Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I think of Brink (Hey that rhymes)

Brink is one of those games I had my doubts about. Because of its unique seamless blend of singleplayer and multiplayer. I wasn't sure if it would work. But it does and it works so very well. All the doubts I had before I played Brink are now gone.

Brink at first appears to have a rather straight forward storyline. A civil war on a floating city called the Ark built as a way to save humanity from extinction due to global warming and rising sea waters. There are two sides to this fight. Ark security who are fighting to maintain control of the Ark. And there's the Resistance who are trying to get off the Ark and contact what's left of the outside world. Each side has its own storyline that will crossover with the other. Each campaign comes to its own different end and afterwards there are some bonus 'what-if' spin off missions you can do. These missions are usually levels in the campaign that you play from the opposing side.  Usually in games that allow you to choose sides by the end of it you have a good idea which side you should be on. Even after playing through both campaigns I still don't know which side to be on. This isn't a bad thing. Brink just gives you all the facts and allows you to make up your own mind on what you think is right.

While I have ranted on a bit about the story don't let that scare you. Every cutscene can be skipped and while it does set up the gameplay it doesn't get in the way of it. The major parts of the story are told in the campaigns but if you want the whole picture you're going to have to unlock all the audio tapes. Similar to the holotapes in Fallout 3 audio tapes give you an insight into what the major players on the Ark are thinking. So if you're like me and love a game with a good storyline this gives Brink a lot of replay value.

The whole focus of the game is how it plays. I've heard people say it's Mirrors edge with guns. This isn't entirely true. Mirrors edge focused on movement and discouraged you from using guns whereas Brink puts its focus on combat. It doesn't matter what kind of gun you have movement is still the same. Character customization however does have an effect on movement but there's a fair trade off. When you customize your character you have the choice of three body types: light, medium or heavy. The light body type can move the fastest and jump higher than the other two but it also has the least health making them easy to take down. In contrast the heavy body type is the slowest and least agile but has the most health and is the only body type that can carry heavy weapons. The medium body type has a good mix of health and finesse and is a perfect starting point for new players. Depending on your own playstyle you will discover what works for you. The rest of the customization options for your character are purely cosmetic so unleash your inner 5 year old and play dress up. Like Rainbow six Vegas you gain XP both offline and online. As you level up you'll unlock more outfits and earn ability points to upgrade your characters skills. Like Team fortress 2 skills are divided into classes: Soldier,Engineer, Medic and Operative. There are universal skills that can be purchased and used no matter what class you choose but to get the really cool stuff you need to decide which set of cool stuff you want.

Weapon customization is a bit disappointing but still better than almost any other game. What I do like is that weapon add-ons can all be unlocked before you start either campaign. They can only be unlocked through challenge missions. Challenge missions are separate missions from the campaigns and I recommend you try them first. Not only will you unlock cool doodads for your guns but they also teach you how to play Brink.

Objectives are very flexible. Each level has a list of objectives that your team has to complete. These range from defending a certain spot, blowing up something to repairing or building defenses. The interesting thing is that you can complete these objectives in any order. There’s one main objective and the rest are secondary to it. Depending on how you want to play will determine which objective you'll want to do. As long as you're doing something you will be helping out your team. This means that those people who prefer to be lone wolves won't make it any harder for team players or people new to the game. All objectives are class specific. This means in order to win a game you can't all go engineer and spam place turrets and mines everywhere.

Every level is unlocked right out of the box. This is because there is no separate multiplayer section of the game. Every level can be played either online or offline or you can open up your game and let people jump in whenever they like. I recommend for the first playthrough of the game you play it in order and leave the what-if missions till last. This is definitely a game that you'll want to play with friends or other people. Maybe it's just because I'm terrible at shooters but the A.I on your team is terrible and the opposing teams A.I seems to have been programmed by a super genius.

The soundtrack is small but really good. The songs don't get in the way of the rest of the game and it really sets the tone for what brink is all about. Probably not going to make any one's soundtrack to buy list though.

The graphics really convey the point that you're in a distopyian futuristic society. You really get the sense of how small and fragile the Ark is. In terms of cutting edge though it's fairly average. It can be a bit rough in some areas and maybe its just me but the grenades just don't look quite right.  

I had great fun playing this game. It was good to play a game that is so flexible and that just gets to the core of what an FPS is and gets out of the way and lets you do what you want.

8 out of 10

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