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On 06/01/2011 at 10:21 AM by Stanton Daries
A game with a unique mechanic that could be great with some adjustments.
Wait until it goes on sale and after a few more patches have been rolled out.
I really wanted to like Brink. A sci-fi game set in a dystopian future with guns, parkour-like movement and over-the-top characters? Where do I sign?! But sadly, it seems that Splash Damage was unable to make their game live up to the hype. Twice.
The story of Brink is simple and more or less told through a quick opening video. During some point in the future an advanced arcology was being created, called the Ark. Unfortunately, the world flooded (the hippies were right!) making the Ark a refuge, and a vastly overpopulated one at that. Now two factions have formed, one for order and keeping everyone alive on the Ark and one who feels it is a prison and wants to explore the world for other survivors. Right after the opening cut scene you are given a choice on which side to play with no additional information. While this may feel ominous or even overwhelming to some players like myself who take these kinds of things seriously, the decision is ultimately meaningless as you can switch pretty much at will. In fact there is almost no single impactful choice in the game.
Brink handles pretty much like any average first person shooter floating around these days, which is actually not a good thing at all. When the top first person shooters on the market have perfected movement and aiming precision down to a science you can’t be average or you will be ignored. There are four classes, but it is almost impossible to pick them out from each other in combat; while this is closer to what one would see in real life combat (you mean army medics don’t dress all in white?!) it is not as good in a game. Each class contains the same three body types (small, medium, large) and weaponry (though body type will limit choices). The only differences are abilities which aid in combat and are required to meet special objectives. You will often have to switch your class around in order to complete an objective; since you can wield the same equipment and have the same toughness, class switching usually goes smoothly after some slight readjustment.
The thing Brink does to try and distinguish itself from others is the focus on the SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) system. By holding a button you will find yourself engaging in a series of quite impressive maneuvers, depending on your body size, in your best imitation of a parkour athlete (think Mirror’s Edge or Prototype). This method of travel is actually the reason I prefer the small build just to get the insane movement speeds that comes with giving up certain weapons.
During each match you will gain experience to level up by meeting objectives, killing opponents and helping your teammates. At each new level you can decide on certain perks for your character, though these are able to be reassigned easily in the nothing-set-in-stone habit this game has. While some of the perks are quite fun none of them really give enough of an advantage to be meaningful and I found that newer players with a solid set of FPS skills were able to easily take down higher leveled characters. You also can customize your appearance and weaponry to a nice degree, but most people ultimately end up picking the same choices online, leading to a large number of clones.
The single player campaign does tell a little more story of the world but it is actually disappointing in that it is a multiplayer game with bots for your allies and enemies. You can have friends join in as allies if desired but you will still end up just playing bots. The bots themselves are programmed in a straightforward fashion and once you figure out their patterns there is very little to do in setting up chokepoints for them. It is best to think of the single player as more of an area to get practice in for the real deal. There is a challenge section that will give you some nice unlockables for your equipment; completing each should take about three hours and is very well worth it.
All matches online are played in an objective style format where one team is the aggressor (blow up that, sabotage this) and the other is the defender (stop them from doing what they are trying to do). While this is my preferred method of online shooter play, it is not designed very well in that each objective is always in the same place on each map. This means that no matter how well designed or open a map is (and I’m not saying they all are), the guarding/ambushing team can close off the area you have to get to very easily. This makes maps more or less wars of attrition, as you hope for someone to slip up. I found myself quitting out of games quite often in frustration, especially when I had to escort pieces of machinery I took to calling Lemmings. They always take the same route to the same place – enemy turrets placed in their way be damned!
Theoretically these issues can be fixed through application of patches; in fact, Brink was patched at the same time it was released because it was nearly unplayable when first purchased by many. While this is a horrid practice that is becoming all too common (New Vegas anyone?), it still means that the developers are trying to fix things. A few adjustments in objectives and map design and you could have a solid Team Fortress competitor.
Pick this game up when it is on sale in a few months and see what has been done with it. Until then, it's hard to recommend.