I think I said it best when I tweeted that, “Brink is like a Sandwich without bread. You can still eat it, (and it’s good) but nothing holds it together”. If that delicious analogy didn’t help make your mind up on the new FPS from Splash Damage, allow me to say that Brink does some things right, though more often than not the fresh ideas thrown into its crowded genre don’t come into their own.
For those who know next to nothing about Brink, let me give you the basic rundown. The game takes place on the “Ark”, a mecha built for the survivors of an apocalyptic flood, you know, like Noahs “Ark”. The brief introductory video would have you know that two sides are now vying for power for different reasons, and thus you shoot people. Join the “Security” and help lock-down the Ark against various rebels who want to sabotage the glorious human paradise. Or you may join the “Resistance” (often labeled “Terrorists”) who simply want to escape the Ark to find help against their oppressive government. Though it may sound like a typical “overthrow the Government” storyline, it’s never really nailed that way. You wont have to get out your Rage Against the Machine CD’s this time. The choice between factions seems totally negligible however, as you can access each factions story missions and play as either team during online combat.
So, once you have chosen your preferred faction, you are presented with a couple of ways to play Brink. Take on the Single-Player campaign with the ridiculously daft AI bots, play through any of said campaign missions online, or tackle some of the challenges to unlock weapon upgrades. One of the neat features of Brink is the connectivity between the modes, any of these challenges or campaign based missions can be played solo, co-op or competitively online. Though sometimes getting a game together can be tedious (with the broken server browser and connectivity issues between friends) However, when Brink works, it flows seamlessly. The game itself is less seamless, it’s a team based First Person Shooter with a heavy reliance on Team Actions. Though this is great for online clans and organized teams, playing online with other random players or AI can be one of the most frustrating experiences in video game history.
Each Mission will start out with a small cutscene, which depending on your faction, will help set up the “lore” and objectives you are about to accomplish. It’s worth noting that the models and environments look fantastic. The Stylized look of Brink lends itself well to the brown and gritty genre and it really helps give Brink a distinguished feel. Some maps will have you in a blinding blue submerged building, while others take place in more conventional “gritty” districts, though it never feels like anything out of other modern military shooters. Brink’s gameplay, is most comparable to that of Team Fortress.
Classes like the Soldier can dish ammo out to fellow team-mates and set explosives on various objectives. Other classes like the Engineer can buff weapons, set-up turrets or mines, and also lend his blowtorch to various objectives. You’ll need a good mix of classes to be successful in these missions, as Brink is not a “frag to win” game, it’s heavily objective based. Thankfully, the in-game announcer lets you know when your team is short of a specific class – once again, something Brink does right.
Something Splash Damage has been touting is the SMART system in Brink. This movement system allows for the ability to traverse terrain easily, like that of Mirrors Edge. Though it works, and lends a dynamic pace to the combat, I personally found the system to feel a little more loose then expected. Often times my character would let go of a ledge, or perhaps interpret my movement wrong, landing me in a completely different area than desired. When SMART works however, it creates a pace miles above other shooters in the market. It’s clear that Splash Damage wanted a visceral feel to the combat, and when you’re bolting at an objective, hurdling over various handrails and cargo boxes, visceral is the exact word that comes to mind.