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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Bethesda

 

Developer

Splash Damage

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

May 10, 2011

 

 

- Parkour-style movement system adds good twist to the standard FPS
- Well detailed visuals
- Solid audio effects

 

 

- Uninteresting campaign mode
- Level design issues on some maps
- Team AI still pretty stupid even after first patch

 

 

Review: Brink (360)

Review: Portal 2 (PC)

Preview: Call of Juarez: The Cartel (360, PC, PS3)

 

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Brink

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

brink          brink

 

When I got the review copy of Brink and fired it up, I ran into a lot of the same problems that other players and reviewers have griped about since it hit the street. Wildly imbalanced AI, lag problems on multiplayer, inexplicable teammate and enemy AI behaviors. The first patches have come out, fixed most of the problems, and allowed people to experience the game as it probably intended to be on release date. It seems, however, that fixing the easily noticed problems have revealed more problems which we were too busy to notice initially.

Splash Damage did an excellent job on the graphics. Character models are highly detailed, and the exaggerated style works nicely as opposed to more realistic shooters like Call of Duty or ARMA. The environments feel like they've been lived in, not merely a collection of pathways and obstacles. Special effects like smoke and

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muzzle flash are subdued, but the various buff effects seen when players aid their teammates are more flashy, which is perfectly appropriate.

The customization of the characters and weapons is very well done, giving players both friendly and hostile an at-a-glance view of what sort of firepower a player has at any given time. Costume pieces each have their

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distinct themes for the respective factions and many of them have various choices for color scheme.

One small gripe that comes to mind is that a similar selection of color scheme or pattern wasn't provided for the weapons customization. I would have liked to try out having an all chrome weapon, or various camo patterns, or even different decals and such as Call of Duty or Blacklight. That extra level of customization was a lost opportunity. A second gripe has been that periodically, the text in the game will become garbled. While this is not really a critical flaw, it does prove to be an annoyance.

The audio in Brink is a good solid complement to the visuals. Weapons fire sounds crisp on the smaller caliber weapons and thunderous on the big guns. Ambient sounds are somewhat minimal, but never out of place.

I did notice during multiplayer that the sound would cut out and not come back until you had left the server and rejoined. In a game where communication with your human teammates is important, and being able to hear the antics of the bots almost as important, thatís a fairly serious little glitch. At the time of this writing, Bethesda has promised that a patch addressing the sound dropping issue will be released shortly.

 

brink          brink

 

Iíve definitely developed a love/hate relationship with Brinkís gameplay. On the love side of it, the SMART system is an interesting little twist to the normal run and gun action of FPS game. The parkour-style movement takes a little getting used to and might require a bit of practice for some players, but such practice can lead to sweet wall runs culminating in a head shot. Also on the love side is the weapon customization system. All but the heaviest weapons will have at least one upgrade slot, which can change the stability, damage, reload speed, ammo capacity, and other qualities of the weapon. However, the weapons customization and the weapons selection also links up with the hate side of the equation. Each weapon comes with a block of various stat bars showing how good or how poor it is in areas like reload speed, stability, accuracy, etc. But those stat blocks donít feel like they mean anything. Trying to derive a meaningful basis for comparison between any two weapons is a highly frustrating exercise. Thereís a lot of different weapons available, but the one stat which probably truly matters for any of those weapons is the amount of damage they dish out, and I canít think of a single upgrade that directly improves that stat. This is most problematic, considering how character models act like bullet sponges. If you can score head shots, great. Three or four rounds from an assault rifle, maybe two rounds from a pistol at close range, as long as they all go in the head, youíre golden. Otherwise, prepare to empty a clip per target. And sometimes, not even that is sufficient.

The team AI, while improved from the first day, still isnít what Iíd call terribly bright. The enemy AI still feels like it has a considerably sharper edge to it than the bots notionally on your side. This would be more tolerable if the improved AI hadnít inadvertently revealed a more serious problem. On at least two maps, the balance is badly skewed towards the defenders, bad enough that the attacking side is doing little more than providing targets to the defenders in order to grind up XP. Sure, the attackers get XP too, but itís not exactly fun. Perhaps the greatest sin that Brink commits is attempting to give players the illusion of depth, but not doing so in a convincing fashion. We get the same eight maps in both campaigns, just played from different sides. The audio logs are nice deep background, but they donít quite make a connection with the player, nor do they connect to the events in the campaign in any meaningful fashion. The storyline running through the campaign mode for each side feels underwhelming and doesnít do much to draw the player in deeper. It all sits together, but doesnít hang together very well.

Thereís very little question that Brink is highly geared towards the multiplayer crowd. The SMART system and the well done visuals are very attractive, but the level design imbalances and small map variety donít offer much in the way of longevity. Thereís a lot of promise in the game but only the most patient of players might be willing to see that promise realized.

 

- Axel Cushing

(May 30, 2011)

 

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