Brink has been out well over a week, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. I’ve done some challenges, played a bit of the campaign modes and did some random online action and I’m still not sure how I feel about this game. This is a bit strange for me. Usually I have a fairly strong opinion of a game after several hours, but I’m having a hard time trying to figure out exactly what Brink is.
One thing I have learned is that you can essentially throw out all the single player and co-op stuff, if you want to call it that. Bot matches in this game are completely unfulfilling, even after a recent patch that was said to “remove bot intelligence inhibitors.” While the bots are aware of objectives, they seem to have zero concept in supporting those objectives — which, ya know, is kind of important in objective based games. A strong argument could be made that the bots in UT2K4 are more intelligent than what we’re seeing in Brink 7 years later.
You’re probably yelling at the screen at this point, telling me that of course the bots are dumb, and the only way to play this game is with real people. I’d easily agree with that. My sticking point with the bots is that they seem to be such a large part of the game. The game has essentially three modes: single player or “solo”, a co-op mode and internet “freeplay.” Bots are prevalent in all three and required in two of them. Join many freeplay servers that are less than full with real players, and it’s filled in with bots, which I wouldn’t have a problem with if they were just a bit less stupid. One more reason why you can throw the co-op/private modes out: forget about trying to set up a peer-to-peer game with friends on the PC. Obviously some people have gotten it to work, but suibhne and I wasted a good 20 minutes last night trying to get something other than a “server not responding” message before we gave up and played on a public server.
Now that I’ve gotten over my bot rage, the rest of the game seems ok, but for some reason it’s just not clicking with me yet. I say “yet” because I keep feeling like I’m on the brink (sorry) of hitting that magical moment where it all comes together in perfect harmony for me. All the multiplayer hallmarks are there; classes, character progression, unlockables galore and enough guns and weapons to keep it interesting. However, I’d have to question some of the balance of the classes, since it feels like engineer and medic are really the only two classes that are worth playing regularly, unless a specific objective calls for something else. The stunning amount of guns and attachments sounds great, but I find that without the help of the community, figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of some of these in game is virtually impossible.
On the positive side of things, I’ve grown to appreciate the parkour-style movement, and the way you can smoothly navigate some obstacles works surprisingly well. I haven’t felt this nimble in a FPS multiplayer game since probably UT2k4. Graphically the game looks as good as any other current mp games and the game engine allows for ample tweaking which bucks the trend of locking everything down. Check out our wiki page for some common tips. Also the game has Splash Damage’s traditionally great long term support behind it, so Brink does have a lot going for it.
Brink really does have great potential that’s just beyond my grasp at this point. The fact that it hasn’t “clicked” for me just yet but I want to keep trying it has to mean something, right? It’s like a meal that’s been simmering on the stove all day that’s missing that one ingredient to bring it all together. I’m hoping to find that spice soon with some more game play time.