Game Review: Brink Is Ambitious, But Does It Deliver?

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Brink is the centrepiece of console gaming as we stand today – a fusion of online and what once were single-player elements into a single package. But is it a polished package or a little rough around the edges? And does it forget about the lonesome one-player gamers?Sea levels have risen astronomically in the world of Brink, putting the human race on the brink of extinction bar a man-made, floating hub dubbed the Arc. The aristocrats take pole position at the tip of the new world order, rationing supplies down to the disgruntled subordinates and lower classes. A rift rips open between the rebel Resistance group that seeks to venture out in search of other humans on the waterlogged Earth and the Security forces pitted against them to maintain order.

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The Arc

The story doesn’t get much more complex than that, and is tenuously held up in very short and very repetitive cut scenes in-between levels. The story is more of a vehicle for the level designs and its shallowness doesn’t retract much from the experience, so there’s no harm done on this front.

The typical single-player campaign is abandoned for an objective-based mission structure that focuses on teamwork, shining the spotlight on different character classes for each objective. The spotlight is a little skewed to one direction though, with some of the character classes taking a prime role over others.

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Resistance Vs Security

There’s the medic who revives players and boosts teammates’ health. The engineer who is instrumental in repairing and building many objectives while buffing teammates’ damage. The soldier who is focussed on gunplay with extra ammo and combat perks. The operative who flies through corridors and light feet and hacks through enemy defences.

The slant comes in favour of the engineer mostly, with most objectives in any given mission requiring having an engineer handy. The operative is a bit of a confused character class, doing a similar job to the engineer but with slight objective differences. Then there’s the medic whose sole purpose is reviving teammates and the soldier who is great up until something needs to get done.

To understand this slant, you’ve got to know about how the gameplay rolls out, so let’s take a look at that.

 

Brink takes the highly stylised visuals and class-system of Team Fortress 2 and revitalises it with a more frenetic style and simple controls to supplement. Heavily team-based, players work together to generally take control points in a king-of-the-hill style to progress through missions. The team focus is pushed more so than many other first person shooters thanks to the simplicity of single-button prompts for giving perks to teammates (whether they’re a plus one for ammo or added health boost) and the necessity of teamwork in many bottle-neck areas of maps.

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Parkour-inspired controls are smooth and keep up the pace

As one character is working on hacking a console or sealing off an enemy route, you’ll need numbers on your side to fend off the rival faction. The AI isn’t too clever when it comes to pushing out objectives without your support, so you’re going to want to be playing online for this (a bummer if you’re not an online gamer).

As mentioned earlier, in these situations you’ll have certain character classes at the fore, like engineers and operatives. Switching classes is simple enough to do on the fly when you come across ‘command posts’ that you’ve captured (more king-of-the-hill type gameplay) but the levelling up system that lets you add stats and perks to your classes seems to give you more incentive to stick with one class and level it up to the max.

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The level design dips on some missions, but a customisable free-play system lets users take the levels they like and throw in their own objectives once the very short main campaign is played through. It’s a lacking campaign, but it’s ample as an online component when compared to other FPS games – which makes me wonder, is this just an easy-out of making a real single player section?

Parkour-style running can be enabled and makes the game flow really well as you run over obstacles and slide under barriers to get back into the action once you’ve respawned.

 

It’s not all smiles though – playing the PS3 version, the graphics suffered on far draw distances, with characters turning pixelated as they moved further into the distance. The lack of typical headshot one-shot kills wasn’t too bad given the cartoony style of the game, but the fact that enemies take a truckload of bullets to go down on top of this made it all a little irritating at times.

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Brink seems a bit like a work in progress toward creating a truly online/campaign fusion. For a game that relies on teamwork and puts all its eggs in the online basket, the maps could’ve been designed better and character class roles could’ve been developed a little more beyond the point of ambiguity – but hey, maybe the new DLC will take on some of this advice.

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