Software developers Splash Damage are no strangers to hit games. As the creative team behind Quake 3 and Quake Wars, many people were excited when it was announced they would team with Zenimax to create a unique new shooter called Brink. In the months leading up to the release the game players have been teased with gameplay videos and promises that the drop-in dropout feature other new innovations would revolutionize 3-D shooters.
The game is set in a futuristic society that is divided into the haves and have-nots following the devastating global flooding that has covered the earth. One side lives in luxury in this modern floating city while the other side is forced to live in the slums fighting for the very scraps they need to survive. When the game opens, players are given the option to customize their character which include such options as the type of hair, clothing, and weapons you wish them to have. As you progress in the game, players will be given new options for clothing and accessories as well is the all-important weapons in which to upgrade their characters.
The game has three basic modes of play: campaign, free play, and challenges. In the campaign mode players will play 8+ missions as either the security or resistance side. Free play mode will drop players randomly into any of the missions on either side of the conflict, whereas challenges mode is simply a series of objectives in which players must work together to compete.
Teamwork is an essential part of the game as players from different classes such as soldier, infiltrator, medic, and engineer need to work together. Each class has their own strengths and weaknesses such as engineers being able to build barricades and weapon emplacements, but are slow of foot. Each mission is assigned during the loading phase via cut scene and players who are familiar with the storyline are given the option to skip the scene and jump straight into the action.
The missions in the game are fairly standard and are broken down into the usual goals such as escort a target, destroy a target, obtain said information or object, and defend. The weapons in the game are very basic as they consist of shotgun pistol and various machine guns. As you go through your missions you gain experience points for completing objectives, helping teammates, and dispatching enemy players. My early efforts with the games weaponry was frustrating as I found the play balance to be way off. I would riddle an opposing player with bullets only to see them continue to come at me. Thankfully around Level V and after some patching enemy players are now going down in a manner to which I’ve become accustomed to after many years of supplying 3-D shooters.
Initially there were numerous server issues when I attempted to play the game. I was unable to get into campaign games and free play games often had high lag, random crashes, and other bugs. Thankfully two weeks after release the game has been connecting and running smoothly whenever I played.
The look of the game is solid, the graphics are good, but I cannot get too excited about them as much of the game strikes me as been-there-seen-that and fails to draw me into the story and action. As I played the game I was surprised at how retro much of the gameplay felt and looked. Because with all the hype surrounding the game I had at least expected some dynamic graphics and features to accompany the action.
The gameplay, while fun, became stale very quickly as the missions were very bland and lacked any real sense of immersion or urgency. While I was trying to complete the objectives it did not matter as much to me whether we were successful because so much of the gameplay and outcome of the mission was in the hands of other players which often required me to adopt a take-charge mentality in order to successfully complete a level.
This is not to say there were not some epic firefights and the ability to change class in mission was a huge advantage as there were times when being a soldier or infiltrator suited the situation better.
The maps in the game are well planned out and being able to fight in locales ranging from an aquarium to transportation terminal were a lot of fun. My only real issues were, as I stated before, the overall blandness of the graphics and the lack of real variety of combat options. There are grenades in the game but I found them to be fairly ineffective and operating with a very long fuse that required me to cook them prior to tossing them. The variety of machine guns while impressive generally played out the same as the differences between them in nearly stages of the game were minimal. While some have higher damage and fire rates when the bullets start flying many of them were pretty much the same. I often thought how awesome it would be to fire a rocket or energy weapon and down the halls and take down the bad guys.
The sound quality of the game is also an area that had a dated quality to it. To be honest, I kept coming back to team Fortress two and thinking to myself I’ve seen much of this game already just with the storyline this time but lacking the humor. There are some nice touches to the game such as the Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain (SMART) control system which allows the AI to anticipate a players moves and eliminate the need for extra pressing of control keys. A prime example of this is one of player approaches an edge they can simply continue moving forward and the control system will intuitively allow them to scale the object in front of them and continue on such as jumping from allege to the ground below.
The command interface and the game is also very easy as players can give commands and locate strategic mission objectives easily from a pop-up mission wheel. Teamwork is also key to survival as being able to upgrade, rearm, and heal your teammates not only help accomplish mission objectives but give you valuable experience points as well.
As much as I really wanted to like the game I have to admit that I am disappointed with the final product. To me Brink had a lot going for it but it fails to live up to its lofty goals and instead gives players a fairly vanilla team-based shooter that does not live up to the enjoyment of other games already on the market.
3 stars out of 5