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Brink Review

by William Schwartz

Brink is an immersive first-person shooter that blends single-player, co-op, and multiplayer gameplay into one seamless experience, allowing you to develop your character whether playing alone, with your friends, or against others online. You decide the combat role you want to assume in the world of Brink as you fight to save yourself and mankind’s last refuge. Brink offers a compelling mix of dynamic battlefields, extensive customization options, and an innovative control system.  Brink takes place on the Ark, a man-made floating city that is on the brink of all-out civil war. Originally built as an experimental, self-sufficient and 100% “green” habitat, the reported rapid rise of the Earth’s oceans has forced the Ark to become home to not only the original founders and their descendants but also to thousands of refugees. With tensions between the two groups growing, Security and Resistance forces are locked in a heated battle for control of the Ark. – Bethesda

A True Team Based Game –  Brink is probably one of the more complex and dynamic first person shooters that have been released in quite some time.  The class based warfare is definitely front and center with Splash Damage’s latest.  Whether playing the game in it’s single player campaign mode, or its free play multiplayer offering, you’ll be tasked with completing objectives to further the story along.  Depending on the class of character that you select, you’ll be able to only complete specific types of objectives.   Your class selection options include the soldier, engineer, operative, and medic and all include secondary abilities that you must constantly be performing to help your team ultimately achieve your goals.  The team based action is an enjoyable mix of fighting tug-of-war battles through choke point instances, while gaining strategic advantages to hold the other team at bay.  Engineers will locate optimal spots for turrets, and mine placements.  While soldiers may seek to trudge headlong into the battle closely followed by medics providing health buffs with the capability to revive fallen comrades.  There are many ways to tackle the objectives in Brink, to a point, where then a more strategical approach must be taken to progress through what can turn into drawn out territory battles.

To Each His Own – Brink gives you the opportunity to completely customize your fighter.  Although you don’t really ever get to see your character outside of the beautifully rendered menus and customization screens, you’ll stand apart for your teammates and the possible real-time inclusion in the cutscenes if your team manages to complete its objective.  Through an XP leveling system you’ll earn access to these new aesthetic features for your fighter.  It’s not all about the looks however.  The customization does stretch into how Brink plays, as well.  The parkour mechanics of Brink’s SMART system is class based.  This means that smaller more nimble character will be more agile in how they can traverse the environments in Brink.  While larger characters can take more damage, but are much less mobile than their smaller counterparts.  Finally, you’ll also unlock plenty of diverse upgrades for both the weapons of Brink and the abilities of your main character class.  The weapons customization is as diverse as the superficial costume changes and have a real effect on how weapons fire and sound.

Visual Standout – Splash Damage has taken their own approach in Brink, and even with the clear gameplay differences between Brink and other shooters, they take it a step further in the visual delivery of the game, giving it a thoroughly distinct flavor.  The character models have a style all their own with an exaggerated and elongated feel to them.  This goes hand in hand with the colorful futuristic and distinct look of the Ark itself.  The game looks phenomenal in some respects, with many of the environments showing off a wide variety of color and depth to them.  The game which runs on id Tech 4, provides plenty of diversity to the eye.  Fans of the visual stylings of game like say, Borderlands, will love what Brink has to offer in the graphics department.

Fun Factor – Brink is a game for the fan of  team based multiplayer gameplay.  Frankly, there are not many games that offer as diverse an experience as Brink when it comes to the multiplayer portion of the game.  With so many options to choose from in character customization, and skill sets, players that find themselves with an abundance of online friends,willing to communicate and cooperative to achieve objectives, are going to find the most enjoyment in Brink.  Most of the break-downs in the multiplayer gameplay of Brink arise from either mis-communication or complete lack thereof.  When you’ve got a team working together in tandem, it’s a hard game to beat when it boils down to fun.  Unfortunately, there’s a rather large segment of players in the online gaming universe who prefer to go about there business without utilizing their microphones.

Bad Robot – Brink offers a single player campaign to play through that houses all of the same missions that you’ll play through in the multiplayer portion of the game.  You are given the option to allow players to join in on your game either as a member of your team or of the enemy faction.  Unfortunately, one of the biggest gameplay flaws of Brink arises from this portion of the game.  You’ll find out immediately what I mean when you observe the computer controlled players fumble about.  Irrespective of side, AI is abysmal in Brink.  Teammate AI is unreliable to fulfill any objectives and at times is unreliable to even shoot at the opposing team.  Which isn’t that bad, because the opposing team consisting of other AI bots aren’t firing at you either.  There are plenty of hit and miss times where the AI is just standing around minding their own business while you are mindless picking off these computer controlled buffoons.  When they do get to moving, the bots will endlessly vault off of objects in random looping sequences that take any semblance of immersion and take a big steaming dump all over it.  In the end, both the Team and Enemy AI are both unreliable and a more appropriate description of them is buggy.

Unfortunately, AI bots are not only included in the single player portion of the game, but in the multiplayer as well.  So expect that if you are playing multiplayer and you have bots on your team, you are at an extreme disadvantage.  Splash Damage gave the bots realistic enough sounding names to make them blend into the gameplay seamlessly, but you’ll be able to tell which ones are bots immediately by the ones that aren’t moving and probably aren’t firing back at you even when in clear sight.

It was Lag – As in any multiplayer focused game, network stability is of the utmost importance to assure that the game is an enjoyable experience.  In Brink, in its infancy I have found that there have been a lot of problems with the multiplayer portion of the game in this aspect.  Unfortunately Brink is at its best when all players are being controlled by humans, and sadly this is the time when the most network problems can arise most frequently.  Network hiccups make the game nearly unplayable with characters warping between spots on the map, and completely stopping all movement altogether.  The developers haven’t quite nailed the host migration aspects of the game either, as friends in Brink have been dropped during this process in a fairly regular fashion.

In a game that is focused around multiplayer, it would seem pertinent that these things are ironed out near launch.  A multiplayer beta probably would have worked wonders for this game, as Splash Damage could have gotten some community feedback, and would have seen that not only is Brink a little bit too buggy to be played at optimal levels, but that there are some features that may have been overlooked.  One such instance is the inability to join matches with friends.  In effect, the developers have created a game that has these core strengths and could possibly be a phenomenal online experience, but they don’t give players the tools to actually use Brink to its best abilities.

Solo Operatives – Any way you cut it, Brink is for the player with a team based mindset.  If you are looking to Brink for a stunning single player campaign, you are going to be sadly misled.  There isn’t much to offer on that front.  In fact, there really isn’t much to offer by way of story telling at all in the game.  So, if you were looking for relief from some of the online problems that have plagued the game at launch, you’re not going to find solace in the single player portion of Brink.  There are some components to the game that are worth mentioning like the Challenge features that allow you to unlock new weapons.  However, none of them really have enough substance to justify buying Brink for anything other than the multiplayer experience.

Furthermore, if you’re the type of player that is looking to be the hero, and takes pride in your Kill Death Ratio, the multiplayer in Brink isn’t for you either.  The game completely revolves around the team based structure of play, and there are no rewards for your preferred method of online game playing.

I have had some great fun with Brink in my review period with the game, and will likely play it further in the future.  Why would I do this if I didn’t like it?  Well, with the hope that there are some improvements made to the game that iron out some of the core problems listed above.  These problems are too numbered to be ignored for the purpose of this review.  There are plenty of people that are going to play and enjoy Brink, because the team based gamplay has its moments of undeniable brilliance.  With a team communicating to function as a well oiled unit, and no network latency, Brink is spectacular at times.  Even the drawn out stalemate choke point battles are fun given that you are communicating with your team appropriately.   Though the problems with the AI and its rather prevalent use across all modes of the game can put a damper on the fun at times, and could ultimately lead to a promising multiplayer experience being short lived.

"disliked"
disliked

Brink

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Published By: Bethesda
  • Developed By: Splash Damage
  • Genre: Shooter
  • US Release Date: May 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "There are plenty of people that are going to play and enjoy Brink, because the team based gamplay has its moments of undeniable brilliance.  With a team communicating to function as a well oiled unit, and no network latency, Brink is spectacular at times.  "
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