Splash Damage, a developer from England, is easily one of my favorite game-makers. It’s the strategy and huge focus on teamplay (the opposite of popular online shooters like “Call of Duty”) that attracts me to their games.
The 2011 shooter “Brink” has an interesting premise and familiar but tweaked gameplay from Splash Damage’s earlier titles. It continues to have a special emphasis on team-based, strategic multiplayer play, but includes bots and single-player capabilities. Aside from some problems with the bots, “Brink” is another great game – one of the most underrated I’ve ever played.
Graphically, “Brink” uses a modified version of the relatively old id Tech 4 engine. On the XBox 360, though, “Brink” looks really good for a 2011 game using an engine from 2004. The game has good level design, lighting, models, and effects. There is some bad anti-aliasing and frame rate slow-down when the action gets intense, but it’s nothing that I can’t forgive.
Since “Brink” is multiplayer-focused, it’s not a huge surprise that the story takes a back seat. But what is there is interesting. “Brink” is set in 2045 on an Earth flooded due to global warming. However, many survived by taking refuge on an experimental self-sustaining city called the Ark. The city, once safe, has become overcrowded with refugees. With resources dwindling, two factions emerge. The Resistance, led by Joseph Chen, is convinced that there is still a world outside the Ark and will use the remaining resources to escape. The Security, led by Clinton Mokoena, seeks to stop the Resistance using whatever means necessary. The story isn’t groundbreaking or original, and it takes a back seat to the gameplay. But it successfully moves you and your faction from mission to mission and, as a bonus, is interesting.
Where “Brink” truly shines is in its gameplay, the basics of which will be instantly familiar to “Enemy Territory” fans. Once you select a team (Resistance or Security), you choose a class (Soldier, Engineer, Operative, or Medic) and jump into the game. Each map has a main objective. One team must complete the main objective, and the other team must stop them. The main objectives range from those anyone can complete to ones that require a certain class. There are also side objectives, like capturing command posts and building or destroying barricades.
“Brink” uses “Mirror’s Edge”-esque parkour in the form of the SMART system. Standing for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain, SMART is activated by holding down the sprint button (left bumper on Xbox 360). The player will then hurdle, slide, or otherwise run over most terrain.
“Brink” offers a huge amount of weapon and character customizations – and I mean huge. In fact, it won a Guinness World Record for most character options. The weapons don’t have as many combinations, but there are still a lot.
In addition to Campaign, there are two other play modes: Freeplay and Challenges. Freeplay allows you to make an online game on a map from the campaign with your own rules. Freeplay is the only mode that is online-only. Challenges mode allows you to hone your skills with the weapons, classes, and SMART system on five challenges that have three levels of difficulty. These also unlock weapons and attachments with each level completed.
My only problem with “Brink”’s gameplay is the bots. Their behavior in-game is too inconsistent. Sometimes, they do what they are supposed to, but other times the friendly A.I. is absolutely atrocious and the enemy A.I. too vicious. One of the missions is almost impossible due to this problem. However, when you play with human opponents (or humans and bots at the same time), the game is amazing. The A.I. works well in online matches with other human players. So why is it flaky in solo mode?
Aside from the A.I. problems, “Brink” is a great game. It is team-based, strategic multiplayer from Splash Damage at its finest. It’s surprisingly polished (minus the A.I.) and is addictive with gameplay and deep with customization. Solo, “Brink” is good at best. But bring some friends to the Ark and you will find the true charm in this civil war-ridden world.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.