I first got my hands on Brink last year at E3 and since then I’ve been looking forward to its release. Slash Damage, the developers behind Brink, have taken one specific portion of the shooter genre and have honed it to greatness. If you are looking to play death match or capture the flag then look elsewhere. But, if you are looking for a team based first person shooter where the game mode is about completing objectives then look no further. I was initially concerned about the narrowness of the focus of Brink. Just 1 game mode? But, having spent the last 4 days playing every spare moment I can tell you that I was worried for nothing. Because Brink is a class based shooter, and each has a lot of options for customization and upgrades, I am never stuck with doing just one thing over and over.
In most shooters you have your character and while you may upgrade and customize him that one character is yours. In Brink you can have up to 6 characters each with its own load out, abilities and customization. When you start customizing your first character it is staggering the number of options you have and as you upgrade even more options unlock. Between choices for body type, class, weapons, abilities, features and clothes no two characters will ever be quite the same. In many ways the character customizations and upgrade abilities remind me of a role playing game. There are so many options to choose from and you can never have all of the abilities at once. As you level up each character you even have the option to respect if you do not like what you have created. Doing so is going to cost that specific character one level but that is a small price to pay to make the prefect character for your play style
The single player, co-op and multiplayer in Brink are all one in the same. The determine factor is how many people are in the game with you. Play solo and the bots fill in the remaining spots. Invite some friends and you can take on the bots. Fill the room and it becomes a verses match. Each match has multiple primary and secondary objectives that your team is trying to complete. You can quickly change your personal objective with the D-pad and can change classes at any point in the match at a command post. Because there is a lot going on it takes a few matches to get a hang of everything. However, taking the time to learn will be well rewarded as winning in Brink is all about teamwork. Each mission will need characters of multiple classes to complete. Having a room full of soldiers may seem like a good idea but then who will setup turrets, heal you or check for mines? Since every character class can use any of the weapons there is no reason your medic cannot be rolling like a heavy soldier. Each class has unique abilities and pairing them with your teammates can make for devastating combos. My personal favorite so far is to have an Operative throw down a claptrap grenade which covers an area with spikes and then have an Engineer place a turret on the path around the spikes. Either way the enemies are facing trouble.
When you do not have a full room going the AI bots fill in so that each team always has 8 players. While bots will never be as helpful as real humans who can tell you what direction they are flanking I have been pretty happy with the bots in Brink. They call out what objective they are working towards, they will refill your ammo or health when it gets low and do a pretty decent job defending an area from enemies. They also behave like humans in some ways that many game’s bots do not. If you sneak behind a bot they do not magically turn around and start shooting as soon as you are in range. So, you can get the drop on a bot just like you can a human if you play smart.
I know there have been some people complaining about the graphics in the videos for Brink, but I do not see the problem. Like how the game looks and feels. The various levels all follow a similar theme as you would expect from a game that all takes place in one city, but each one has a unique style to it. The voice acting is pretty funny at points. You have the option when creating your player to pick their voice as well which is a nice touch. The voices fit within the game world and while you may not like one specific voice there is a wide range of choices so you do not have to hear the same one all the time.
One aspect that I still have to get use to in Brink is the ability to go almost anywhere. The SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) feature was one of the first things that was ever announced about Brink and I’ve found that it works well. You just fold the left bumper and point the direction you want to go. The game automatically handles climbing over or under the objects in your path to get you to your destination. This is one area I’ve been glad to have a few bots on my team. They know the maps better than I do and find openings in walls and ceilings that lead to short cuts that I otherwise may have never noticed.
If you are looking just to run around and play lone wolf then Brink is probably not the game for you, but if you like team base first person shooters then do not miss it. No two people are going to have the same experience with Brink because you can customize your character completely to your play style. This leads to great matches that you will be talking about later with your friends as you describe your role in the battle. For me, that is the kind of shooter that I can truly enjoy.
A copy of Brink for the Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from Bethedsa.