Brink Review

Splash Damage have a track record of creating good games, one of their most critically acclaimed games is the Return to Castle Wolfenstein mod, Enemy Territory. When it was reported that they were making a new game that had similar elements except in a futuristic setting, that was reason enough to raise an eyebrow.

Advertising material also promised a very fluid, dynamic kind of FPS where you were able to slide around on the ground and perform parkour moves.

All of this sounded good which is why I got myself a copy of the game. However, was all they said in the advertisements hype or was is actually true?

Sound (3/5)
You've got your usual fare of sound effects from an FPS however whenever guns fire in the game they don't really sound meaty enough. Also there tends to be bugs with the sound cutting in and out while playing, especially in multiplayer games.

One nice touch is the ability to pick from a variety of voices for your character. This means that there is a bit of variety in the background noise of a battle while playing online.

Music (5/5)
I cannot fault the music in Brink. Both sides have their own theme which is based off an ostinato (hope I'm using the term correctly!) you will hear throughout the game. Even the buttons you get to pick while waiting for a medic to revive you, plays notes. The Resistance gets a dramatic orchestral piece with an erhu (which is appropriate considering the Resistance is led by a Chinese man named Brother Chen) while the theme for the Security Forces has a more electronic, cyberpunk feel to it.

Graphics (2/5)
The graphics aren't too bad, in a stylised way. You're not going to like the game if you're expecting realistic looking character models since they've got for the comic book approach of exaggerating body types and facial features. The cutscenes are actually pretty good too - it's unfortunate that there aren't more of them.

On the downside (a major downside) is that I get ridiculously bad framerate drops for what is quite an old engine (idtech4 is the same engine used for Doom 3, a 6+ year old game). The animation is also rather wooden which seems a bit out of place for a game with parkour elements.

Plot (4/5)
Brink is set in the near future where the effects of global warming have raised the sea levels causing widespread flooding to all of the Earth's cities. Before catastrophe had beset many of the world's nations however, a floating colony in the ocean known as the Ark was constructed to demonstrate how it was possible to develop a self-sustainable city with zero impact on the Earth's environment. Unfortunately, due to the flooding of many of the world's cities, the Ark received boatloads of immigrants who start to cause a strain on the Ark's resources and soon a divide exists between the recent arrivals, known as the "Guests" and the original inhabitants. The game starts when the Ark is on the brink (mind the pun) of civil war.

The game has a very strong plot and you get tidbits of the story from the awesome cinematics and audio logs that you unlock by playing the game. It's a real damn shame that they didn't expand on the plot as the little missions they have on offer for each side doesn't really do the well-researched background story justice. In fact if they made the game into a single-player FPS/RPG hybrid, it would've given other RPGs a run for their money. Alas, RPGs are obviously not Splash Damage's forte though, so it might be a bit too much to ask :).

Gameplay (3/5)
Brink is a multiplayer FPS at heart, although it is possible to play the missions in the game by yourself with bots. You can play for one of two sides, either the Resistance who want to get off the Ark, and the Security Forces who want to save it. There isn't actually much difference between each side besides your objectives in each mission and what clothes your character can wear.

Like Enemy Territory, each side gets objectives to complete to progress the mission along. Completing a primary objective changes the map and progresses the story for the mission along. You will then get new objectives to complete until the entire mission is complete. Objectives include blowing up obstacles, stealing data or defending critical personnel or robots. Completing these objectives will reward you with experience point (XP) which you can use to unlock new abilities for your character.

You are also able to play as four classes in Brink: Engineer, Assault, Medic and Operative. Engineers can build sentry guns, land mines and boost armour and weapons, Assault can provide ammo, throw Molotov Cocktails and destroy objectives, Medics can heal and revive other players and Operatives can disguise themselves as the enemy, hack into computers and spot landmines.

You also get to perform some pretty choice parkour moves while vaulting around the place, especially if you pick a light body type (they are more agile than the beefcakes) however the tactical benefits from doing so seem limited.

Now while you might say this sounds alright it is unfortunately, not very revolutionary, which is disappointing. You tend to expect high standards from a developer such as Splash Damage as these are the guys that set the bar with Enemy Territory. Brink however seems to be just a rehash of the formula, except with a sci-fi setting and some cutscenes. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (BF:BC2), for example, is already doing a lot of this already they two have four classes which are almost identical, except for the Operative. BF:BC2 already has cinematics for winners and losers of maps and they have game modes where if the attacker wins, a new map is played as the defender is pushed back (i.e. Rush gameplay mode). True there are some different and varied objectives for Brink but they're nothing more than escorting a flag carrier, defending a point or destroying an objective.

Replayability (2/5)
I'd normally award more in terms of replayability for a multiplayer-focused game like Brink, however the multiplayer component of the game hardly ever works like it's supposed to. The single player campaign is way too short having only about 6 missions for each side, so if multiplayer isn't working for you, you're going to have a very short experience. Yes there are a few Steam achievements to hunt down but that's about it.

Polish (1/5)
There aren't any showstopper bugs (with the exception of not being able to play multiplayer games at times) but there are many. Sometimes the text in the game becomes garbled meaning you're unable to read it.

Score - 7/10

An immersive story and atmosphere is let down by a poorly built game.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.


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