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Online gaming is becoming more and more popular, and as a result we now have a lot of games that are almost exclusively designed for multiplayer action. A lot of gamers state that this is just fine but others will argue that it really cuts the value of a game in half and doesn't offer enough to those who want lengthy campaigns and well-written stories. Splash Damage's new first-person shooter, Brink, is a perfect example of a game that is very one-sided when it comes to core game play. The game offers a campaign, but sadly there is really no story development and the chapters are just preset matches with short introductions and endings. In fact, all of the actual games in Brink are multiplayer bouts which are based around different objectives. Whether you are playing solo with bots or online with some friends, it's all the same.
There is a little bit of a back story before the game gets going. Most of the fighting will take place on the “Ark,” which is essentially a futuristic cityscape that was designed to be a self-sustaining urban paradise for the super wealthy. Long story short, the project was a massive failure and now there are two factions battling it out in a brutal civil war: the Security forces and the Resistance fighters. You will be able to pick which side you'd like to join, but it makes no difference in the actual game play; you will be able to create multiple characters for each side. The Security forces are in charge of maintaining order and are trying to restore the Ark while the Resistance is trying to escape and liberate its inhabitants. Both sides have access to the same weapons and upgrades and will utilize the same classes and tactics.
At its core, Brink is a somewhat sterile and generic shooter with a few little surprises. The free-running or “Parkour” elements makes getting around the maps more interesting than in your everyday shooter, and the objective wheel allows players to prioritize and keep track of battlefield objectives. Unfortunately the actual gunplay is quite stale and the guns, while they may look cool, aren't too satisfying to use. The AI is also problematic and the bots seem to behave erratically at times (usually when something important needs to be done). The combat is balanced enough so that it rarely feels biased, but the class system in particular is a bit awkward because anyone can use any weapon layout. The only restricting factor is your character's body type, which is part of the customization component.
During matches, game objectives will range from planting explosives, guarding certain entities, and capturing control points. Some objectives can only be completed by a specific class, but may be performed by multiple players. Changing your class is as easy as using a command post and switching, but this becomes annoying when others get lazy. There is a perks system which adds special abilities and attributes to your character. Experience points are earned for pretty much everything and this XP directly affects your level. As you progress, you will unlock more customization items for your character as well as more perks. There are 20 levels and a total of 6 ranks. In order to buy new perks you will need level points and to unlock new weapon parts, such as silencers or scopes, you will need to complete a series of challenges. These challenges can be accessed via the main menu and will test your combat skills in various ways. Each challenge has 3 tiers in which you have the opportunity to unlock new gear. For the most part this system works but many players may find that unlocking new stuff is far too easy and that the challenges can be frustrating.
Brink may not be the greatest or most revolutionary step in multiplayer gaming, but the game is surely not the atrocity that many are claiming it to be. The core mechanics may be unoriginal but the game offers a unique character personalization component and features a lot of variety in terms of weapon customization. The graphics are great and the animation and voice acting is generally terrific. The game sports a sort of comical art style, with humans not having realistically-proportioned limbs and faces. The modeling is one of the very best aspects of the game and the characters and weapons look great. Unfortunately, the environments are sort of ordinary and don't compare to the stellar meshes. The Ark is a lot less impressive than one would think and most of the maps feel really cramped. The atmosphere, interior designs, and layouts vary but for the most part the maps aren't too exiting. Overall, Brink does a decent job at creating a fairly solid multiplayer experience, but ultimately doesn't deliver on the hype and just doesn't feel like the full package it was meant to be.