With such an impetus these days on multiplayer experiences, Brink attempts to augment the experience of social play with that of single play, and the result? A game with more than it’s fair share of issues but one that will have you coming back for more.
Brink is based on the floating city “The Arc”. With the earth immersed by water, the law enforcers known as the “Security” attempt to keep the residents at ease amidst rumours of life outside of The Arc. The suitably named “Resistance” aim to expose the suppressed information by means of an uprising. With this two way fight raging, your own perception of good and bad comes into play – cops and robbers if you will, so it’s not unimaginable for the game to appeal to more gamers than the Call of Duty franchise for example.
The story in Brink is nothing really ground-breaking, but there’s still potential there. Exploring the world via DLC sounds like a sound option for Splash Damage long-term but before that, there’s some really problems with the way the main story in Brink is delivered. Every mission is essentially bookended by small cut sequences and these sequences offer players a chance to see the more personal side to each struggle. But after seeing a couple, you’ve seen them all: the sequences last only a minute or two and offer players nothing really on a deep level. Your created character will appear, like a drone, standing in the background of each sequence yet, the game never really pulls you in: you never really feel emotionally attached to the story so everyone and everything becomes expendable. The ending to both campaigns is abrupt and deflating which does nothing but further your frustration with all the good factors in the game. There’s so much potential with Brink and it drowns to some extent with the problems.
Splash Damage have used Brink to debut the “Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain” system, known in short as S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T aims to allow players freedom to almost completely ignore obstacles in their way as the computer will handle the sliding, jumping and bounding actions. This simulated parkhour effect works very well most of the time but you can also expect it to be the reason behind several missed objectives (especially when there’s a timer involved) and deaths. Gameplay, thanks to S.M.A.R.T., does work smoothly with players leaping across gaps, hopping up onto railings and engaging with their enviornment like never before. Pulling off feats, difficult in other games, is the norm here and S.M.A.R.T. is not only an incredible piece of technology but a great addition to the genre.
Graphically Brink looks great. The aesthetics offer a dual-vision of the world within the Arc. With the Resistance sporting shaggy, rebellious clothing – some of which is salvaged, and the Security dressed to a more formal, yet enforcing and sleek get-up: detecting friend or foe during combat can be sometimes be based on nothing but a glance. Creating your own characters in Brink is essential to carving out your own piece of individuality within the world and thanks to the detailed but slightly primitive creation process, meeting someone identical to you is very improbable. Hair, paint and clothing is all unlocked via XP earned through both the single and multi-player games and can be applied, and varied, using colour schemes. There’s clearly a lot of work gone into the creation process as choosing a different colour scheme for an item doesn’t simply mean a change in colour, but it sometimes means a slightly more worn appearance, different styles with variations and more.
Brink offers gameplay similar to classic shooters like Team Fortress while still hanging onto its own identity. The controls and objectives will seem muddled and intimidating at the start as the learning curve is not the one of its strong points. Orders are barked down your speakers by the respective leaders and suddenly, before they know it, players will feel the burden of micro-managing several objectives at once while finding themselves in the thick of some messy gameplay. The mission objectives all feel the same really with hacking, destroying or defending the primary objectives for most of the game. The same can be said about the maps with only a handful on offer, curtailing to each mission, players will grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of space to play in and “samey” objectives. There’s some fundamental design flaws with Brink too that will leave you wanting to snap the disc in half. The AI is poor so expect to feel robbed during the game thanks to randomnly placed, or an oddly behaving characters. Small yet significant details like turrets not responding when enemies pass of front of them or opposing bots standing next to each other, without firing a shot, means you never really feel like the game works without real players.
Playing the game by yourself means you’ll mainly do the bulk of the objective work yourself. You’ll also notice that the bots, even on a medium setting appears to be super-soldiers. Peppered around the map, bots will be the main reason why you fail countless objectives. And if that wasn’t bad enough, some spawn points start you almost 100m away from your destination so you can the time spent, running towards an objective – even at the fastest speed possible, to be one of most forgettable experiences you’ll ever come across.
That said, Brink offers a slick and open option for players to drop in and out of your game. This means the pace is generally never broken and in fact, it’s always nice to see a friendly face drop in, especially when you need them. Players can designate, if they want, other players the ability to join any team (Resistance or Security), or restrict them to play alongside you and the rest of your team. While the multiplayer offers a good experience, it suffers tremendously thanks to some serious lag issues (there’s a patch coming for this). These issues make the game, on several occassions unplayable and will remove your interest in engaging with others…permanently.
Brink contains plenty of smaller gameplay elements that you’d have to play and experience yourself to fully appreciate, but Splash Damage have created a hybrid title that, in some ways, has more in common with the PC platform than that of console. Brink is a game that will capture your interest but in equal measure give you the inevitable crushing blow of frustration. There’s no doubt though that it will, in many ways, give you an experience like nothing else.
TGL Score 7/10
Format: Xbox 360/Playstation 3, PC
Developer: Splash Damage
Release Date: Out Now