Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer: Splash Damage
- Players: 1
- Co-op: 2-18
- Online Multiplayer: 2-16
- 1MB to Game Save
- HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
While at E3 last year, I had the opportunity to check out Bethada’s “Brink”. At the time, I was taken back with the game’s unique and somewhat artistic look. The demo I played was short and certainly had some issues, but at the end of the day I felt the game showed some serious promise. Well fast forward almost one year and Brink has finally arrived for the Xbox 360 after a couple of delays. How does it play out? Read on to find out.
Visually, Brink is a decent looking game. As I mentioned at the top, Brink has a very unique and artistic look about it. For starters, the characters look like ex-convicts in a steroid induced Olympic swimmers body. They seem rather tall and incredibly chiseled for characters that have been going without food and water for so long. Nevertheless, they seem to fit in just right with the artistic style of the game. The level of customizations available for each character is impressive too. You can customize your player’s body, face and even voice. As you progress along in the game more customizable options become unlocked. So the developers are given plenty of kudos for giving gamers the option of customizing their characters look as much as one would like.
Another positive aspect with the games visuals is the game’s environments. The game is set in the near future on an enormous floating city called “The Ark”, which hovers above an area off the coast of San Francisco. Right away, I draw comparisons with Crackdown. They both look very similar to one another in terms of the environments, structures, and surrounding water. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Crackdown is a solid looking game. On a bit of a downside, the menus and some of the in-game animations are nothing incredibly stunning and the game does suffer from some pixilation issues, but Bethesda did inform us media type that a day one patch would resolve many of these issues. Also, in regards to some of the game’s interiors, the colours seemed a tad murky. Overall, Brink is a game that is above average in the looks department, but only by a slim margin.
As far as the game’s sound is concerned, Brink is decent but just seems to lack some oomph. I just was not all that impressed with the games sound effects. Explosions are nothing special and the gunfire just seemed a bit off, in a loud way, as it almost overpowers the game. When I first fired my weapon, I had to reach for my remote to turn the volume down. To say that the gunfire sounds seem unbalanced would be an understatement. The soundtrack is somewhat forgettable as nothing really stood out in the music department. Finally, the voice work, while decent, is not on par with other ‘Triple A’ shooters already on the market. That said, I enjoyed all the British accents and there was some good dialog now and then.
While other first person shooters come equipped with a solid single player campaign and a separate online multiplayer component, Brink is quite the opposite. While Brink is a first person shooter, it blends single-player, co-op, and multiplayer gameplay all into one experience, allowing you to build your character whether playing alone, with friends, or against others online. Sounds great in theory but the execution of such is a little less than desired. But before I get into the nuts and bolts of the game, let me just give you some background in terms of games back story.
Brink is set in the near future on a floating city called “The Ark”. The Ark was designed to hold 5000 humans in the event of an environmental catastrophe. Unfortunately, 50,000 people flooded the city, which brought about several challenges including lack of food, water, clothing and other life necessities. Well this just happens to irritate many of the habitants and so they form a “Resistance”. The Resistance demanded leaders of the Ark to supply them with some of life’s basic necessities but the leaders refused despite having enough resources, so the Resistance armed-up to take on the leaders and seize power of the Ark. Meanwhile the city managed to recruit a security force strong enough to take on the Resistance. This group was formed and collectively called “Security”. They see the Resistance as a terrorist group; while the Resistance sees Security as oppressive soldiers hired by the Arks leaders to crush the Resistance. That is Brink’s story in a nutshell.
Once you fire up the game you are asked to pick a side in conflict. In this case the choice is essentially “Security” or “Resistance”. Choosing one side or the other does not really change much in terms of the single player campaign, nor does it change any of your characters customizations. So there is no need to stress about your selection. While the backstory sets up the game quite nicely, there is really no flow to the story whatsoever. As you play the single player missions you quickly notice not much else is done with the games story at all. There is no plot progression and virtually nothing is there that we have come to expect with shooters these days. Granted Brink plays out differently than the majority of the shooters already on the market but I just expected a little more. In fact, the single player campaign merely consists of a bunch of separate mission based objectives where your main rewards for completing the objectives rests with the Experience Points (XP) system. You don’t even have to play the missions in any particular order.
What does the game’s XP get you? By leveling up, you gain the ability to customize your character and acquire some new abilities. Again, I expected a little more here. Unlocking some weapons, abilities, and character customizations is about all you can do with the XP you accumulate. Being able to customize your character is cool but the game places too much emphasis on this ability. We have seen character customizations before in many games so I am not quite sure why the development team has seemingly made this one of Brink’s main selling points.
After you have picked a side and a mission, you will use your class abilities to complete objectives. Primary objectives are ones your team must compete to win, and secondary objectives are the ones that give your team the edge but are by no means essential. In Brink you are always part of an 8-man team, whether it be online, single player, or co-op, you are always part of a team of either real players or bots. You can even switch the bots to human players in mid-stream, which is also a very cool function. You and every member of your team are capable of completing any objective. This being said, you might have to change your class first before you dive into a mission.
Brink features four classes: the Soldier, the Medic, the Engineer, and the Operative. It is a class system we have seen before, so there is nothing incredibly innovative about this aspect of the game. As you would guess, each class plays a pivotal role in the various missions/objectives. For starters, the “Soldier” is proficient with the explosives that in the end destroy key targets. He is also responsible for resupplying teammates. The “Engineer” can build turrets and the “Medic” can heal fallen teammates. Finally, the “Operative” can interrogate fallen opponents, disguise himself as the enemy and just simply cause chaos. A good balance of class usage is vital to your success in the game. Paying attention to your squad mates and helping them also becomes a critical aspect of the game. Doesn’t seem complicated but it can be. But fear no more, all the ins and outs of the game are explained in the games video tutorial. Did I mention it is a half hour?
Yes, before you start the game you have the option of watching a half hour; yes you read correctly, a half hour tutorial which acquaints you with the games controls, classes, missions and basically everything else you need to know in the game. Watching the tutorial is painful, yet critical in not only playing the game, but in fully optimizing the Brink experience as well. Personally, I would have preferred more of a hands-on tutorial where I am actually doing something as opposed to watching my screen dim 10 minutes into the video; but sadly no such hands-on tutorial mode exists. In a first person shooter, gamers generally want to get right into the action right away. Brink’s half hour video takes you away from the game and it is just too much information all at once. My brain was on overload after that painful video.
As I briefly touched on above, during the missions you will earn XP that are used towards your player’s customizations. The same experience points can be earned in both single-player and multiplayer. In fact you can play any of the single player missions either online or offline. I found this aspect of the game very cool and the online experience is without question a blast. Playing the campaign in co-op is where the game truly shines and there is an addictive element. That being said, the few times I have been online over the past couple of days have been laggy experiences. Either the servers were too busy or the game merely needs a patch. In any event, the lag did take away from the experience.
Control wise, Brink is hit and miss. While the game’s SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) System is a seamless experience, the rest of the controls are average at best. Brink focuses on parkour style movement where sliding, jumping and bouncing off walls is part of your player’s movements. The game notes your position and almost predicts what you are trying to do. The system lets you navigate complex environments without equally complex input. It works quite well and much better than advertised. The system reminds me of EA’s Mirrors Edge game and I quite enjoyed this aspect of the game. As for the other controls they just were not as refined as I would have liked. The shooting mechanics are nothing like they are in Call of Duty games or Gears of War. It felt a tad jerky and just plain unnatural.
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