Take the layout of Divide: The Enemies Within and mix it with the first-person play mechanics of MechWarrior 2 and you have BRAHMA Force: The Assault on Beltlogger 9. A thinking man's Doom meets Outbreak, the game takes you through 22 levels of futuristic, deadly-virus laden terrain. Your object? Return the spaceship colony of Beltlogger 9, currently under siege by vengeful Dionisio Vega (Keyser Soze, anyone?), to safety and rid humanity of this mysterious disease. How do the villain and virus tie together? Play the game.
BRAHMA Force puts you in a Bipedal Robotic Assault Heavy Mechanized Armor suit and drops you into a variety of three-dimensional mazes. Your mission briefings give you a general idea of what switches to flip and which direction to head in, but with a full 360-degree environment to explore over multiple levels of altitude, it's far from straightforward. In each mission you can be expected to recover an item, find elevators, and navigate your way through many enclosed and open environments. Sound difficult? You don't know the half of it. Each level is swimming with rabid mechanical enemies (think the recent Screamers meets the Tom Selleck movie Runaway); some are small and some are big, but they're all fast and aggressive - in fact, this title boasts the an exceptional amount of in-your-face firepower. Your mech is well armed and your weapons can be powered up (although there isn't much variety), but you're going to need all the bonus items you can find to increase your durability. Luckily there are multiple save points in each level - save early and often.
For all its complexities, BRAHMA Force is surprisingly easy to control. From the moment you begin you'll notice the smoothness in your mech's movement when running around a level, and once you get the hang of the strafe and fire commands (usually in under an hour) you'll easily weave through the barrage of enemies attacking you. The options screen is loaded with customizable features (from controller set-up to adjustable views), but even without tinkering, the control works just fine. In many ways the control here is better than in MechWarrior 2 because less tweaking is needed.
When it comes to graphics, BRAHMA Force performs better than the majority of PlayStation games currently on the market. The 3-D texture-mapped graphics are crisp and there is a surprisingly low amount of pop-up. Each environment is quite detailed and looks like something out of Aliens; the result is quite immersive and (I'm happy to say) the vomit factor is quite low - things don't move too smoothly. The onscreen enemies move at a fast pace and many of them will rush you at once, making for a visually appealing, though difficult, challenge. The cinema scenes also look good and load quickly (even when presented during the gameplay), and do their part to advance the complex storyline. All of this is complimented by the sound, which provides many loud explosions, minimal music, and dry, under-produced voice-overs to move the story along and explain your objectives - it's not the greatest sound ever heard in a game, but it's good enough (I recommend providing your own tunes, though, to compensate for the game's ambient soundtrack - I played most of the game while listening to KISS' Alive III on repeat, and I'll be damned if live versions of Deuce and I Love It Loud didn't make for I'm in a mech and kicking synthetic ass! music.)
BRAHMA Force: The Assault on Beltlogger 9 is a compelling title. If you like strategy, action, or adventure games, there is definitely something here for you -the intricate plot won't get in the way of your enjoyment. It's a challenging game, the likes of which hasn't been seen in some time, and the mixing of genre standards makes for a fresh play experience.