Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
After several years in development at UK studio Splash Damage, BRINK drops in stores this week with a serious task: remind gamers that shooters aren’t just about crossing chainsaws, pulling off head shots and racking up kill streaks, but also teamwork, communication and planning. As you read this review, there’s a big (if not humongous) chance that you’ve read some of those of other publications as soon as the embargo lifted. This is not one of those reviews. Well, not entirely...
Despite what Splash Damage and publisher Bethesda Softworks may have said over the last year or so about its solo/cooperative campaign, BRINK is a heavily-focused multiplayer game in the same vein as Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Now, is it worth your attention? Or more importantly, is it worth opening your wallet for? Well, it depends on what you, dear reader, expect from it. I’m not saying its a terrible game, nor a great one either, but certainly a fun title with lots of potential which will come later down the road in a few weeks.
BRINK comes with a thin storyline that is nothing but a bot-powered training ground. Originally created as model of sustainable living - and later remodeled into a resort due to a lack of funds - the floating habitat known as the Ark became a refugee for humans after Earth saw its oceans raise at an alarming rate, cutting off its population from the rest of the world. Of course, the structure starts decaying and resources become rare, pushing the entire population to rebel. This started a war between two groups - those who want to live the city (Resistance) and those who want to preserve it (Security). Story-wise, BRINK sounded really promising, but as the game invites you to pick your side, create and customize your character, get briefed via a long tutorial, and tackle the sixteen missions along with its primary/secondary timed-based objectives, the Ark and everything that surrounds it gets pushed at the back of the bus. Note that players will be able to jump from one side to another and get to play the same missions, but through a different perspective. The attempt at storytelling is there, but in end, all you want to do is shoot people in the face and have fun with your buddies online, not offline by yourself with a group of dumb bots (which by the way is certainly the case here). Is it wrong? Not at all. Was the game wrongfully marketed? I think so. But that’s another story.
BRINK’s gameplay is based on how well players perform on the field of battle but mostly, how players use and master each of the four classes available, each with its own set of special abilities. Soldiers are basically the run n’ gun destruction type with the ability to set explosive charges and give ammunition to friendlies. Medics can heal and distribute health packs. Engineers can build turrets, repair and upgrade other battle components as well as setting landmines. Finally, Operatives can disguise themselves among the enemy, hack terminals and spot hidden enemy landmines. Players can switch classes at any time, but since BRINK’s mission objectives can only be completed by a particular class, hitting the command post and make the switch based on their teammates’ needs (shown in the class selection HUD) is often recommended. As objectives get completed, XP points get awarded and unlockables to further customize your character (both in terms of appearance and weapon load-outs) will become available. And seriously, the customization options are MASSIVE.There’s a ton of content to unlock such as masks, tattoos, clothing, face paint, etc..., not to mention the fact that a lot of the class abilities are not unlockable at all, instead they must be purchased with the earned XP. Needless to say, there’s a lot to push the player through the multiplayer experience, provided those players care enough to unlock a different pair of pants or a nifty new tattoo.
Emptying your weapon clip on enemy forces may be satisfying, but running around the level and reaching your next objective is even more fun, thanks to the S.M.A.R.T. system or Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. Lesser experienced gamers often complain that moving a character from Point A to Point B using their special moves can be a pain. Here, Splash Damage does the work for them. By holding the Sprint button and going towards obstacles. S.M.A.R.T makes the character climb ledges, run on walls as well as going over or sliding under obstacles with ease. Obviously, not all characters take advantage of the game’s navigational system the same way. The lighter the character is, the quicker and more complex his S.M.A.R.T move will be. The system put in place works rather well and I could see it being used in other shooters where cover strategies aren’t required. Sadly, the rest of the controls weren’t as easy to get. Aiming was a bit off and framerates dropped considerably when the action became too hectic. But for the most part, it wasn’t too bad. We’ve seen worse.
Per consequence, in order to enjoy BRINK to its fullest (i.e the same way one would play strategy-based shooters like Monday Night Combat and the aforementioned Team Fortress 2), it needs to be played with humans because that’s how the game was designed. As noted earlier, the teammate/enemy A.I is simply terrible, forcing you to become the go-to guy every single time and practically complete the mission all by yourself. Which is why yours truly decided to wait a few hours more before posting his review. It became clear that some matches with online friends needed to be played in order to make up my mind. Was the experience a tad better? Yes...but not incredibly surprising. Despite Splash Damage’s much-appreciated willingness to add additional dedicated servers, playing online was a constant challenge. Prior to BRINK, we had a similar experience with HOMEFRONT, although not as chaotic, despite the availability of a day one patch. On top of it, there’s no proper party-based matchmaking system. Here, the host needs to create a game then wait for players to join. Once the game is done - or terminates itself - the room will need to be reformed once more.
In terms of visuals and audio, BRINK isn’t the most poignant and breathtaking game to ever be inserted into your home console, but it does the job. The stylish cartoony characters bare a certain resemblance to those featured in Team Fortress 2, only with elongated faces. The Ark and its different environments are also well rendered, matching the game’s decayed and doomed set-up. Voice-acting during the cut-scenes is barely noticeable and enjoyable, not because they all have weird accents, but mostly because the story arc itself is uninteresting. Aside from the hundreds of bullets flying, explosions and radio-chatter, environmental effects don’t make you feel like you’re in the middle of a city in turmoil either.
As the product stands as of this writing, BRINK is a tough recommendation, but not a complete overlook. The game has its fun moments and clever gameplay. Unfortunately, frustration does come around the corner with a shovel and hits you in the face. With games releasing in 2011 that put an heavy emphasis on online multiplayer and cooperative play, things like random disconnections and atrocious lag are supposed to be minor, not as aggravating. If someone runs to the store and purchases this game for its single player component, they’ll be extremely disappointed and end up wasting good money that could be used for something else. On the other side, if its the multiplayer that interests you (given your only console at home isn’t a PS3...PSN outage, remember?), know that this game will get better in a few weeks, provided Splash Damage and Bethesda plans to address the faulty components soon.
Which raises the question: should a buggy game be released? I think that’s why a game like Gears of War 3 is currently in beta. BRINK could have used it too...
+ Objective-based players will be at bliss
+ Lots of customization options
+ Multiplayer gameplay is fun..
- Dumb AI
- Uninteresting storyline
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Release Date : 0
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Bethesda Softworks
Category : Shooter
ESRB : RP
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