Sweetly Familiar: A Review of Brink

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It’s really difficult for me to get into the FPS genre. Most of this isn’t actually because I’m bad at First-Person Shooters though. I found a lot of enjoyment with Modern Warfare 2’s online mode, or more specifically I’ve learned that I function better on a team where different members are given different responsibilities, so for instance I’m great in a match where I just have to secure a position but not so great when I’m required to kill everyone else. Rather, my holdup comes as a result of my Xbox Live Gold account expiring a few months back and my lack of funds to get it going again. Brink is tempting me to rethink my Xbox Live stinginess with an FPS that’s entirely team-based in presentation. Is it the sort of game you’d be into? Read on for the full review.

Big guy with a chaingun? So far so good.

Brink comes to us from the minds of developer Splash Damage as an FPS that takes a lot of unique elements from a bunch of other games and combines them into something new here. I’m actually really receptive to a game that takes elements from other games as long as it does so in order to bring about a fusion that feels fairly new. Brink is pretty good at taking three distinct games, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, and surprisingly Mirror’s Edge, and forming the mashed-up child of the three into one cohesive game. And it somewhat works.

The other half of this equation, the half that pushes me away, is the lack of any sort of real single-player option worth caring about. Why would I purchase a title that is going to require me to pay a subscription fee, at least on the Xbox 360? Stop, I know I’m not the only type of gamer here, but let me explain the faults with the single player game and then with the multiplayer mode.

In terms of a narrative, Brink is set in a future world where you must choose between two factions. One supports this government-run thing called the Ark, the other opposes it and is labeled as the rebels. There is a loose story mode to play through, but to attempt it just by yourself is virtually impossible as your team’s AI is so broken it makes Halo 3’s NPCs look brilliant by comparison (spoiler for those who haven’t played the Halo series: They have some of the worst teammate AI). There is the option to allow online co-op players to drop into the single player mode, thus alleviating the stress, but then it soon becomes exactly what the multiplayer mode is, begging me to ask, “What was the point?”

You'll be too busy capping online opponents to remember that there's a single-player option anyway.

Therefore, skip the single-player option entirely and just stick to multiplayer, which by itself is incredibly fun up to a certain point. That certain point happens to be the laughably low level cap of 20, a goal you can reach in just a few hours of serious play. Once you reach level 20, there’s nothing more for your character to learn and all XP just feels wasted.

You wouldn’t feel so bad wasting that XP if the game hadn’t already done a great job of encouraging you to do everything via the XP system in the first place. You get XP for doing just about anything, including shooting enemy forces, reviving teammates, or even just laying down some suppressing fire. So when this constant rewarding loses all effect, the need to do anything other than shoot everyone also loses some appeal. Would you rather run around healing people or would you rather be the guy dealing the damage?

Even with the low level cap, Brink lets you have such a great time playing around with customizable weapons and character outfits. I really like Brink’s art style as it’s very reminiscent of Borderlands. The characters have a lot of personality and the color scheme is allowed to show all colors instead of just the usual grays and browns. There’s life here amongst the death, and that’s the real draw of Brink. That and the four character classes, leading into that desire to try new things and help wherever possible.

Still, you’ll constantly be on the verge of rage-quitting as some multiplayer objectives show that they aren’t nearly polished enough. At times you’ll discover that the only way to succeed with a mission is to go through one specific path in a level, allowing for the perfect funnel that the enemy will naturally figure out and stand at the end, mowing you down without even trying. Future patches could very well fix a lot of the maps’ flaws, but right now it feels like more time needed to be spent testing the logistics of the objectives alongside the maps.

Then again, adding an element of platforming to an FPS is a step towards convincing me to reconsider the downsides.

As Brink currently stands, I’m disappointed. This isn’t the game that will get me to renew my Xbox Live Gold account, but it sure did try. I hear that the PC version is the best, as the PC version tends to be for team-based games (why do us console gamers hate working as teams?), but the PS3 version is essentially unplayable because of the PSN blackout, though that should be obvious what with the multiplayer game being incapable of going online.

There you have it, that’s my final verdict on Brink. I’d enjoy playing with a friend, but I’m not sold on the final product. Rent it if you’ve got the online account, but until a few patches come down the pipe, it’s a pass. That’s just me (as always). What do you guys think? Is Brink on the list of Must Have titles? Leave a comment and let me know. C’mon, we’ve got to make this online thing work, for the sake of games everywhere!

Want more reviews? Check these out:

Rush N Attack and Yar’s Revenge, visiting some old friends

Huge Success: A Review of Portal 2

Get Over Here and Play: A Review of Mortal Kombat (2011)

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

2 Comments

  1. I just love the Chain Gun. Game is good but it lacks good graphics. Everyone has got their point of view and this is mine. Anyways, thanks for the good post.

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