I had a bunch of other stories lined up for you good folks this week, not just reviews but some other things I want to try my hand at and then along comes this game… Brink. So I said to myself, “Self, wait awhile, write your other stuff no one will miss a review of this game”. And then I played the game and I have write about it. Does that mean it’s bad? No. Well then it must be good. No again. It’s an odd thing to be so divided like this, usually I’m pretty good at knowing when I do or do not like a game, but with Brink I’m stuck in this weird limbo (no not the one that involves side-scrolling and giant spiders). Anywho I figure by writing about it I’ll be able to get it across to you(and myself) what kind of game this is, so read on!
So the story seems simple, two factions living on a man-made island (called the Ark) are at war and you get to pick a side a have at ‘er. This could have gone a long way, with deep story lines on both sides of the matter, but it’s pretty shallow, the entire thing takes place in the matter of eight maps (plus two What-If scenarios). Now that might seem like a lot, 20 maps a side, but you’ll soon find that it is only ten (you play the same maps just from the other perspective). This makes for a cool gameplay mechanic which I will soon discuss but overall the story lacks.
Another thing I’ll point out here, because it’s not always the length of the story but how it’s told. The story is told through some light cinematics which are kinda cool, because they are always different, the characters in the game being super customizable; the other parts of the story are handled through audio logs, which are a pretty picture with a voice over (the images doesn’t even change).
All in all the story falls flat, but I don’t really mind, and I’m not entirely sure why that is. In some way they give you enough information as to what your motives are and I guess I filled the blanks in myself (I’ve always been good with imagining that kind of stuff). I say it falls flat because you really don’t care what happens to the overall story; you are told to escort someone and so you do, simple as that. Why do you do it? Because they said so. There is deeper meaning to it, but then you have to listen to the audio logs and they just aren’t that good.
This game definitely pulls off a great style, it almost reminds me of the old NLF/NBA/Etc. Street games from EA Big. The faces and body proportions are sorta wacky but everything fits. The city around you changes from rust and ruin to clean and metallic. It’s well polished, or at least it looks that way as you whiz by things at great speed. There is also the matter of appearance for your character, there are many different jackets/shirts/tattoos/pants/and so much more; all of these can be mixed and matched to make the characters look different (there are even a ton of different colours you can pick from for each item).
This game gets a definite thumbs up when it comes to look and customization.
Once again the game seems to fall short in this category. This is also where the customization stops short. They give you a total of six voices to choose from for your character, none of which were all that appealing to me (and in a game that touts the customization options this hurts). The voices are used well, letting your teammates know what you’re going for when it comes to goals (which is nice online, since no one likes to talk) and they also call out things like when operatives are disguised as that character.
The music is lacking, you don’t notice it (and sometimes that’s good because it works it’s way into the game, but in this case it’s just not that good so you ignore it).
As I mentioned before there are the audio logs and cinematics and the sounds is handled well, but it’s not much to write home about.
All in all the sound is there, it’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just there. If anything the voice work puts it over the top of mediocre, but then the lack of choices for voices pulls it back down.
There is quite a bit to discuss here so I’ll try to keep it simple and short. The basic game is your normal FPS, you point you shoot, and then there are the running mechanics. In an attempt to replicate the fun of Mirror’s Edge this game involves parkour (the running and climbing and jumping over everything). It’s not as polished as Mirror’s Edge, but it does work, so much so that it feels natural. You can climb almost anything in the environment and once you realize that you maps really open up. The only problem I have with it is that the developers didn’t seem to think that way, there are no levels where you do much more than jump over ledges and raised parts of the building (and every once in a while climbing a wall). For instance there is a wall run ability, I’ve used it once in a challenge map (not even a regular campaign map), which is a shame.
I also must discuss the classes quickly; Brink is a class based shooter after all. Every class has a buff that they can pass on to other teammates, soldiers give ammo, engineers give a damage increase and medics give a health boost (operatives have nothing to give). They of course have their own special abilities as well; soldier can survive longer with better armour upgrades at later levels, medics can make you regenerate health faster, engineers can build turrets and plant mines, operatives can disguise themselves as the enemy (using their smartphone, is there an app for that?). Everyone feels different and you have the ability to switch classes in the map at control points. Every time you gain a rank you get a point to spend on abilities and upgrades; these abilities are distributed by class and one that adds something to every class (like being able to shoot while sprinting). It all works quite well and you can choose whether you want to be an all out <insert you class here> or a jack of all trades.
Okay, this is where this game gets interesting, the campaign mode can be played in three different ways; solo, co-op, and versus. Solo is of course all by your lonesome with AI teammates against enemy AI; Co-op is with people(friends or random) online who are all on your team against the enemy AI; and Versus is no AI and all real live people on both teams. This is also where the lack of maps come in; you see when you play a level as one faction you have certain objectives, for this example we’ll say capture a point, the other faction has a matching campaign map that has them stopping you. So when you play online both teams are trying to complete a certain corresponding campaign level. It’s intriguing and I’ll say it, it feels good when you stop people from completely their campaign missions (Yes I’m kind of evil). The problem with this is every map in the game revolves around objective based goals, which can get tiresome after a while.
At first I thought there was hope, a mode called Freeplay. This had to be the one where you could add flags to maps or set a kill count, alas I was mistaken. The freeplay mode pretty much lets you play the maps without the story elements. There are also some added features, like playing both sides to see who gets the better time, but it still just isn’t what I was hoping for.
There are the challenges, this is where you unlock gun upgrades. I suggest doing these early (not that the gun upgrades are game-breaking, but they are worth it and are really easy to get). There are four challenges, all of which can be played by up to four players via online. This will come in handy on certain challenges where the AI on your team charges forward with reckless abandon and dies while you’re trying to complete objectives (in challenges only real people can complete objectives). The challenges are all co-op so you don’t have to worry about actual people plotting against you, but the AI does provide a challenge.
The gameplay does seem quite varied, but it’s really a lot of the same stuff over and over. I’m really hoping for some DLC that has some multiplayer only maps that provide more chances to parkour and some traditional FPS type game modes (CTF, Kill Count, etc.). And yet as I say this I’m thinking about hoping back into a map to unlock more customization options by gaining some more XP and thus more stuff.
This game still perplexes me. I say this because I can sit there thinking how dumb the map/partners/objectives/pants/etc. are and yet I continue to play. I even tell myself that this is my last map and play two more before saying it again (and then getting trapped in a circle of telling myself how pissed I am at the game but then want to play more). That’s why I say it’s not good (it has it’s problems) but it’s not bad (I do keep coming back to it). It’s an entertaining game, I’ll go with that, and it is fun. The fact that you’re impeding the progress of other people by winning a map is a huge part of that I think.
As I said before, with a good DLC release this game could be awesome, but at the moment it’s fun and entertaining but not something I’m going to tell everyone to buy. It’s getting harder in this day and age to tell people to try a game (rental places closing or charging stupid prices to rent games (ten bucks for five days at the place by my house, that’s 17% of the full cost)), but that’s what I’m going to do; ahem.. Try this game if can before you buy. You might find yourself hooked (like I seem to be) or you might hate it, but find a friend who has this game and give it a shot. It’s worth the shot.