Before you dive into our review of Bethesda’s new FPS game called Brink, I’d like to introduce the newest addition to the EB team, Liquid Swords. He’ll be occasionally bringing his point of view to the site, which will represent the new gamer generation as he is many years younger than my geezer a*s. I’m pumped that he is on board, so I hope you enjoy his first assignment, which was to review the infamous Brink. Without further adieu, here’s Liquid’s Brink review (I should have been a rap artist)!
Let me start by stating that I have always been a huge fan of the first person shooter genre. My childhood consisted of long nights playing Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. My adolescence was consumed by countless hours spent playing Halo and Halo 2. Call of Duty 4 stole around of month’s worth of in-game time due to marathon sessions with my closest friends. However, in recent years, as the FPS genre has reached a new level of popularity, and gaming in general has crossed over into the mainstream, the genre has become rather stagnant.
Many companies are opting to make second-rate clones of Call of Duty rather than presenting a new and original formula. Brink loomed on the horizon for many people such as myself as a beacon of hope that would freshen up the genre, combining elements from games such as Team Fortress 2 and Mirror’s Edge. So does Brink live up to the lofty expectations set by the community, or did it fall flat on its face? The answer lies somewhere in between.
The Awesome – Balanced classes, Tight gunplay, Great sound and unique visuals, Customization, Rewarding team based gameplay
The Not So Awesome – Terrible bot AI, Poor netcode, Lack of game modes/MP system
In an objective based shooter such as Brink, having balanced classes is absolutely essential to your game being a success. Fortunately, this is one of the bright spots this game has to offer. Soldiers are able to dole out ammo to depleted teammates and blow up dividers to open up the next area for their team. Medics are mainly a support role, able to buff the health of their team and revive their fallen comrades. Engineers are the most destructive class, able to increase gun damage, put down turrets and mines, and disable/fix (depending on what side you’re on) some of the primary objectives. Operatives are the only class without a “buff” that can be given to themselves or teammates, but they can disguise as fallen enemies, reveal the location of the entire enemy team, and hack enemy turrets for their own use. Playing the Operative class has been especially effective for me simply because many teams are caught off guard by those who use it as it is the least used class in most of the games I’ve been a part of. Each class can be played relatively similarly, but learning how to use the strengths of each class effectively can dramatically improve your in-game ability, and as a result, your win loss record.
Brink’s Class Selection Screen
One of the biggest problems with the countless Call of Duty clones on the market these days is that they quite simply play like an inferior version of Activision’s cash cow. Often times, hit detection is either severely lacking, or is extremely inconsistent. Thankfully, this can be counted amongst Brink’s strengths. Perhaps because of the implementation of visible health bars, you can tell exactly how much damage each of your shots is doing to your opponent, something that seems so trivial but makes a big difference. How often in today’s shooters have you seemingly put a whole clip into someone only to have them whip around and kill you with three or four shots? This problem has yet to affect me in my many hours playing Brink, and I am thankful that Splash Damage was on point with this element of their game.
Great Sound/Unique Visuals
The audio/visual portion of Brink is absolutely fantastic. Brink’s art style has rightfully been compared to that of Borderlands, which makes sense in that they are not your typical high-def, crisp graphics shooter. However, with its own unique art style, Brink is able to present a detailed environment in a way that distinguishes it from its contemporaries. This style is coupled with great audio; different guns pop with their own unique twangs, voices ranging from Rastafarian Jamaicans to tea-sipping Brits call out orders on the battlefield, making you feel like you are part of a diverse unit instead of a replaceable drone. The music, though subtle, acts as a good compliment to the game, and carries undertones of the attitudes of the two feuding factions.
This Unique Enough For You!?
Brink’s customization was one of the aspects that drew many gamers, including myself, to purchasing the game. Want to create a Jamaican-voiced soldier with bright green dreadlocks? How bout a medic with an American voice and an old-school fade? Brink allows you to create unique characters that you customize to suit your play style. For example, a heavy body type allows you to wield miniguns and take more damage while sacrificing parkour abilities, while a light body type allows you to wall run and sprint at lightning quick speeds while sacrificing a chunk of health. As your character ranks and levels up, you are able to unlock different abilities to apply to different areas, whether they are class-specific or general upgrades. Gun customization is another large part of Brink. By completing the game’s “Challenge” mode, you unlock oodles and oodles of attachments for the game’s plethora of guns, which allow you to trick out your gun however you see fit. Each attachment comes with some kind of downside, however, so be willing to pay the cost in order to deck out your assault rifle with four attachments.
Rewarding Team-based Gameplay
This is by far my absolute favorite part of Brink. The FPS genre has unfortunately transformed from something that focused heavily on having a well organized team to an all out free for all that too often rewards lone wolves with overpowering kill streaks and upgrades. Though there are those in Brink who try to set out on their own and take things into their own hands, ignoring their team members, Brink rewards players for sticking together and helping their companions. Players receive large XP bonuses for buffing their teammates and completing objectives which help the team reach their goal, while those who try to focus strictly on kills will be left lacking in points at the end of the round. Many of the reviews from popular sites criticize the fact that Brink’s creators wanted players to focus on what would best help the team instead of what the player wanted to specialize in.
Playing as a Team Yields Better Results
For example, Joystiq proclaimed in their review that, “should you refuse to switch your class to suit the objective, you’re going to feel like your services aren’t really required three-quarters of the time.” I take serious objection to this notion. In a team-based shooter, shouldn’t your focus be on what you can do to best help the team in any given situation? Brink appropriately rewards not only those who carry out the main objectives, but also the people flanking them, supporting them and making sure the task is carried out.
The Not So Awesome
Terrible Bot AI
One of the major promises Splash Damage made with Brink was that their game would blur the lines between multiplayer and singleplayer. While this ultimately ended up being true, it is only because singleplayer and multiplayer are literally the exact same thing. This would not be a deal breaker (as the Left 4 Dead series has pulled this off effectively) except for the fact that the AI for the bots in single player mode is atrocious. On the one hand, when paired up with bot teammates, you feel as if you are paired up with brain dead drones who do absolutely nothing to help you complete your objectives. On the other, your computer opponents seem to lay waste to everything that steps into their path, making it difficult to have an enjoyable solo experience.
Brink Bots, Day Late and a Dollar Short!
For a game that focuses primarily on teaming up with other players instead of bots, the poor netcode upon launch is absolutely inexcusable. Lag issues seem to pop up almost at random; hooked via ethernet cable to my router, I went from a game in which everything played smoothly and had no issues to a game where I literally could not move. Thankfully, Splash Damage has seen the numerous complaints made by both users and reiviewers alike, and has promised to fix connection issues as well as release free DLC in June for the inconvenience, but whether this is cleaned up remains to be seen.
Lack of Game Modes/Lobby System
This has been talked about vehemently amongst the thousands of people who have picked up and played Brink over the past week. Though friends and random strangers alike are able to create a “fireteam” post-game in order to stick together through more rounds, the lack of a party and lobby system is an odd exclusion, especially given that it is pretty much the industry standard in today’s day and age.
Not Easy to Play Brink With Friends
Another problem is the lack of game modes. Although some are clamoring for team deathmatch and other Call of Duty staples, there are plenty of ways that Splash Damage could implement their team based gameplay in unique objective game types that would appease many people. Browsing their boards, they have said that they will take into account all of the feedback they are receiving and use the information at hand to better the game for the users. Hopefully they live up to this promise.
The Final Verdict
In the end, Brink is a game that people will play not because they want to reach a high rank in order to brag to their friends, or because they want to show off their impressive kill death ratio, but because they truly enjoy playing it. Playing with a group of people who are coordinated and cooperative is not only fun but rewarding if it ends in a team victory, as Brink makes you feel like you are contributing to the effort even when your role is a secondary one. Because of a lack of game modes and variation, as well as netcode issues, Brink will be pushed to the side by many and may eventually be an afterthought, which makes me think that maybe Splash Damage should have held off on the release until it was absolutely perfect. However, if they listen to the players who have enjoyed the game and make several tweaks in order to pump the game with some longevity and smoothness, Brink is a game I can see myself and others enjoying for a long time. I give it an EB 7.5/10. Make sure to check out some Brink action below. You’ve been hoping for a Brink demo to make your purchasing decision easier…
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EB Original by Liquid Swords