“The muzzle is loaded and Brick-Force is live. It’s Minecraft with guns. What more is there to say?”
That’s the way the PR company for Brick-Force, a first person sandbox shooter, is pitching it. So far, Brick-Force consists of a few publisher-created maps mixed in with a lot of custom-built worlds, hosting multiple game types such as death match and capture the flag. While free-to-play, there is little room for fun without purchasing some of the in-game items. Here I detail my journey from oblivious hope and excitement to ragequit.
It Looks Like Fun
The imagery displayed on the Brick-Force website is wonderful. With the promise of cool-looking characters with gas masks, big guns and hats (oh the hats!), it was blatantly obvious that this was a micro-transaction filled social media game—but the visuals were akin to the Team Fortress 2 characters in a Minecraft world. Being a connoisseur of both, I couldn’t help but ignore the warning signs—and was excited to get an account set up. A large red, one-click button made that happen—easy enough to Facebook Connect, create my account and begin downloading the installer.
I Just Want To Shoot
Running the installer was an interesting experience. The installer, as it should, prompted for administrative permission. Done. Then it wanted to install directly to the C: drive. No. I pointed it to the proper program files folder. From there, the installer finished up and I was able to start the launcher. The launcher then proceeded to prompt for administrative permission (again), download the most recent build, and launch the game, prompting me for my username and password. I had just created that so I entered it.
“Invalid login information.”
I’ve been known to fat finger a password in my time so I retyped it.
“Invalid login information.”
I double-checked my ID and retyped again.
“Invalid login information.”
On a hunch, I put my email address in the ID box with the password that was tied to my ID and in I went. Not the smoothest gaming experience I’ve ever had but I had visions of grandeur still so I pushed on.
Not So Quick play
Once in the game, there is a nice selection screen with options; Play, Build, Tutorial, Shop, Clan, Beginners. Well I am not a n00b or a chump so Beginners or Tutorial were obvious non-choices respectively. I just want to shoot something, so Play it is. Two channels are available; Western US and Eastern US. Being in California made that choice easy. A new screen with options of Quick Join and Play rooms, along with the Item Shop and My Items appeared.
I want to play, so Quick Join it is.
“Unable to quick join a room.”
I then realize there is no one on this server. Ok, so back to server select, where I hit up the Eastern server. Quick Join. Now I am in a waiting room. Waiting for a few more players gives me a chance to check out the items. I have nothing but the default gear so I head into the shop.
“I Immediately Regret This Decision”
I look in the shop and notice something I strongly dislike—The items I am looking at are listed with prices over amounts of time. You can only rent them.
A range of items from useful buffs, such as ammo belts for extra ammo or canteens for HP cooldown, to the cool-looking, solely cosmetic gas mask, could only be leased for use. Even the buffs were limited. Actions like automatic reload of your rifle was micromanaged. A click to the weapons tab shows that at least if you pay the ridiculously large amount of points or tokens for those, then the items are unlocked permanently. I had some tokens so I picked up a starter set that included some fun gear for seven days. I also found and unlocked a hammer modeled after a child’s toy that was a one hit kill and a powerful sniper rifle (only finding out later that both melee and sniping are pretty close to useless).
I. Just. Want. To. Shoot.
While I am playing paper doll with my character, I figure the game is getting ready behind the scenes. I was wrong. I was in a lobby where players would enter for a short period of time and leave. Since the room never filled, the game could not be started. I tried to use the Play Rooms option to find a game. I could not find a game in session to join, so my option was to pick a lobby and wait. I was finally lucky enough to get into a game. Finally!
When I spawned, I could see other players running around but I could not move. I checked TAB and it showed that about half the players along with myself were still loading. The other team’s players ran right past me, so they must not have been able to see me. The game I made it into was a deathmatch, which has a total amount of kills or a time limit that would end the match. All I could do was watch the timer tick down and the death counter go up as I was “loading.”
Other not-so-savvy players pleaded for help in the chat, not understanding why they could not move, only to be met by angry answers from others—seems they get that a lot. Suddenly no less than five other players appeared to spawn in the exact location I was in, and all I could see was helmet. I could finally move, but in short order I was dead.
By this time, there were only about 10 kills left in the round. I got a couple but the round ended. Surprisingly, I then found another match in play that I could join. There were 12 minutes on the clock, 90 kills left, and only 3 of the 16 players were loaded. There I stood, unable to move, watching players wonder why they couldn’t move either, and others yell at them, for twelve minutes. During this time I figured out that you can use your boosts while loading. I was able to waste speed boosts while I couldn’t even move.
The Minecraft comparison
I have to admit, the building aspect of this game is pretty fun. The idea that I can use blocks to build a capture-the-flag map is pretty appealing. It is a lot simpler than an editor like Hammer (used to make TF2 maps) and it has the advantage over Minecraft of being able to set up game mechanics like spawn points and flags. While I spent 15 minutes making some spawn rooms, a couple of bases and a few buildings in between, I couldn’t shake the thought that I will never enjoy playing on this map.
I could never recommend this game in its current state to any of my friends, let alone enough to get a decent-sized game going, and at this point I wouldn’t expend the energy trying to start a pub game on it.
I really wanted to like Brick-Force. I wanted it to be the game it makes itself out to be. I wanted to be able to easily put together maps with the ease of Minecraft, and then play TF2-style matches on them. However, the game’s clunky controls and even worse matchmaking just makes the overall experience bad. I’m not going to go as far as saying don’t ever try this game, but definitely give it some time to mature.
Maybe it can get better with time. Maybe.
Brick-Force is available now for PC, and is Free-to-Play with microtransaction support.