of chunks for ya.
Firstly Brick-Force plays primarily as a shooter, so we’re going to cover its capabilities in that regard to start with.
I will confess I was concerned that the trigger finger experience of a title which wears it’s 8-bit inspiration proudly and loudly would end up feeling as jerky and laggy as I fondly remember some of my dear old gaming companions being.
Before I give you my opinion on the shooter mechanics, I want to take the opportunity to make an interesting clarification. I jumped into the game expecting warm and cuddly environments, characters and weapons. I was wrong on one count. The environments and characters are indeed charming and colourful, but the guns? They’re deadly serious. You see Brick-Force has a split personality. In a good way. Combining the best of Minecraft and Counterstrike has been taken very seriously, and its paid off. The dichotomy is almost too much to swallow initially, but once you get used to it, and the increased opportunity for head shots on the block like avatars heads, it really does work.
This separation, and subsequent combination, of these two different sides to the game is maintained beautifully through the whole gaming experience. From the game play itself to the menus, inventory, shop, configuration and design the two styles are admirably married.
The shooter experience plays well, with all the usual FPS play styles supported, and the simple, but cleverly constructed, maps serve to provide plenty of combat options with a great mix of levels, open areas, corridors, twists and turns there is always more than one way to get form any one place to another. The frantic pace of each round is also welcome and serves to keep things focused and fluid as you run and gun or sneak and snipe. The usual game modes apply here and the maps again serve to deliver these modes effectively across the board. Aim is everything you expect with weapon accuracy and stats playing a strong, and clearly marked, role in every encounter. So a strong and enjoyable core FPS feel.
The flip side to this fun mix of blocky and brutal bullet brawling is the traditional Minecraft experience which grants you the ability to create your own levels, and this is perhaps the most exciting part of the experience. Able to build solo, or co-operatively, with friends or randoms, you really can let your mind run riot! Ever wanted a snipers paradise or a toe-to-toe melee extravaganza? Well now you can make it, yes, you, you can actually make the level you want, and in ridiculously short, and enjoyable, order.
It has never been this easy for normal gamers, such as you and I, to design and play their own level / map. And there is surprising freedom and power in the simple tools afforded to us for the task by EXE Games Inc. If you’ve played Minecraft then you know what to expect, if you haven’t, then now’s your chance to get on the block building band wagon and have some great pick-up-and-shoot excitement to boot!
Financially, this game follows the well established “freemium” model for the shooter genre and provides a range of microtransactions in the usual departments; Avatar customisation, equipment availability and, in this case, increased variety of available “building blocks” which can add colour and variety to your level designing exploits. It all seems set to be very reasonably priced and should serve it’s gaming community well. Seemingly learning from the masters at Valve there have also already been seasonal events and I’m sure we can expect Team Fortress 2 like variety of festivals and customizability in final release.
I’ll certainly be playing a lot more over the beta and look forward to reporting on the finished product, which Brick-force very nearly is already…
- Richard “Rax” Burley