Brink promised a lot with its announcement, it promised to offer a new experience in the often overloaded shooter world. It promised seamless integration of single- and multi-player and it promised a unique experience for all. Whether it delivers all that it promised is debatable but there is no arguing that there is something special about the British born title.
Brink is a simplistic game on the surface; the single- and multi-player is linked through a unified experience system that allows for your online and single player character to share the wealth of EXP that abounds in the game, and the implementation of the SMART system (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) being mapped to a single button allows for a ease of use pick up and play style gameplay. But the deeper you go into the game the more complex and tactical things get.
As you level up you unlock new weapons and clothing options as well as extra abilities for your character. This is where the tactical aspect of the game kicks in; you are given a selection of classes (more about these later) to use each of which has a series of abilities to upgrade your character with. There are some upgrades that work for all of the classes and then there are skills specific to the each class. The tactic here is that you will not be able to upgrade all of skills on one character as the level system stops way before that, so you need to pick and choose to get the most out of your character.
Brink offers what is essentially four modes, but they are all similar in design and execution. Single player and co-op (via online only) offers a campaign of 12 missions and 4 extra missions that are ‘What If’ scenarios. The campaign is Brink’s serious let-down as it just doesn’t feel as strong as other modes, but while you can play through solo there is a distinct impression that is not what the game is meant for. The AI doesn’t have the mental power to complete objectives and when they do try to they just they have no sense of what they need to do. Example, with any collection objective the AI picked up the item and then just stood there and soaked up bullets while I had to wait for them to die to collect the item; annoying. Splash Damage says that this ‘dumb’ AI is a code that is designed to make you feel like a hero and complete the objectives, while it’s nice to have that hero feeling in some games (namely singleplayer games like Uncharted), in team based games it just doesn’t sit well.
One mode that does shine whether in co-op or in solo play is the Challenges. These are essentially a set of tasks for you to complete within a time limit, utilising the gameplay mechanics of Brink. There are only four missions to choose from but each has three levels of difficulty, it’s a shame that there isn’t more challenges on offer out of the box as they hold the ‘just once more’ feeling after you fail.
The story of Brink sets you up in a floating city utopia that has broken down into an enclosed hell. The city, called the Ark, was built to house 5,000 people but after a disaster floods the Earth, the city is forced to accommodate the survivors and thus the population rises to over 50,000 people. This means that the once utopian city had to be sectioned and a massive class divide appears. The richer sections of society take the upper portions of the city and the poor are stuffed into the slums. This is where the game starts with the slum dwellers starting a revolution.
One of the strangest things about Brink is that the game world and its mythos have been crafted meticulously in trailers and announcements about the game, but in game there is only fleeting mentions of the game story and why you are doing what you are doing. For instance, there is a section of speech in one of the mission briefings for the Security campaign that explains why they have not made contact with the out-side world, which to me is a massive plot point as that seems to be the reason you’re fighting this war, but it is just given a mention for about a second on the loading screen briefing and even after the level has finished loading you can skip it without knowing.
Multiplayer has been the biggest point of interest with Brink, the single character use should make multiplayer play more interesting and dynamic and to an extent it does. But it doesn’t bring the folds of the game together close enough to form that perfect origami box. The game allows you to join in any currently running game via the campaign menu and offers both co-op and versus play. Co-op sets you up against either other human combatants or a series of AI controlled bots with other humans on your team.
There is also a freeplay mode that allows you to set your own matches up, with variable options available. The options available allow for changing between a public or private game and how many players are allowed into the game. In addition you can set it as an objective based match or be up against the clock. There are eight maps featured in this mode giving a fair amount of variety and the maps have large areas to play in which offers a lot for players. But when compared to the map count and variety of seminal shooter Call of Duty the amount of maps seems lacking.
The long term holding power of Brink will be how well the multiplayer holds up and whether the novelty of being able to run, jump and hop over terrain will keep its players entertained after the next big FPS comes out. Whether that happens will depend on what type of gamer you are, but if you’re looking for something from the Borderlands breed of genre then this game is for you.
Rating: Good Review policy
You can order Brink on PS3, PC and Xbox 360 from Shopto.