With the addition of parkour to the team, objective based shooter mechanics, Brink’s setup is poised to shake up the genre and inject a more exciting feel, and for the most part it succeeds. It’s just a shame there isn’t more of it to really showcase the ideas.
On the surface, Brink is another Team Fortress style shooter. A similar aesthetic provides an exceptional style to characters and environments, an almost caricature look to the characters and bright, cartoon-esque environments that switch between the clean and crisp utopian interior of the Ark and the rust and filth filled slums of its exterior. It’s a fantastic setting; unfortunately the narrative behind it is less impressive.
The Ark – a huge floating city – has become the last know refuge for humanity following the rising of the sea level. Dwindling resources and living space on the Ark soon caused a conflict between those tasked with maintaining order and those who demanded more liberty. The narrative follows both groups as they try to quell the other’s plans through a selection of missions. Each mission is, at its best, a tutorial for the objective based mechanics and, at its worst, completely pointless. The narrative is brief as well as badly constructed and delivered, and the friendly AI is woefully inadequate at performing the team based objectives required to win. It’s a completely throw away experience that will quickly become tiresome. It’s an absolute tragedy, as the core experience is excellent, thankfully multiplayer allows this to shine – mostly.
Through the use of 4 different classes, you and your team must complete a set of dynamic objectives from hacking computers terminals to setting and blowing charges on gates. Teamwork is an essential part of the experience, with each class having significantly different skills that are specific to certain objectives as well as being able to provide team members with a variety of different buffs and support. The solider can place charges on objectives and excels in assault as well as providing ammo to team mates. The engineer is a master of defence with deployable mines and turrets, damage buffs for team mates, safe cracking skills and explosive charge disarming for objectives. The medic can heal, revive and buff health, whilst the operative can hack objectives and turrets, and disguise themselves as enemies. And that’s all just for starters. As you progress in rank from experience points you earn in-game, you can acquire additional abilities and enhancements which all play a big part in defining each class.
It’s a well thought out selection of skills distributed brilliant amongst the classes, and you and your team must utilise each player’s skills to make headway. It’s absolutely not a game for the lone wolf, and whilst kills certainly add experience to you tally and help keep enemies off your teammates, every action can earn you experience points and this wonderfully encourages dedicated roles. And with the ability to switch classes on the fly to react to every situation, it forms a fast paced, tactical experience that is easy to appreciate and a great deal of fun. The player base, however, is still learning the ropes and teamwork isn’t always emerging naturally.
As the player base gains a clue though, which they gradually are, the experience will shine; at least it would if it didn’t feel so constrained. With eight maps in total supporting eight players per side, despite the many objectives that break each map up into sections of intense combat, it gets repetitive fast. And if you’ve already played through on singleplayer, it gets repetitive instantly as the multiplayer side of Brink is identical. It’s a problem for longevity that severely threatens the survival of the title against the competition, and although DLC may able to fix this in the future, by then it may prove too late.
The flaws, as prominent as they are, still don’t completely distract you from the positive aspects. Brink’s SMART system, where parkour is introduced as a mechanic, allows you to move swiftly and efficiently across each map; over and under obstacles in a smooth fashion, as well as being an excellent way to dodge incoming fire. Brink also offers a huge amount of customisation options for both you weapons and your costumes, allowing you to create your own identity within the world. Whilst content outside of customisation is lacking, the core experience is undeniably brilliant. The maps are well designed and suitable sized, the classes are distinct, and the action is frantic and well balanced. The AI as well as the poor narrative and structure bring the singleplayer to its knees but the multiplayer is on the verge of excellence, save a current problem with lag and the aforementioned lack of content.
In the end, Brink is a collection of excellent ideas that aren’t quite matched in their execution. The singleplayer is awful and the multiplayer suffers almost purely because you want to see more of it. It’s absolutely worth your time but chances are you won’t stick around for very long.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: PS3/Xbox 360/PC Release Date: 13/05/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a physical copy of Brink for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.