Brink is the latest from Splash Damage, developers of the Enemy Territory games (Wolfenstein and Quake.) If you have played those in the past, you should already know what to expect from Brink.
The jist of Brink is this. It is a class-based multi-player FPS, where you and your team are always trying to complete a set of objectives to proceed and win the game. Behind all of this is the story of “The Ark.” The Ark is the city you fight in. It is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic place that was built to help the world continue on (or some crap like that.) There are the people who do well off (Security), and the slave-esque workers who want a better life (Resistance.) The Security guys want to maintain The Ark the way it is and keep order, and the Resistance wants to escape The Ark (which they can’t, as it is locked down) and venture out and find more people in the world. Basically it’s like Mad Max, if Mad Max involved an even worse storyline (not sure that is possible.) Both sides fight, and fight, and fight.
Brink is actually a fun game. As I mentioned earlier, if you have played the Enemy Territory games, this is basically the same thing, and they were great games. I have always preferred class-based gameplay myself, so I fit right in with this one. When you begin the game, you create a player for yourself. You choose the color, face type (there are about 10 to choose from,) and voice. After that, all clothes/tattoos/scars/etc… are always customizable as they are unlocked and can be changed whenever you aren’t in a game.
You have your choice of Soldier (can dish out ammo/throw molotovs,plant explosives) Engineer (construct turrets/plant mines/remove mines and explosives/buff weapons,) Operative (Hack objectives/disguise as enemy/locate mines,) and Medic (heal and revive downed teammates.) Unless you specify otherwise in your profile, you will always start as a Soldier, but you can easily change at a command station (which are near spawnpoints.) Once the game is started, the command stations are the only way to change your class, it isn’t like TF2 where you can just select a new class, and respawn. One minor thing to note here gameplay-wise is the medic revival system. You don’t just run up and stab them with a needle a la Wolfenstein… you throw them a needle and they can revive when they want. So if I throw you a needle, and book it out of there while 5-10 guys are running at me, you can wait for them to pass and then wake up.
The more you play, you gain levels and ranks. For every 5 levels, you gain 1 rank. The game caps at level 20, rank 5 for your character. With ranks gained, you get points you can spend on “Abilities” (their version of CoD Perks.) There are general abilities, or abilities that are class-specific. It really doesn’t take terribly long to get to Rank 5, but that’s not what it’s all about. You will be making multiple characters in this game.
One character could be your beast medic, and another could be your super stelathy/yet hard as nails operative. If you don’t want to do multiple characters, you can remove and re-spend your points as you want, but it will cost you a level you will need to re-gain again (about 5-6 full games.)
One last thing to note with the gameplay is the movement around the map. Splash Damage has made a free-running system for the game called SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain.) Basically it takes “run to a wall, cling to it, then vault over” and turns it into “you sprint to the wall, and vault over automatically as you get to it.” The SMART system works with jumping, climbing, wall-running, and sliding… and it works very well.
Another good thing with the game is the in-battle sound (I have to specify this here, as I complain about the cutscene sound later.) All through every game, your radio is constantly going off with updates. Those if you who have played a team-based shooter on Xbox LIVE know the pain of being the only one with a headset. Brink takes care of this for you. It will constantly hit your radio with automatic updates of what your team is doing, in their voices. You will hear things like “planting charge,” “enemy mine found,” “defusing charge,” things like that. The key is to set the option in the game to make all of that go through your TV, not your headset… as you will develop a quick headache if not.
We know that Brink is a fun game to play, sure. But with every truly great game, you need a reason to play. And that is where Brink falls flat. The story is complete garbage. I went through both campaigns, and barely remember any of it. OK, on this map, we are trying to blow up this thing here, and take this stuff. Why? Because the objective marker says to, that’s why. I’m sure there might be a storyline reason to care, but I sure as hell didn’t.
On top of the weak story, is the awful sound design. First off… I just want to make a small statement here, I don’t have the best hearing. When I play games, or watch movies, I turn on the subtitle option when it is available. I can hear most things perfectly fine, but when there is a lot going on, I can’t make out much. There is no subtitle option at all in this game. With that, any time you are in a cutscene, whoever did the sound in this game decided to make all sounds loud, and all voices soft. Pair that with some of the main characters having really thick accents, and it was all lost on me.
As far as the gameplay goes, I really only had two major complaints. One is the lag. Supposedly there was a patch released that fixed the lag, but it hasn’t really done that good of a job. I’m playing it on the 360 right now, and about 2-5 games are unplayable from lag. This could be the game, or maybe some loser with a crappy DSL is trying to host and doesn’t know he shouldn’t… I don’t know. The other complaint is the weapon balancing. This game is yet another in the category of “shotgun-sniper.” You know the games. There is always that gun that is WAY too overpowered. That is pretty much all of the shotguns in Brink. They can 1-2 shot you, and from a long distance. That needs to go.
Some other game sites have said that Brink suffers from a lack of polish, and I have to agree. It isn’t a bad looking game, but it isn’t the best either. I have the feeling that this game could have used another 6 months of graphics/sound work being done. The design of the game is solid, cutscenes are pretty enough, but when you are in a game, it just doesn’t look like a 2011 game. It kinda reminds me of earlier Xbox 360 games when it first came out and developers didn’t really know how to push it yet.
With all of it’s faults, as I have said, it is a fun game to play, and I’ll keep playing because of that.
Nerd Junkies Review: 7/10
-Class-based shooters are always welcome in the sea of CoD clones.
-The game needed a little more work before release.