Game Review: Brink

Brink (Splash Damage/Bethesda)
Xbox 360 (also for PS3/PC)

Everything about Brink feels like a missed opportunity. I wanted to like it because I'm a sucker for objective-based shooters, and I was jonesing for something new. Instead, it feels too much like other shooters, not to mention the fact that it recycles its own few new ideas ad nauseum.

At the outset, you're asked to choose one of two opposing factions in the battle for the Ark - a sort of island city in a dystopic future. Why they're fighting isn't exactly clear, and the half-hearted cutscenes barely scratch the surface of an already thin narrative. Each of the game's 20 missions – 10 per side – feel eerily similar. Developer Splash Damage tried to add some variety to the symmetrical campaigns by allowing players to pick individual objectives to complete while still contributing to the overall success of the team. The problem is, it just amounts to you holding the action button over a different object without dying most of the time. And playing as the other side? Well, at that point instead of escorting a hostage or repairing a control panel, you're trying to kill him or destroy it.

Even main objectives devolve into simple defend/hack/escort/destroy affairs. When you're playing solo, this becomes all the more apparent as brain-dead computer controlled allies repeatedly run in front of enemy fire and fail to guard you as you dutifully defend/hack/escort/destroy your target. If it weren't for the crippling lag I endured playing online, I'd say just avoid playing alone altogether, but there really isn't any way to make Brink enjoyable to play.

Brink tries to set itself apart from the competition by offering a deep avatar and weapon customization system. Sure, changing your pants or adding a gas mask might look cool in the main menu, but the only time you'll actually see that stuff is during the story sequences bookending each mission. When the strongest asset of the experience doesn't matter in gameplay, well, your game sucks.