Campaign mode contains the game’s story, although what it really boils down to is standard maps with a cutscene at the beginning. Yes, the story really isn’t the stand out feature here, although it is padded out with audio logs you earn via levelling up. Both the Resistance and Security parts of the game have six missions each, plus two additional ‘what-if’ missions, which take a certain part of the story and puts a little twist on it. Whilst this might sound a little miserly, they can take up to 30 minutes to complete.
Playing through Campaign on your own isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. At first that’s down to the fact your kit is somewhat lacking, but even after a few upgrades it fails to make a lasting impact. One of the key issues is that organising and mounting an attack, or preparing a defence, is just no fun with AI partners. On the whole they are fairly impressive, but still prone to bouts of daft behaviour such as several Medics trying to come and revive you and then running into the same gunner one after the other. All it needed was some Benny Hill music and the scene would have been hilarious.
Your opponent AI has no such intellectual problems though, and will hunt you down with ruthless efficiency. They will erect turrets, plant mines, retreat if necessary, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
With the single player experience failing to live up to expectations, it’s down to the online Campaign mode to save the day, and thankfully it kicks things into high gear. You can notice the difference straight away as tactics are devised, players assign themselves tasks and everything gels together nicely. It feels like a tighter, more focused version of MAG where everyone teams up rather than runs off trying to do everything by themselves. Playing this with friends will be one of the online highlights of your year. Don’t like your friends? That’s ok, you can play against them too in a ‘verses’ Campaign match.
Weapons combat throughout the game has a good sense of weight behind it and every weapon, from the smallest pistol to the largest shotgun, packs a real punch, backed up by meaty audio effects. As mentioned earlier the weapon’s statistics really do make a difference, so for example your submachine gun will deal an immense amount of damage but wobble all over the place, whereas one of the rifles will be slightly more cumbersome but far more accurate. Mastery of your weapon loadout is key to earning the big points. Unfortunately no such praise can be lavished upon the melee combat, as it feels disappointingly weak to the point where it is almost useless. Even the finishing blow you can strike to downed enemies is no more than a light tap on the head with the butt of your gun.
Upon first booting up the game (with the internet disconnected) I was disappointed with the game’s graphical prowess as there were a lot of issues. I then remembered about the day one patch for the Xbox 360, and it really does make a big difference in terms of ironing out the bugs, so don’t forget to log in and download it. Before the update screen tear was rife, as was texture pop-up when bringing up the iron sights, as well as random glitches such as players floating in the air. With the update installed only some pop-up still remains, but nowhere near as frequent.
The cutscenes look good, with some nicely detailed characters, and the environments themselves look decent, albeit not up to the level we have seen in recent shooters. They are perfectly sized, though, and you are never more than twenty seconds away from a firefight.
For all its plus points, of which there are many, what Brink really needs is some more variety. No matter how good your clan is, there are only so many times you can ‘defend’ or ‘attack’ before everything wears a bit thin. The game does try to spice things up a bit, with mid-mission objectives, but what it boils down to is playing the same thing over and over again, just on a different map. Is this a negative point? Well, that’s entirely down to how you like your games.
- SMART is ace
- So much customisation
- Gunplay feels good
- Ruthless enemy AI
- Mostly decent team AI
- Seamless online integration
- Rewards teamwork
- XP here, XP there, XP freakin’ everywhere
- Brink has massive potential
- Lacks variety
- Can still be a bit ropey, graphically
- Single player is a big non-event
Brink will live or die by the community it attracts. Whilst it is so much more accessible than MAG, you’ll still need to put the time in to stay relevant. Despite a bit of lag, playing online is a fantastic affair, with the potential to be made even better with the addition of more variety by way of DLC. Looking for a deep and meaningful single player story? Then step away. Looking for an intense online shooter with more guns than Texas? Come on in, the water’s fine.