There are plenty of gamers who prefer single-player over multiplayer. Whether it’s a desire for story and tasks more fulfilling than capturing a flag or difficulty adapting to chaotic deathmatches, there are people who simply don’t know where to start in competitive online games. Brink aims to eliminate this hesitation by offering players a wealth of engaging objectives, a persistent story, and a sturdy set of training wheels.
Our recent hands-on session with Brink blazed past character creation, instead cutting to the core of the competitive multiplayer gameplay. Players start by using the analog stick to easily select a mission from the objective wheel. Objectives range from repairing a crane used to transport a tank into an enemy base to deploying mines used to create shortcuts on the map. Your available missions change depending on what class you select at designated kiosks. Sneaky operatives have more stealth-oriented missions than a trigger-happy soldier, for example. Players can spend experience points earned in battle to change class on the fly, or to purchase items like turrets for more defensive tasks. These goals are split into two types, allowing combatants to engage smaller objectives on their way to the larger task.
In-game objectives work to propel Brink’s story without relying too heavily on cutscenes and heavy dialogue. The battlestage is Ark, a floating utopian city which began with a “green” agenda and devolved into a decayed urban jungle racked with civil war. Ark has been cut off from the rest of civilization and supplies are running short. While the oppressive Security faction strives to retain order in the chaotic world, an upstart Resistance group strives for control. The war-torn world of Brink hosts some very interesting settings, such as a rusty industrial area, labyrinthine seaside docks, and a high profile airport. Players can experience the story of Ark via two distinct campaigns, assuming the role of Security or Resistance.
Whether you choose to take part in the revolution or strive to suppress it, you’ll find yourself working closely with teammates to achieve your goals. Unlike games like MAG which fail to incentivize players to acts as a team, Brink bribes players into aiding teammates with experience points. You can gain XP by grabbing a medic kit, assuming a support role, and assisting your comrades. Brink provides bot-controlled allies and enemies to help online-shy gamers familiarize themselves with the game mechanics and flow before plunging into the oftentimes chaotic cyber world. With this reliable handrail in place only should gamers new to online play should feel more comfortable popping heads online, it could train would-be Rambos to play teammate rather than lone wolf.
Gamer familiar with FPSs will immediately feel comfortable with Brink’s controls. Lobbing grenades, lining up shotgun blasts, and most aspects of the unleashing the game’s artillery feels precise and familiar. Where Brink departs from the FPS formula is with the integration of the intuitive S.M.A.R.T. (smooth movement across random terrain) system. This handy button empowers gunmen to fluidly vault over, slide under, and navigate the game world with the grace of a pro parkour runner. Unlike Mirror’s Edge, which requires strictly-timed button inputs for successful free running, simply holding a shoulder button allows players to take cover, sprint, and climb architecture for position. Pulling off acrobatics with S.M.A.R.T. feels organic most of the time, but clipping geometry in transit will occasionally botch desired trajectory. Depending on whether players create agile, medium, or heavy characters will affect the balance of health vs. nimbleness in obvious ways, so players are encouraged to create multiple custom fighters.
Overall, Brink feels like a solid FPS with the potential to break down walls between single-player gamers and the online elite. The incorporation of unique objectives presents engaging tasks that move the story forward while motivating players to act as a team. The accessible movement system creates a fun experience that adds strategic elements to the otherwise standard gameplay, encouraging players to seek out leverage and other tactical positions. On the surface Brink may look like many other shooters you’ve played, but once you get your hands on it the difference hits like a grenade-launcher blast.