BRINK review
On the Brink of Cardiac Arrest


Define 'anticlimax' [an-ti-cli-max]:
    An event, conclusion, statement, etc., that is far less important, powerful, or striking than expected. See also; BRINK.

Let me take you back to when this game was close to release; remember how every third or fourth advertisement on television was this epic game? Remember how it promised so much? Action-packed gameplay driven by spontaneous events? A multiplayer system that you and your friends could play endlessly? Forget about it, because Brink delivers none of the above. Ordinarily I don't hype up many games, but when emphasis is put on a certain release, you can't help but wonder if it'll soon become your favourite game ever. I was one of the many fools who paid full price on a game that looked fantastic on paper. Looking back at pre-release footage, this game reminded me so much of Timesplitters and Portal - two really big names. But unfortunately, my only significant memory of Brink five years down the road will be that it stole money from me.

Oh what a promising plot!

On first impressions, this game can look like an arcade-based Borderlands. Graphics and outfits suggest a post-apocalyptic setting that gamers often cream over. Brink is set in the mid-21st century on an island called the Ark (the main focus of the game's campaign). If you want me to dig deep into the details, the island was created as a safe haven for plants and green life. But alas, global warming effects the rest of the world not long after the Ark's creation, leaving anyone who survived the ominous rising sea levels to live on this temporary safe haven. As you can imagine, the influx of Ark inhabitants becomes a massive problem for living standards - particularly since the island isn't exactly huge. With rations split unfairly (security members of the Ark are given an extra water ration), conflict is inevitable and it comes in the form of two groups; Ark Security, and The Resistance. Self-explanatory really, but Ark Security are the people who have been the superior - in terms of rationing - race, while the refugees (being pushed to their wits' end) resist the policies forced upon them and both parties enter into a cold-blooded war.

Sounds superb on paper, right? Please re-read the definition of 'anticlimax' above, because it's apparent at the very beginning. In fact, everything is downhill from the moment you put that disc into your console. You're given the option to choose between whichever faction tickles your taste buds. So you can play as the strong force of Ark Security, or as the blood-thirsty, vengeance-seeking Resistance searching for either equality or death. Of the two I know which one you want to side with, but it's irrelevant - while both sides have varying objectives, the difference between both sets of missions is hardly even noticeable. In fact, the only substantial difference between both groups is the colour of the clothing they wear. And if that wasn't disappointing enough, the plot is much like a Z list celebrity - easily forgettable. There's no development in the story; while one side tries to escape the Ark, the other wants to end the mutiny and return to the norm. But that's about it, it can be summed up in one small mission - one battle could end this affair and could do us all a favour by ending this game quicker than it did.

The Resistance scoping the enemies awaiting them on the Ark

Let's discuss that compelling and superior gameplay!

Room for a lot of improvement so far, right? Oh don't worry, you're in for a treat; it gets so much... worse? Are you serious!? If you think the plot is lacklustre, then, I suppose you're right. But it's a godsend compared to the gameplay. If you've looked up any gameplay videos or at least read up on the game, you'd have grasped that Brink is essentially an arcade game - this idea is what had me wetting my lips at the thought of it being anything like Timesplitters; More fool me! Yes, Brink plays like any multiplayer arcade game you've played before: one team has to defend an objective, while the other must obliterate it. Brink occasionally takes it one step further, because if the attackers succeed their primary objective, the mission isn't necessarily over. You may have to breach an enemy door, but inside that door might be a hostage you have to escape back to base. Or inside that door may be a package you've got to deliver elsewhere. Primary and secondary objectives include destroying, repairing, escorting, defending and capturing. This would be great if it was done over one level but you do it over and over on all levels. Every. Single. Level. In fact, before even starting a mission you can more or less successfully guess what your upcoming task is. Maps vary a little and there are about 7-10 of them too, but they're not very memorable. They remind me of The Great Khali in fact - they're big and... well, they're just big. And even being big isn't a positive trait to take from the game because when you die, your spawn point remains at the beginning of the mission - similar enough to the original Battlefield game online if you will, without the vehicles to escort you back where you came.

It's fair enough to say a terrible game can't be terrible without a disgusting AI system. Believe me when I say Brink has one of the worst AI systems ever - and for a game on a superior console in 2011, that's nothing to boast about. In each mission, both sides have about 10 team-mates. These team-mates talk in cutscenes and have dialogues of their own in-game, but they must've been the biggest idiots the developers could've chosen. It's actually hard to believe these people survived global warming - what does that say about the folk who didn't? Anyway, normally when you play a team-oriented game, you'd think it was best to work together. But seriously, you might as well be taking on the whole team on your own. The only positive is they sometimes distract the enemy from you when you're completing an objective - and while I'm on the subject, don't expect them to succeed in any of the make-or-break objectives throughout the story. If there was a word to sum up both sets of AI, it's 'inconsistent'. From enemy spawns, strength, idiocy, number to friendly teamwork, responsiveness, positioning; this game is all-round inconsistent. Sometimes you might take out 5 or 6 enemies in one go, and on another occasion you might bump into one enemy, he'll melee the life out of you and murder you before you can say "I hate this game". When you're killed, you get a respawn timer that can vary between 20 and 1 second depending on what time you've been downed. Most of the time you'll find this number on 20 annoyingly enough. However, when you take out three-quarters of the enemy team, they seem to regroup in seconds making it all the more difficult for you to complete an objective. To add insult to injury, the respawned enemies will murder you, and you'll have a 20 second timer to wait for.

"Mmm, Special Steve like the pretty gun!"

Your team is split into 4 groups in which you can chop and change at any time. A soldier who carries more ammunition, armour and has the sole objective of destroying things; an engineer who has the ability to strengthen all team member's weapons (including his own) and whose job it is to repair machinery; an operative who acts as a spy with the ability to disguise himself as an enemy and hack an enemy terminal; and a medic who supplies his team with health buffs and whose job it is to revive his team-mates. They all sound great, but Brink strikes again with major disappointment as only the engineer is really worth choosing. Each class has different perks (one more pointless than the last) and the only significant perk to get at a rank that isn't 5 - the highest - is a medium turret. You can put this turret anywhere on the playing field and it'll do more damage than all of your squad combined. Plus the increased weapon strength is a must because most weapons are ineffectively repetitive. Playing as an operative sounds great, but when you've killed an enemy and disguised yourself as him, it seems that the enemy know who you are instantly. Also, going into the enemy's turf and hacking their terminal is pointless when disguised because as soon as you attempt to, you're dead. And did I mention that when you're disguised your weapon isn't in your hand? Great.

Weapons and perks don't hold any great game-changing significance in Brink. There is quite a variety of both, but neither really offers a lot. You get to choose a primary and secondary weapon. Your primary weapons - as you can imagine - are assault rifles and the odd shotgun here and there, and your secondary weapons are either pistols or light machine guns - there's even a terrible excuse of a sniper rifle in there too. While there is indeed variety, they're all the same. Ignore the stats on each weapon, because each gun is inaccurate, has poor grip and is as effective as tickling a behemoth's baby toe. The exact same thing can be said about the perks; besides the engineer's turret perk, the rest are rather pointless. Most of them involve helping your team out and not yourself; and why would you want to help a bunch of people out who happily allow you to die time after time? There are a few grenade perks that look good but grenades are awful in the game. As soon as you throw one, the enemies flee and your grenade only hurts the poor ground. And what's worse is you can't even cook one.

If there was one big positive I could take from the game, it's the variety of appearance and character graphics. The graphics on the game itself aren't really that impressive - you're normally just looking at closed spaces and a bunch of levels - although different - you've seen on tons of games before. But character creation gets my praise, most definitely. You choose your appearance from both groups of players and each gives the player a unique look. Face paints, scars, tattoos along with helmets and a variety of clothing allows you to go into detail of what your character should look like to you. Hell, you can even change your character's weight from light (extremely skinny), to medium, to large (ridiculously fat). But it doesn't stop there. One thing I do like about the game (although minimal) is that your weight actually effects your player. Light characters can move about quicker, climb up walls with ease and take a lot more damage than the others. Medium takes more bullets to assassinate, doesn't move as quick and can carry heavier weapons. And fat lads can carry significantly bigger weapons - like a gatling gun - take less damage and moves slightly slower. One hint of praise at last!

This guy's got bags of ability

"I'm taking the enemy command post!"

And lastly, a small mention to dialogue, character voice-overs, challenges and soundtrack because they really don't require a lengthy mention. Dialogue isn't so bad in cutscenes, but it's excruciating during gameplay. You're continuously reminded of your objective by your head instigator who also likes to tell you how much time is left, even though that much can be seen in the top right of your screen. Characters' voices may seem to differ from one another at the beginning but you'll have heard every phrase after about a half an hour of play time which is absolutely ridiculous. And worst of all, you are constantly reminded about your command post, and whether an enemy is taking it or not. Honestly, I don't give a damn about the command post. Now why don't you stop focusing on something that isn't essential to the mission and help me succeed instead of being a parrot? The soundtrack is really repetitive and the only 'song' that's really recurring is the one on the main menu - and that's not really like a song at all, it's just background noise that could be missed if you weren't paying attention. Challenges are just an alternative mode to the campaign and are extremely short - I completed them all in about an hour, and that was with 3 or 4 unsuccessful attempts too. There are 4 altogether, and each one has three stages; the first being the easiest, second being a bit more challenging and third being the toughest respectively. The only one of real enjoyability is Tower Defense which is essentially Horde in Gears of War with one player (and not nearly as intense). You must defend your command post (there it is again!) while waves of enemies come from different doors of the arena. It's okay at best, but so much better than the others.

You can argue that the game would improve substantially online with your friends and enemies who aren't as idiotic as AI on this game, but that doesn't excuse the awful gameplay, the repetitiveness and the shortness of the whole game. All you're really doing is going from A to B and occasionally to C on most levels, with the same objectives over and over again. And if that much wasn't a kick in the crotch, the weapons will remind you why you shouldn't be playing this game. I even fear for my mental health when I turn this game on because it's so infuriating. Carrying a team for 20 minutes only to fall at the last hurdle, respawn miles away when you've got to rely on a team of delinquents with about a minute left on the clock and - inevitably - you fail and must start the terrible mission all over again. I really don't like to call a game bad, but Brink really is a turd in the rough.


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0 thumbs!
the_FAMAS_pro May 18, 12
Meh, i have to disagree. It was pretty fun to play with friends, hell even alone. I don't care about having an ass reminding me every 5 minutes about my objectives, i just keep shooting.
0 thumbs!
Vicarious May 18, 12
I agree 100% this game was so awful I got rid of it in a day.
0 thumbs!
Dragoon May 18, 12
I never played it, but looking at gameplay videos and reviews (such as this one), it put me off buying it.
0 thumbs!
Laika May 18, 12
It didn't look that bad watching TotalBiscuit's videos. I might still download the demo just to try it out.
♛ ᒪᗩᓮḰᗩ ♛
0 thumbs!
EricF May 18, 12
Caveat emptor.

I was one of the suckers who creamed over the hype of this game sadly!
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