Brink was a highly anticipated FPS that was going to inject the gaming market with a breath of fresh air, but when it came out that breath wound up smelling a bit foul. So foul in fact that a few months after the game had come out the price for a used copy dirt cheap. I was able to get my hands on a copy awhile ago, so let's see why this game's lukewarm reception may have led to a cool new IP, turning into just another in a sea of mediocre FPS titles.
Sightplay - Brink's visual presentation comes off as a rushed effort. One that's good, but if given more time to cook it could have been great. I find the peculiar dimensions that certain head and body shapes have to be really amusing, and the novelty never wears off. The amount of fun I had customizing my characters was really high, playing the game wasn't even as fun as this (not a good sign), and having numerous different options felt more fulfilling than any myriad of sliders could. Do we really need control over the precise size of lips, or the exact angle and size of an eyebrow ridge? Brink does a better job of customization by abandoning sliders (there are still a few if you look for them) in lieu of having a seriously diverse amount of clothing and accessory options for each character. In that regards the visuals are top tier, where it falls apart is in the level design. Beyond being boring and labyrinthine at times, they're just plain boring. The same generic advertisements and posters littered throughout the levels lack any humor or wit. The actual architechture of the developed reigons are superb and everything looks futuristic, from a distance. Up close, however, the rough edges start to reveal themselves, and the completely underwhelming grenade explosions are something you simply can't unsee.
Soundplay - The sound of the many different guns are wonderfully diverse, but only when you have the ability to test out each one in a quiet place. Amidst the chaos of battle, the gun sounds all blur together in an echo of muzzle flares that sound like one gun. Voice acting is decent in this game, and there's something about the way the English dialogue is spoken in various accents that makes it fun to hear. Unfortunately there aren't any solid characters to attribute a voice to. There are cutscenes of rebels sharing a last moment before heading into their certain deaths, and although the words sound sincere, they don't have any real impact because we know nothing about the people saying them! Is it his first day on the job, last day before retirement, third Tuesday after the day before comic book day? Something, anything!? Also there's music, but there doesn't feel to be anything too worthy of noting in that department sadly.
Gameplay - As I mentioned before the aesthetics of this game are really nice. As levels to run, climb, and shoot through they simply aren't fun or enticing, and really lend themselves to being exploited. When playing online, certain weapon loadouts, classes, and body types can dominate in stages without much resistance, forcing players to adopt similar tactics to be able to compete, which in turn robs the game of a truer sense of customization. Since smaller body frames are faster and can use parkour, heavier frames sacrifice this ability so they can recieve more damage before respawning (an overwhelming weakness in my opnion). The concept of putting parkour style movement into an FPS was a nice touch, and most of the time you can get to where you're trying to get pretty seemlessly. It's the moments where you're character accidentally climbs straight into a deadend, or forgets to climb and faceplants into a wall, leaving you a sitting duck for the opposition that will make you curse the platforming elements. Still it works more often than it doesn't.
There are a gratifying amount of weapons and modifications that really allow you to have the setup you're craving. Unfortunately the four seperate classes all feel like the same class. The only notable change is a class sensitive button, but outside of certain classes being forced into maps (in order to capture/disable objectives) they just don't feel like they play differently at all. Also for the single player campaign, the squad A.I. will be the current shining example for just how badly computer controlled squad mates can conduct themselves (in my opinion anyway). You actually have to make up for their inability to perform the most basic of objectives, and their obsession with non-critical checkpoints is positively criminal. There are two factions to play as, and their individual story missions are comprised of the exact same levels in reverse order. I don't want to call this lazy, because rushed seems like a more apt term. Had this title more time to cook they might have been able to playtest it more and perhaps they'd have caught a lot of these fixable issues. Lastly, major fun reduction to be found in Brinks amazingly long, and frequent, escort missions.
Replay - The online leveling system is fun, and to be honest, the most fun I had in this game was unlocking new articles of clothing and trying them on. Playing dress-up-the-badass, was more fun than play-as-the-badass, in this case. New weapons and perks are always nice to receive, but the only redeeming value this game offers (other than how cheap the price of the game is now) is the character customization. The rest unfortunately, seems like another example of great design, with poor execution.
Score - 2 out of 5. This will be one of those games that's really hard to recommend to anyone, and I'm assuming a cult following will stay devoted to Brink if any sequels are made. There are probably better FPS titles out there you should be playing, or a great retro title you could relive, before having to play this game (at all [or anymore than you already have]). The customization is certainly something worth tinkering with, and it should certainly be regarded as the new standard for how character customization is handled for games like this.