The lights are on
When Bethesda and Splash
Damage Studios announced they were working on a multi-platform shooter that was
to feature fast paced squad on squad battles, multiple objective types, a
parkour-influenced movement system, and robust character customization
featuring a large amount of unlockable outfits, skills, and weapons, I admit I
was both excited and skeptical.
Considering Splash Damage gave gamers the insanely popular Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory after its
success in crafting custom maps for the original Return to Castle Wolfenstein and that Bethesda, best known for the Elder Scrolls
series of action rpgs, was backing the project, it seemed as if gamers had
quite a treat to look forward to.
first ten minutes spent with Brink ended up being far more frustrating then I
had assumed it would be, which was a really big red flag already because said
frustration was caused in the middle of one of the levels that was meant to be
Brink’s equivalent to a tutorial; uh oh.
I will admit my frustration was off-set by the character-creation
elements at the start of the game. After
picking between one of two sides fighting over control of a large isolated
colony known as the “Ark”, security forces or rebels, players can tweak their
character’s face and voice and choose from a multitude of hairstyle and
clothing options and, once unlocked, can even substitute the standard medium
body-type for heavy and light variants, each offering their own advantages.
Players can also
choose between various armaments and attachments that can alter a given gun’s
stats and features. While there isn’t
much diversity between the weapon types (assault rifles, shotguns, a few heavy
weapons, and pistols are pretty much it), the various attachments such as
scopes, barrels, clip-modifications, and other augments allow the weapon
selector to retain the same sort of personalized charm as the character-creator
It’s with the
game’s class system that I hit my second snag.
Choosing from either soldier, medic, engineer, or operative, players can
utilize the different skills and abilities of each class to help their
teammates and complete objectives.
Soldiers can refill your ammo and plant bombs, engineers can deploy
mines and turrets as well as buff your damage, medics can buff health and
revive teammates, and operatives can disguise themselves as enemy players and
hack enemy turrets and computers.
While this may all
sound well and good, the problem I had with the system is that the game’s
missions always pigeon-holed me into playing certain classes and thus made me
feel like I had wasted my time investing skill points into one class only to
have to spend half a mission playing as another. To be fair however, this was largely in part
to the third and biggest problem I had with Brink: The A.I. The reason I always felt forced to complete
objectives on my own (and thus be forced to switch to the appropriate class)
was because the A.I. in Brink reduces computer controlled combatants to the
equivalent of chickens running around with their heads cut off, and boy do I
wish I was joking.
A.I. allies in
missions will almost always completely ignore the mission’s main objective and
will instead repeatedly seek out command posts (small computers that provide
bonuses for your team and allow you to switch classes), stop to engage enemy
forces, or sometimes just stand still entirely.
What’s worse, there is absolutely no way to guide or give orders to your
A.I. teammates thus furthering the frustration.
Admittedly however, the A.I. isn’t totally
useless; A.I. medics are actually surprisingly good at reviving you if they
happen to be nearby and will also make a beeline for you if you become
incapacitated no matter where they are on the map. This one spark of teamwork is again crushed
however because since you have no control over what class your A.I. teammates
pick, you might have three medics on your team or you might have none, it’s all
luck of the draw.
disappointments include short and uninspired story-mode campaigns for both
sides, in each mission you’re either trying to defend a person or location from
the other team or vice-versa, and once you beat both campaigns there’s really
nothing else to do other then grind out the same missions for experience points
or try and beat the game’s challenge levels (the tutorials I mentioned
earlier). There is a “freeplay” mode that claims to allow for “custom-tailored”
games but really all it does is allow you to pick the difficulty, number of
people on a team, and whether or not other people can join over Xbox live
before randomly choosing a mission for you to play (the missions play out
exactly as they do in story mode).
Overall, I really
really wanted to like Brink. It had a story that, given more time and
development, could have been engaging and moving instead of the shallow and
flat mess it actually is. I also wish
Splash Damage had included more gameplay options considering once you spend the
hour or so it takes to beat story mode the game just becomes a
mission-grind. I do however praise both
the character-customization and the game’s smaller nuances like level-design,
music, and voice-acting. If you’re still
itching to give Brink a try, I’d suggest renting it for a weekend or going for
a cheaper used copy since buying it at full price carries a big risk of making
you feel like you wasted your money.
General Gameplay Tips:
Walkthroughs, etc: http://xbox360.ign.com/objects/143/14349125.html
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