Review: Brink

May 10, 2011, By Christian Davis

Imagine one day someone came to you and said there’s a game that combines parkour with a first person shooter. Think of sliding underneath collapsed gates while shooting at three players from the opposing team and then jumping off a wall up to an air vent to make a quick escape. It sounds like a fun and unique idea and you’re immediately interested. Bethesda is that person and Brink is that free running first person shooter. Despite all of the flashy wall jumps and athletics, Brink stumbles over itself and ends up being the kid in gym that tries too hard.

In Brink, you control two opposing factions, The Security and The Resistance. The Security is fighting to keep their use of the floating utopia, The Ark, alive while the Resistance is trying to escape the dying city and find refuge elsewhere. Whether you choose to leave or stay, you will be fighting non-stop until you achieve your ultimate goal.

It’s clear right off the back that Brink has a great story in mind that could have been represented with great narratives, action packed cutscenes, and moments in gameplay that rivaled Mirrors Edge; however the one downfall to the game is the campaign. If you expected Brink to come with a robust story, you’re going to be let down significantly. It’s very shallow. You’re essentially thrown into each mission without a clear goal of what you’re supposed to be doing. There are cutscenes in the game that make an attempt to explain some sort of story, but they’re not really cohesive. At one point they’re talking about kidnapping a guy, and the next scene they’re bringing up something about a cure and needing an antidote for everyone literally out of nowhere. You just feel loss and then start to lose interest in the story all together. The cutscenes are nicely done, the voice acting’s great, and the characters are interesting but there’s just not any substance there to keep you invested.

All the missions or “days “are available to you from the start and you can choose to play them in any order you want. You’ll essentially be playing the same mission twice from the point of view of each faction. There are slight variations though because one faction will have “Day 2” and the other won’t. It’s not explained why they don’t have those days, since you’re fighting against the same enemy the whole time.

Along with the separate days there are also the “What If” missions. These basically are modifications to some of the missions that usually end up with one faction doing something not thinking things through and doing something exceedingly drastic. The single player campaign is also very short. At the most you can blow through the game in one sitting in under 6 hours and that may be stretching it. If you don’t have a way to play the game online, this isn’t the best game to get.

You can play the campaign in three different ways: Solo, co-op and versus. Solo is played solely by yourself offline, co-op allows you to play through the entire campaign with your friends and versus puts the enemy in the player control. This is where the “seamless” multiplayer and single player experience comes in.

That’s not to say the single player is completely useless though. There’s still a lot to gain from the campaign specifically when it comes to customization and game knowledge. Going through the campaign does give you a look at the levels and allows you to be ready for the online play. It’s better to think of the campaign as training since there is no real tutorial in the game. There’s a 20 minute long video that combines all of the released “Get SMART” videos into one, but that’s as close to a training that you’ll get. That’s one of the first things you’re presented with. If you watch the video you’ll get 1,000 experience points. They didn’t tell you how long it was going to be though and those experience points become meaningless to you since you’re sitting there watching old videos. Going through missions gives your player experience and allows you to unlock the nearly endless amounts of customization they have available in the game.

Bethesda released the numbers and there are 102,247,681,536,000,000 character variations in the game. If your jaw dropped, that’s understandable. So with all those variations, what are you unlocking? Anything and everything: pants, shirts, hair styles, head gear, tattoos, muzzle attachments, gun sights, abilities, etc…The list goes on and it’s definitely worth getting all the items.  With such a high number, why aren’t there females in the game?

Brink is a very multiplayer centric game. Playing this game alone isn’t nearly as fun as playing online. There weren’t many people online when I played obviously, but the game excels when playing with other people. The best way to think of the multiplayer is to think of Star Wars Battlefront and Team Fortress 2 fused together. Combine that with the drive to gain experience and you’ve got some good fun.

The 16 person multilayer matches are fast paced and can offer some really intense moments. Communicating with teammates on where to place turrets, mines, and locating enemy positions keeps the game energetic, but is still only a mild jolt. The multiplayer only has two game modes and those can and will get dull quickly, especially since you’ve already played them monotonously in the single player. Why is there no capture the flag game type? Having someone steal your flag and run up a wall in a frantic escape for his life could have been fantastic, except you’re stuck planting a bomb and then protecting it, then escorting a VIP or escorting a robot. Even a race would have benefited this game.

The parkour portion of the game known as “S.M.A.R.T” is unique spin on the game, but Brink doesn’t highlight it as well as you’d want it. Tapping the S.M.A.R.T button enables the player to sprint, but holding it allows your character to hop over rails, boxes, and even wall jump to higher locations with the lightweight characters. That’s basically it.

The main issue with Brink is that the “seamless” single and multiplayer isn’t seamless. It’s the exact same thing. If you don’t like the single player, you won’t like the multiplayer. Brink does some cool tricks and tries to land on its feet, but falls flat on its face. The shining moments are overshadowed by the shear emptiness of the game and it just feels like an idea that wasn’t entirely planned out. The game could have done without the single player and have been strictly a multiplayer game. It would have been much more successful.

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