Brink (PC) Review


At last!  Something with massive polish that isn’t Call of Duty or Battlefield! I don’t know about everyone else but the appeal of modern warfare in shooters is entirely lost on me.  Perhaps it’s the pure saturation point that it’s reached, filling shelves and sites alike, or perhaps the waves of bad news regarding wars in the world, but contemporary shooters simply aren’t to my tastes anymore.  If you share this view, then you might, as I did, enjoy Brink!

The premise doesn’t stray too far from a lot of sci-fi stories (I personally thought of the Firefly universe).  The rich all-powerful folk with their well-trained security forces oppress the already down-trodden labourers of the world, whose lives are rife with thirst and sickness.  The rebellion force decide to rise up and fight back to escape their situation.  At which point you’re given the choice to suppress or revolt, and aside from flipping mission objectives (say from destroy to protect) your choice has no great impact on gameplay.  The premise really is all you need to understand, as the story itself isn’t a particularly interesting  part of the game, but it serves it’s function in creating the setting.

And so the gameplay, which is great fun.  The game is fluid and the mechanics are based on some simple-to-learn yet hard-to-master principles.  The game sports four distinct classes, the Soldier, Medic, Engineer and Operative, each with their own unique abilities, each of which will prove endlessly useful during any given mission, as well as a boatload* of guns to choose from  (*Actual amount of guns may not be sufficient to fill a boat).

The crucial point to understand in Brink is that objectives trump all.  The kills are useful, but really only when it directly helps you achieve objectives by guarding or getting to them.  The HUD has a very handy function that can assist you in choosing your personal objectives.  Say for example you’re an Engineer, and to assist your team you decide to take the secondary objective to fix a crane that will raise a bridge, allowing another route, you just select the objective and the location will be highlighted on your screen.  Sometimes you might think a secondary goal isn’t worth the hassle but it could win you the match by staking out the high ground to rip apart the opposing players while your friendlies complete the primary objective!

As you play missions you’ll earn experience that allow you to customise your weapons and character.  Weapon customisation will affect various stats as you add or exchange modifications, such as accuracy, stability, and fire rate to name a few.  Player customisation is decent and even if it’s limited in certain aspects, such as colour selection for clothing being stopped with approximately 10 preset skins, given that it’s entirely superficial  it’s not the worst thing in the world.

The only appearance factor of characters which does affect gameplay is the body type, for the obvious parkour reasons.  Someone built like a brick won’t be able to freerun much, and a wiry and light character will be able to jump off of walls with ease.  The body types also determine the size of weapons you’ll be able to carry, I’m sure you can take a guess at who carries the big guns.  On the note of big guns, some weapons are far trickier to use than others.  The SMGs took my fancy and I’ve found them extremely effective in close combat and at medium range.  I personally couldn’t use the shotgun to much effect, but whether this is a balance issue or my general philosophy of “More bullets is better!” is debatable.

The parkour aspect of the game, built around Brink’s S.M.A.R.T. system (Smooth movement across random terrain), is the perfect example of the hard-to-master facet of the game.  In the right, practised hands it could be deadly, however in my clumsy hands it proved almost comically bad.  There is however a challenge mode available in the game, with one that specifically aims to help your freerunning ability, and with enough practice there’s the chance anyone could become a quicksilver killer.  And even if you find it difficult you can always knock people down by sliding into them!

What many readers may have noticed is the pure polarity in ratings that Brink is receiving from all manner of critics.  This is an important point to bring up because naturally it’ll prove bewildering for those who are basing their decision on reviews.  Speaking from a personal standpoint, some of the criticisms of the game seem appointed purely to enhance their adversarial stance, such as labelling objective descriptions as “vague.”  I can’t see what’s vague about “Repair Crane” with a big outline of the control box of the crane, but perhaps that’s just me!  As for complaints of server stability on multiplayer and lag, well, I’ve been playing from Europe on American servers with minimal issues.  That’s all I’ll say on that matter.  However, one factor that does demand recognition is hardware problems, which have been occurring on consoles, and PCs with ATI graphics cards.  This will be a key point for those with ATI cards, and a good reason to hold off of even thinking about buying it until that’s sorted out.  In case you’re wondering, I used an NVIDIA 9800GT and suffered no problems.  To save you some time in case you haven’t seen many other reviews, the general reception of the game is, in my very technical description, “PC Brink is awesome!” (I won’t even disguise the fact that I also think it’s awesome and generally find myself in agreement with this crowd) or “Console Brink is terrible!”

To summarise, and reiterate, Brink is a teamplay game at heart, ultimately your kills don’t matter – the objectives do.  Crucially, it plays best in multiplayer with real people, since we’re not quite at the sophisticated level of AI that will become self-aware and turn on us… yet.  That said, single player is useful to practise and get used to the game.  The combat can get hectic, but for the most part feels quite controlled and precise, assuming you’re not running mindlessly to certain doom, and this is where skill and solid teamwork will eventually shine through.  The combinations of classes and good teamwork make for an excellent gaming experience, and the game runs smoothly on a decent gaming system while still looking brilliant.  It definitely deserves attention, however the price tag attached isn’t cheap, so unless you know you’ll be playing with friends and having a blast then waiting for a demo or a sale could be your best option before making a final decision.