Brink: review


  • Format: 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Bethesda
  • Developer: Splash Damage
  • Players: 1 (offline), 2-16 (online)
  • Site:

It’s a first person shooter folks, but not as we know it. With Brink, Splash Damage stick two fingers up at the rest of the industry and concentrate on what they want to do. The result? A game that you’re guaranteed to adore… or despise.

Take the story – or lack thereof. The basic premise is solid: in a future where global warming has ruined the Earth, the ersatz floating city of the Ark has become the most desirable community in the world. As a result it has become massively overpopulated, and is on the Brink (geddit?) of civil war. However, the cutscenes do little more than provide cardboard cut-out backdrops for mission objectives, and no details whatsoever are revealed during gameplay (none you have time to stop and appreciate, at least). Your only other in-game source for story is the wealth of (sigh) audio logs that you earn as you progress, which can be accessed from the main menu.

"No, I'm not going to help you. You said I look camp."

From day one, Brink was created to provide offline and online experiences that were identical. This decision has, for better or worse, dictated the design of the whole game down to the smallest detail. For example, the Resistance and the Security have a total of eight campaign missions each. Rather than these being unlocked as you complete them however, all sixteen are immediately selectable – so if you want to jump straight into online play, you’re not restricted in which missions you can choose.

There’s no two ways about it: offline play is basically the online mode with bots. Two teams of eight battle over a series of objectives in each map, one team attacking and the other (wait for it) defending. There are four classes to choose from and, unlike most games, you’ll almost certainly want to spend a lot of time with each. Firstly this is because most objectives, primary and secondary, are class-specific. Only soldiers can plant explosive charges for example, and only Operatives can hack. A broken piece of machinery will need an Engineer to repair it; and anybody can escort a prisoner/comrade, but only a Medic can heal and revive them.

Secondly – and this is what really sets Brink apart from the pack – teamwork is nothing less than essential. Essential for success, and essential for a decent amount of XP. Let’s take a hack as an example. If everybody becomes an Operative and runs for the objective separately, they’ll be picked off easily by an organised team (that includes AI). However, if two Operatives (for a speedier hack) are backed up by two Medics for healing/reviving, they stand a much better chance. Throw in one or two Engineers – who can lay mines and build turrets – to stand guard, and victory seems even more likely.

It is first person, honest - but the PR shots don't show that.

As for gorging on XP, you’ll have to help others to help yourself. Yes, you’re rewarded with XP for kills. That’s not the emphasis though; there are no killstreaks, and no post-match kill/death ratios. Five kills might net you 100XP. Altruistic actions such as improving teammates’ weapons, buffing their health, or giving them extra ammo could see you earn about three times that amount in five seconds.

You’ll even get a steady trickle of XP for simply staying close to something – or someone – that needs guarding. Put all of the above together, and you’ll soon realise that playing a supporting role can be more rewarding than being on the front line for the current objective (and is often essential to avoid mission failure). Brink encourages a team of complete strangers to work together like an experienced clan – without them even realising.

However, the number of human players on each team of eight is usually limited to four, due to lag issues. Most matches we played were just as smooth online as offline. However, whenever lag did rear its ugly head, it was crippling, and completely ruined the experience. If you join a match and see signs of lag, get outta there!

What will irk many is the absence of lobbies and server lists. If you want to play online then you choose your mission, select whether you only want to play co-op or if other players can join the opposition too, if you’re comfortable playing with higher ranked players, and then the match loads. Invites aside, who you play with is completely random. In fact, you can only be sure who is human by checking the scoreboard.

Kudos to Splash Damage, the AI is eerily realistic (though is sometimes reluctant to tackle objectives). Yes, it’s annoying when they guard corners or bunch up to defend an objective – but that’s exactly what human players do. This makes offline play good practice for online, not to mention the fact that your greatly-customisable character, his (also customisable) weapons, and his XP are consistent across all modes.

As well as general abilities (basically ‘perks’), there are class-specific features to unlock too.

The much discussed SMART system works great. You slide under and clamber over obstacles simply by holding down the sprint button, which opens up a new world of shortcuts and escape routes. It also means that some pieces of cover are not the unassailable positions you might at first think…

You’ll be pleased to hear that all classes can use all weapons, and camping is almost pointless. Not only will it result in a piffling amount of XP (not least because one-shot kills are rare), but most teams will easily hunt and kill a camper. There’s not even a dedicated Sniper class. Great news for some – disappointing for others.

Be a team player or fail. That’s Brink in a nutshell. It’s a game that goes out of its way to reward you for helping others, resulting in a fresh experience with a great atmosphere. That really is the only way to enjoy this game; if all you ever want to be is the player with the kill count everybody else is chasing, this Brinks nothing to the table for you. Us, we like a Brinkle of originality now and then.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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