Brink is an ambitious title; attempting to bridge the gap between single-player and multiplayer experience this class-based shooter had its work cut out for it. While the premise of Brink was an interesting one, the lack of polish and almost total reliance of online play are the two major factors that let a title destined for greatness fall into the cracks of mediocrity.
What Brink Got Right
Character Customisation - Brink has one of the deepest character customisation systems ever in a shooter. You'll have the option to choose from three body types, which determine your speed, agility and what weapons you are capable of handling. You're not going to see a nimble light body character carrying a mini-gun and the heavy class isn't going to win the 100 metre race, and that alone keeps Brink fairly balanced. Not to mention the dozens of outfits you can choose from, the highly detailed tattoos and varied hairstyles available to create your very own, unique character. It's deep, it's accessible and ultimately allows the player to connect with their character in a far more meaningful way.
Progression and unlocks - Kills alone won't earn you enough XP to level-up frequently, you'll need to complete a number of objectives and support your team to really rake in the XP. As you move through matches and earn more XP you will be reward with unlock points so you can equip a number of perks or upgrade your favourite weapons. Each class has its own individual perk system, allowing the player to create their own play style for each individual class. Each perk or weapon customisation will have a positive and negative effect; do I choose an extra magazine taped to my gun and risk a lower accuracy rate, or do I add a hand grip to give better accuracy but lose mobility? It's a guessing game to create the perfect soldier, and in the process it provides a rewarding experience.
Team Mentality - Every aspect of Brink is there to promote teamwork; you earn significantly more for completing team actions, there are multiple objectives on each map that require different classes to work together and the support roles are always prevalent. This isn't a run and gun action shooter, this is a deep and engaging team-based title that demands people to stick together.
Art Style - Brink is set on The Ark, a city in the middle of the water that has fallen into disrepair. This once utopia is a unique setting for a shooter; the surrounding waters make it seem almost peaceful while the terrain ahead of you submerges you into the pits of despair. Lashings of colour spread across the environments along with colourful and highly detailed character models make Brink a delight to look at, especially amongst a sea of brown and grey.
What Brink Got Wrong:
Weak A.I - We've seen some seriously bad A.I over the years, but Brink has to be right up there with the worst. The friendly A.I will stand by and let objectives fall into enemy hands, stand still and let you shoot them or just run on by without helping you in a firefight. The enemy tend to congregate around choke points on the map which can be at times mistaken for strategy, but the fact of the matter is they only pose a challenge because of their sheer numbers.
Unclear Objectives - Brink relies on objective based gameplay to work, and as a core function it isn't explained well enough. A lot of the maps don't make it abundantly clear what your objective is, and too often than not you'll get there and realise you are the wrong class to complete the action. It is frustrating, and the fact the game relies on objective based gameplay you would think the developer would have done a better job ensuring players know what they are needed to do.
Matchmaking - The fact that there is none - zilch, nothing. When jumping into a campaign mission Brink will search for a current game similar to your choices, and failing that you will become a host. There is no user input at all, and after days of trying to find a much to no avail you'll be wondering if your network connection is working. You can invite friends to your match, but even that tends to fail more often than not, the connection to the host dropping before you can even set foot on the battlefield.
You need friends to enjoy this game
Online reliance - The selling point of Brink was the fact it finally had bridged the gap between single-player and multiplayer. However the game is almost unplayable without being online; the A.I offer nothing but frustration, the story is weak and struggles to hold the attention of the gamer, and regardless of the fact it has a story Brink plays like a multiplayer style game. The unfortunate thing is right now it is hard to even find a game that is working.
Unpolished - It is hard to look past the lack of polish that Brink possesses; character animations are almost laughable when they are performing S.M.A.R.T actions, and texture pop-in is not an uncommon occurrence. The frame-rate tended to take a serious dip while playing online, and the lag at times was tedious. It is such a shame because the art style of Brink was one of the major reasons the title garnered so much attention in the first place.
The Final Verdict
Brink had the potential create a strong following among gamers, however it was poor execution tat leaves it hanging in the wind. A game that should have reached greatness, however has fallen short in a grand display of mediocrity. If you can persevere with the games shortcomings you will find a deep and engaging shooter buried amongst all the mess, but the question is do you have the patience?
By Stephen Heller