Stepping Back From The Brink

Splash Damage and Bethesda need to work on first impressions.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: June 13, 2011
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I'm not going to lie. After the first week of playing Brink, I was sure the title of this review was going to be "Brink? More Like Stink!", much to my chagrin. However, after spending a little bit more time with the game, it started to click, and my stance on it softened a bit. Yes, there is no question Brink is not, as my esteemed colleague Paji said so long ago. "Game Of The Year 2010." Nor, sadly, will it likely even garner a nod to be included on the shortlist for GOTY 2011. It isn't as bad as the awful first impression leaves either.

Brink purports to let you play single player, co-op, or full on multiplayer, but don't be deceived. There are all the exact same game with varying amounts of bots. Alas, the bots are pure rubbish, meaning that the amount of fun in the game is inversely proportional to the number of bots you play with. If you don't have friends to play with and don't like gaming online, skip right over Brink, because it isn't for you.

No matter what way you choose to play, the whole Brink experience is going to start when you create your character. Sorry ladies, it's an all-male world, and your initial choice between Security and Resistance (the two factions battling over The Ark, more on that in a bit) won't determine which side you can play as, but it will determine what dress-up options are available to you. If you wan't to look all Mad Max, side with Resistance. If you like a sorta cyber-punk look, Security is for you. After selecting a side, you choose basic features and clothing options. These choices are limited at first, but leveling up quickly unlocks lots of extra options to make you look whatever brand of freak floats your boat. The vast majority of these are purely cosmetic, but Body Type affects which weapons you can carry and how good you are at clambering around the environment.

Once you're all decked out in your duds, you can go ahead and customize your weapons, which, again, are limited at the start. Each of the 4 classes (Soldier, Medic, Engineer, Operative) has a range of upgrades you can purchase, and their is a good selection of universal upgrades as well. Universal abilities are stuff like a longer health bar, the ability to sense gunfire aimed at you, and firing after being downed. Class based ones are what you'd expect, with Soldiers getting more ammo and grenade varieties, Medics adding more buffs, Engineers better constructions and Operatives acquiring more gadgets. It leads to a certain feeling of more experienced players having overwhelming equipment advantages, but as long as the teams balance, it works out in the end.
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