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Posted by Raine Hutchens on May 23, 2011

Review – Brink (PC)

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Product Information

MSRP: $49.99 PC, $59.99 consoles
Published by: Bethesda Softworks Developed by: Splash Damage
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 Rated: T for Teen

Brink is a new FPS from Splash Damage and Bethesda Softworks that is set in the nearby future. The game focuses on team-based objectives and parkour, which is something new to the genre. Taking place upon a floating city called the Ark, Brink lets players explore two different factions, each fighting for their own beliefs upon the Ark. Players can choose from the Security, who fight to maintain order and peace upon the Ark, or they can play as the Rebels, ignoring rule and fighting to escape the floating disaster. Let’s explore the game’s story, playability, and features to see what Brink’s all about.

Story

As explained above, Brink takes place upon a floating city called the Arc. The Earth began to flood, forcing people to construct the Arc in order to survive. Once the Arc starts showing signs that it, too will go down in the depths, the civilians start to freak out. This is when the two factions are born. From the get-go, Brink forces players to choose their side – Security or Rebel. You then will create and customize your own specific character to take through the game’s story mode (which is optional). The catch is that you can’t take your character through both sides of the campaign, so in order to learn the full story you’ll have to start over from scratch.

Creating new characters isn’t all that difficult, but it becomes boring. All of the facial features look somewhat the same, and they all appear skewed and misshapen. On top of this, players can only pick from settings for male characters – this means no females allowed. Before too long, the characters look like they all run together, and besides their name badges you can’t tell who is who.

Once you get a character chosen, you can run them through the game, leveling them up. You can gain experience from killing enemies, completing objectives, and using class techniques throughout each mission. This all becomes irrelevant soon, because the level cap is currently 20, rendering any exp gained after totally useless.

Gameplay

Brink is a game that centers around team-based play. Players can choose from four classes to play as, with each class containing their own special abilities. The available classes are Soldier, Engineer, Operative, and Medic. The Soldier can offer ammo to team mates and set up explosives, while the Engineer can upgrade weapon damage, set up mines, and construct turrets. The Operative can set up hacking devices and disguise themselves as the enemy, and the Medic can revive fallen players and heal themselves. Each map/mission consists of objectives that must be completed as a team in order to gain points and grab a successful win – however when playing in single player, you’re forced to switch between classes constantly. This can become cumbersome and annoying.

The major flaw I’ve found with this system lays with the A.I. When playing through the single-player campaign I constantly ran into issues that made me frustrated. I had the game set to level with my rank, as I was still beginning to play. In almost every mission I found myself looking more at the respawn screen waiting than actually working on the mission. The enemy team always seemed to respawn faster, group together better, and work out better as a team than mine. My team mates always left me straggling, hanging behind, and bleeding out on the ground. This became so frustrating that I had to constantly take breaks from playing in order to come back to enjoy the game. This is a huge issue that needs to be resolved.

One gameplay feature I did rather enjoy about Brink is the use of the SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) system. Using SMART, holding just one button allows you to navigate over railings, scale walls, hop over objects, and more. The system depends on the choice of your body type to determine what you can and can’t do. For example, small body types can climb walls, slide under obstacles, and jump easier than a large body type. Each type can move about the same speed, so the real separation shows when it comes to obstacles in the game world. This system alone made the game fun and exciting to play.

Brink does offer a handful when it comes to skill customization, as it includes 50 skills for players to unlock per character. The only issue with this is the fact that only 20 can be assigned to each character created. Now while skillsets aren’t set in stone (the game allows players to re-allocate skill points at any time during the game), it can become a hassle when you’ve got to constantly switch skills around in order to compete with A.I. or other players.

Multiplayer

Brink’s multiplayer has become the main, if not only, reason to own the game. The PC version has private servers and more customization than the console versions, making it feel more at home. The only issue I have with the PC version when it comes to on-the-fly gaming in multiplayer is the fact that for the amount of skills and abilities you have in the game, your fingers will constantly be all over the keyboard. One miss-stroke and you can be dead.

Brink on the PC offers hundreds of options to players, allowing them to see exactly what sort of match they will be getting into before it starts. Players can also switch factions in between matches, allowing for a bit of fun every now and then. Each match is started by a cutscene that barely explains the reason why the factions are fighting, and before you know it the madness has begun. Brink’s multiplayer could be the one redeeming factor that can save this title yet.

Players have eight maps to choose from, and each map’s goals are different depending on the faction. Teams will either place explosives, escort a VIP, or operate machinery and provide cover their faction. Of course there are only so many ways to tackle the same objectives for each map, which can provide for drab gameplay if playing for subsequent amounts of time.

The Verdict

On its own, Brink performs well as an online shooter. However, with shoddy A.I., repetitive gameplay, and a system that creates so many frustrations with gamers, the game could use a lot of work. If you’re someone who plays Team Fortress 2 regularly, I would advise you to stick with what you have. If you’re a player who is looking for some team-based action and is new to online FPS games, this could work out for you. While the PC version of Brink feels more whole than its console counterparts, the game still lacks a large bit of depth and detail. Overall, the game is lacking just a bit too much for me to justify it as addictive or playable.

The Good

  • Fun to play multiplayer
  • SMART system makes the game exciting
  • Great matchmaking for multiplayer on PC

The Bad

  • Programmed A.I. makes the game frustrating
  • Lack of depth and detail forces the game to be unappealing
  • Repetitive objectives can make gameplay drab
  • Class system is functional, but can be boring and annoying when players must switch constantly

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