notified of site updates. Sign-up for the Newsletter sent out
E-Mail Address Below:
Score: 7.0 / 10
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
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
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.
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