Brink Review



In 2003, a small British game modding firm with a tradition in id Software space brought class-based multiplayer excitement to the world of Wolfenstein with the free expansion Enemy Territory. In 2011, that same firm made the same game out of a new IP. Eight years later, the stodgy head-bashing of Wolfenstein pervades Splash Damage’s high-profile, class-based, team-centric parkour shooter, Brink. A break from the twitch-shot blockbusters of this era feels refreshing, but strangles itself with poor design choices.

Brink occupies a buffet of subgenres and serves them up generously. Customization is robust, aesthetically and functionally, through weapon and class upgrades. Rewards are frequent and influential. Movement is fluid and user-friendly, a light brew of Mirror’s Edge mechanics. And everything can be done online, right down to the single-player campaign.

The Star Wars: Battlefront series managed a similar bevy of components expertly, so Brink doesn’t fail by aiming too high. It fails in its objective-dependent games marred by an uninspiring play experience. Every match rushes players on both sides toward some middle-map objective, which leads to another objective and another until completion. One eight-person crew will always be defending, staring down the barrel of a ten-minute timer, while the other consistently runs into a bottleneck of opposition. These choke points embody the worst that shooters have to offer: a repetitive, often fruitless, always frustrating, and time-consuming clusterf*ck that comes down to a battle of sheer numbers rather than skill.


Secondary objectives are the obvious vaccine to the virus of play monotony and as such appear in Brink, but only in the most cursory of ways. The majority of goals are class specific, so players need to switch to the Soldier class (at any captured command center) to blow open a door, or to the Medic to escort an injured hostage. Whatever class you play as, the secondary objectives do next to nothing to aid in winning the match. Capture an enemy command post and be rewarded with a minor health buff easily thwarted by a bullet. Open a side door and run into the exact same human barrier at the primary objective, just a little sooner. Meaningless secondary objectives spit in the face of play diversity.

Team-based matches leave little room for heroics and way too much room for the Engineer and Medic. Soldiers can replenish ammo and throw molotovs (upgrades including flash bangs and plastic explosives), and Operatives use stealth and camouflage to get into tactical positions. Both are practically useless up against the turrets/gun buffs of the Engineer and health syringes/health buffs of the Medic. Maybe if the Operative could use stealth assassinations, or if the Soldier could use a temporary invincibility mode, then balance could be restored to the forces. As it is, expect to be chronically low on ammo and sneaksters.

Briefly, the shooting mechanics are dodgier and less precise than the Battlefield series. The glaring omission of a sniper rifle would startle even the greenest of gamers, and machine guns end up firing almost identically aside from clip size. Shotguns are the best bet for a solid, quick kill, spraying the entire screen with a barrel full of flaming bird shot. To call them overpowered is an understatement.


It may seem odd to talk so thoroughly about design flaws while ignoring story, background, and emotion, but Brink‘s distinct lack of all three makes the conversation… quiet. The single-player campaign is a cobbling of multiplayer maps, loosely linked by cutscenes that do little to draw the player in or explain the complicated premise. There’s the Ark, a lonely bastion of humanity divided by class wars over limited resource control, and there’s a big tower in the middle that doesn’t do much. It serves as a cool icon, but it’s a real shame that the one pillar of interest in the story is never explored. I’d be hard-pressed to remember more from the story as it means almost nothing to accomplishing the slew of repeated objectives.

Brink hails its wide array of deep, full features, but sweeps the rest under the rug. It appears impressive at first, then cuts away at the expectation with inane objectives, rocketing players directly toward piles of bodies at choke points that dominate the game’s experience. Imbalanced classes, an almost non-existent story… Brink fails to execute at every wall-jump and half-cracked safe.

In conclusion, WHY IS IT CALLED BRINK?!


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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