Brink's exhilarating online combat is held back by a few issues.
Multiplayer-centric shooters have recently staked their claim as industry giants with titles like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and the Call of Duty series being a very good indication to that. Splash Damage's team-based shooter opus Brink tries to carve it's own niche on this landscape and in doing so it offers seamless online integration, parkour elements and an objective-based structure, all wrapped in a near future, dystopian setting called the Ark. It's a bold title but save for a few noticable flaws, Brink delivers on it's interesting premise and serves up an enjoyable online experience with a terrific character customization system to boot. If you are looking for an alternative to all the bland military shooters that crowd the market today, then Brink is certainly worthy of a look.
The heart and soul of Brink is the class system; Soldier, Engineer, Operative and Medic run the gamut with different abilities and stat boosting buffs for each class. Soldier is your typical grunt who lays waste to enemies and resupplies his team with ammo while engineers can power up weapons and deploy turrets and mines. Operatives spot and disguise themselves as enemies and Medics heal and revive. At any point during a match, you can hit up a command post and change out your class and weapons depending on your teams needs as objectives such as blowing up a door, escorting a maintanence bot or hacking door controls often require a certain class to complete. However, regardless of your role you can always bring up your command wheel and pick a task that benefit your team in other ways. You can opt to capture enemy command posts, defend areas, escort teammates and much else but you shouldn't have a problem piling up your XP meter either way. What's great about Brink is that it constantly rewards you no matter what you do, as shooting enemies at nauseum, is just as rewarding as reviving teammates or handing out buffs. The core shooting action in Brink is solid, but your arsenal mostly consists of point-and-shoot weapons that with the right attachments and abilities rarely require you to look down the sights to be accurate and you can expect to bash downed enemies with the butt of your gun a lot, since emptying a clip in the face of the opposition means incapacitating them, not killing them.
A big deal has also been made about the S.M.A.R.T system, or `Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain´ as the abbreviation really stands for. Basically what this means is that you can at any time hold down your sprint button and pull off all manner of jumping, vaulting, sliding and wall hopping moves and your overall speed is determined by your character's archetype, which range from light to heavy. It's a neat system, allowing you to escape hairy situations or slide tackle enemies before finishing them off with a shotgun blast but none of the eight maps seem to be designed around it, so it's really up to you to find suit ful applications for it.
One of Brink's biggest problems is that it doesn't have a whole lot of content to speak off. The game caps at level 20, preventing access from every single ability and the eight maps start to feel a bit familiar after a while. Atleast you can play the game with any combination of players and bots as your singleplayer session can turn into a co-op or versus game if you're so inclined, and new maps is appearently on the horizion, through free DLC.
Brink isn't the game for everybody. It lacks a proper narrative, favors teamwork over shooting and and the lack of an actual campaign might baffle some players. Yet for the deep customisation, class system, parkour elements and unique gameplay structure, Brink is a refreshing take on shooter conventions and while it's a lackluster singleplayer experience, the online will definitely eat up some late nights, provided you latch on to it. Bliss may not be inevitable, but The Ark is still awaiting.