If you hadn’t already gathered by the title, Bethesda’s/Splash Damage’s much touted, greatly hyped multiplayer shooter has arrived on store shelves, and now the only question that matters is, does it live up to the hype created by the cavalcade of pre-release advertising that has supported this large scale title for months in advance? After all, it’s one thing to make a game look “must-have” cool, when only showing 2 second snippets of the action here and there, all set to the deep-toned, movie promo voice over, but as we all know the real deal experience rarely matches the promotional “hoopla”. Does Brink manage to buck this trend? Well to be fair, with the PSN down and online being such a vital part of what makes Brink what it was intended to be, only so much of a first impression can be derived, but so far, this is what we found…
One the main innovations of Brink, is it’s ability to have the game’s character flip and mount over obstacles in parkour style, much the same way the entire game “Mirror’s Edge” was based upon. This gives the gamer a mental visual of being able to perform some real Hollywood style movement and smoothly incorporate this ability in to a bonus that compliments FPS play. This is implemented with some success, but really only shines when choosing the smallest of the three character designations, and not all obstacles one would assume surmountable actually are, but when this game play features works, it does add some tangible fun to the FPS genre. Overall this feature doesn’t live up to the jump, leap, and fly over and around obstacles like a gymnast, the way one would hope when informed this would be a main feature of the game, simply because it doesn’t provide the freedom one would hope. Perhaps Brink will ultimately be a necessary step in the progression to seeing this kind of play realized one day.
Brink prides itself on it’s cornucopia of customization features and this is a clear cut plus for Brink, giving the gamer more choice when it comes to making a character that truly your own, on a level previously unforeseen in gaming. Everything from your player’s face, type of gear, sound of their voice, a large selection of tattoos, even scars are all yours to mix and match. The problem? As the saying goes “Cute is nice, but it don’t break ice”, and this much heralded feature becomes less pertinent when you discover that this character can be easily switched from the “security force” side of the battle to the “resistance” side, making the appearance of your character’s identity not really coalesce with either one.
Brink features four character classes, The Soldier, The Medic, The Operative (spy), and The Engineer, each class with it’s own set of strengths and weaknesses, all four being capable of continuous tweaking and improvement through Brink’s system of upgrading as game objectives are met. The difficulty here, unfortunately an all too common one, of games of this genre, because the “idea” of having different character classes that really bring some distinct skill and advantage according to class is terrific, in theory. Unfortunately, the reality in Brink is that a lot of the time these character class skills are relatively unneeded (window dressing), and go un-utilized during the course of a mission or particular game objective, and the same ol’ strategy of ganging up on your opponents with overwhelming force turns out being the most effective way to play, negating the effectiveness of these features.
Now instead of continuing to pick Brink apart, we’d like to emphasize something here, Brink is not a bad game at all, it does, in it’s own way, provide some solid multiplayer shoot ‘em up action, and rewards the side that most effectively plays as team, no coincidence largely in part by the intelligent way Brink is designed to reward this kind of play. There’s little doubt that Brink has become victim to it’s own overly ambitious pre-release PR campaign, that touted it as the game that would virtually re-write the entire genre of FPS multiplayer. While falling short of this implied promise, Brink is no slouch in the multiplayer area, but it’s not going to known as the next Team Fortress 2.