Monday, May 30, 2011

Brink Review


Brink is a futuristic first-person shooter set in a time of great disparity for the world. It follows the story of a fictional, yet possibly realistic, man-made structure called the Ark. The Ark exists today as a last refuge for humanity after a period of global warming caused much of the present world to be destroyed. At first, the Ark functioned as a research facility, but when funding diminished, was put on halt. It was revived as a tourist location, built for the rich and famous, but eventually that ended as well. When you play Brink, it is the year 2045, and the island has become overrun with refugees. You must choose a side, either the Resistance or Security, and fight for what you believe is right. 
A security member shooting at a resistance player using the SMART system.



The first two things you'll notice about Brink are the unique style of its menu system, and its creation tools. These two things were highly emphasized leading up to its release, and they really do deliver. Depending on whether you choose Security or Resistance, there are two sets of clothing and accessories that can be used to customize your character. The customization is very in-depth for a first-person shooter, and reflects well in the visual style of the world. Many options are available for customization right away, with dozens of other choices able to be unlocked through gaining rank. The guns are also highly customizable, with different scopes and clips affecting the quality of the guns. Some of the upgrades are purely cosmetic, while others allow for more ammo, faster reloads, or better range. Aside from the looks and weapons, there are 3 weight levels and 4 classes to choose from. The 3 weight levels affect which guns you are able to carry, and how fast you are able to run. This allows for 3 very different styles of play. The classes also affect the way you play the game, and work like many other first-person shooters and even have similar names – Soldier, Medic, Engineer, and Operative. The soldier is generally the standard player, and can supply ammo. The medic can revive people you are escorting, as well as other players. The engineer can build and repair objectives and construct turrets. The operative can hack objectives and hide in plain sight using disguises. Each of these classes has different abilities and powers that can be assigned points to heighten the powers with earned experience. The customization is definitely the best out of first-person shooters, and remains one of the high points of the game.
The character customization is very in-depth.

The “campaign” of Brink is probably the weakest link. Though it was mainly made to be a cooperative multiplayer experience, it really lacks any type of single-player story. You essentially play through about 8 different missions, in no particular order, and can switch between sides at any time. The missions really don't accomplish much, but the voice acting is decent, and each one is fair in its difficulty. This leads to the player feeling a bit jaded, since you really don't feel like you're fighting for either side, or playing for a cause. The help that you receive in the single-player campaign is minimal at best, since the AI is relatively stupid and not goal oriented. The opponent's AI, however, is highly goal oriented, and will remain guarding a location, making it difficult for you to infiltrate an objective. This isn't really deal-breaking, but it can be pretty frustrating at times. Brink does introduce a free-running system called SMART, or Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. This allows you to hold a single button, which makes you sprint and climb over any obstacles you may encounter. This works pretty well, and for the style of game Brink is, fits within the world and game. The single-player missions are essentially what you will be playing in multiplayer, with AI instead of players.
Multiplayer is highly goal-oriented and team based.

Multiplayer is where the game shines. When you're playing with other players, the game becomes a lot more goal oriented, and everyone must work together to succeed. Each player is allowed to choose a class, which can be switched at any time. This means that each team must have a balanced class list in order to complete objectives. The multiplayer is composed of tasks that must be completed in a certain amount of time. There is one team of 8 defending and one team of 8 attacking, essentially. This can also be played co-op, where a team of any number of players and bots goes up against a team of only bots. It works relatively well, as long as your team is performing the goals assigned, rather than focusing on their own score. Ranks are pretty easily gained, and new unlocks come pretty swiftly. The good thing about experience is that it carries over from single-player to multiplayer, allowing for seamless integration of the two. The number of maps is a bit lackluster, with only a handful to choose from. Bethesda promises to continue to fuel the game, and keep it very supported. They've already announced one multiplayer DLC which will be free and releasing in June, containing more guns, maps, and outfits.

Overall, Brink is a decent change of pace from the average first-person shooter. It gives the genre something to think about with its SMART system and its customization. The art style behind the game is really unique, and performs rather well, showing that not all shooters have to be ultra-realistic. The graphics could be a bit better, with a few rough textures loading in at times, but still doesn't look horrible. The game doesn't do a lot to keep the interest for long though. Since the goals for single-player and the goals for multiplayer are the same, its easy to find out the patterns and best routes of success early on, and use those to your advantage. The multiplayer will definitely keep you playing for a while, but eventually will grow tiresome unless Bethesda really supports the game after launch.

Story – 6.5
Gameplay – 7
Graphics – 7.5
Sound – 8
Replayability - 7.5

Overall Rating – 7

2 comments:

Haven't played it yet, but in such a crowded market, I personally don't see any reason to pick up Brink over many of the other shooters. Especially considering that you can purchase MAG at a much lower price-great game.

In the case of Brink, I'd agree. Its a decent shooter, but really doesn't set itself apart from other games enough to be a "must buy." I'm not sure how good Mag is, since I haven't yet played it, but it is definitely a good choice, since its a greatest hits title.

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