Cian Hassett
24 May, 2011

Brink Review

360 Review | Creativity doesn't mean quality.
Brink arrived earlier this month and was, without trying to sound too unfair, a critical disaster. Having been in development for several years, the industry expected Brink to deliver a quality, revolutionary, team based shooter. What the industry didn’t realise, along with the general public, is that developer Splash Damage was trying to achieve an unobtainable goal. The idea of merging a solo campaign into a multiplayer world is a ground breaking thought, revealing potential and raising the bar for co-operative gameplay. As with every great idea, great execution is what really matters. In the case of Brink, although it does aim for enormous heights, crucial elements have been either ignored or poorly designed. The end result? Atrocious.

Players seeking a strong narrative will need to venture elsewhere. Brink plays out on ‘The Ark’, a man-made construction which has become an unsustainable environment. When population overtakes resources, you’re left with a chaotic scenario where the authorities are trying to establish order - unlike the bandits who are fighting for their freedom, left to rot by the government and fending for themselves. It’s a modern take on population growth and how a government grows distant from the people paying taxes. Brink rarely gets you emotionally tied, even when you discover that siblings are fighting on opposite sides. The complaint is with delivery. You have to choose whether you want to save The Ark or destroy it. Either way, Brink plays much the same in both campaigns. The story is used to link missions; presenting you with a short cut-scene, boring characters and insufficient motivation to believe that you’re fighting for a good cause. Brink skims over its own history and before we even begin discussing the gameplay, it has already failed to deliver an enjoyable solo experience.

How about I just stand here and look good, while you guys do all the work?

How about I just stand here and look good, while you guys do all the work?
The opening missions will tell you that Brink is a pure multiplayer game and nothing else. Levels are badly designed around objectives that you must attack or defend, mostly located in narrow spots which become bombarded with foes and don’t allow for the same tactical approach that you can find in Battlefield. Your best bet is to flank, throw a couple of weak grenades (seriously, there’s hardly a bang in sight) and hope that you can complete the objective before another wave of enemies spawn. Playing on your own is problematic not so much because of the rules, it’s because of some unbelievably poor AI. If you get knocked down and need to be revived, medics will often take too long to arrive or just not bother. Death returns you to a capture point and then you'll have to move back up to where the rest of your squad is. Your team will only push forward on the objective if they’re in a good mood, but they’ll usually ignore it and leave you to do nearly all of the work. Enemies fare just as badly, but the most frustrating thing of all is that your team doesn’t finish the job properly. Shooting enemies will cause them to drop, but they won’t be dead. Instead of killing them off, your team will walk away. In turn, this gives opposition medics a chance to get those soldiers back up. Clearing waves of enemies is repetitive enough without that sort of inefficiency.

It’s nice to see the objectives changing, and Brink is genuinely varied in that respect, but the gameplay really doesn’t support the concept when you’re playing with bots. However, play with a few friends and you get something entirely different... lag; lots and lots of lag. Brink is supposed to be able to handle servers of sixteen players, but it can’t. We’re not talking about bullet lag here, we’re talking about unplayable lag. Your character will teleport all over the place, you’ll become disorientated and you’ll end up quitting. Local connections are ok, if you can find them, but you may as well forget about playing with anyone outside of Oceania. Technology is at a stage where the internet has become so advanced, and speeds have become so fast, that lag on this scale shouldn’t happen. It’s not a fault with Telstra, it’s a fault with Brink and Brink alone. The game is failing itself. Bringing up Battlefield again will seem biased, but if DICE can get twenty-four players from every corner of the globe playing smoothly, then Splash Damage has no excuse. It’s another example of bad testing, and it's pathetic when you release a primarily online game in this kind of state.

Just spray and shoot, he can't keep lagging forever.

Just spray and shoot, he can't keep lagging forever.
Assuming that you can join a lag-free game, or stick with the diabolical bots, Brink’s structure is pretty decent. You can pick between four classes: soldier, medic, engineer, and operative. Each is unique and allows you to activate special abilities. For example; soldiers dish out ammo, medics throw out revive syringes, engineers increase weapon damage, and operatives disguise themselves as enemies. That sort of thing. So yeah, it’s Team Fortress 2 all over again. That’s not a complaint, more of a remark commenting on Brink’s lack of mechanical originality. But when the AI refuses to help, you'll have to go back and change your class depending on the objective, which breaks any sense of teamwork. Playing with friends is fun, but if you don’t have any, forget about Brink and play something else. It certainly has positives, although they are massively outweighed by negatives and general disappointments – the parkour being one of many.

An eye-catching element of Brink’s gameplay is the ability to dash, leap, and slide through the environment. To distinguish itself from alternative tactical shooters, Brink incorporates parkour movement alongside solid shooting. The latter works well, borrowing much of its control from superior products, but it’s still above average. The former, i.e. the supposedly original bit, is another area of poor execution. Holding down ‘A’ means that your character will automatically move along surfaces with speed. It sounds cool in theory, not so much in practice. Certain objects can’t be interacted with, and to be perfectly honest, it’s just a waste of time. You can easily succeed without parkour which is a relief. Sure, you can slide (very slowly) along the ground and pull off a stylish kill, but why bother unless you’re trying to complete challenges? Brink plays better without trying to be Mirror’s Edge, and Splash Damage really should have concentrated on the basics before trying something new.

Run away...or be a man and return fire.

Run away...or be a man and return fire.

In fear of sounding too harsh, Brink does a couple of things right, particularly with character progression. Experience is gained by playing objectively, it’s encouraged and rightly so. Play the game properly and you’ll reap the rewards, easy. The highlight of Brink is customisation, it’s something that it pushes to the max and players can create a truly unique model. The art style as a whole is beautiful, but the characters are the main visual treat. You can edit so many different aspects of your virtual self, and nine times out of ten, you’re going to look extremely cool and brutally bad-ass. The custom fun also stretches beyond attire and lets you manipulate weapons, so the combinations are almost endless. As expected, you’ll unlock more with commitment so the dedicated will look increasingly impressive. This is good artistic design, in terms of the human anatomy at least, because the visuals are forgettable when you’re inside The Ark. Textures are muddy beyond belief; nothing is crisp especially when you’ve just left a sleek, minimalistic menu system. Brink is also quite dull in places, Splash Damage must have an obsession with blue and grey.

Compensating for graphical bleakness was always going to be a struggle, so thankfully Brink sounds good. Weapons have a nice kick to them and when you’re playing with headphones, the sound of bullets and madness echo just as loudly as its competitors. You mightn’t be able to appreciate the quality because of the aforementioned distractions and whatnot, but it’s there and it’s important. The voice actors are weary, which doesn’t matter in the slightest because if you have any common sense you’ll be doing something else during the story cut-scenes. Screams on the battlefield are varied to the point of incomprehensibility at times, but we’re willing to let that slide as a result of Brink actually getting something right for a change.

Fare thee well, you won't be missed.

Fare thee well, you won't be missed.
Longevity is going to be a concern or a relief, depending on how the gameplay tickles you. Brink is very short on content with only a dozen or so core missions to complete. Each campaign will only take a few hours to finish off, so then you’re left with challenges and custom matches where you can replay missions with different rules. If you’re not enjoying Brink, then its brevity will be greatly appreciated. If you somehow find Brink to be the best shooter you’ve ever played, the lack of depth will be a big issue. New downloadable content is coming, but how many people will stay for it? Probably not a lot. Brink is quite bizarre and we haven't been able to talk about the matchmaking system, or lack thereof. You can't even set up lobbies so the whole process of playing with friends, the only semi-fun way to play Brink, is a shambles. It's like taking half of a step in the right direction, followed by a double back-flip and tripping over on your shoelaces.

Brink is brimming with great ideas, most of which have been implemented terribly, making it a difficult game to score. On the one hand, you have creativity; on the other, you have the broken debris of a game that could, and should have been significantly better. Think logically - you have a multiplayer game squeezed into a bland solo experience, therefore Brink is not a success story. That disappointment turns into irreconcilable sadness when you realise that Brink is frequently unplayable online, leaving you with nothing. Even if all of the above was fixed, the gameplay would still be repetitive so stick with what you have unless you're desperate for a new shooter. Our experience with Brink left us feeling unsatisfied, frustrated, shocked at the basic fundamental errors, pondering about the wasted potential, and lagging through the Atlantic. Sadly, it’s a flop of immense proportions and will be remembered as a failed experiment.
The Score
Unforgivable mistakes leave Brink sitting alone in the corner crying, thinking about where it all went wrong.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Brink Content

New Brink trailer
06 Apr, 2011 Ready and Able.
Look inside the making of Brink
08 Sep, 2010 Minds on the Brink.
Brink's style explained
01 Sep, 2010 Endless Horizon.
2 years ago
The bots are pretty rubbish - a few times now in the challenges I've seen a lone operative disguise itself as me... when I'm the only member of the opposite team. SUPER EFFECTIVE!

Not encountered any lag yet, thankfully, and I quite enjoy the art style of the game. Think it deserves much higher score than 4.5, and hopefully after a few more patches the game will reach a better standard. There's a lot of work needs to be done before then, though.

If they have any plans of keeping this going and supporting the title, then some serious map tweaks in the vein of Valve/Bungies work heatmapping and working off masses of collated use data is crucial IMO.
2 years ago
So sick of developers being pushed into providing a Solo experience when it clearly doesn't need one. (This game for example, along with the upcoming BF3, a single player campaign purely to please console players).

This game has much more promise on the PC, reviewing the console version of this game is damn near pointless. I've had some great games online so far, only thing hindering it is the bugs and the AMD video card issue, once we get a hefty patch from both splash damage and AMD I'll be jumping right in.
2 years ago
So sick of developers being pushed into providing a Solo experience when it clearly doesn't need one.
they saw what happened to shadowrun, which i played a lot of, on console.
2 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Think it deserves much higher score than 4.5
It would have gotten a higher score if it worked. I have no intention of making excuses for developers who release a broken game, especially when there's money involved. If I'm paying for a game with online functionality, I expect to be playing it ONLINE. God knows they had enough years to fix it.

I can understand how the score might seem questionable, but that's my approach and it won't be changing any time soon. Somebody needs to send a message. What annoys me the most is that I really wanted Brink to work, I wanted to love it...but it's just a mess. Sad face.
2 years ago
sebconn wrote
So sick of developers being pushed into providing a Solo experience when it clearly doesn't need one. (This game for example, along with the upcoming BF3, a single player campaign purely to please console players).
I disagree with this, sometimes a break from competitive side of Multiplayer matches is what I enjoy. I'm sure some PC players would agree. But yeah, I would much rather a developer create a Single Player campaign to appeal to more people, rather then have them dumb down the game or turn the game into something it isn't, like Splinter Cell Conviction or Rayman.
2 years ago
i watched all of the developers diaries on XBox live and i could see that they wernt confident about the game. and after playing it, yeah it was pretty horrible as a package. perhaps they will do better next time.
2 years ago
Cian wrote
Somebody needs to send a message.
As long as you are rating the games on your honest opinion and not just marking games down to send a message, I support your score.

However, your comment does make it sound a bit like you are deliberately marking the game dow to make a point, which would be a bit irresponsible and unfair.

I'll assume you didn't mean it that way though and your score is a reflection of your honest opinion. Grandstanding is best left to the uneducated masses who post in the metacritic and ign user scores.
2 years ago
Well i think it is great that we are finally moving away from 7's all round, if a game is crap, mark it accordingly...so many 7's
2 years ago
It's such a shame though, this game really shouldn't be crap - and it very nearly isn't, but there are too many stumbling points to quite make it there.

2 years ago
Five is average. If the game is above average, it goes above a five. If the game is below average, it goes under. If Cian genuinely feels, from his play experience, that Brink is below average in quality, then it is marked accordingly. If a game is above average, though not without its share of notable flaws, then a seven is suitable.

As long as we're not handing out 10's like candy, and dishonestly marking games below average, we're doing swell.
2 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Cian wrote
Somebody needs to send a message.
As long as you are rating the games on your honest opinion and not just marking games down to send a message, I support your score.

However, your comment does make it sound a bit like you are deliberately marking the game dow to make a point, which would be a bit irresponsible and unfair.

I'll assume you didn't mean it that way though and your score is a reflection of your honest opinion. Grandstanding is best left to the uneducated masses who post in the metacritic and ign user scores.
You're right, it was more of a general comment than anything else. Way too many average games scoring highly these days, Black Ops being a great example. The number I put at the end will always represent my experience with the game, and since Brink is complete arse both technically and mechanically, I felt that is was below average...but only just. I'll give a good score to a good game, not a broken one.
2 years ago
I totally agree. Looking at Brink's meta score (which is dangerous in itself) you see a 70 out of 100 game (or whatever it is now). I see that as representing a pretty decent, functioning and fairly fun game without too many bugs. Of course, some of the individual reviews are much higher and lower for each reviewer. I think that's the danger of the combined meta score is that it can artificially inflate an average game into a score range that looks pretty good.

Jarrod makes an interesting point about 5 being the average, because while that's true in theory, a lot of people see a 5 differently because of meta and other scores in our lives which are subjected to a bell curve. To me, a 5 is a fail because it's below what I see as the "average" for a game to be decent fun. If a game doesn't score at least 7s (and more likely 8s and 9s) I simply won't play it. I see 6 as the first level of failure and 7 as a minor pass for a genre I like.

Unfortunately, I think many reviewers now use their scores in a similar fashion, where 6s are seen as failures and 7s are seen as minor passes.

Anyway, keep up the good work in scoring games what you think they are worth.
2 years ago
You are correct, and it's a glaring problem with most reviewers. They rate games on a 'high five' scale, rarely or simply never using below five as they dont consider five to be 'average'.

Personally, I ignore that, along with the metacritic scale, and try to adopt the full 10 point scale to my reviews. Fortunately I've yet to review a truly bad game. Conduit 2 was the worst, and it was just plain average on all fronts, hence the 5.5 I gave it.

As a reviewer, I think it is important to try and keep honest to the scale you're using and not conform to the metacritic norm, even if this is one that most people obsess over. If people are going to look at my 6.5 for Epic Mickey and assume the game is terrible and below average, then that is their problem, for not reading the text and for refusing to understand the rating policy PALGN has advertised.

Personal rankings are fine, but if I'm given a 10 point scale, I'm going to use a 10 point scale, where 5 is considered average.

It is a shame that most places refuse to do this.
2 years ago
There's a reason though - pressure. People have even been allegedly sacked over low reviews. That's why most have chosen the higher baseline.
2 years ago
I know this, and it's terrible. I'm simply stating that, for me, I refuse to be dishonest with my reviews. There's nothing worse than a journalist selling out, except one that reviews with an agenda, projecting their bias through their writing.

I'd quite happily lose the right to write than give an artificial score influenced by the public, or a publisher, and I say this knowing full well that I have the luxury of freedom of speech, thanks to the way PALGN operates and my position on the team.
2 years ago
Cian, stick to your guns (and you too Jarrod), it's a well versed and explained review; 4.5 is a generous score. If I bought it, I would've taken it back.
2 years ago
Jarrod wrote
I'd quite happily lose the right to write than give an artificial score influenced by the public, or a publisher, and I say this knowing full well that I have the luxury of freedom of speech
Bravo!!! Integrity and honesty are the only ways to start seeing more quality games being released.

How did the great comedian Bill Hicks put it?..
"They are demons set loose on the earth to lower the standards". (or something to that effect)

Im sure everyone is becoming more aware that there are influences in the gaming industry that resemble that role.
So keep up the great work Cian and Jarrod! icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
The only reason I look at this site is for the honest reviews and realistic scores. Keep it up.
2 years ago
TBH i thought the 4.5 was disappointing, however i appreciate now after reading the comments posted here by jarrod and cian. owning the game and playing it for a while i would give it an 8, initally, but having played more and more im more inclined to give it a 6.

However, i have not played it on 360, only PC, so we're not commentating on the same product, only the title of the game. For whats broken and should not have been sold as is on 360, was quite a lot better on pc. An xbox game, u expect to put the disc in and play. It SHOULDNT be broken from the get go. sure they CAN patch it, but what about the consoles that arent online? Or without a hdd? a pc has a hdd and is more than likely online, but has it own problems. badly coded driver association (i suffer the nvidia opengl error, and ive recently read that a sub $150 performs better than my $600 480gtx as the 480 gtx simply doesnt handle brink well. But the netcode works properly, u can surf servers by ping etc etc and theres dedicated servers. So whilst its broken in parts elsewhere, its working in others.

In conclusion id give it 8 (the pc version) if it worked error free. since it doesnt it gets a 6. it maybe fun eventually.

but heres the kicker. etqw, splash damages previous game, was almost exactly the same class based objective based gameplay, on large maps with vehicles. and it failed. because splash damage took 5 patches (the final one, 1.5, being 2 gigs large) to make it playable and fun, and by that time it was dead. also, splash damage have this bizarre idea that people that play on pubs will always work together to do an objective. quake wars was needlessly complicated, and only enjoyed by a select few who came to grips with the game.

i feel the same fate awaits brink, which is almost exactly the same. As it stands on its own right now it deserves a 6, but as its come after etwolf and etqw and theyve learnt very little about anything, i will not hold my breath for the next splash damage game.

2 years ago
Jarrod wrote
I refuse to be dishonest with my reviews.
Right on brudda.

My scores aren't the most popular but they sure as hell aren't bought by publishers. I know that I can be controversial with big names...Medal of Honor, FIFA 11...but if you read the text as opposed to the final line, you'll see how I justify my opinion.

FIFA 11 is probably the best example. I'm not trying to sound arrogant, but I haven't read a review as good as mine. The mass media will just play a couple of games and judge the product on, maybe, two hours of hands-on time because it's just a standard annual update. Whereas I got stuck right into it and picked out all of the flaws, and even at 7.5, it's still the lowest score out there. I really do wonder about what goes on in the big bad commercial world of video game reviews...

I'll be the first to admit that a couple of my scores should have been 0.5 higher or lower, but for as long as I'm writing here, I will never ever ever give a dishonest review. If you don't like it, run over and cry about it on Gamespot or IGN.
2 years ago
^Amen to that. Honesty is key with reviews and it's great we have so many writers that are purely honest about their experiences with games and what's good and bad about them. If something pisses us off, we'll be vocal about it.

And on the other end, if something makes us hnng, we hnng all over it.

Feels good man. Anyway yeah, I'm still put off by this game because of that whole casual thing, but after people quelled my hardcore gamer rage by telling me it's an option, it jumped on my radar again, albeit briefly. Then I heard about the bugs and poor feel and eh, down the gutter again.

I honestly don't understand why it's so hard for devs to create a balanced and efficient MP FPS. I think a lot of it is based on focusing too much on the rewards and quantity aspects rather than the quality and balance. It's the main issue I find with most modern MP FPS games, where they'll have an arseload of features all over the place, but it'd be imba as s**t.

There goes my cynical FPS dude guy again.

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Australian Release Date:
  19/05/2011 (Confirmed)
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