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Brink Review (Xbox 360)

by on May 10, 2011
 

Looking to change the landscape of online multiplayer shooters, Brink makes a lot of early promises that both excite and ultimately fails to deliver on.

The game takes place in the near future and tells the story of the struggle between the Resistance and Security factions in a floating city called the Ark that has become overpopulated.  The game’s story is split into eight missions per side and players will get the chance to play for either for the Security or Resistance from the start to essentially get both sides of the story.

Blurring the lines between online and offline play, Brink’s story can be played either solo, co-op (players are all on the same side) or full-on multiplayer where sides can be mixed up among players.  There are settings before jumping into the campaign in which players can decide if they want to go alone, or if friends or even random players can jump into the action.  The game will then populate itself with bots, and the only way to know what kind of players are in the game (bot or real) is to look at the leaderboard – real players will have a meter for latency.

Unfortunately playing with more than a few real players causes some major, game breaking issues.  While the development team noted that there were some existing network issues and promised a Launch Day patch, the truth of the matter is that the patch doesn’t seem to fix a thing as it relates to the network.  I purposely waited until the patch was released to finish this review to make sure I gave the game a chance to improve.  Sadly, playing with 4 real players online, I came across plenty of lag, consistent rubber banding and popping that made multiplayer virtually unplayable.  It’s disappointing, especially when you consider that this game is meant for multiplayer.  Sure the missions are the same when playing solo but this game screams teamwork and having to rely on bots solely to make the game playable is frustrating.

Speaking of frustrations, playing with bots can be just as frustrating with other points.  A.I. does refill your ammo and bring you back to life when you’re down but there is no way to actually communicate with them, so if you’re hoping to achieve a different objective during a match, you’re out of luck.  Fortunately most of the A.I. is in agreement with one objective at a time but it’s still a pain to have to follow the same paths every time out.  Level designs also hamper the experience.  Playing through the story mode, I found many of the objectives to be extremely hard even when playing on the easier modes.  It’s not that I’m a terrible FPS player, trust me, I’m not, but the objective are always at the same point in the maps and the positioning seems to be at a bottleneck – meaning for instance that there’s usually just one way to get to a point such as when it’s necessary to hack into a computer.  Likewise, most of the time, players will find the opposing team bunched up at the same area of the map which makes it extremely difficult to break through.  In one particular match, my team was trying to get access to a command post but with the opposing team all standing in front of it, it became a firefight, which led to being in the same position over and over again.  That there is only one spawn point doesn’t help matters either.

During the campaign, objectives can be accomplished by specific classes, with Engineer, Medic, Operative and Soldier being the four options. Soldiers can blow up gates and resupply ammo, Medics can heal, Engineers can build turrets and buff weapons while Operatives can hack into computers and disguise themselves as the enemy, to name a few abilities.  While it’s nice to have some differences between the classes, unfortunately players will be stuck having to use one or the other to complete missions, which makes it tough to stick to a favorite class.

The game’s S.M.A.R.T. feature which allows players to traverse ledges, walls and other environmental areas is a cool addition, making it easy to complete such feats but the level designs don’t make enough use of it.

To put it simply, Brink tries to be unique and add a little something new to the genre, but unfortunately, bad level design, serious networking issues and subpar storytelling, keep this game from shining.

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