I’ve now been able to play Brink for a good amount of time over the last couple of days; so let me start this review off by saying this: If you can get through the irritating repeatable objectives, laggy graphics, a particularly thin storyline and the fact that the multi-player is far too easy- that is when you’ll finally realize that Brink is in fact a pretty decent game. I’m happy I didn’t start writing this 24hours ago, as if I did- I don’t think I would have hit that particular point by now.
As alluded too in my not so thrilling introduction, I’m not horribly thrilled with the games story – and I can sum up my disappointment in one simple word: “rushed.”
That’s right boys and girls, it’s quite obvious- at least to me- that Brink’s story was very much an afterthought to the gameplay mechanics themselves. Bethesda / Splash seem to have gone headfirst with the idea of bringing ‘street-running’ into the FPS market, but by having their focus purely on that aspect of the game they seem to have tacked on a limited and painfully thin storyline. I would assume the initial office meeting went something like this:
Worker 1: “Hey, Bob. I’ve got this great idea for a new FPS gameplay mechanic.. I like to call it the ‘Smart’ system! It’s a great system, where players would get to seamlessly jump over blocks, climb up walls and slide along floors. I think it would bring a really interesting mechanic to the FPS market.. Whaddya think?”
Worker 2: “WOW. That sounds. AMAZING. Let’s get developing it ASAP. You get a team together to work on those cool, amazing and flashy game mechanics and we’ll move from there..”
Worker 1: “ Really? Great. I’ve had some great ideas for a really interesting storyline..”
Worker 2: “Whoa whoa.. Don’t get ahead of yourself there tiger. We’ll hire a writer a few months before release. It’ll be just fine.”
I don’t even think I’m being too harsh here. The story just is not compelling and the AI is as useless as throwing an apple at your enemy and hoping that somehow he thinks you’re a nice guy and leaves you alone. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here, Brink is clearly marketed as a multi-player game; heck they even award you for playing online by giving you an extra 20% experience from online matches!
So even though I feel the story is utterly terrible and could probably be given more depth by a monkey with a pen- I don’t really feel let down at all. When I bought Brink I knew there was not going to be an in depth campaign which introduced me to the game’s mechanics and slowly unravelled a mysterious yet obvious story; and I was OK with that then, so I’m OK with that now.
Brink is a multi-player game. If you want an in depth campaign to help ease you into the hardcore-ness of the online FPS arena, this game just is not for you.
Why oh Why, would you ship a game that has a known Sound issue? I know the game has been pushed back before and your Marketing team probably told you that if you didn’t release it soon, it would go down the plughole. But, seriously; there is no other major issue you could have with your game at launch (apart from a graphical bug which makes the game unplayable) than the game losing sound while your players are in the middle of playing a Multi-player round.
Let me start by telling you what I did when I got into the game for the first time. I created my character- I’ll go a bit more in depth on this in Gameplay- I earned my free 1000 experience points by watching what I can only describe as a promotional trailer for the game.. in-game and then I quickly moved to join an Online arena. Half way through that arena I then lost all sound and was obviously unable to hear any of the in-game sounds. Now I dare anybody to criticize me for giving this game a low score for this particular section because of this.
Luckily this has only happened to me once and I can only hope I do not repeat the situation. Since then what I’ve seen from the sound, is pretty standard for the FPS genre. Every sound you expect to be in the game IS in the game, they’re a little heavy on the of dialogue while running around shooting people, but this all just adds to the sense of scale of the game- although I’m just its a contributory factor to the amount of lag people seem to generate while playing Brink.
Quickly I should probably highlight the importance for good quality and clear sound in an online FPS game. While playing a game of this nature, the players who are likely to spend 150+ hours on this game are going to be familiar with every sound. This means they can tell if your creeping up behind them, as they can hear your footsteps. If you don’t get the sound absolutely correct in an FPS the game just isn’t worth playing.
Score: 8/10 Everything is pretty standard here. Nothing too special, but because they include everything I would expect they get a nice average 8.
I’ve been thinking about what I can write about in this section for Brink; and it has been a bit of a stumbling block for me. The graphics in this game don’t really bother me but equally I’m not greatly impressed by them. Giving me a very limited amount of things I can tell you about. The art style is different to the majority of current popular FPS games on the market. The graphics are obviously thought about more than the Story was, but still It’s coming up difficult for me to saying anything outstanding about the game’s graphics.
Score: 7/10 Not fantastic but nothing terrible. Utterly average.
Now we get to the exciting part of the review! I say this, due to the fact that this is the part of the game that I actually enjoy! Brink if you didn’t already know is a game built around a specific Gameplay Mechanic which sets it apart from the other online FPS games- the ‘Smart’ system. What they Smart system does is allow players to run and jump over objects with ease, run up walls, sliding along floors and access different ways to get to objectives. It’s a really clever system which I don’t think would work terribly well in the confines of a Battlefield or Call of Duty game- so don’t expect to be seeing it implemented into those any time soon.
The ‘Smart’ system does get a little getting used to, and the key mapping for the game wasn’t what I would call ‘Smart’ on the keyboard. You need giant hands to be able to access all of the keys on your keyboard that you will possibly need during the game, without actually having to move your hand. I would certainly suggest you change the key bindings when you launch the game to something more comfortable- I was stupid enough not to do this and just get on with it- which can take a good few solid hours of gameplay.
Even with the ‘Smart’ system in place Brink didn’t grab me completely at first. It wasn’t a game that I felt the need to log back into and keep levelling on. That did disappoint me somewhat. I stuck with it though- having just spent £30.00 on the game I wasn’t going to give up that easily! Having played the game for a few days now, I think I’ve realized why it just doesn’t grab me. It’s too easy and I’m not sure if that’s the games fault, or YOUR fault. I play multi-player online matches every day and I always manage to come out top of the table with “Best Engineer” and “Most Kills” awards- in fact I’ve been getting those awards since the first match I played. If I can be the best in a game I’ve never played before its probably not going to keep me playing, I like a bit of competition and challenge; and the only challenge the game seems to pose is in the Single Player campaign, which is trying to get the AI to do what you want it to do. To prove how easy this game was, I got my brother (13) to come around and play the game, within two rounds he was also top of the board and getting the awards I was getting- and he’s not even a big PC FPS player, he’s a console player. I’m very tempted to put my 17month year old daughter on the PC and see just how well she does, just to prove the point!
I’m very confused about why the game is this easy. Is it the calibre of player which plays Brink or does everybody find it as easy as I and apparently my brother do?
Another feature of the game is something I can’t quite decide if it’s meant to be a gameplay feature. When you’re in your “sprint” mode the game around you seems to ‘lag’ away from you, just ever so slightly. It’s almost like a “super-speed” blur effect, but it also seems like lag- without the lag. It is very confusing. I’ll leave it up to you when you play the game whether you like this or not.
Like other FPS game Brink allows you class / weapon customization. There is nothing greatly special that stands out here, I do like the graphical interface for the weapon customization- it shows you what your weapon will look like etc while in game. This I enjoyed, but I’m almost positive that it’s not a new innovation. For me the gameplay mechanics are fun and reasonably well thought out. Saying that, they’re certainly not enough to carry the game.
Score: 9/10 Fun, different and worth a try.
Brink has some of the most limited content I’ve ever seen on a game at release. This probably relates back to the limited amount of story, but Brink is almost a pure online game. Playing the single player campaign is basically like playing an online map with the AI. Which is not enjoyable what-so-ever, the AI on your side acts like a complete n00b, running around blind corners and getting swamped, not resurrecting you when its needed and plainly being a complete cock towards the rest of your team. The enemy AI acts like a seasoned camper, it finds the objective and sits its entire team on top of it, forcing you the player to take on a full team by yourself.
This game hinges on team work throughout the campaigns and the AI just cannot offer you this, you can’t flank the opposition with the AI (and in certain cases you can’t do this whilst online…) and any tactics the game allows you to employ the AI doesn’t seem capable of handling.
Playing online is like playing a campaign mission with actual people. You can probably see where I’m going with this… the game is a complete repetitive mess. I’ve only played the game for maybe 6-10hours but I already know the majority of the maps like the back of my hand- and that doesn’t make for a fun enthralling experience. The developers have the option of maybe adding more maps and adding a little more story to the game through DLC, but for the moment I would say that is probably too little too late for Brink.
Score: 6/10 Not enough content to keep the game moving, and the content is there just isn’t long enough to keep me interested.
I still like this game. After playing for 10+ hours, getting to grips with the controls and knowing the maps inside out, I still log in to play the game for an hour or so each day. Its a fun game to play and I still enjoy luring a bunch of players down a corridor choke point into a turret and mines that I have placed strategically and laughing at their idiocy. I like the fact that you don’t have to be a complete hardcore 30hours a week player to be good at this game and I like the free-running style combat.
All of this gels well together to create a game that I’ll keep going back to for a small amount of fun each week. Saying that.. I would advise anybody else who has their finger hovering over that purchase button, to wait another month or so. My prediction is that the game will plummet in price and you’ll get an actual decent game at a more representative price.