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Brink Review - A Little C4 Knocking At Your Door!

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Updated Wed, May 18, 2011 by Stow

Splash Damage struck gold back in 2003 with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.  It was a super fast paced teamplay shooter that emphasized objectives over frags, deception over headlong charges, and had a goddamn sweet looking flamethrower.   With the game both being pretty damn awesome AND free to download and play, it created quite a following. 

The follow-up, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was a commercial attempt at a sequel to the formula.  It retained the critically acclaimed gameplay, while mixing things up with radically different sides and aircraft.   While the reception from editors and reviewers was positive, the community felt otherwise and it never caught on to the same degree.


In Brink, you spend your time fighting the enemy, not the environment.  The advanced SMART system enables sweet movement and scaling of objects with little to no input on your part.

Now Splash Damage’s newest foray into team shooters  is back and sporting more of the same.  You’ve got classes, you’ve got objectives, and you’ve got a team between you and said objectives that you need to mow down.  This time around we’ve got an original setting focusing around good guys and bad guys, with a passable story and challenge maps to test your mettle when your friends aren’t around.

Does a fresh coat of paint help restore the luster of Splash Damage’s wonderful formula?  Or does this title send you to the brink of madness instead?

Cautions

Brink is rated T for Teen, with cautions for Language, Blood, and Violence. None of these are all that offensive (especially compared to the other vulgar games in the genre!) so this should be safe for anyone who is playing shooters already.

Gameplay

75Pretty Good

Because everyone loves playing dress-up apparently, even Splash Damage has given in and established a character creator for the game.  You can create multiple types of bodies once you’ve gained some in-game experience, and these actually have a slight impact on gameplay via speed and endurance.  No female characters can be created which might miff some fans of freedom.

Once that’s done, you have your typical array of weapons and unlockables via experience, and special abilities that can be purchased for each class as you level up.  These range from extra ammo capacity for special abilities, to a variety of turrets for the Engineer class.  Speaking of classes, there are four of them, each being fairly explanatory.  They are the Soldier, Medic, Engineer, and Operative.  Each class has specific objectives that only they can interact with, so it’s important to have a good mix or some objectives are downright impossible!


Teamplay is downright essential.  You're completely immobile and unarmed when disarming or dismantling objectives, so cover your Engineers!

Single and Multiplayer maps and objectives are almost all the same, and involve objective capture, escort, and destruction, often multiple types all in the same mission.  If you’re playing alone, the Bots are fairly good at covering you and using their special abilities to support the attack.   Objectives are often approachable from above, below, and the sides, which requires a lot of running, or liberal use of the SMART system.

Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain, or SMART, is Brink’s coolest feature.  Anytime you’re moving towards objects, terrain, or trying to get over or under things, it’s all done automatically with the push of a button. This can lead to some epic escapes and entrances, and above all else it’s a hell of a lot cooler than just having crouching, prone, and standing as your options for movement.


Don't be afraid to circle around or approach from a different angle.  The terrain in Brink is hardly an obstacle to your mobility, and can often aid you to reach places you'd never

Challenge maps exist as well, that give you special objectives and seemingly insurmountable tasks.  These are well worth the risk though, as they unlock the majority of the weapons and accessories for said weapons.   You can also set special objectives and go through the campaign again in any way you prefer in Free Play.  Even if you’re alone, you’ll have a good time with Brink.

Or so I’d like to say.  Despite all of the variety and the SMART System, some guns and skills just plain suck.  The radius of grenade explosions is pathetic.  The ‘supply’ system of using special abilities takes forever to recharge, and I ended up killing myself a few times just to have access to more skills than your average Counterstrike player.  In the end, Brink could have greatly benefitted from a beta that helped point these glaring flaws out and give the game some more polish.

Graphics

70OkayWhile the characters are well designed and have plenty of detail to them, and the environments are no slouch…. The game just feels lacking in motion. Something is missing from the magical graphical formula, and the frame rate takes a hit as a result. My rig is nothing compared to some of yours, packing a Q6600 quad-core with a Radeon 4870 HD 1GB, but it generally runs everything on high or very high effortlessly lately. For what I’m seeing in-game, the graphical settings and required horsepower under the hood are silly. 30 FPS might be acceptable for other genres, but it's hardly any way to play a fast shooter.

Sound

60Below AverageWeapons are loud, but some of the sub machine guns sound like rattling tin cans instead of powerful close combat weapons. The musical score is shallow as to be expected from most games in the genre. Your allies and voice commands are adequate at best, so no real emotion carries through the voices sadly. Sound can normally do a lot for a game, but Brink’s sound almost detracts from it.

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