Buff Review Show- On the Brink of Something (possibly tedium)
I’m off to the pub, so for those of you who are in this evening and have no interest in L.A. Noire, why not pick up a copy of Brink for dirt cheap somewhere, because a matter of weeks after it’s release you’ll probably pick it up for at least half the price. That might sort of ruin the review right there, but give it a read and make your own judgements on Brink.
You have to feel sorry for a game like Brink. Having been released for PC, PS3 and Xbox360 it hasn’t had the smoothest of releases. You see Brink’s problem is that, as is brazenly promises in any trailers and promotional material you may find for it, the developds Splash Damage have bravely taken on the task of single-handedly revolutionising the gaming, and particularly the FPS market, industry, by seemingly marrying the warring tribes of single player campaigns, co-operative missions and online multiplayer, into one great big bundle that means you can play any missions across any maps with any mixture of human, online and AI characters. Well before we start handing out the Asda Price Bucks Fizz and celebratory chocolate éclairs someone had better warn Splash Damage that their game is a glitch-ridden mess and no amount of free stuff is going to appease some of the gaming world (more on that later).
Brink is basically unplayable online, and has been for most of it’s launch, due to the outage of the PSN and the glitch-ridden mess of a game that has been spewed onto the Xbox360, and apparently PC gamers aren’t too happy with their version of the game either. And with the PSN only just up and running again, Brink couldn’t have come at a worse time. But even if the PSN was brilliant and the Xbox360 version has actually been tested before being thrust onto the shelves, it would not have saved the game on lick. There are two factions for you to play through and join in the game, one is the armed security force of a floating city years after the former planet below has been flooded, or the armed rebels who are basically the working class in the game, and when they aren’t somehow keeping the floating city… well… afloat I guess, they’re shooting each other for fun. There are 6 missions played over eight maps, which you can play twice as each factions and under the guise of a number of different character classes, so there is some degree of replayability to proceedings, if you can stomach your way through even a signle playthrough without being bogged down by bugs, glitches and online issues.
I will credit Brink for the work on the classes in the game, and also striking a good balance between them, so we aren’t left with uneven gameplay or character classes that go unused and broken in the corner. But even when trying to work together things don’t go well. You and your allies can use Buffs on each other to give you a better chance at getting through the levels and towards your objectives. You basically begin with terrible characters who can’t do much of anything useful and continually get killed, which gets very old very quickly, even for skilled gamers out there who’ve commented on this feature. You’ll unlock abilities that are somewhat less horrible than what you had previously, making the game a bit more tolerable. It’s just so aggravating using most of these abilities, especially the buffs, because you’re often all gathered together, trying to buff one another as you make your ways to your next objective, and it’s just such a mess.
Looking back on the first half of my review for Brink, it may come off as a little harsh, but I wanted to get the bad out of the way with. Since the PSN was restored and I could actually get online for the PS3 version, I found it much better and the action flowed much smoother. Please note, I had to play this on PS3, 360 and PC to try and get a good go at the multiplayer, so my review is my experiences of all three as oppose to just PC or one of the console experiences.
Standard gameplay wise there is very little difference, but on stand out feature I will happily debase myself for is the SMART system, which is Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain system, which is in all essence a free-running mode which allows their character to sprint, leap over obstacles, slide under barricades and climb up structures in all the available environments. This freedom of movement, not dissimilar to the style of gameplay used in Mirror’s Edge, although with far less of the shaky-cam vomit enducing nature of Mirror’s Edge’s clean aesthetics, is one of the game’s highlights and its a testament to the skill that the developers do actually have within their power that they’ve managed to include a parkour element in their game which is in no way clunky or obstructive to play. Even Mirror’s Edge, to name drop it once again, struggled in later segments of it’s game, but it has been about 4 years since then and it has been done well on very few occasions if ever, so I will credit it there.
This is a game that does so much better when you can strap a controller to a friend or the dog and play it co-op and online, because it suffers from the old Borderlands problem (despite great aesthetics and a huge arsenal of weaponry, otherwise uninteresting and glitchy) I found that the single player doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard, and doesn’t even really exist very well because they’ve attempted to blend all the different modes and styles of gameplay into one huge gelatinous mass.
To make up for the lack of online play for much of the consoles launch, the first batch of DLC is being given away for free, and there are more guns and audio logs and things to purchase using the ingame awards XP, so it is up to you really what you can make Brink do for you, in return for you having a bit of patience and a willingness to forgive the clunky, badly programmed AI. Find a friend, grab the free DLC, and if you still don’t like Brink after all that, well I guess there’s no pleasing some people is there…