On the Brink of Something Good

Brink made a promise upon it initial debut to reinvent or at the least reinvigorate the first person shooter.  Early media gave us glimpses of highly stylized characters and an interesting mixture of traditional shooting mechanics with free-running (parkour) mixed in for good measure.  Most people were touting the game as Mirror’s Edge with much more shooting.  So how does Brink measure up to expectations?

Basics of Brink

I took me only a couple nights, with a few hours each night to play through the main “storyline” for each of the two factions, Security and Resistance.  Your play time will vary
Brink Box Covergreatly depending on how you choose to play the game.  The real innovation of brink is the ability to coop though with human players filling the roles on both sides of the conflict.  If you turn the options on, your squad can be coop, the enemies can be coop, or you can play through with AI through a single player campaign.  Either way the story is the same.

Having your squad made up of other players brings with it the same issues that any mult-player game does.  For a good example see Team Fortress 2(which is also a good comparison for the art style). How long your matches last and whether you succeed or not are based on the skill not only of the individual, but the other players as well.  So if you get stuck with a squad that doesn’t know what they’re doing, you could fail multiple times, or you could breeze through the game fairly quickly as I did.

Brink - Security Faction
Brink - Security Faction

Brink Classes and Gameplay

Again, like TF2, Brink is played by character classes.  Here we have the Medic, the Operative, the Soldier and the Engineer.  Each have their own unique skills which can be added to and upgraded as the character earns skill points through gaining experience.  I spent the majority of my time playing as the engineer.  After only a little upgrading of my characters engineer skills I was regularly getting Best Overall Player, Most Kills and Best Engineer awards at the end of the majority of my rounds/levels.

None of the classes are at any real disadvantage when it comes to combat, which could be seen as a knock on the game by some.  With proper weapon modifications and upgrades, it was easy for my engineer to carry out his duties and still get quite a few combat kills.  It’s a standard shooter apart from the parkour aspects.  And that parkour system, dubbed SMART or Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain by Bethesda has mixed results. Sliding under obstacles and at or away from enemies is a nice little touch, but the free-running aspects don’t feel anywhere near as fluid as they did in Mirror’s Edge.

Brink - Resistance Faction
Brink - Resistance Faction

On the Brink

I think Brink is really on the verge of being something quite special, but is just not there yet. The multi-player story is an excellent function and I think one that can only get better if more games go that route. As it stands, Brink’s story is very loose and limited to retain emphasis on the multi-player. Neither faction is inherently the “bad guy” which perhaps takes some of the weight out of the fight story-wise. For this to work really well, I think the good and bad have to be very defined and the story more fleshed out.

The next step is to refine and extend the free-running elements of the game.  The thing I most enjoyed about the game was the art direction.  While the environments are limited they fit the story and the style of the game (I would like to see more variation and enhanced textures and lighting in a sequel). The stylized characters are very cool, and being able to customize them enables you to separate yourself a little from everyone else.

Brink is definitely moving towards some good things and some innovation in a genre that is definitely stagnating significantly.  I hope that they continue the brand and take their concepts even further to really push through the doldrums of FPS gaming. Thanks to Bethesda and Splash Damage (Enemy Territory gave me hours and hours of enjoyment) for putting an effort into the genre.[amazon_link id=”B002DC8GKO” target=”_blank” ] Brink is available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC[/amazon_link].

A freelance writer and digital artist, operator of this website. My name is James Schumacher, and I hold a degree in Game Art & Design (BoFA) from the Art Institute in Portland. My passions are gaming, music, books, film and my friends. Select Photography to see some of my latests photos, with more found at 500px and Viewbug. Currently you can find much of my game reviews mostly at Only Single Player http://www.onlysp.com. I am available for freelance writing work, as well as for image and graphic editing.