Brink is no ordinary, everyday shooter, the whole concept of this action game revolves around some rather dramatic and inventive ideas. The fluid, Mirrors Edge style parkour movement is combined with a unusual player objective mechanic.
Brink is formed around the constant battle between The Resistance and The Security, two factions who live on an overpopulated island called The Ark. The game is split into 16 campaign missions consisting of objectives – the goals are simple, defeat the enemy. The larger missions may have multiple objectives, but some of the smaller campaigns may only have one simple objective to complete.
As would be expected, the game offers multiple player classifications: The Medic, The Soldier, The Engineer and the Operative. Unsurprisingly each class has different abilities – for instance Medics can heal, the Soldier can blow up sealed gates and the Operative is a glorified hacker able to break into opposing computer systems. To win, the teams need to be a balanced mixture of classes, because specific missions will need someone to either blow up a gate, or hack a computer. Thankfully, the players can adjust their class during the game by accessing a Command Post, but more on this later.
While on paper the game seems fantastic, there are unfortunately some issues. By choosing a class you like, you can level up the abilities, but often they will be class specific. This means most of the points will be spent enhancing a single class. Quite often, in some campaigns, a specific class isn’t needed that much, so you will feel like a spare part in the overall plan. Of course you could change the class, but many people don’t want to lose their ‘identity’ (or points bonuses) during the game.
The fighting methodology focuses on ‘enmasse’ combat, which MAG gamers will immediately appreciate. Often, outnumbering the enemy is the key to success rather than some elaborate Rambo ‘one man army’ style tactic. This is probably more realistic in the grand scheme of things, but players will not often feel like a hero who has saved the day due to some fantastic in game solo maneuver.
Sadly, during my time with the game it appears that that a simple tactic has the best reward. massing a team on the objective location and defending it. Choke points ensure that the attacking team will have a tough time ousting the defenders from the objective, leading to quite a bit of frustration. Using several Engineers to defend a point is a very strong move, especially as they can plant landmines and position turrets.
The artificial intelligence system isn’t the worst I have seen, but often it just doesn’t want to work with the human players, opting for a more dramatic freelance style game play. So you might have a tactic in mind and be working to that goal, only to see several NPC’s just running mindlessly towards a well armed location and getting gunned down.
Single player wore thin for me very quickly although the developers have included a ‘Challenge’ Mode which can be played solo, or with a friend. This mode consists of four training missions with three difficulty ranks. By completing these ranks you can unlock various weapons and supporting attachments. Within only 30 minutes you can easily have a huge portion of the available weaponry at hand.
After playing the game for hours, it becomes clear that some more play testing might have helped the overall experience. At the end of every game for instance, we would assume that detailed statistics would be shown, but sadly not … you aren’t even shown how many kills you had.
There is also no inclusion of a party match making structure either, instead there is a system in place which is designed to populate single player matches with real life players. There is also no lobby system either meaning if you want to play with friends then you need to start a game on your own and hope they join up later. You can send invites, but sometimes people said they never received them. Lag was also a problem for me, but I don’t know if this was isolated or a network wide problem.
Brink, despite the issues, can be a very fun game, especially with friends playing. There are certainly some balancing issues and the omission of some functionality doesn’t help to make the game more intuitive and accessible. Overall however, even though it can be frustrating, several of my online games highlighted the potential enjoyment ahead. I just hope they can sort out the networking issues.