Review – Brink
Here’s Brink‘s story in a nutshell: Set in the near future, the completion of a man-made, floating continent called the Ark had the world celebrating. But that celebration was cut short as the Earth’s waters slowly rose. Tens of thousands of refugees began settling in, and it quickly became apparent the Ark could not sustain these numbers. It’s been twenty-five years, and with the Ark’s renewable resources fading, the island has been thrown into chaos. Not only are the high-tech machines failing, but a civilian resistance has formed to take over the Ark and use the last remaining power to search for any other human life. They just have to get through the Security forces first.
Brink is a first person, class-based, action shooter that sets itself around other class-based shooters like Battlefield or Team Fortress. But what makes Brink stand out is that it places more of an emphasis on completing objectives than just simply attacking the other team and see who gains the most points. In a “Beat the Clock” gameplay, objectives can vary from “Blow up this Door” to “Escort this Person to Extraction,” while the opposing side has the exact opposite objectives. While you do get to shoot the other team, mission objectives give a real sense of teamwork and breaks the monotony of combat. And if you forget what your mission objective is, don’t worry! Instead of navigating a pause menu to look at your objectives, Splash Damage maps a button on your controller to pull up a selection wheel that points you in the direction of said objective.
There are four character classes to play in Brink: Soldier, Medic, Engineer, and Operative. Just like every other class combat game, Soldiers hand out ammo and can set up explosive charges, Medics heal and revive characters, Engineers build turrets and can disable bombs and mines, and Operatives can hack databases and disguise themselves as an enemy player. Brink also introduces an experience system that will unlock further abilities for each class that players can choose from and equip. Players are rewarded experience points for completing objectives, helping out an ally, or just simply hitting an enemy. It should also be noted that characters can be fully customized. There has been a lot of negative debate about this, but customizing your character makes you stand out, especially when playing with friends in competitive/cooperative multiplayer. A green mohawk or bright orange vest makes you stand out to other players so at-a-glance they know it’s you and not an enemy.
Brink also introduces an interesting feature called SMART: Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. While holding your sprint button, you can easily perform parkour-style feats,such as sliding into cover, climbing up walls, or running along a wall to get to the next platform. While easy and great, sometimes the map is just too cluttered to use this style, or can just be confusing on where to go to next that it tries to force players to use this system. Other times you’re indoors without any clutter, which makes the SMART system just not seem that important.
Brink’s campaign, though short, can be played off line or online with seven other players against the computer. Slight problem: the maps and objectives are exactly the same in 8-on-8 as they are in the single player. So if you know the map, then you know the objectives; they don’t change.
As the player levels up and gains new abilities, the computer will match the player’s level and abilities, which will always make the game a challenge. The problem with this is if you’re soloing, or not with a full team of friends, your friendly NPCs don’t have the same intelligence as the enemy NPCs. It’s almost as if the enemy AI is working on his Master’s Degree while your friendly AI sits in the corner eating paste. Teamwork is crucial in Brink, but when your friendly AI starts shooting walls and walking into crates, completing objectives can be frustrating.
Then again, if you’re playing with a full team of friends, the enemy AI is simply too difficult. No matter how stealthy you try to be, the enemy AI will always know exactly where you are. If you try to take up a sniper position, they’ll snipe you first with their shotguns. It’s not impossible to beat the computer, but it sure seems that way at times.
There also an issue with verbally communicating with other team members. Brink follows Battlefield’s School of Communication: you can only voice chat with your squadmates. But if you happen to be a lone wolf on a team, while the other team has, say, five friends, you won’t be able to talk with them. This works for Battlefield, considering there’s massive groups of people all battling each other at once. But in a game with only sixteen players total, being segregated from other players isn’t fun nor helpful.
Another problem are the respawn zones aren’t accurately noted nor can you choose to respawn at command posts. One objective you have throughout the campaign is to take over command posts that can either boost your health or give you an extra gadget slot. But they don’t actually act as a respawn zone. If your team makes it to the end of the map, try not to die; you won’t respawn anywhere there them.
All negativity aside, Brink is a great first person, class-based, action shooter. It has the potential to grow and rank itself in the Top 20 games of this year. They just have a couple kinks to iron out and level out the AI to be fair on both sides of the battlefield. If you’re into team-based shooters like Battlefield and Team Fortress 2, look past the negativity and give Brink a chance.Review - Brink,