Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Splash Damage Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 20th May 2011 Platforms:
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Do you remember when Quake 3 Arena came out? id Software were like 'balls to singleplayer, have some bots' and it wound up being a legendary turn of events?
The next great game to follow this philosophy was the fantastic Battlefield 1942 - and then Splash Damage dropped their own epic effort, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.
Since then other games have dropped (notably BF2) but by and large games have insisted on coupling their keen multiplayer offering with some semblance of a singleplayer story campaign - it's basically a checkbox in the eyes of publishers, and if it doesn't get ticked they don't release the game.
Brink gets around this by melding the singleplayer and multiplayer into the same damn thing - the entire campaign can be played in multiplayer, and every multiplayer sequence can be played on your own thanks to a great AI.
Consider this your warning though - Brink's singleplayer is but a shadow of what the game is like with other human beings, and if you don't plan on playing online you shouldn't plan on playing Brink. And if you plan on playing online you're in for a surprise as well.
The primary reason for this is because of the AI. Brink's AI is actually good - it doesn't seem to be cheating, it attacks objectives, swaps classes and acts like a real human would. The problem is, even on the default difficulty the enemy AI acts like the biggest d-bag version of a human player it possibly can.
It will spawn camp. It will lock down every avenue of attack possible. It will slap away any hope you have of winning, because it is actively trying to win itself. This isn't the problem (it's actually a good thing) - the problem is that your team's AI doesn't have the same eye of the tiger attitude, and they seem pretty happy to let you eke out the win on your own.
It makes playing on your own incredibly frustrating, and it diminishes the otherwise surprisingly well told story in the campaign.
At its core the plot pushing Brink forward isn't particularly inspired. It's the typical struggle of the haves vs the have-nots, all set in the (admittedly very pretty) futuristic setting of the man-made island called The Ark.
What makes the story so interesting is that you get to play through both sides of the coin. This probably seems obvious initially - it's a multiplayer focused game, so of course you get to play on both sides - but the two sides' campaigns actually tell different parts of the same story. The real kicker is that they also give further insight into elements of the story you'd otherwise be oblivious to, making the other side of the campaign more than just 'the enemy'.
Of course, it's a multiplayer focused game, so while there are some cutscenes and a definite sense of progress about Brink, the real heart of it is in the gameplay itself.
Brink revolves around its combination of mostly balanced classes and the heavily advertised SMART movement system - and both of these are reasonably well executed, if not flawlessly so.
There are four classes - the Soldier, who dispenses ammo and can throw molotov cocktails, the Medic, who can revive and heal others, the Operative, who can disguise as an enemy player and locate enemy mines and players... oh, and the Engineer, who can boost people's damage, deploy turrets, drop mines, safely destroy mines and is made of fairy floss. The last thing is made up, but it's overwhelmingly obvious which class the developers favoured.
You die so often and have such a small way to run in Brink the soldier class might not exist - except for the few objectives you absolutely need him for. Each class has a specific objective that only they can acquire, so at some point during a round you should definitely expect to change classes at least once.
Each level you gain gets you points, which you can spend either improving your universal character or specific class based traits - and you'll never get enough points to unlock everything for every class, so you're eventually forced to make a number of different characters.
Brink makes this simple enough - it's just a matter of re-customising your character and regaining the XP - you don't have to earn any weapon unlocks again. Nor do you have to sit through the ridiculous 40 minute long tutorial (which repeats itself multiple times).
The SMART movement system takes some getting used to initially, but overall it's very smooth. Tapping the button lets you leap nimbly over rails, up walls and into objectives. The level design seems to be primarily focused on emphasising this system, which is not the best thing in the world - but it's certainly not the worst thing about the game's maps.
Simply put, whoever designed the maps in Brink needs a swift kick in the nuts, because some of the focal points in the game are nothing short of sadistic.
Either the level designers hate other people or spawn camping is a legitimately necessary tactic, because there are a number of maps where the main objective for one team is directly next to the others spawn.
The first objective in one map (Security Tower) is to blow up a conduit - except this control box is located below a ledge covered in mounted machine guns, behind which the Security team spawns. The path to the objective is slowed with fences and walls, destroying any real hope the Resistance have of actually completing the objective (unless they get to it almost immediately after they spawn). It's designed to be a bit of an Omaha Beach moment, but it plays out more like Gallipoli.
There are other issues with the game - like not being able to change body type/character mid round - which I think may hurt the game competitively in the long run, but Splash Damage seem very keen to patch any inconsistencies away as soon as possible.
For the UT players...
If you preferred Epic's effort to Q3A - in our opening paragraph replace Quake 3 Arena with UT99 and replace all the other words in the review with a slack-jawed blank stare and your characteristic drooling.
One thing they'll need to do something about very quickly is the netcode - it's broken. When not hosting you warp all over the place, making playing the game with others excruciating. At other times you don't move at all - the game droppped frames all over the place.
Further, there's no way to tell who the host or what your ping is, so you basically have to run around a bit to see if it's actually working. For a multiplayer focused game this really is unacceptable - and a day zero patch did nothing to help things.
The default settings for the game don't help either. The game defaults to match you only with players of your rank (every 5 levels you get a new rank) and no-one above, which means if your friends just got the game and they didn't change this setting you can't play with them. It also defaults to making Campaign mode humans on one side and bots on the other - actively robbing of a proper multiplayer experience.
Brink is full of good ideas utilised in odd ways - and all it does is hurt the overall experience. The 360 seems flat out incapable of running Brink the way it's meant to be run - matchmaking and Splash Damage's game simply don't get along.
Brink could be great, but it isn't right now. The AI makes playing on your own a pain in the arse and the netcode ruins the multiplayer. The story is actually pretty interesting but at the end of the day you don't play these sorts of games for the plot, and Brink doesn't deliver where it should.
This game is much better on PC. It does deserve more the 5 points. I give it a 7.5.
If Splash Damage give it some good support with solid patches, new maps and some tweaks then it will be a 8/10 game. There is a patch due out this week and more on the way from the info given. So not long to wait.
Everyone can tell that Gamearena are reviewing consoles games only now days. That is sad because this place was supported mainly by PC gamers.
How about GameArena finds a true PC gamer to do reviews? because Joaby and the rest are all console gamers.
Joaby, to fall into the same trap and review the xbox 360 version is telling half truths to outright burying your head in the sand. some games arent meant to be played on consoles and this is definitely one of them. as a professional site, you've done yourself a great disservice to readers to treat all versions equal. The pc version is nearly perfect, an excellent team objective game that looks beautiful and plays like a dream.
As a site I read ON A PC; perhaps for multi-platform games, in the future, your could review the pc version? because i hate coming to GA, seeing a new game reviewed and then seeing you've reviewed the dodge xbox version when a superior pc version is available. Are you also going to review Batllefield 3 on ps3, and say its broken because the psn is down (if that were the case 6 months from now)? As it is i no longer have faith in GA's reviews, 5/10 may as well be 2/5 from IGN.
About the game :
The level designs are fantastic. They ARE DESIGNED to get harder the closer to finishing the objective gets. Theres no choke points, rather, stupid gamers going to the same well contested mulch spot multiple times. Theres at least 2 or 3 different ways to get anywhere on each map. The gunplay is executed excellently, where running and gunning is the key measure to survival and camping gets u no where, as does standing still. Theres no cheap kills to be had, no kill streaks or death streaks, no fluke kills. its the kinda game where the players skill is 100%responsible for the outcome, so when u DO get killed, which happens a lot, u can look at the event and say 'ok he got me fair'.
brink is the furthest thing from cod u can get, so whilst cod may suit the ciddies on console, pc gamers usually like more meat to chew on. We expect it. The last thing i want is 1 shot kills. I dont know when u started gaming, joaby, but if u even played bf1942; at what stage was playing bots the best thing to come out of it? 1942 64 player servers were packed with real players back in the day, all over the world.