The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
When Splash Damage first announced Brink, the veteran first-person
shooter developer promised a game that would seamlessly blend the
single-player, co-op, and multiplayer experiences. Little did we know
that this meant “your garden variety multiplayer game, now with bot
Despite its claims to the contrary, Brink is not a
proper single-player game. Don’t be fooled by the paper-thin plot that
pits the powers-that-be against a rebellious gang on a near-future
floating city – this “campaign” is comprised of multiplayer maps
populated with brainless bots. These dolts often run around without
purpose, wait to shoot back at oncoming enemies, neglect objectives, and
fail to coordinate attacks.
Splash Damage makes it nearly
impossible to leave the single-player behind when you jump online.
You’re still inundated with the overly dramatic voiceovers and cutscenes
during each match, and most of the versus modes mix bots with players.
Only when you drill into the Freeplay match settings do you unearth the
two poorly labeled game varieties that allow you to leave the bots
behind (Old Skool and Competition, for those keeping score).
you ditch the AI and hop online with friends, Brink starts to feel like a
proper multiplayer shooter. Like Battlefield, players choose from one
of four classes at the beginning of each match – soldier, engineer,
medic, and operative – each of which earns experience points for
performing specialized actions in a way that naturally forces players to
work together. As you rack up experience, you unlock new skins for your
avatar and perk-like abilities.
Players can switch classes
mid-match at a command post to reconfigure the tactics for the objective
at hand. This comes in handy when you’re transitioning from an assault
objective, where you may need several operatives to hack a safe quickly,
to an escort mission, where a multitude of medics gives you the best
chance of getting the VIP out alive without getting caught in a choke
Splash Damage is best known for its work on the Enemy
Territory series, where the studio built maps that require players to
think and act strategically to find success. This philosophy carries
over into Brink; these aren’t wide-open Battlefield zones or cramped
Call of Duty maps. Most of Brink’s environments mix linear corridors
with arena zones where an objective is located and bullets are
exchanged. Your objectives are standard fare – plant explosives, escort a
VIP, hack doors, repair mission critical machinery, or defend an area.
Secondary missions populate the maps as well; some grant team bonuses
like supply and health boosts, while others allow you to create a
shortcut to the main objective. As you gain familiarity with the maps,
you begin to appreciate how many tactical approaches are available for
completing your mission. Finding the best places to ambush your enemies
with turrets, slow their progress with landmines, or flank the objective
and then executing your plan is what this game is all about. This
requires timing and coordination, so Brink is best played with a group
of mic’d up friends.
The one element where Brink distinguishes
itself from the multiplayer pack is the SMART movement, a contextual
navigation button that lets you run and climb effortlessly through the
environment. Characters move too slowly for my liking (even with the
smaller body type that increases your parkour abilities), but I enjoyed
the streamlined freedom of movement. It seems like a subtle change, but
when I booted up another shooter I found myself wishing my soldier would
automatically vault small obstacles as I held down the sprint button.
gunplay isn’t as memorable. Brink features your standard arsenal of
weapons, most of which are unlocked along with attachments by completing
boring challenges in an otherwise forgettable separate game mode.
Weapons within the same class don’t distinguish themselves in any
meaningful way, and shooting them is hardly satisfying. Every gun
suffers from an inordinate amount of recoil, headshots are not one-shot
kills, and even grenades and mines don’t do mortal damage.
disappointing of all are the myriad rookie mistakes Splash Damage made
in the front end. Brink lacks a pre-game party lobby where you can
gather all your friends before looking for a match – a major faux pas on
consoles these days. You also can’t equip new abilities you just
unlocked between matches without dropping out to the main menu. Without
dedicated servers, the in-game performance is dependent upon the host’s
connection quality, and I frequently experienced an unplayable level of
Brink is not a bad game. If Splash Damage can stabilize the
performance and fix some glaring omissions (like a pre-game lobby) with a
patch, I’d gladly spend more time with it. But with only eight
multiplayer maps, 20 progression levels, no clan support, and average
gunplay, it’s not a good value proposition. Especially considering many
Xbox Live games offer a similar amount of content for a fraction of the
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.