Brink (Xbox 360 Review)

As a fan of class-based games that put an emphasis on teamwork and co-operative play, Brink has been on my radar for a while now.  Developers have been promising a game with its own unique style and gameplay, which they claim will be for anyone who is tired of getting pwned in COD-style games.  The game released on May 10th, 2011.  Now we’ll finally see if it’s the real deal, or just more inflated hype.

FROM THE OFFICIAL “BRINK” GAME DESCRIPTION:  Brink is an immersive shooter that blends single-player, co-op, and multiplayer gameplay into one seamless experience, allowing you to develop your character across all modes of play. You decide the role you want to assume in the world of Brink as you fight to save yourself and mankind’s last refuge for humanity. Brink offers a compelling mix of dynamic battlefields, extensive customization options, and an innovative control system that will keep you coming back for more.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The first thing that needs to be said is that Brink was meant to be played with other people.  Not just random strangers, but friends who like to play cooperatively and use communication & teamwork.  Some reviews for the game have been a bit unkind, but as I read them, I kept thinking that the writer must have played this game alone.  Indeed, when I dove into the campaign, and tried a bit of MP on my own, I was feeling pretty lukewarm.  The game was hectic, and nobody worked together.  Objectives failed.  Multiplayer was plagued with network issues that caused lag.  Not a very auspicious start.

Then I started bringing friends into my game.  Each time someone else was added to the “fireteam”, the fun factor shot through the roof.  Since the game is a complex mix of main and secondary objectives, there is a bit of a learning curve.  Once we realized the importance of supporting each other with supplies (medics revive and buff health, soldiers dole out ammo, and engineers buff weapons and set up support gear like turrets), a cohesive strategy started to develop.  This is a game of inches, of grinding out progress as you advance your line in small increments.  Even capturing control of a hallway can seem like a monumental task, but a rewarding one if done effectively.

Campaign and multiplayer can be played separately, but are based on the same basic objectives and story.  Character progress & unlockables are persistent, so XP can be earned either playing alone or in a group.  The customization is fantastic, whether you’re unlocking outfits or weapon attachments.  And a host of “abilities” means that your class build can also be as unique as you like.

As previously mentioned, the multiplayer lag was a huge problem on day one, but this can be pretty common in the first few days of almost any game’s release.  Luckily, there was almost no lag at all for the coop sessions.  While the modes are fairly limited, the fact that they are large in scope, with multiple objectives, means that each game can be vastly different depending on the makeup of your team.

The visual style is pretty unique, and has drawn comparisons to Valve’s multiplayer game, “Team Fortress 2”.  This one is a bit less cartoonish, and the facial features are best described as caricatures.  Three different body types (heavy, medium, and light) each lend themselves to different builds.  Heavies can absorb lots of damage, but can’t move fast or mantle objects.  Lightweights move quick and can parkour over low walls and ledges, but are much more vulnerable to gunfire.  I played mostly as a lightweight medic, and spent more time moving than shooting.

If I was to compare this game to anything else, it would be the first Left 4 Dead.  Remember how much fun it was playing co-op or versus with a few friends?  Same for Brink.  Playing the campaign by yourself is good for getting used to the game mechanics and the way objectives work, but eventually you’re going to want to get a crew together and go at this bad-boy collectively.  Brink also shares a lot in common with Shadowrun, an excellent sleeper from about 4 years ago that still has an active online community.  The use of distinctive classes is a big part of both games, and really caters to players who aren’t interested in the Halo or COD twitch-fests.

Once the technical bugs get ironed out and the haters move on to troll something else, the fan community will settle in, and hopefully inject this little sleeper with a long life.  It may have a few minor flaws, but overall it’s a fresh new concept that will interest people who are tired of the same old sequels of late.

Posted on May 11, 2011, in Video Game News & Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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