The Gameplay, or: TF2’s lawyers called and they’re threatening to sue.
At this point in our collective gaming lives, we know what to expect from an online shooter. Namely, that we’ll get to pick what team to play on, that the game will provide us with several different classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and that whiny little adolescents across the globe will soon be filling the chat box with cries of “Camper!” and “That guy’s cheating!” and the ever popular “lolololololowtfpwnbbq!” Or some such. I’m old and not up on the lingo as I used to be. You kids are still playing on your 386 processors, right? (Cue message board outrage in 3…2…1…)
Once you’ve chosen a side, which makes little to no difference in the long run, you’re presented with a bevy of options for customizing your online avatar. Everything from headgear on down to your boots can be modified or painted to something more your style.
To its credit, Brink does have a robust character customization system in place, even if these items are little more than cosmetic changes. In addition to your standard classes (soldier, medic, engineer, operative), Brink let’s you choose a body type. The bigger the body, the heavier the weapons you can carry. Picking the smaller body type, with its increased speed and maneuverability, is the same thing as picking the Scout in Team Fortress 2. Similarly, going with the biggest body gives you access to chain gun like weapons, nicely mimicking TF2’s Heavy. The Medic class is self-explanatory in any game. And the Operative likes to, surprise!, take the costume of a slain player and go wreck some stealthy carnage inside the enemy’s camp. Sound familiar?
So Brink doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel. Its only minor addition to the venerable genre of online shooters is a Parkour mechanic that probably sounded a lot cooler in concept than it actually is. In theory, the ability to use Parkour-style movements allows your character to move about the game environment with greater ease than previously possible. What it really means is that instead of pressing the space bar to jump over a railing, you press the key and get to watch an animated hand leap out to grab the handrail as you fling yourself over it. PARKOUR! Well, not really. All it means is that the simple act of jumping now takes twice as long. If the game designers had created maps that took full advantage of the ability to jump to hard to reach spaces, or had created narrow niches that allowed you to set unexpected ambushes, the inclusion of this mechanic would have been warranted. As it stands, Parkour is just a fetching buzz word to slap on the game box.
Shooters live and die by their weaponry. We all have fond memories of Quake II’s railgun. Duke Nukem’s shrink ray. Gears Of War’s Hammer Of Dawn FTW. Or the grand-daddy of them all: Doom’s BFG. If you’re going to play a game where turning people into meaty giblets is an acceptable passtime, you’re no doubt hoping the game awes you when it comes to the boom-boom. Well, prepare to be underawed! (Yeah, it’s a word I just made up, shut up.)
While Brink does feature dozens of available orphan-makers in the usual categories (pistol, shotgun, rifle, heavy machine gun, various saundry things that go boom and generally ruin your day) you’ll be disappointed to find that there’s very little to differentiate one firearm from the next. Each weapon has stats such as ammo capacity, reloading speed and accuracy but there’s no overwhelming desire to wield, say, one shotgun over another. Each gun can kill your enemy just as easily as any other, there is no powerful weapon that can turn a match in your favor or uber gun to elicit tears and weepy begging from the opposition when its brought into play. Also, despite a futuristic setting, Brink couldn’t be bothered to come out with some wild way-out-there sci-fi weaponry. You’ll be spewing out bullets, period.
There will be no rocket trails in the sky. No members of the opposing team running around on fire. No sweaty palms as you try to figure out if an opposing team member left you a bouquet of shrapnel grenades on the other side of that doorway. Yes, Brink does feature the ability to create turrets and lay down some satchel charges but… its so been there, done that. Bethesda claims that “players can create a total of 102 quadrillion unique character combinations” using the game’s class, clothing and weapon systems. Impressive. Unless they’re all essentially one and the same. The shadow of TF2 rears it’s head yet again and therein lies Brink’s biggest failing. It’s a copy of a much better game and something truly special simply got lost in the translation.
Choosing Brink over a better product like TF2 and the ageless multiplayer of any random Call Of Duty you care to name is a bit like choosing the prom queen’s older, more homely sister. Sure, they look kinda the same, and she’ll put out something fierce to get your attention but really, why settle for second best?
The Verdict: [rating:2]
If you just want to dip your toes into this whole “online shooter” phenomenon all the cool kids are raving about, you could do a lot worse than Brink. As an intro to the genre, it does allright. Just be aware that there are better and wilder games available on the market.
Your humble reviewer,
PS: Just looked up Patrick on Facebook. He’s not fat. He’s studly. He’s got a supermodel wife and 2 kids who adore to hell out of him.
Clearly, he must die…