Brink was a game I was looking forward to for a very long time. It looked to stray away from the modern first person shooter standard and give me something fresh and vibrant. Yet, it never quite filled that void. Its a game that feels slightly disjointed and seems to disappoint me time and time again.
Brink takes place on the ark, a floating city built to withstand the rising flood waters of earth. It was constructed as a utopia of sorts that began deteriorating with time. Now merely a former shell of its intended idea, its left as a slum where two factions fight for control, the security forces and the resistance. After this quick intro you are given a choice, save the ark (security) or leave the ark (resistance). Depending on your choice you will be given minor insight as to what each side fights for before you begin the game. Your decision has no major influence on the game as it merely gives you a selected cut scene and nothing more. You are free to choose any mission from any faction in any order afterwards. It sort of throws you off as if there is some greater purpose to your decision, but the choice is merely non existent as is most of the story.
Now before you get to far ahead of yourself and try jumping into a match you need to create a character. This aspect of the game is where brink truly shines. At the beginning you are limited to only a few selections, but as you unlock more outfit types the combination possibilities are nearly endless. Every time I gained an unlock I couldn't wait to rush back to the character creation and tweak my guy with the latest items. Its a very humorous setup and I have yet to run into multiple players that look even remotely identical. Its great as it keeps the enemies and players from going stale.
One thing you'll notice right from the beginning is that brink is sort of a barren wasteland in terms of game modes. You have campaign, challenge, objective and stopwatch. Campaign is the story mode for which you follow a faction through to the end but I would like to emphasis story in the most basic sense. If you are looking for a cinematic, engaging and character driven plot line this wont be the game for you. Merely you jump from map to map at your discretion leaving you to watch a cutscene before each start. I enjoy the intro to each mission as it sets you up with a reason and general objective to the mission, but it is in no way a cohesive story. All missions through the campaign can be played co op or versus where bots fill in any gaps on an 8 versus 8 team. Challenge mode is where you are able to test your abilities using brinks most basic fundamentals as the base. Its a very unnecessary mode to say the least. On one hand its a great starting point to familarize yourself with the basic functionality of the game as it will show you the ropes of defending objectives and escorting vehicles against bots. Yet, on the other hand there are a great deal of weapon and item unlocks tied to the challenges that you must complete to earn. The mode is more or less a throw away as it could have been removed and all all unlocks could have been earned through match xp. It feels more like a training session than an actual game mode I want to play. This mode can also be played online cooperatively, up to 4, making it far more fun than trying to go it alone. Xp can be earned from all the modes which can be used to purchase upgrades for weapon unlocks. Similar to character customization, weapon customization is almost purely cosmetic which is a disappointment to say the least. Of course you can add various sights which do lend immediate functionality but all other attachments have very little effect on stats that it sort of seems rather pointless.
The online functionality is brinks most defining feature as well as its greatest weakness. The basic setup is two teams of eight face off against each other trying to complete a set of objectives on a map. One team will be attacking and arming and one will be defending and disarming in a general sense. The teams are mixed into 4 varied classes with unique skills. Engineer can create turrets, repair mounted weapons and place land mines. Soldiers are the front line of the attack and are able to carry molotov as well as replenish ammo supply. The medic plays how you would guess. He is able to revive teammates and increase health. Lastly is the operative, this sneaky class is able to disguise as the enemy and hack safes. Each class plays a vital role winning a match. No one class can single handedly dominant the playing field. There will be various objectives that require a team of all classes which gives the game a nice balance. Brink allows you to switch between any class to suit the objective at hand. It emphasizes the use of team work and being able to master all various classes, instead of sticking to one time and time again. One design choice that I found rather interesting is that players who aim down the sight are automatically at a disadvantage. The accuracy is greatly hindered and you are more or less forced to fire from the hip to get off a clean shot. It always seemed rather odd to me, but other than that the actual set up of the game is rather flawless. Attacking objectives is furious and unrelenting and defending really makes you plan ahead with turrets and various defensive positions. The team aspect of brink is perfect and really cant be any better. Its well rounded and overall addicting to play.
I mean, this all sounds great right? Well yes, but in execution no. Brink is actually a great game, but is completely broken from a technical stand point and its overwhelming frustrating. At the current time of writing this review i have played a total of 30 hours of brink, but I have yet to play a full match filled with real human players. Sure the bots fill out the empty spots so there will always be a full match, but its just not the same. The bots do a decent job of keeping up, but pale in comparison to a real player. I have played entire online matches by myself from start to finish numerous times over. For a game geared towards multiplayer and teamwork this seems to be a major issue. Lag is also another daunting and inescapable problem. The few times that I actually connected with players, whether it be 1 or 5, I was flying around the screen, getting stuck and dying before I even knew what happened. The connectivity of all the players, including myself, were green and never showed issues of playability so I have no way of explaining why this happens match after match. There is no lobby system or quick match which only hinders the experience. Instead you have to sift though various options of rank, map, match options and so on, only complicating the already poor match making system. If you manage to make it through the hurdles and get connected you'll encounter a serious case of deja vu. Its due to the fact that online multiplayer and campaign are exactly the same, yes, exactly the same. The objectives, the intro cutscence and the map are all copied and pasted from the campaign and vice versa. Each map is tied to a particular setup of objectives that does not change. Brink could have greatly benefited from a dynamic setup where objectives are swapped around on each map. Since there is virtually only 1 game type you have to play the same map and same setup repeatedly over and over. If you would like to switch things up and try something else this is your only option which greatly increases the repetitive nature of the game.
I enjoy brink as a single player game. Ive spent a good 25 out of 30 hours playing alone against bots due to connection issues. I still find the game extremely entertaining alone against bots. It sort of reminds me of my younger days where I would stay up all night playing unreal tournament on dreamcast or time splitters on the ps2, endlessly setting up bot matches and having a blast. So in that aspect its still every much enjoyable, but I essentially own half a game as certain features are just down right unplayable.
Like I mentioned before, brink really isn't that bad of a bad game its just brought down by so many technical issues. Its a beautiful game filled with vibrant colors and an interesting graphical approach. Its team based multiplayer at its best which is why I am beyond disappointed with the final product of the game. Maybe they can still fix all the problems that plague the game and i will happily join back in, but as it stands I cant think of brink without thinking of utter hopelessness. It has enormous potential to be something outstanding but the base issues prevent anything other than a medicore game at best.