Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quick Remorse - Brick Force Review

   Note: I'm not a builder. Since I always post screenshots I obtained myself, I'll be showing what I saw or helped build myself. These aren't good examples of the potential of the building system but these are (the videos linked are not mine, nor are any of the maps presented in this review).

   Brick Force is a hybrid sandbox/first-person shooter game created by Infernum and EXE Games. It combines the ability to build cool stuff with the ability to shoot people in the face. Bright and colorful, it's a pretty casual game and playable both as a standalone client or in a browser using the Unity game engine.

   The game has two base modes, "Build" and "Play". They're pretty self-explanatory, but in "Build" you can create maps and in "Play" you shoot people. In "Play", there are five game modes available for play (Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Defusion, and Build and Destroy), so this is actually both a fully fleshed out shooter and builder. Unlike the exterior, however, the game isn't all sunshine and roses.

   Building: Not Bad
   First off, I should say that this is NOT Minecraft, so the building options aren't that vast. Still, the possibilities are endless. To start off, you pick a background and an empty ground layer to start off with. Start getting some groundwork together...

   And soon, you'll be turning that, into THIS!

I'm sorry. Read the note at the top of the page.
   The amount of different blocks at your disposal isn't exactly vast, but they're enough to build pretty much anything you want, and the building process is incredibly easy. Simply pick a block, point, and shoot.
   The best thing about the building system however isn't the building itself. It's the ability to easily build things with friends, and without anything horribly screwing up the process (unless you have terrible friends). The person with the idea (the man with the plan) starts the room and names the map. He is the "Master" of the room. No one who enters the room can build on the map until the Master gives them permission to, which stops people from just entering and erasing half your work. Not only that, but the Master can instantly kick anyone he wants from the room, even during building. For those worried, these rules do not follow outside of Build rooms, and the system works very well. You don't have to build solo, you can get a whole team together.
   As a side note, this game has a clan system, complete with their own clan battles. Don't let that limit you, though. If you want, you can get a clan together just to have a dedicated team for building things. It's a nice thought.

   Building Potential: Higher Than Expected
   One particular thing I was surprised by was the ability to put multiple spawners on a given map. You can put multiple player and flag spawners on the map you build so that they spawn randomly in one of those places, adding variety to your map that isn't even present in other games.
   A max of up to 4 turrets can be placed on the map give it a little bit more of a competitive edge, and some blocks are destructable. Though, for some reason, the interface gives no indication of which blocks are destructable (most aren't), so you basically just have to shoot at the more obvious ones (glass for instance) to know for sure.

   Build and Destroy: Interesting Concept
   In this mode, you start off in a field with two teams, separated by a wavy field.
How else can I describe it?
   You're then given five minutes or so for you and your team to build up your side of field with whatever you want before it starts a normal team deathmatch. Honestly, I was totally on-board until I found it was just deathmatch with a build phase. The name of the mode implied a little more.

   Pay-to-Win Status: Positive
   This game has a lot of things wrong with it. First, I will say that everything IS available with the in-game currency (Force Points). That's not the issue. To provide details without making this section just a long block of text, I'm going to have to break this up into multiple sections.

      -Weapons: Imbalanced
      As this is an MMOFPS, there are multiple guns in the shop at your disposal. Also similar to most MMOFPS games, the guns aren't balanced. The gun you start off with isn't exactly bad, it's just that most other weapons are just plain better. Getting a better weapon is simply a straight upgrade from whatever you were using before with little to no trade-off. There are no level caps on any weapons or equipment, but as temporary weapons aren't available and the better weapons can be expensive, you can easily pay cash and get the weapon you want faster. Though, this still wouldn't be too bad if...

      -Upgrade System: A Little Much
      ...the game didn't also have an upgrade system. By buying special gems with Force Points, you can upgrade weapons, armor, and accessories to provide extra buffs to you. Armor and accessories can be upgraded to provide extra Force Point gain, extra Experience Point gain, and... armor. Armor doesn't provide armor until you upgrade it and neither do accessories, don't ask me why. Weapons can be upgraded to provide extra ammunition, reduce recoil, increase the firing rate, and increase the damage.
      There are eight different gems (4 for weapons, 4 for armor), and are limited by character level. The first gems can be used from level one, but only upgrade stats up to three each. The second gems upgrade them to six. The third gems upgrade them to ten (max).
      The fourth gem is the "Elite Gem", which is only available with cash. Elite gem upgrades have 0% chance of failing, and the player gets to pick and choose which stat they want upgraded, as opposed to the randomness of normal upgrades. Basically, cash lets you upgrade things easier and faster.

      -Beginner's Experience: Horrible
      All of this contributes to how bad a beginner's experience is, unless he's simply there to build (and even then, the shop sells tools that make building much easier and faster). First off, you see this every time you die:
      When you die, it put up a window of the guy who killed you, with a happy face, laughing. And trust me, when you first start the game, you will be dying a lot. If you're like me, you'll be doing fine until a high-level player walks in. Thankfully, most people don't pay cash (yeah, I said "thankfully"), so people who are similar to your level probably won't be a big problem. High-level players, however, tend to completely wipe the field with, quite literally, 100+ kills per game (or 50+ in a deathmatch mode). This is almost entirely because of the upgrade system, as they simply have better equipment than everyone else. Fully armored, using highly-upgraded versions of the best weapons in the game (reportedly smgs and sniper rifles, according to a group of people in the game).
      Basically, expect doing okay until a particular player comes in and instantly kills you. Inside your base. Multiple times.

      -Premium Status: Available
      Lastly on this topic, there is a premium service available for $4.00 a month. For this you get array of bonuses, the most important, to my eyes, being the ones that say "an item that significantly shortens your respawn time" and "an item that heals you automatically, if needed, once per spawn". You may notice that both of these directly help you in battle. Which is a problem.
   The point here is, you can win without cash. It's just much easier to do so with it. So much easier to the point where I simply must label this game pay-to-win.

   Bugs: Just One For Me
   This is a smaller issue and may not affect everyone, but while playing I very frequently got a "GetThread Context Failed" error.
*breaking noises*
   Watch out for this. I looked up the issue, and found about three different sources telling me to uninstall "Kaspersky", which I don't have. One guy said to run the game as administrator and in compatibility mode, and amazingly, that worked for the most part. It still happened periodically, but "periodically" is better than "every 10-15 minutes".

   Builder's Compensation: Practically Nothing
   There is a third currency called Brick Points. Brick Points are used mostly for registering maps (maps must be registered after you create them for others to be able to play them), and for buying maps, though most maps don't cost much. There is a rating system for people to tell you how good or bad your map is on a scale of one
 ten, using yet another counter called "Stardust points", and players earn Brick Points for rating maps.
   There are two problems with this system. The first is that map raters are awarded a Brick Point value equal to the score given (a score of 10 gives 10 Brick Points). Though this will also deplete Stardust faster, since the fastest way to gain Brick Points through this is just by handing out all 10s and you only have 50 Stardust to use, this gives an incentive to rate maps higher.
   The bigger problem is the reward given to the builders. As people use and rate their map, the person that built the map is awarded... Brick Points. Basically, as a reward for building a good map, your reward is the ability to build more maps. Personally, I think it would make more sense to award Force Points, or both Brick and Force Points for good maps.

   Final Score: 2.5 out of 5

   While the building aspect is very nice, and the gun sound effects are pretty good, the game overall is actually pretty terrible. The animations are low-quality, and the fighting features are limited (you can't crouch, nor can you aim most weapons), making the game as simple as moving forward and shooting at the first thing you see with little strategy involved. While this kind of casual gameplay may appeal to newer players, the appeal is eclipsed by the pay-to-win system. However, the visuals are amazing for a browser game and, along with the building system, are the main reason I didn't give this game a lower score.
   I would urge anyone with a knack for construction to check out what they can do with the sandbox. The fact that the maps are built for FPS gameplay adds a new dimension to the thoughts that can go through your head while placing things, and it's pretty cool to experience.

   Extra Things to Know
   - You start off with 10,000 Brick Points.
   - There is a Luck stat on heads. Luck decreases the chance of successful headshots.
   - Getting shot slows you down.
   - You can equip an oddly high amount of accessories at once. I had 5 on at once, more may be possible.
   - There is an "Action Panel" where you can put items that can help you in a fight. For example, they can speed you up, refill ammo, even heal you.
   - "Weapon Proficiency". Just gives you a discount on the same-type weapon in the shop.


  1. Over all a pretty good review. There are a few things I do disagree with, however.

    - While the beginner's experience may not be a tiptoe through the tulips due to higher levels having better gear, I do not feel the game is pay to win. A player who works hard can work their way to better gear. While the game does have convenience items available for a premium currency I would not call it Pay To Win in comparison to many other games with weapons only available for premium cash. The auto-heal ( once per spawn on premium accounts ) does not provide a significant advantage given any player can carry multiple health potions with them.

    - Luck does not simply decrease headshots. Any shot to the head is a head shot, while a shot to the brain is an 1HKO Brick-Shot. That said, I encourage you to send a ticket to the game developers asking about factors such as luck as opposed to speculating. This is something you could do with future reviews as well to gain proper knowledge regarding features of a game.

    - While not really a disagreement, I feel you forgot to mention two things: The game is young, and there is plenty of time to add more bricks for building in addition to rented weapons. The game supports multiple languages, and this is something you neglected to mention in your review.

    - You seem to of contradicted yourself during the review. With the example I'll post, it should simply be one or the other. I quote you when you say "The animations are low-quality" and "However, the visuals are amazing for a browser game and, along with the building system, are the main reason I didn't give this game a lower score."

    I would like to see you do another, more thorough review at a later date. I'm sure many of the issues will be fixed in a half-year or so, and gaining more information before writing a review would only make a future review of Brick-Force better.

    1. - The gap between older players and newer players in terms of power is just too large. Auto-heal is better than normal potions because they're automatic. They activate while you're getting shot up, without relying on the player's reflexes.

      - I was not speculating. I Googled the issue, searched the forums, and asked people in-game. Ultimately, I took it from an in-game tooltip from one of the loading screens. If it's wrong, contact the devs.

      - If the game never updated, I'd have mentioned that in the review. A game having multiple languages doesn't seem that important.

      - "Animations" and "visuals" are not the same thing.

      And I'm not writing another review for the same game unless it's requested en masse.