It’s been a long time coming for Bethesda and Splash Damage’s multiplayer team FPS, Brink. We’ve kept an eye on this game since it was announced during E3 2009, even getting a chance to preview the game back in February. Now that the game has officially been released to the masses, is it a game that’s worthy of your time and money?
Brink starts off with having the player choose to join one of two factions: Security or Resistance. Don’t worry about making the wrong decision as to which side you should play as since you’re able to bounce between both sides any time you like. Brink’s campaign takes place in the year 2045 on an island known as the Ark. The Resistance are rising up against the fascists in charge of the facility and want to control it for the good of the people living on it. Security, on the other hand, swore to keep order on the Ark and will put their lives on the line in order to stop the Resistance from completing their mission.
Brink’s story is one of the weaker points of the overall experience. When you begin playing as either a member of the Security or Resistance group, you’ll view an opening sequence that is no longer than 5 minutes long which informs the player the current faction they’re playing as is right, and the other is wrong. Then as you play each day in the campaign, you’re given a short audible dossier which gives the player some information on the current mission objectives, a short segment with three characters who show their frustration at the current situation and their disdain of the opposite faction, and then the campaign begins. I appreciate the work Splash Damage put into attempting to deliver a compelling story, but it all fell flat from the beginning and didn’t get any better at its end.
When you begin a match, you’ll be able to pick one of four classes: Soldier, Medic, Operative, and Engineer. Each class has their own abilities and buffs that can be distributed to teammates or to themselves. Having at least one of each class on your team is crucial as only certain objectives can be carried out by a particular class. For example: Operatives can hack computers and Engineers can repair cranes or other mechanisms needed to complete an objective. You’ll be able to play the campaign both online and offline, although the AI of both friendly and enemy players leave much to be desired as they’ll focus on secondary objectives over important ones and opposing forces will most likely stand face to face without realizing they should be killing one another. Once you do play a game full of actual people, it’s an experience that will leave you wanting more, especially if you’re playing with people who know exactly how to play the game.
As you complete objectives, buff your teammates or kill opponents, you’ll earn experience points (XP) that will allow your character to level up. When your character reaches a new level, you’ll be able to unlock abilities for your character in general or class specific abilities. After playing with the Engineer for the majority of my matches, I found myself upgrading much of my character’s abilities in that class, which I’m sure many other Brink players will find themselves doing. Abilities aren’t the only things that can be upgraded as players will receive a number of attachments for their weapons that can improve its stats, but will often degrade another stat in the process. You’ll also be able to customize your character’s appearance, such as their hair, pants and shirt, although I never walked up to anyone in-game to appreciate their choice of jacket. It’s a novel idea that I think is less appreciated during the heat of battle.
The game handles very well in both its shooting mechanism as well as how the player moves through the Ark thanks to the game’s S.M.A.R.T. mechanism. You’ll be able to jump over and slide under obstacles with very little effort and you’ll even able to stagger enemies if you slide right into them. Brink also gives the player many choices in terms of controls as you can attempt to learn how to play with the game’s default controls, or you can choose a control scheme that you’re more familiar with if you happen to have another game’s control scheme memorized. Or, if you prefer, the game allows you to customize all of your controls if you want to play exactly how you’d like to play. This option is something that can easily be overlooked, but it’s a nice option to have as offering players a comfortable control scheme guarantees they’ll become a better player.
Brink is visually stunning as characters and the environments all look great when the game decides to load textures in time when you’re coming across them. There were times when a part of the wall, floor, or objective items would transform from a low quality texture to a high quality texture in front of my eyes and this was with the game installed on my hard drive to hopefully help with this kind of thing. I didn’t come across the same issue with character textures, which I guess can be considered a good thing. Aside from that frequent hiccup in the game’s graphics, each level had a unique look and feel to them as the game takes you through desolate and torn down areas of the Ark, to architecturally impressive buildings and its surroundings.
FINAL THOUGHT: Brink can be considered a hard sell if you’re not a fan of multiplayer class-based shooters. There isn’t enough story to make the game compelling, the computer A.I. is seriously lacking, and its glitches are hard to ignore when they keep popping up. But if you’re able to look past those nagging issues, there’s a great class-based shooter that fans of similar games would be instantly addicted to.