Early impressions of Brink

Brink came out today, or to be more specific it was 9pm last night PST, and I’ve been playing quite a bit.  Brink is a shooter game that is best explained as a game somewhere between TF2, Enemy Territory, a little Global Agenda, some Counter Strike… all jumbled up.  It’s a stylized shooter that does not take itself seriously (TF2) while trying to pretend it does (TF2) with some zany elements thrown in to entertain you while you play.  If you want a real description of the game you can check out other sites because that’s the best I got.  Now on to some first impressions.

How does she run / technical difficulties
Brink runs okay.  I feel like it’s not entirely optimized in that it doesn’t feel like TF2 or MW2’s smoothness but it’s good.  There are odd little bugs everywhere like on one level in particular the sound suddenly cuts out for everyone until the level is over.  At the menu screen there are performance issues.  I’ve personally run into a major one with regard to how the game handles my internet; when I browse for servers my connection lags out and this morning for several hours whenever I tried to join a server my entire internet would go out.  I tried for about two hours to join a server and eventually my internet connection died entirely and I had to call the company.  When I did, they said the area was having trouble.  I think Brink broke the internet because it would go out exactly when I tried joining — every time. The problem has mostly resolved itself.

Some polish is lacking.. The server browser is clunky. Sometimes the game feels a little clunky. The game’s integration into steam has acted up a bit. This stuff can be patched like it was in Bad Company 2 and other games. AI generally sucks (if you play the challenges or against bots you’ll notice it).

The mode I’ve tried a lot is the ‘Objective’ multiplayer mode where you have to complete stages like hack the terminal, then escort a guy, then blow something up, etc. It’s a decent mode and there are side objectives for the class you play such as building a machine gun or repairing an elevator to give you a shortcut when escorting. The gameplay feels really quick. Bullets are flying everywhere, grenades are going off, and it’s all really hectic like some maps/modes in TF2. It’s not very tactical and sometimes the best recipe for success is just to spray bullets and throw grenades at anything moving.

I have no complaints about the maps except perhaps that they feel a little similar to each other and don’t really stand out. I’m not at that stage yet where I can say I have a favorite since to me it feels like they’re all the same. There are a lot of choke points, which is good or bad depending on what side of the objective you’re on.

The customization of characters is excellent — you get a lot of stuff like hats, jackets, pants, masks, etc., to choose from. Gun customization is also above average with the ability to choose what type of clip or muzzle to put on your gun or if you’re going to use a scope. There are alos a lot more guns than most games. Unlike a lot of the complaints, the guns are not without a kick. Some of them are downright inaccurate. Some are super accurate but do little damage. I have no complaints about the guns.

The classes themselves are cool. The medic system reminds me of Enemy Territory. Throwing needles to people so they can revive themselves is a quick on-the-go way to play a medic. I like the engineer handing out armor or damage upgrades and placing mines/turrets is great, although the first turret sucks. There is a good feel of team work among the classes and some matches I feel like things really gel when people take their role to heart and don’t all try to spray and pray their way to victory.

The core of what makes Brink something worthy of any attention is the “SMART” system. It’s like Mirror’s Edge and feels great at times but isn’t without a lack of polish. Sometimes you jump over pieces of geometry and flop around or get yourself killed being stuck moving slowly as you pull yourself up over a ledge. It’s flashy, fun, and really the only truly new thing that Splash Damage brings to the table with this title.

Summary (what you’ll probably skip to anyway)
If you’re looking for Call of Duty, pass this one up.  If you’re looking for TF2, pass this one up.  I can honestly say that if you’re looking for a long-term shooter, this isn’t the one.  Brink is, by design, a game that I can see lasting a summer as it comes right out of the box. However, given the mod tools, and good control given to server operators, there is huge potential for really good maps/modes and lots of user generated content to raise the quality of the game.

Right now I recommend that you wait to buy the game if you’re on the fence. See what happens this first week with any patches to fix some of the technical issues. See how the gameplay irons itself out or if the game makes any imprint on the community. Brink doesn’t deserve the failing grades froeview sites, but it’s far from praiseworthy. It’s fun and definitely worth the $37 I paid for it (25% sale from D2D) but I would definitely hesitate to run out and pay $60 for a console version. It’s between a B- and a B right now, but easily in the B+ or A- range with some work.

Update – My problem is back. I join a server, press any key to continue, then I get ‘Waiting for host’ and my internet dies and everyone else in my house can’t use the internet until I time out of the server. Then the connection is back to normal. Anyone know what could be causing this? Is the game overloading my router or something? I’d keep trying it but I might kill all of Southern California’s internet again.

  • Thanks Keen! Always look forward to reading your thoughts on current games.

  • CoD 4 used to give me the same problem, Keen. Basically, what’s happening is this:

    When the server list tries to grab all of the servers it’s overloading either your router, or your bandwith. Clogging it up until it has no choice but to cease function and timeout the connection. It’s almost like a DDoS attack in that regard. You get flooded with more information, at one time, than your hardware/bandwith will allow.

  • Think I’m gonna try this. Thanks. So bored after Rift and need something interesting to play for a week or two.

  • I think the problem you’re describing is your modem. I had something similar happen to me. I’d log into a game, (and it only happened on one game) then the connection would fail and the entire internet for the household would die. I thought it was my new router but it ended up being my 7yr old modem.

    After I replaced my modem everything was fine.

  • The game really isn’t as bad as the reviewers make it seem, at least the PC version. It would definitely benefit from more game modes that are less “story” based. I’d love to see arena fights with pistols or melee only. TDM and DM would be easy to implement and would be a nice break. The warm-up periods before matches start an example of what a TDM might feel like and it isn’t really that bad.

    I’d also love to see some kind of persistent fight mode with large maps that lead each faction to one another’s “base.” Something where you pick your faction and that’s who you play as in every match.

    It has a lot of potential and is definitely the best shooter to be released this year. Of course, the competition (Crysis 2 and Homefront) aren’t exactly tough to beat in terms of multiplayer.

  • Looked pretty much like I suspected, glad I decided to pass it up. The biggest feature that would have gotten me was the great customization, but everything else looked fairly standard.

    If next week wasn’t the Noire release day, I probably would have gotten this… but I figured since the game I really want is next week, I can entertain myself with Rift or something.

  • You know what Keen. Bethesda is known for making very great games when they are NOT making it with another company. Like with Rogue Warrior and with Brink, I feel like Bethesda HAS DONE NOTHING with any of thouse games, like 20% and the rest was done by the other company. Like i don’t understand why bethesda has to ruin their reputation by making games with “less” known Companys.

  • @Valtray: Bethesda Softworks is a publisher, not a developer. Basically these days just a name brand for Zenimax Media. They own and publish for a variety of developers including their in-house Bethesda Game Studios.

    You’re attributing a reputation to something that’s basically just a logo.

  • I have to say I’m really enjoying it. I’ve played FPS games but get bored by them fast. The same may happen here but right now I’m really enjoying the whole team based thing with its limited but quite fun character upgrades.

  • Yeah count me in as one of the peeps really enjoying Brink.

    It’s not Team Fortress, but after so many years of TF I’d rather have alternatives than more of the same.

    I haven’t had any issues with playing at all, it’s been really stable for myself + friends, so that makes it a lot easier to enjoy.

    Mostly I like the basic combat and movement, I think they’ve hit those bang-on, at least for my preferences.

  • Brink is a lot of fun — we just had a LAN party last Sat. and played Brink exclusively.

    Some key points:
    * It’s a multi-player game. The single-player stuff is really just a tacked-on wrapper for the multi-player.
    * Although the game-play is very similar to TF2, I really enjoy Brink much more than TF2 — I was never terribly impressed with the feel or setting of TF2. (In some ways, Brink’s game-play feels more like Quake Wars, although it lacks the wide-open outdoor settings of Quake Wars.)
    * The level of character customization is unparalleled for a FPS game.
    * The weapons feel and sound really good.
    * The SMART movement controls work well enough, but lack the smoothness and flexibility of Mirror’s Edge’s movement.
    * Minor annoyance #1: Only 8 maps to play on, none of which are that large. During our LAN party, we probably played through the maps 4-5 times each; I found myself getting bored with them.
    * Minor annoyance #2: As you gain XP and levels, you unlock character appearances, but you must leave a match in order to access them.
    * Minor annoyance #3: Font corruption. For some reason, font characters get randomly trashed, which sometimes makes the in-game text illegible.
    * Minor annoyance #4: The AI is completely retarded. This means that if your team must be filled out with bots, you will likely be on the losing end. Although this is a potential issue with any game that includes bots, Brink has the worst AI I’ve seen in quite a while. (As a comparison, Quake Wars has bots that are smart enough to win a map on their own; Brink’s bots could never accomplish this.)