Brink got screwed, there I said it, this game deserved hype, love and money, but it got nothing. I’ve tried my hand at many online shooters, some I’ve done well at, some just caressed my hair and told me they loved me whilst setting fire to my possessions. While I was unemployed a couple of years back I go more than a little bit into World of Warcraft, it was probably a psychological thing of me having nothing in my life at the time but being able to be someone in WoW blah blah blah, since then I haven’t really subscribed to anything that’s Online Only. That is until I picked up a game that I thought may be a bit like Mirror’s Edge (Which you can read here on how I’m in love with), that games was Brink.
Brink was a class based shooter that tried to bring some new elements to the quite diluted genre. The first thing that Splash Damage, its developers, brought in was a story. Games like Team Fortress 2 and Counter strike rely heavily on the lack of need for story in their games. Characters are there to be shot and that’s it. Brink flipped this and decided to connect all it’s maps with an over arching story explaining why you’re in a certain location. The basic premise was you had the rebellion and the security. Each was trying to work towards a better tomorrow in this dystopian future where the only place safe to live is on floating land masses. The poor use shipping containers for their slums whilst the rich and entitled inhabit grand living areas. Each side have their leaders and their wants of either blowing up the world or saving their homes, and oddly each is just in their actions, this produces a great experience as neither side is really the bad guy. Sure the resistance dressed like they were heading off to an Insane Clown Posse gig or rejected extras from Mad Max but they reasoning was still good enough to make them feel like underdogs.
As well as a story Brink added a couple of other elements, a number of items of clothing and accessories to personalise your character and free running. This is where my Mirror’s Edge comparison mainly came in, I loved the Mirror’s Edge running up walls and kicking people in the face, and whilst it wasn’t to the same level Brink’s SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) was a real joy to use. When building your character you are given the option of making them light, medium or heavy, this basically changes how much damage you can take before death and also affects your leap and slide abilities. I loved this, whenever you have objectives in an online shooter, be it Halo, Brink or even something like Fat Princess I tend to find that every other player seems more content with just killing each other than completing an objective. This has always effected the way I play objective based team shooters. In Brink I made my character light weight and just sprinted. Quite often team mates and enemies were so occupied in thinking it was simply a death match, that you can hot tail it to the target and complete whatever inane task you’ve been set.
Brink got middle of the road reviews, most going for a 40-60% angle, and this is all down to Bethesda and Splash Damage. They delayed the game repeatedly and then shipped it out a week early, for no logical reason. And then people played it, with its texture issues, draw distance, connectivity problems, lag and a number of other issues the game just wasn’t ready to be released.
A few weeks after release, and 2 or 3 patches, the game was more than playable and good fun, but that initial bitter taste in reviewers mouths had already done its damage. The game didn’t sell well at all, even now if you go into Game or CEX you can pick up a copy for just a couple of pounds. The community isn’t there anymore, but if you’re happy with AI Bots then do yourself a favour and give this a go. Splash Damage has moved onto PC now and is releasing a team based shooter set in London, it looks interesting, but as always it’s just easier to play games on console, there’s no worries of specs being an issue and forking out a fortune on hardware. All of the complaints were valid from journalists, but if Bethesda and Splash Damage had just held out another couple of months they could have released a game that was ready for launch and easily picked up far improved scores and the masses would have lapped it up.
I’ve never played an online shooter as much as I played Brink. My brother and I played over Xbox Live constantly for a few months. I can honestly say I’ve only had one or two other games that validated online gaming as much as Brink. GTA IV with its free roam Sandbox and World of Warcraft with its addictive equivalence of crack (I’ve been clean 3 years now). Brink was a game that I put time into and my bother and I rarely lost a match and were always at the top of the score board, it’s a shame, and typical of my life, that the time I show true skill and ability in something no one was around to see it.