Tuesday 24 May 2011

Game Review – Brink

Formats: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Brink runs out of cover, leaps over obstacles and guns down a plethora of generic shooters to claim a place alongside some of the unique and different first-person experiences. While certainly not comparable to Call of Duty or Battlefield—Brink’s clever mix of first-person action and freestyle running helps create an enjoyable, albeit slightly diminished package. Minimal content, some unsavory visual problems and significant lag makes Brink’s impact rather short, although the time you will spend on Arc is downright entertaining.

A storyline is set in place to help structure what is predominantly an online experience. The last remnants of society fight over a once-utopian city called The Ark, and it is your decision whether you oppress the resistance or fight for freedom. This dramatic choice unfortunately does little to change your time with Brink, other than the visual aesthetics of your characters.

The majority of your time will of course be spent on the battlefield--where Brink simultaneously shines and falls short. Brink is a team-based FPS where the goal is to find and complete certain objectives on the map. Teams are required to disarm bombs, hold positions, eliminate enemy defenses, and a variety of other tactical objectives in eight available locations. An extensive tutorial system helps bring in gamers of every level, intuitive customization options keep aesthetics fresh and a three-tier class system helps keep combat versatile.

Brink’s character customization is certainly worth boasting about--the two different factions allow plenty of variation in costume, with masks, tattoos and armors of every shape and size at your eventual disposal as you progress. Once you spend some time with Brink you will also have the opportunity to change your characters body type--choosing from light, medium and heavy. The light characters maneuver with precision and speed across the battlefield, spraying enemies from all angles, but at a price of minimal health. The heavy tank unit traverses the battlefield at a slow pace, but with powerful weapons and a meaty health bar to match. The neutral medium body type encompasses a little from both counterparts, simply not to the same extent.

The body configuration is not the only thing that serves to change your characters’ in-match abilities. Reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, unique class types, ranging from medics, engineers, standard grunt infantry and others--all have their own special skills to add to the war-effort. This alongside Brink’s unique freestyle running makes combat for the most part, an enjoyable experience. Movement is an essential tactic in Brink--picture Mirror’s Edge but with guns as you run and leap across obstacles while gunning down enemies from every direction. This sense of speed has been accomplished before and frankly, to a better degree in Mirror’s Edge. There are moments in Brink when the fluidity breaks down and you find yourself stuck behind obstacles that you should be able to traverse with no issue, but when it does go right, it is a satisfying game mechanic.

It is safe to say that Brink is at its best when flooded with human players. The in-game objective wheel helps to keep every player in the loop of the current objective, who is doing what and where the action is taking place. With only eight maps available, you have to wonder how long it will take before players will get bored of playing on them. The majority of the maps are quite well thought out, with most having multiple entry points to key areas, helping to keep combat exciting and varied. The absolute last thing you want however, is to play with Brink’s AI. The horribly inconsistent robots literally kill the experience, but with relatively consistent lag problems online, it begs the question of what is the greater evil?

When things go well for Brink, they really do go well. Unfortunately, there are just so many opportunities for Brink to fall flat on its face, that it is very hard to recommend it to a gamer looking for a consistent experience. Brink’s well thought out and implemented upgrade and class systems will keep you coming back, if you can handle some occasional lag issues, inconsistent in-game physics and eight playable maps alongside four challenge modes. This is a prime example of developers simply not polishing out the edges of a game that could have been something special.

7.0 Gameplay – Has some excellent moments, filled with frustrating inconsistencies.

7.0 Graphics – A very cool artistic design especially in cut-scenes,
but in-game suffers from awkward and bland colouring.

5.0 Replay – You’d think there would be lots of replay value, but fully maxing out a character is
really easy, the game becomes repetitive and a short supply of maps makes this easy to forget.

5.0 Tech – Online issues with lag, inconsistent in-game
physics but controls and audio are both good.

Overall – 6.0

Igor, CeX UK Contributor

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