Since the turn of the year, we've been inundated by a wealth of first-person shooter titles and it doesn't look like that's going to stop. The latest to try and dazzle in an over-saturated genre is Brink, by Splash Damage. They've gone about it in a slightly different way though, ditching a fleshed out campaign in favour of a multiplayer experience that requires teamwork to succeed. It's a risk that pays off in some areas, but the game also suffers because of it.
Taking place on a man-made floating city known as The Ark, Brink exposes you to a war for civilisation. Things haven't turned out as planned and The Ark is embroiled in civil war. Over time, things have escalated and the Security has been given licence to use deadly force in order to stamp out growing pockets of the Resistance that are becoming more and more adventurous with their plans.
A campaign is present, although it only touches on what's actually going on. Instead, it serves as an extended tutorial for the rest of the game. You can undertake six core missions from each side's perspective and there's a short narrative to explain the purpose for the mission. It's fine, and there's nothing wrong with this approach, but it does create its share of frustrations.
You can play with some friends, but the vast majority of the characters will be AI - very annoying AI. You will be struggling to complete objectives by yourself, while the AI just sit there and watch, not even attempting to help you complete them. It's very frustrating, that in a game that's about team work, you effectively have to be an all-star action man, switching classes all the time, in order to actually get anywhere.
There are four classes present within the game: Medic, Soldier, Operative and Engineer. They each have their uses, although the vast majority of objectives can only be completed by one class at a time. To destroy walls you'll need to be a Soldier, to repair things you'll need to be an Engineer and to hack things you'll need to be an Operative. Everyone going as the same class won't be that useful though, as each of them has secondary abilities. For example, the Soldier class can replenish either their own, or the ammo pool of allies.
It's a great system, if you have a team which functions properly. But if you don't, you may well have to change to a class you don't particularly like in order to get the job done. And changing class can be a little bit tedious as you need to find a Supply Depot - you can't even change it when you're respawning.
The completion of objectives also becomes difficult without proper team work - especially on the offensive side. It's easy for the defensive team to just sit around, laying land mines and turrets. The choke points are obvious and there aren't that many ways around them. And if there are, the chances are that only a few people might go those ways, so they're easy to take care of. But on the offensive side, coordination is paramount. It's great if one person can hack an objective up to 50 percent before he's over-run, but the defensive side can get it down a lot quicker than it went up.Aside from the more standard mechanics, Brink also features a parkour system allowing you to get around more freely. Holding down the run button while near objects will see you vault over them, or even climb up them. You can also crouch while running to perform a slide, which is rather useful for more creative killing. This can only be performed by the Medium and Light body types though, with the lighter your frame, the more effective your parkour will be.
The game displays a rather interesting graphical style. Overall it's fairly standard, but the proportions for the characters are rather different. The animations are pretty good though, although sometimes the parkour system feels a bit too light. Sound is also pretty good although sometimes the voices can get a bit confusing. You can have numerous people on a team and they all say what they're doing, but it has no real relevance as you don't know who's saying what. It also seems a bit unnecessary for your own character to say anything to you.
Customisation is a big part of Brink and along with three different body types, you can alter quite a lot of aspects for your character. It's a bit surprising that there aren't more base options though. Yes, there are lots of different parts you can change and you can also change their colours, but there are only about 20 base parts for each category. The same applies to the various guns - there's a good selection, but there are only a few customisations for each part.
Still, with the Challenge system, there is incentive to keep playing, at least for a while. Here, you're given objectives that must be completed against bots, or yourself. This might be a parkour challenge, or being tasked with defending a spot against increasing odds. After each completion, the difficulty and rewards also step up.
It's just a bit surprising that for a game that's based around its multiplayer, that the multiplayer doesn't seem the main focus. It's tucked away under the Freeplay menu and it all seems rather sparse. The stats system is also rather baffling. You only ever see how much experience you and your team mates have gained, nothing else. When you look for the stats outside of a match, you're told to go to the website and input a code - it's all very disconnected.
Brink is a game that introduces some nice elements, but doesn't really blend them together that well. It has a bit-part single-player campaign, some good customisation options and of course the multiplayer. But none of it seems that fleshed out and in may ways, the different elements feel disconnected from each other.
|Parkour is pretty cool.|
|Decent customisation options.|
|If you get a good team, it's fun.|
|Bit-part single player campaign.|
|Multiplayer feels disconnected from everything.|
|Game favours the defensive side too much.|