If you build it, they will frag.
Hey, boys and girls! Did you hear about the new business model that all the cool kids say is going to be the future? It's called “free to play." First it's free, and then you play! I know, right? Now let's all go drink Kool-aid together!
I have to admit that every time I sit down with a developer to check out a free-to-play title, like Brick-Force, I get a little knot in my stomach. I'm just waiting for that awkward moment when the game starts asking you for money. Then during the interview with the developer, I dread the part of my otherwise friendly discussion where I have to ask the big question: How are you monetizing?
I hate asking this question, but of course, I have to. If there really is nothing we can do to stop free-to-play from becoming the status quo, then the least we can do is make sure it's being implemented in ways that don't ruin our experience. Thankfully, Brick-Force manages to avoid coming off as disrespectful with its system of microtransactions, while delivering a unique and entertaining premise: competitive FPS gameplay mixed with a Minecraft-style construction set.
As is expected nowadays, Brick-Force offers quite the bevy of unlockable weapons, upgrades, and gadgets to help you get your shoot on, and anyone who's played CoD or any other loadout-centric shooter will feel at home with the available options here. Sniper rifles, shotguns, and SMGs abound—familiar options in familiar territory. What sets Brick-Force apart, however, is its focus on user-generated content.
With the game employing an interface that Minecraft vets will no doubt recognize, players can build, publish, and sell maps for in-game currency. It's a simple process, one that countless players are already well-versed in. Needless to say, this opens up a whole world of possibilities, such as building a virtual San Francisco to tool around, but like the shooter gameplay, it's still something that's been done before. Where Brick-Force really starts to come together is in Build and Destroy mode, where the two elements collide.
Build and Destroy is one of several game types, but is, in my opinion, the one to play Brick-Force for. The match starts with a huge curtain splitting the map in two, giving each team a set amount of time to build defenses. From walls and bunkers, to pit traps and underground tunnels, anything goes here. One person on my team craftily tunneled all the way to the curtain, and then once it lifted, continued tunneling through by deleting blocks before popping up in the back of our opponent's base, snagging two kills without ever being seen.
After a disastrous first round of getting spawn=camped by foes who had taken over one of our turrets and pointed it at us, I built a protective wall in front of our spawn area and gave it exclusive access to a walled-off turret on the other side, which completely changed the dynamic of the map. Since you can continue to build and erase structures during combat, the map changes continually, making for some truly outlandish situations that you'd never see in another game of this kind.
For my money, Brick-Force is the kind of concept I'd love to see done with high production values and a traditional retail model. Though the free-to-play implementation is by no means shady, everything that can be earned in-game can also be bought, meaning that folks who pony up will have an advantage over those who don't unless they've played an order of magnitude more. Perhaps that will bother you, and perhaps not, but the game is available to play right now at www.Brick-force.com, so if it sounds interesting to you, you may as well just see for yourself. If nothing else, Build and Destroy alone is worth the time it takes to make a free account and get started.