Gaming Under $20: Brink

Brink is an interesting case, considering its slide into the bargain bins. While it initially looked like genre-bending, landmark game, its release was quickly followed by massive price cuts. While Brink was met with mostly mixed reviews, gamers seemed to avoid touching this game at all. Well, it’s been a few years, and you can get this game for a measly $10. While Brink may have not been worth the full retail price, is it worth diving into the graveyard for?

Brink actually had an opportunity to create a very interesting world, taking place on a man-made floating island, called The Ark. Due to overpopulation and lack of resources, The Ark is in the middle of a civil war. This conflict is fought between the Ark Security (the original security forces for the structure) and the Resistance (rebel fighters  from the slums of The Ark). You would think that this setting would create an interesting tale of class warfare, sci-fi politics, and maybe a personal story from your character. However, your role as a soldier in this war is never beyond itself. You simply go from one battle to another, without really delving into the plot. There are also dual campaigns, one for each faction, but they are the same levels from the opposite perspective.  If you’re looking for a cheap game to sink your head into, you may want to keep digging. Brink doesn’t give you much to think about while firing round after round. 

Bethesda genuinely tried to create a unique gameplay experience in Brink, but it was overshadowed by the slew of flaws. Basically, Bethesda added the free-running elements from Mirror’s Edge to an objective based FPS. While it was an interesting concept, it just doesn’t flow well enough to be a useful tool. You constantly find yourself slipping and sliding off of ledges or cover, causing more harm than good. While it isn’t a complete failure, it comes nowhere close to the fluidity and grace of Mirror’s Edge. Also, all of the levels are split into multiple objectives for each player. This allows for an entire team to work towards a main goal, while each striving to accomplish their own objectives. This allows for some unique teamwork in the combat, making each character class feel important.

Also, there is no true single-player campaign in  Brink. See, every level in the campaign is a mulitplayer map. So, during your personal campaign, you can invite your friends to play along side you, as well as fight against you. Being a hermit that quite enjoys single-player games, the idea of having matchmaking in the middle of my story was terrifying. So, here’s the catch: Either deal with people from the internet, or struggle to defeat each level alone. The A.I. is painfully inept and useless as teammates, but savage as enemies. Granted, there are still times when you can take a leisurely stroll through their flanks and kill your enemies one by one, but the main challenge of the levels are defeating all of the enemies without any help.  The frustration that comes with the A.I. can easily discourage you from playing Brink for too long. Still, in small amounts, the fast and furious combat of Brink can be as exciting as any Triple-A title.

One of the coolest aspects of Brink is the character customization. While it may not be able to create horrifying abominations, like Soul Caliber V, it has a massive array of customizable features. Whether you’re changing the outfit, the physical attributes, or the colors of each, there is plenty of fun to be had from creating your warrior. Brink includes a wide variety of clothing to feel badass in while you kill each other, with a general style for each faction. While the Security are more focused on glowing lights and black turtlenecks, the Resistance tends to be more dressed in rags and unconventional armor.  Here’s my only complaint for this: You can’t create a female character. Wouldn’t it make sense to have women fighting in this Ark-wide civil war? I doubt that all of the women would just sit around and read, while all the men are killing each other in the backyard. Anyway, it is disappointing that they put so much time into character creation and didn’t even include a female option.

Brink certainly has a visual style to it, with a clash between the high-tech public buildings and the cramped urban shanties. The graphics are well polished, although the characters have exaggerated, “cartoony” features. The slick look to Brink will certainly be pleasing your eyes, but the sound is nothing to write home about. With stiff voice acting and run-of-the-mill music, Brink makes a strong case for muting your television and turning on some music. I do have to point out that Brink is easily one of the most visually gripping games you could find for such a low price; normally, the cheap games will end up looking like something from the Playstation 2.

As I’m sure all of the Achievement Whores Hounds are wondering, Brink does have a pretty reasonable list of achievements. Just by beating the campaigns and some challenge level, I quickly snatched about 700/1250. While it isn’t going to net you an easy game completion, Brink does look a little more respectable on your achievements than Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth. You may get bored with Brink before you can get every achievement, but you’ll still get a fair amount of gamerscore for your efforts.

Now, you won’t be finding much of an online community, but that may be a good thing. Besides, if you’re looking to get the co-op experience that was originally intended, I’m sure you could convince a few friends to drop ten dollars on this game. Brink had the most potential in a game, that I had seen in quite a while. It had all of the right ideas, but none of them seemed to be executed properly. Sadly, Brink stands as a reminder of what could have been. Fortunately for us, with a price tag of $10, this is easily one of the better cheap games you can find.

With a Grain of Salt, I Can Say That Brink is “Worth It!”

By Blake Edwards


About Blake

Hi...I'm Blake and I'm a Cinephile. I've been this way since I can remember, although the environment I grew up in certainly contributed to my condition. As much as I love writing about films, I hope you all know that I write this for you. Look at me, Readers. It's all for you!

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