Brink PC Review:
Editor's Note: This review is for the PC version of Brink only. Click here to read our Brink 360/PS3 Review.
Brink is an objective, team based first person shooter developed by Splash Damage that was released for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 but its core audience was likely intended to be the PC players and that's the version this review is going to be focusing on. Splash Damage originated as a group of top-tier competitive gamers and they were first formed as a modding team for the Quake 3 engine. Their first game was Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and they later moved ontoEnemy Territory: Quake Wars, both objective-based FPS titles which is the general theme of Brink, only Brink is prettier and has crazier wall jumps.
For this review I was playing on my computer with an Intel 2600K Processor, 8GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600 RAM, and a GTX 570 Graphics Card. I had all of the optional graphics settings turned on and everything turned up to max.
The game's blocky cel-shaded style is really original -- taking nods from games like Borderlands and Team Fortress 2 -- and every map offers something new and different to look at from aquariums to airport hangars to junkyards. Overall the presentation of Brink is top notch. Everything from the actual maps and sound design down to the UI and menu screens seemed very polished and well thought out.
Say Hello to My Little Friend. . .And Its 800 Accessories
When you first start up the game you're given the option to customize your character. FPSs don't often allow you to personalize your soldier, usually only their loadout, so almost immediately my interest was piqued. The game offers a staggering 102,247,681,536,000,000 customizable opportunities and right off the bat there are 11 different aesthetic character options, but even though there are over 102 gazillion ways to customize your character you can't create a female version for some reason. The only option that actually affects gameplay is body type. I'll touch more on this later, but for starters I only messed with my character's general appearance.
The console and PC version of Brink’s campaign are the same and it follows a pretty flat story which takes place on a floating city known as The Ark, off the coast of San Francisco. Due to extreme overpopulation, those fed up with the lack of resources formed a group called The Resistance to try to acquire goods like food and water so a Security force started up to fight them back and keep the peace.
Missions in campaign mode are basically there to get players ready for the multiplayer portion of the game, and they do a good job of that as the campaign and multiplayer feature the same maps and objectives except when playing through the campaign you’re teamed up with AI bots. In the console version the friendly bots on your team who are supposed to be doing objectives oftentimes don’t understand what they are meant to be doing so they get stuck or go the wrong way. In the PC version of Brink, those issues have been addressed and patched so the bots are no longer inhibited by their lack of intelligence and they are much better at completing their objectives during both single and multiplayer.
Through playing both the single and multiplayer in Brink you earn experience points and unlock new items and ways to customize your character. Brink's leveling system is pretty complex and allows for an even playing field when it comes to multiplayer. Experience in Brink is rewarded through a variety of means including shooting enemies, helping allies, capturing objectives, among other things. For each level a character gains they get one level credit, up to 20, which is the max level. Level credits are used to buy abilities which come in both class-specific and universal flavors.
There are 52 abilities total in Brink and they each come with a Rank requirement that players have to meet before they can be purchased. Ranks are in the game to help balance things out so Level 20 players aren't playing in matches versus Level 1 noobies. The Ranks increase in sets of four, so Rank 1 is Levels 1-4, Rank 2 is Levels 5-9, etc. up until Rank 5 which is Level 20 characters only. And as you may have guessed, lower level characters only have access to Rank 1 abilities that allow you to do normal things like reload a weapon while sprinting whereas a Rank 5 character can purchase class staple abilities like a Medic's Lazarus Grenade which revives any allies in its blast radius.
Take This Ammo, TAKE IT!
In Brink you can choose to be one of four classes: Soldier, Medic, Engineer, or Operative, all of which resemble classes in Valve's Team Fortress 2, a similar team based objective FPS title. However in Brink, each class can use any weapon. Plus, they all have different “buffs” they can use on allies. For example, a Medic can replenish their ally’s health and give them a speed boost, an Engineer can give weapon damage boosts and body armor buffs, and a Solider can repeatedly replenish allies’ ammo. As players familiarize themselves with this aspect of the game players who would once rush into a room and get owned by enemies now stop and let their teammates buff them first which adds an extra element of teamwork and coordination to Brink that I enjoy. Teamwork is essential for a fun multiplayer experience and a good team is balanced with different classes that not only complement one another through buffs but work together as well.
The Soldier is personally my favorite class and they are used to complete Destruction based objectives. They are your standard combat based class and have unlimited ammo which they can feed to allies. The Medic's main job is support and they're used in Escort Objectives. Medics can buff players’ health and revive on the fly, and are essential in any team matchups. Engineers are another support class and they're used for Build or Repair based Objectives. They can buff teammates damage as well as build objects like turrets and machine guns, and they're the only class that can defuse an Operative's hacking device or a Soldiers bomb plants. Operatives are the final class, they're the stealth class in Brink who are used in Hacking based Objectives. They can disguise themselves as the enemy and go behind enemy lines to find strategic flanks.
Weapons in Brink are broken down by type, but they're all usable by every class and all 24 of them are fully customizable. You can change each weapon’s top attachment, front attachment, bottom attachment, and magazine attachment, which you get through completing challenges and missions. Upgrading these attachments improve things like aim, give increased ammo, faster reload times, among a variety of other perks.
The weapons on the PC version feel pretty good and they all play differently. Knowing how to utilize the different perks and which gun to use in different situations adds a lot of depth to the game. Plus, unlike a lot of shooters Brink adds a life bar above enemies heads so you know exactly how much damage you’ve done to enemies and how close they are to death which is a nice touch.
Does This Gun Make Me Look Fat?
Another thing you can customize about your character is their body type. You can change your character’s body type anytime you're not in a mission or multiplayer match. The three body types are light, medium, and heavy. Light characters can only use light weapons, like light rifles and SMGs as primary weapons and pistols as secondary weapons. They have the least health but make up for it with their ridiculous mobility, allowing them to run faster and vault higher than any other body types.
Medium characters can use medium or light weapons as their primary weapons and light weapons or pistols as their secondary. They're the average body type, can run at a normal speed and can vault an average height compared to the light body type. Heavies are the only body type that can use all of the weapons and can exclusively use heavy weapons like the Gotlung Minigun or grenade launchers. They have the most health but move the slowest and are terrible at vaulting.
Playing With Others Is Fun, But Sliding In To Them Is Better
The competitive multiplayer in Brink is objective based and follows the game's campaign missions, but now you're playing with and against others. The defining feature in Brink's multiplayer is the S.M.A.R.T. (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) Parkour system, something that's completely innovative in a genre that is so often bogged down by monotony. The SMART system on the PC version of Brink isn’t just an easy sprint button like it is on console, timing and knowledge of the maps is essential if you want to fully utilize the system to its maximum potential.
Basically, the SMART system is a sprint mechanic which allows players to vault on to nearby objects so they can get to new places faster. Specifically, the light body type allows for innovative and unique maneuvers. A player who can fully utilize the speed boosts from wall-jumping, and understands the various ‘trick jumps’ spread throughout the Ark can gain a significant advantage over their uninitiated opponent. In competitive play, most pro players use the light body type to get around faster and evade enemies using the SMART system. Not only can you vault over objects with SMART but you can also slide under them or even into enemies knocking them over for a quick surprise.
In multiplayer all of your chosen abilities and customizable weapons come in to play. You choose whether you want to be on the Resistance or Security side and each faction has an objective that needs to be met. Sometimes you'll find yourself stuck in a multiplayer game with bots which isn't so great, but when you're up against actual people is when the real fun begins.
Positioning and movement is a huge component in Brink, and there are always ways to utilize strategic positions on the maps. That said, new players may find Brink’s difficulty curve extremely high at first as they won’t know the maps or understand how the objectives and different classes work. You can’t just jump in to Brink like you can other shooters. However, with a few hours under your belt and an understanding of the SMART system, character classes, as well as a general idea of the map objectives, the game’s flow becomes clearer. Different strats like knowing where to place a pivotal turret, or the back way to an objective, or the fact that grenades arc in Brink rather than fly really far becomes apparent with more experience and these gameplay mechanics change the pace of Brink from chaotic to strategic.
It’s More Fun Owning You and Your Friends
There are two game types for multiplayer: Objective and Stopwatch. In Objective mode one team is on offense while one team is on defense and both are trying to complete different primary and secondary objectives. Stopwatch mode on the other hand is the one that’s used in competition. It has one team play on offense and one play on defense, but once the map is finished the two teams will switch sides. The team who completes the missions in the best time wins.
Every map features a variety of main objectives, and depending on the map you'll either be playing as offense or defense. On Aquarium as Security, the first main objective is to destroy a door, an objective which must be completed by a Solider within 8 minutes. If successful, then you get to escort a hostage, who can only be revived using a Medic. If both objectives are met then Security wins the round; however, had we been playing as Resistance we'd have to defend the door first. If we succeeded with that, then the map would have finished right there and we wouldn't have had to stop the Security from escorting the hostage. All maps follow this general progression/objective based format and games can come down to mere seconds.
As of right now Level 20 is the max and it's fairly simple to unlock everything that Brink has to offer. If you're only in it for the single player experience and the unlockables, you're going to be a bit let down by the game. The extra challenges are tough but they don't offer much replayability. Where Brink on the PC really shines is the multiplayer.
The PC version is certainly not without its faults but where the console versions of Brink suffer from continued issues regarding both AI and gameplay, the PC version is constantly being patched almost every week by Splash Damage. The developers have already released two new patches for the PC version to help balance and tweak the overall gameplay that the console players still haven’t seen yet. In general if you’re a fan of fast paced, team based shooters with a heavy emphasis on teamwork and skill, Brink will be right up your alley.
Editor's Note: This review is for the PC version of Brink only. Click here to read our Brink 360/PS3 review.