The latest console shooter Brink asks you if you will save the arc or escape it? However we want to find out if you should save your money or embrace it?
Brink begins with an interesting question, "do you want to saving the arc, or escape from it?" Followed up by a brief background clip, you will have to pick a side even before you get to pull a trigger. The only predicament here, you really don't know enough about either side to make that moral decision. Depending on your preference of playing the good or bad guys you might want to analyze the decision. However, it doesn't matter because you can flip-flop at anytime. Therefore the entire opening that showed promise turns out to be oddly redundant. It's like Brink had an idea, shaped it, then failed to make the choice impact the game beyond the obvious, you shoot me or I shoot you.
Moving on, my initial choice was to “Escape the Arc,” a decision I made on the prologue video that showed the collapse of the Arcs' utopia. Sure, the divergent story of the Resistance vs. the Security might interest some, but for most, it's going to be quick snap of the skip button. Unlike a game like 'M.A.G.' where you fetal choice matters, Brink seems to have failed on making a narrative connection.
Character creation is a big one for Brink, and for a shooter it is respectably deep. Ingeniously put together the creation tools are cosmetically appealing and uncomplicated to use, it's so well made that I hope other games "borrow" some of ideas. The choices are all broken down to "the ..." and your selection. Starting with the “Archetype” you will see generic names like “The Look” - “The Chin” - “The Smooth” - “The Young” etc. that progresses throughout the entire game. It's a clever system that gets you quickly rolling as you go deeper into the robust customization. This immediately makes Brink stand out against all the other faceless heroes the seem to populate modern shooters. By default some of the options are locked, so it gives you some incentive to stick with Brink for the long haul.
Brink doesn't stop there, as you play the game and earn that XP you will be ability to switch up your character past cosmetics. Specialization is important factor to keep in mind when you are weaving your capabilities. Again, another plethora of customizing are present. From Universal abilities from “Grenade Shooting” to “Silent Running,” each choice/perk are notable difference makers. While Brink still has room to grow, the selections are grand in scale and live up to our preconceived expectations.
Weapons work on the same principal as the other aspects of customization. However, before unlocked customization is limited. When you reach the point when weapons start unlocking, Brink vaults into another level of play. From the front, bottom, top and magazine attachment, weapons customizing is just as interesting as your players look. Helping the player along, the objectives to unlocked each attachment is clearly mapped so there is no mystery. The only negative here would be the generic style of the weapons.
Lastly for customization, I would like to touch base on the three available body types that you can switch among; Light, Medium, and Heavy. Each setting factors into how your character moves and what they can carry. Light classes have less hit points (120) but can wall jump higher because they are quicker. Medium builds are in the middle with the main benefit of being able to carry heavier weapons than the Light figure. Finally the Heavyweight has the most hit points (180) and can carry heavy assault weapons. Of course this body types downfall is maneuverability. The heavy character cannot climb by jumping and is considerably slower. Having your players build affect your in-game results is an interesting idea that is usually passed over in other titles. It definitely helps to mix things up and make Brink even more customizable. Thankfully this complex system is efficiently streamlined, and while it might sound like allot, it is really easy to get into the mix and change up your character. For customization Brink wins; other shooters, this is how you do it.
To the actual gameplay, Brink can be played in three different ways. Challenges, Free Play and Campaign. Each section is similar to one another with a few differences. At its core it's a first-person shooter in the vein of more co-op style shooters like 'Team Fortress.' Each selection is a slight variation, which is nothing you haven't seen before in a class based shooter. When pumping Brink can be exhilarating, but when I sat down to dig in a for a night, Brink had to fight to hold my interest. Being reviewed before its release, the community isn't built, but still when I compared my first plays with other online based shooters... Brink falls short. A fate the also bestowed on the developers earlier work with 'Enemy Territory Quake Wars.' 'Quake Wars' wasn't bad either, it's mojo just wasn't right to launch it into upper echelon of online shooters.
Similar to the way 'Quake Wars,' Brink puts a heavy emphasis on team play. The "Lone Wolf" can still make it, if they are effective player, but things really go right when everyone is clamoured together working as a team. Each map is filled with several objectives from repairing core objectives to hacking computers that are class specialist. Classes can be switched at any time. However, you'll likely fall into a few specialties because of the upgrade method. This immediately pushes Brink into the more hardcore shooter market. Although I wouldn't call Brink overly complex, there is a slight learning curve to deal with.
Interesting enough, Brink is primary an online shooter, but one that doesn't need to be always played online thanks to availability of bots. You can play the entire game without the input of other humans, but like anything, human players offer up way more of a challenge then bots do. Surprisingly the bots do a good job recreating the acts of human player as they try their best to complete objectives and use their upgraded abilities. The only element they are missing is that “out-of-the-box” thinking, a direction creative gamers always seem to go.
I haven't talked about the classes yet, so lets give that ago. There are four classes that are all fully customizable are the medic, engineer, soldiers, and operative. Each class is broken down to duties that you probably already gather. The medic heals, the engineer fixes and build things, the solider handles the demolitions and grunt work and the operative is the spy character who can even dress up like the enemy. Each class has its role to play and no one class seems to out balance the other. It's all depended on the map/objectives in each round. Whatever needs to be done, that's probably the class you want to be. While I stuck with improving two main classes, over a few weeks/months, you should be able to make an efficient jack-of-all-trades.
The final element to Brink is the S.M.A.R.T. (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) movement. A parkour addition to the game that allows you to sprint, climb and vault through the environments. Building up speed and making the right moves is important, although you don't need to be overly precise because the system gives you some leeway. Adding a parkour element to the shooter really works and helps not only to give Brink a unique aspect, but broadens the gameplay by allowing you to traverse the landscape more freely. Not everyone is utilizing this at the beginning so you quick runners will have an advantage.
Brink is a fairly ambitious shooter that embraces online objective warfare. While you can fight bots and run through the campaign in a weekend, you want to online for the long haul. With that, Brink has a certain amount of appeal with its deep customization and its parkour vaulting. However, Brink isn't going to be for everyone. Subjectively, I enjoyed my time with Brink, although it's not something I would want to return to on a daily basis. The “wow” factor simply wasn't present and even with all its diversities, its momentum fizzled out quick. That being said, the online playground is a diverse path that no one gamer fits into, so if treading the waters and building up a solid roster of characters sounds appealing then Brink could be the alternative shooter you've been waiting for.