All we seem to be playing these days is First Person Shooters and in Brink, that's what we have. Can Brink step up to the mark in the wake of the impressive Crysis 2? We're going to give you the low-down on this highly anticipated release from developer
Splash Damage, produced by Bethesda.
Set in the near future, Brink places you firmly on the 'Ark' a floating city just off the beautiful coast of San Francisco. The 'Ark' houses near 50,000 inhabitants scrounging for basic supplies due to the severe overcrowding. I'm going to stop right there for a moment because Brink is not about story-telling, nor is it pretending to be. Brink aims to seemlessly blend the single player and multiplayer aspect of the game, which it does albeit in a slightly confusing fashion. You can select Story Mode and join a public session to face off against human enemies as opposed to AI, or go at it Solo. The choice is yours.
The first time you boot up the disc, you're greeted by what only can be described as an RPG style character creation screen, which is something 99% of RPG's would give a lobotomy for, it's impressive, but this is a First Person Shooter? Which begs the question, is it necessary? I think in Brink's case it is. Burning away hours in the customization screen only adds to time spent, where content is otherwise on the slim side.
Normally I would tell you a bit about the campaign mode and the single player features however, Brink doesn't have a single player/campaign per se. This is a multiplayer game in the same context as Unreal Tournament and Quake Wars, where the single player modes are essentially the multiplayer side of the game but with bots. I would love to have had a dedicated campaign mode in Brink, whenever multiplayer got you down or frustrated, at least you could unwind, relax and just enjoy some good storytelling, not here. Single player is far more frustrating with largely inept bots replacing human counterparts in the same environment covering the same missions.
Brink shines when the bots are replaced by cursing, sweaty men. Multiplayer is fun and teamwork is back on the menu, success and level progression is solely based on how much of a team player you are. Are you the type of player that hits the Select button after every death to check your kill to death spread? None of that here, a superb experience points based system challenges your ability to work as a group and it's refreshing to play a modern day FPS that not only encourages you to play as a team, but demands it.
Level progression doesn't immortalise the players that have spent the longest time playing either, only makes you a more valued support team member. Newcomers will not be blown away by somebody that is higher level on a one-on-one duel by way of equipment, but by skill. Being alone out there is a scary place, stick by your team to stay alive to complete primary objectives and class specific secondary objectives. Just sticking close to a group will yield experience points. Once you reach the maximum character level, you might as well create another character and alternate between the different characters you've created, after all this is a Role Playing First person Shooter.
It's only when you're either confronted or joined by bots that this game becomes frustrating and at times unforgiving. Thankfully an option to invite up to 3 other friends to strategically help you out through every mission is very much welcomed. Brink is a game that requires you to have plenty of friends at hand for you to fully appreciate its direction, in an era where FPS are all about lone wolves and killstreaks.
The art styling of Brink is smooth and further demonstrates Splash Damage' ability to think outside the box. Some will like the style, some won't, that doesn't mean it's a bad looking game, just notably distancing itself from the current crop of modern day FPS titles, for which we applaud.
The game mechanics from the upgraded ID Tech 4 engine is as smooth as you like and plays as you would expect, very well.
Brink ushers something relatively new to the table thanks to Splash Damage' SMART system (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain). This system in theory will allow you to manoever around the lush landscape on the 'Ark' without fuss, does it work? Yes it does, however it can be clumsy and difficult to master, even after spending time in the brilliant tutorial videos you'll still inadvertantly stumble over unwanted random terrain.
Brink is a multiplayer game and as such needs humans to populate the game modes. Due to poor AI, the single player side is entirely forgettable and it's hard to recommend a full priced game for just multiplayer alone.
If you're purely looking for a multiplayer game that breaks the mould of the modern day shooter and you're not interested in fancy single player campaigns and cinematic-photo-realistic-cut-scenes, you won't be looking past Brink for it's colourful art style and the superb team based qualities.