May 13, 2011

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Review: Brink

Review: Brink

Bethesda has brought us several unique shooters over the years and really perfected the RPG-Shooter combo. Their latest effort, which was created by Splash Damage, is different than the usual offerings, which caused many gamers to be excited with possibilities. The excitement was such that many were hoping that Brink would innovate the FPS genre. However, now that Brink is out, does it exceed or fail to meet expectations?

Brink takes place in 2045 and follows two factions on the Ark IE Security/Resistance. Twenty-five years earlier, a massive flood covered the world in water, so now the factions are fighting for the Ark, a floating city made of coral called “Arkoral.” As the Ark got overwhelmed, resources dwindled, destroying the central power. The game starts off at this point, and you get to choose which side you want: Security or Resistance (although the game gives you flexibility on this later).  Most of the campaign story just follows missions to achieve your group’s goals. In addition to this mission system, the game also includes two “what if” missions that explore what would happen if the event went a certain way. For the story fans out there, don’t worry, as there is a lot more you can unlock as you progress. Every mission you complete you gain an audio log (70+ total), and these provide character development, side stories, plus other information.

Not only is there a lot of story to discover, there’s even more customization. This element really helps sell Brink, as the game offers so many choices, including various alternate designs and colors for clothing. There’s not as much customization as you would see in a pure RPG, but there’s more than enough for the shooter genre.

Brink suffers from the classic “it sounds better on paper” issue we often see with edgy games. The basic concept is that each class (except medic) has a special power needed for a mission. From there, each class will have their own skills, powers, upgrades, and abilities. Each mission takes place on a good side map with several alternate routes to the end. Finally, each mission has a core objective that you’re either working for or against completing. Unfortunately, things don’t exactly play out so well.  Games like Brink get harder the more people involved, and 8v8 is a bit high. Having each class doing certain things to complete a mission makes the game even harder. Confused? The problem arises in that the enemies only need to kill the class (with the special task) in order to win, NOT everyone. To make things worse, you cap off at level 20, which may not sound bad since it allows you to obtain a little over 20 abilities; however, each class will still be lacking. As if all of this weren’t bad enough, every objective seems to force you to get near/in/right next to the enemy spawn camp. Sadly, this is not the only set of problems you will face.

One of my favorite features works strongly against Brink: the experience system.  The game gives you points for doing anything: not using your scope, being revived, standing next to the objective, even doing nothing. This will naturally level you faster, which isn’t bad, but there’s no way to avoid it. Now I’m sure you wonder why that’s bad, and trust me, I would too. You see, as you level, the game gets harder. How much harder? Check my chart to see.

Level/Difficulty Scaling (Hard Mode)
Level 1Enemies are fairly accurate and easily manageable.
Level 5Enemies are not that much better and sometimes you’ll see a turret.
Level 10Enemies are highly accurate, turrets are uncommon, grenades appear quite often, enemies are almost always in a group of 2 or more, and the game tries much harder to kill the person working on the objective (while ignoring others).
Level 15+Enemies are extremely accurate, turrets are fairly common, enemies always rush in a group, if they can finish you they will (faster than you can), more specialty skills are displayed often, and the game is extremely desperate to win the objective.