What happens when you get Minecraft in a FPS game—you get a game like Brick-Force. A free-to-play game published by Infernum it will fill the niche of what might be the very first sandbox FPS that allows players to build the maps for one another. This is a good selling point because it’s a rare idea and if implemented well may mean an enduring audience.
How did they do?
Pretty well. The game doesn’t fit well into the standard FPS market because things move more slowly than one might expect; but the fact that he maps are player-made means that there’s always a new-strange-horizon just around the corner and that makes the game worth playing for an hour or two a day just to see what’s out there and how players use them.
Graphics and Audio: We look like LEGO people toting guns across a bricked-out landside
Welcome to Minecraft. Everything is a brick, as the name should suggest, and this limits the way that maps work—there’s no crouching, jumping is minimal, and there’s a strict sense of place when moving about. However, there is translucent-glass, which I’ve used to good effect for seeing an enemy and catching them off guard before.
The players look a great deal like LEGO people, blocky limbs, cylindrical heads with painted on eyes, yellow skin—the whole shebang. Of course, it rather stops there once the AK-47s, pistols, and grenades come out. In fact, watching players pull out their weapons is a funny effect, especially while still thinking, “We look like LEGO people—oh my, is that a gun?” And now I’m dead.
When taking fire, bullet-cracks appear in the screen (and no doubt as I’m dying tears are flowing from my character’s eyes—see below at gameplay.)
Unabashedly cheerful elevator music greets all players of this game. Unfortunately, it’s extremely repetitive and very loud (you’ll probably be turning it down) and it lives mostly in the waiting-to-join lobby before the game starts.
In the game, sound plays a large part in the FPS play. In fact, you can listen in stereo as to where people may be at, although it’s not quite good enough to give echolocation a chance, it does mean that if I hear someone walking and no teammates are nearby someone is about to die horribly in an ambush. Gunfire works in similar fashion.
The characters themselves also squeak and shout cheerfully, in helium-filled voices (I’m not sure if this is the Korean voice set happening or not because I can’t get it to switch to English entirely.)
There’s still some odd glitches in the game, especially graphical; and lag has some weird effects. But by and large, it renders well and sounds okay.
Gameplay: First-person-shooter with Minecraft creative elements
Brick-Force fits into the mold of a traditional shooter with an FPS controlled with the mouse and keyboard (WASD). Weapon switches are connected to the mouse wheel and number keys and first time players will recognize the rifle, pistol, grenade loadout.
Initially, characters move very slowly. This is a weird feeling for the game, and though they make a lot of sound on the floor, there’s no bob to suggest walking; as a result, it feels as if I’m floating slowly over a LEGO environment as I go, with my feet racketing against the floor. Pressing <SHIFT> will cause the player to move even slower but they make no sound as they walk (there is no crouch.)
One amusing thing about the game is that as a player takes damage it shows on their character, with the face beginning to cry as they approach death.
Weapons do not automatically reload when out of ammunition—so don’t forget to hit the <R> key every time you fire and go looking for a new target, or you’ll find yourself click-click-click instead of killing someone as you aim at their face.
Games are a little slow to start (especially in the Beginner circuit) because the game requires that even 8×8 everyone ready up before the game starts. This leads to very long lobby waits when the lead doesn’t quickly kick people who don’t ready up. As a result, I end up listening to the elevator music sometimes minutes on end before seeking another room.
However, all this is only half of the game—the other half is being able to make the very environments that players fight in so there’s an economy of maps to be had. Even brand-new characters can spawn their own map creator and go at it.
Just be careful: you can fall off the map while creating it!
Players are given a block spawning tool and can place blocks on the map by aiming at a point that causes the ghostly-halo of a block; or remove one by having a block selected. A number of basic blocks are selectable using number keys and the mouse scroll-wheel. While there’s a limited number of blocks for any given map, there’s more than enough blocks to build most anything.
Maps are then registered and even put into play lists for the game and become part of a rating system that the community chooses how well they’re built and if they’ll remain in rotation.
Freemium: Standard cash shop with currently all-permanent items
The game runs on three different currencies: Brick-points, Force-points, and Tokens. For the matter of microtransactions and cash. Brick-points are generated by making and having maps rated well and downloaded by other users (and are not used for virtual items); Force-points are the primary currency for buying items.
500 Tokens runs $2.49 USD (about 1/2¢ per Token) and get cheaper as more are bought in bulk. These can be used to purchase weapons, aesthetic items, and upgrade items in the virtual item store. All the items in the store are marked as permanent (this suggests that time-limited items may be sold); currently all the items I’ve seen from guns, upgrades, and costume pieces could be bought with either Tokens or Force-points. There are a few high-level upgrades that can only be bought with Tokens.
Conclusion: Brick-Force has a lot going for it and the creative mode may create some celebrities
Leveling initially in Brick-Force can be very slow, but don’t let that turn you off. It takes a little bit to get used to the strange, grinning childlike LEGO faces and the bullets flying through the map, but this has all the hallmarks of a standard FPS: guns, guts, and game modes.
It’s best to get out of the Beginner circuit as quickly as possible because it’s somewhat sparse there; people also aren’t on top of enforcing some sort of social normalcy when people just won’t ready up for a game. Things need to move quickly if an FPS game is going to thrive and shopping/equipping and the like should not be happening in a lobby where people are waiting to enter a game.
It’s hard to tell where Brick-Force is going to go based on what it current has; but it’s extremely popular overseas, perhaps less so currently in the US. It recently came out of beta and went into full production so the population may slowly yet ramp up.
Overall: Solid FPS, some caveats and a definite learning curve; interesting and fun creative elements in the make-your-own map. These things alone may make this game worth your while.