Friday, July 22, 2011

To the Brink and back!

The review process for brink has been an interesting one. Normally when I review a game it’s because I have had an experience worthy of discussing and that experience is usually a positive one. So when the fine people of asked me to review Brink I jumped at the chance to get out of my comfort zone and delve into a game I had no interest in buying.

In the run up to Brink’s release the hype was almost overwhelming. Everywhere I turned people could be heard talking about how good it looked and how fresh the gameplay would be. Personally, I rarely fall for hype. I have been burned way too many times in the past (here’s looking at you Halo 3!) to trust any opinion that derived from a pre release code. In Brinks case that turned out to be right on the money.

Previews of the game came back with rave reviews of how good the gameplay is and how well it all works. But on the day of release when millions logged into play, the game was marred with lag issues resulting in a completely unplayable game that many swiftly put down and went back to Call of Duty.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when I received the game and inserted it into my PS3.
Given all the bad press I had already read, I was determined to give the game a fair chance. If there was anything good about Brink I was going to find it and redeem it.

So, what is Brink?

In the future, some clever folk built a floating, self-sustaining city called the Arc. Everyone rejoice. As global warming came into effect and sea levels rise, the inhabitants decided to tow the city out to the ocean. Soon after, contact is lost with the mainland and ships full of refugees turn up. Cue several years of poverty and unrest for the ‘guests’ plus oppression by the Arc Security and you’ve got a recipe for revolution. The Arc Security want to ‘save’ the city and the Resistance want to leave it. A silly premise and one that could easily be averted by simply allowing those that want to, to leave.

That is the story, and don’t expect any more as you won’t get it. What you do get is a series of missions based on the faction you choose and their eventual objective coming to a close. Every mission plays outs with several objectives that are tied closely to the different classes available. For example, one objective might be to fix a crane to proceed. Only the engineer can repair stuff, but you’ll need all the other classes to get you to the location and protect you. One side assaults, the other defends. If the objective is completed, the attackers win. If the timer runs out, the defenders win.

The class based gameplay works very well. Everything is balanced as you would expect and everyone gets their turn to do something, everyone is useful and every class has strengths and weaknesses. Along with the gameplay is an extraordinary level of customisation. Not only can your entire appearance to be changed to suit, you can also customise the attachments on your weapon to allow greater choices on the field.

Readers who have played the game will note that I have yet to mention SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain). This basically boils down to the addition of a ‘parkour’ button that allows you to jump railings and climb buildings rapidly. The reason I haven’t mentioned it is because it’s rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, it does work, but it’s entirely unnecessary. Why have a button to traverse random crap in the level and not just remove all the crap?!

So what are the issues with the game? Well for one, the single player ‘experience’ is exactly the same as the multiplayer except with bots…Stupid bots…Stupid bots that don’t help you in anyway at all. I would define single player as DIY multiplayer.
The second problem is that everyone traded the game in on its dire launch week resulting in very few online players, so you can’t play online. And the third problem is even when you do get a game with real people, no one communicates. You end up with a team full of medics and no one fighting for the goal. It is possible that this experience is different on the 360 with its vastly superior chat functions, but in Brinks case I highly doubt it.

I really wanted Brink to be good. I wanted to write this review to tell everyone that is was safe to pick Brink up again. But the truth is it just isn’t good. There are two types of gamer who plays shooting games, those who play Call of Duty and those who play Battlefield. Brink appeals to neither audience in the long term.

Did you play Brink? What did you think of it? Or are you just waiting for MW3/Battlefield 3 in Q4 2011? Leave a comment below!