Brink is the newest title from the Bethesda Studios, and developed by Splash Damage, for the past year leading up to it’s release the internet has been filled with developer diary videos, articles, and information hyping the release of this game. Did it live up to all that hype? Well yes and no. And in this review I’ll break down the game and you can decide if it was worth the hype or not.

To begin lets go over the story behind the game because other then just killing enemies you have to at least have a reason why the fighting is going on. The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world in the Utopian city ‘The Ark’ which is a city afloat in the middle of the ocean, the city is now torn into two apposing groups.  One group calling themselves the Resistance, is trying to leave the Ark by any means necessary. The resistance was original just known as the guests (and at times mentioned as Refugees by Security), but growing unhappy with their environment they were forced to live in after time they decided to take up arms and be known as the Resistance, where they are looking to escape the Ark and bring help from any remnants of the outside world. Fighting The Resistance every step of the way is Security, who are at the core of the story trying to keep any and all residents of The Ark on the island and from escaping and preventing more outsiders discovering The Ark.

The story feels like it wasn’t finished, as if the developers where spending most of their resources on gameplay mechanics such as SMART, which I will get to in a moment and not with building a little more level of complexity to the story. After completing the game for both factions I still wonder just what exactly was going on at times. Besides a short storyline the campaign isn’t really a campaign, it’s more like missions with a little more back-story to them, and single player campaigns are the same as if you play online so regardless there isn’t too much depth to it. This game was definitely made with multiplayer in mind and at times feels like the story was thrown in there so the players could at least understand what each side was fighting for.

But what Brink’s story is lacking in it is redeemed in it’s gameplay. The game is divided into a series of 16 main object matches on eight maps putting the Resistance against Security. Along with the 16 main objectives there will be various “class based” side-objectives along the way. Whether you are an Engineer who has to repair a robot that you must protect as it trenches through the map where the enemy will be trying to stop it. Or in another example you must be an Operative in which you must hack a terminal to get information. How you play and your teams success is all based on how well you can not only play your class you choose but how your teammates play as well.

After completing the game and playing various matches both in single player and online I can say that those of you with they “Rambo” mentality in shooters will be disappointed, Brink focuses purely on teamwork and if you want to go in there guns blazing trying to play the hero you will taken out in mere seconds (as I have experienced first hand myself). And that to me is the shiny quality of the online play in Brink, seeing as teamwork is key it opens up a whole new level of communication amongst players, no longer do you need to just shout out that you were shot at a specific area of the map, most of the objectives will require planning and for a whole team to stick together for the most part.

The gameplay also at it’s core is that Brink is a class based game with four different types of classes to choose from and customize as you level up and unlock points to put into abilities, as well as unlocking weapons. The classes available are: Soldier, Medic, Engineer, and Operative. The first thing that came to mind for me when I was going through all the options to create my character set up for each class was Team Fortress 2, except in this case the Operative is just a renamed version of the Spy. It’s pretty straight forward what the role of each class is but just in-case here is the rundown of each class:

  • The Medic’s primary objective is to heal teammates and revive them when they are downed.
  • The Engineer is responsible for building and repairing sentry guns, disarming the explosive charges, and when you must escort a vehicle to repair it when it takes too much damage.
  • The Soldier can plant explosives and mainly used as the Tank/Damage roll in the group.
  • The Operatives’ main objectives and sub-objectives are sabotaging and hacking. As well as at times depending on the map unlocking new short-cut paths that will make sneaking around and completing your main objective alot easier.

Objectives are uniquely and easily managed and tracked with another feature in Brink that not too many games have used, it’s called the  ‘Objective Wheel’ and it allows the user to bring it up at any time in the match, a list of objectives available at that time in the match, and depending on the class you are you may have one or even more objectives available. With a quick motion on the left analog stick you can select which objective you want to be active and it will then be displayed on the map with a meter showing how far you are from completing it. The primary objective for that match will always be displayed at the top of the wheel and depending on the amount of objectives available the wheel will vary in not only how it looks but the color as well (each class has a color for objectives such as: yellow for engineer and blue for operative classes).

Other than Campaign in either single player or online, also available are the Challenges and Freeplay Modes which will also add to the depth of the game. With Challenges you must accomplish specific objectives within a set period of time, whether it is racing around an enclosed area and trying to pass through each checkpoint or protecting a computer terminal from being hacked by The Resistance and surviving waves of enemies like a ‘horde’ mode that many games have implemented. The reward from completing challenges is new weapons and attachments unlocked and in most cases it’s the only way to unlock them. So if you want the full experience of being able to customize your character then you will have to complete the Challenges. Freeplay on the other hand, is an interesting mode in the fact that when you go into it you can go back and revisit any completed level of campaign mode and set custom settings and objectives. This I feel is a great feature and adds alot more replay value to the game because now custom games can be played with your friends and creativity can finally pay off and make for some fun matches.

That last thing I want to talk about in terms of gameplay and controls is S.M.A.R.T, which stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. This is the key feature of Brink, with the SMART movement system you can take full advantage of the environment and leap over gaps, climb walls and take down enemies with sliding tackles. Even though this is the first time it’s really been implemented in a game it was done very well but at the same time can use alot of improvement. SMART allows you to run towards an obstacle, look up and it will have your character jump over it, look down and you can slide under things. But how SMART works for you and your character all depend on how you customize your character.

There are three weight classes to pick from when making your character, which you can change it at any time in customize character menu:

  • Light – Which is the fastest moving class, and with SMART allows you to jump higher, slide faster and scale taller walls.
  • Medium – The ‘normal’ weight-class, you can slide, and jump over average obstacles.
  • Heavy – No wall climbing, fast running or “parkour” here, the definite ‘tank’ weight class as you take less damage but move slower.

The last thing that really needs to be talked about with Brink is the graphics. The character designs and customization options look amazing, and to me personally the most impressive visuals and style in the game and in alot of FPS games that have come out recently. In an interview  Splash Damage claim that with character customization, there could be up to 102,247,681,536,000,000 possible ways to make your character look. That’s quite a figure right there. But with how great the characters look there is a downside. I felt that the visuals of the environment could have been enhanced more, using a pallet of dull greys, blues and brown really made the game look dark and took away a good amount of details that could have been put into the environment.  Now I’m not saying this ruins the game, as the game still looks fantastic, but after creating your initial character and how great the graphics are only to be thrown into an environment where you can understand why you die so quickly seeing as you stand out in such a lackluster area.

In the end though, Brink I feel accomplished what it set out to do, change the way you play a First Person Shooter and hopefully given the feedback and sales numbers launch a new franchise for the company because with the right improvements I think a second game could easily get a Game of The Year award. As for Brink though, it’s a solid title with lots of room for improvements, who knows with patches and DLC alot could change for the game in the next few months.



About the Author

Owner of ThoseGamingNerds, I've been in the gaming journalism scene now for 7 years and other than that it's all comic books and movies for me.