Reviews// Brink

Posted 10 May 2011 08:51 by
Games: Brink
Brink might just scare the crap out of you. If you're the sort of person whose mother still dressed them until they were 12, Brink will definitely scare the crap out of you.

If you're a casual sort of a gamer who uses their console to watch movies and play a CoD game once a year there's also a pretty reasonable chance that Brink will scare the crap out of you. Not in a Silent Hill kind of way, or even in a Dead Space kind of a way more in a 'Jeebus, no-one's pulling any punches here' kind of a way. Do not expect anyone to hold your hand through Brink and do not expect to be eased into it gently.

Built by Enemy Territory: Quake Wars developer Splash Damage, Brink is a first-person shooter set on The Ark, a seaborne city existing in a post-apocalypse-y sort of a world in which water levels have risen and The Ark may be the last bastion of humanity.

See, no ships have been seen for some 20 years and The Ark's bosses, convinced this factoid heralds the end of humanity beyond floating city limits, have stopped anyone leaving. That might be OK if The Ark wasn't massively over-populated, with the have-nots living in derelict slums and the haves living in posh splendour.

This state of affairs breeds discontent, and revolution is in the air. A resistance movement is looking to break out of the city, while security forces attempt to keep humanity together on The Ark.

It's all very topical, and the tone is well handled in the cutscenes tucked between levels and the voice-overs that deliver orders in-game. That said, the plot really takes a back seat to gameplay. Brink is really all about strategy-laden combat oriented around a multiplayer experience.

You can play as one of four character classes as both security and the resistence. The soldier carries ammo to resupply teammates and, at appropriate points, blows stuff up. The medic heals his comrades and buffs (boosts) their health.

The engineer repairs strategic assets, buffs allies' weapons and creates handy bits and pieces like machine gun turrets. The operative sneaks around in disguise and gathers intel on things like enemy positions and where land mines are lurking. If you've played Team Fortress you've got an idea of how it works.

Rather than being pinned to a class for the duration of Brink - or even for a single mission - you can chop and change throughout the course of the game at command, health and supply posts.

You're told how many players from your team are in each class and, given the mission at hand, can decide which class to pick. If, for example, your mission is to guide an unmanned vehicle through a map, you'll want to make sure you've got plenty of engineers on hand to keep it running.

Speaking of running Splash Damage has built what it's calling the SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) System into the game. To you and me, that means you can pull off free-running moves across elements of the environment by simply running at them with the left bumper button held down.

Brink isn't really separated into single- and multi-player components at least not in the way most of us are used to. The campaign can be played either on your lonesome with the help of bots or with other humans online. Beyond the fact that humans and bots might behave a bit differently, gameplay won't be altered a jot one way or the other. And, frankly, Splash Damage has done a reasonably convincing job of making the AI behave like (often slightly thick) human players. It's a shame, though, that they couldn't manage clever human-like AI.

This style of game does, however, mean there's a lot to get to grips with as you get going. The HUD is swimming with information about not only how you're doing, but what the rest of your team is up to.

You determine your objective by hitting up on the d-pad, choosing either your primary objective from the top or a secondary objective from lower down the wheel. It's all reasonably familiar stuff if you're a regular online gamer, but it can seem overwhelming at first and if you're used to being guided through linear FPS campaigns you're going to get a shock to the system.

This isn't helped by the fact that there's no in-game tutorial. Video tutorials are available from the main screen, and you're offered an XP bribe to watch the first one, but not a lot of us are that inclined to sit through 20-odd minutes of video before we get to play anything.
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Games: Brink

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