After having a wonderful time, making new friends, and exploring Seattle last October, I decided to once again make the trek back this year for the second Geek Girl Con. I wasn’t the only one returning to GGC, the delightful ladies of Bioware joined me as well. This year there were two panels, the first of which was a presentation on the life cycle of a level. Moderated by Jessica Merizan, panelists included, Mary Kirby (writer), Raylene Deck (level designer), Sarah Hayward (cinematic designer), Karin Weekes (senior editor), and Melanie Fleming (localization producer).
By now you’ve heard, Brink isn’t doing so hot. While we really wanted to like Brink, the final product was nothing short of a disaster. Here is a break-down and analysis of the game’s major flaws and poor design decisions. To clarify, I spent approxamately ten hours with the game trying out a variety of classes and weapon combinations, and my highest level character is level 11. A copy of the game was NOT provided by Bethesda.
The Single Player Campaign
When we talked to Ed Stern back in March he told us that Brink would contain a robust single player campaign filled with backstory and a wide variety of missions. We even went as far as saying “At last a unique multiplayer FPS?” When I finally got to sit down and play Brink’s campaign on Tuesday, I became fully aware at how that was NOT the case. The single player campaign, is simply the mutiplayer game with A.I. bots taking the place of human opponents. Now, bots can function just fine in an FPS, and they’ve been used for years, but sadly, these aren’t THOSE bots. The bots in Brink act as if they were coded for last generation’s console. In one instance our team’s objective was to pick up and deliver a package of sensitive data. My own team’s A.I. became my worst enemy. Like a never ending fail-cycle, the “friendly” bots would pick up the data and run leisurely into a cluster of enemies only to get gunned down with the data in hand. The enemies would then grab the data sending it all the way across the map to its initial spawn location. This happened over and over again like a NyQuill infused fever dream, until I eventually delivered the data myself. Honestly, It was incredibly frustrating and I never want to do it again… But wait, there’s more.
The Game Play
Something happened between PAX: East and release, and I have no clue what it was. I distinctly remember being able to hug cover and lean out of terrain in order to fire at my enemies. This option has since been removed, (CORRECTION: oops, you have to hit the D-PAD while zoomed in after pressing the left trigger…). The guns, while there are many, all feel the same. I swear that they’re firing BBs and not bullets. Although the weapons don’t appear to do a ton of damage, get prepared to die a whole lot. Even though the enemy A.I. can’t do much, it sure can shoot. You’ll be spending a good portion of your time laying on your back wondering who or what killed you. Sounds like fun huh? A pro-gamer ninja could not react to the gunfire in Brink, because it defies the laws of physics and makes no logical sense.
Brink does have something good going for it, character customization. Splash Damage did a good job motivating the player to keep playing. If the game-play were a bit better, I would have been totally hooked. Each of the four classes offer a solid variety of unlocks, from turrets to grenades. Hundreds of aesthetic unlocks can also be earned, but I never really noticed them on my player or on my enemies. I opted to make my Engineer look like Blain from Predator, and while he looked the part, he totally had time to bleed…over and over. The customization would have been stellar, if the things you were customizing were worth a shit. After a few hours of completing challenges, I was able to customize my weapons with new scopes, muzzles, and do-dads. In the end I had a bad-ass-rapid-fire-Red-Rider-BB-gun…. sad… Can I please shoot my eyes out?
For a game with an incredibly limited single player experience, the multiplayer MUST be spectacular…. Well, it’s broken… badly. As I’m writing this, Splash Damage is trying to get their net-code fixed and are rolling out dedicated servers for their PC players. With the PSN still down, that means XBL players will have to suffer through ungodly lag and chop. No matter how many times I tried multiplayer, it was simply unplayable. I do plan on keeping my copy of the game for a bit in order to see if the mutiplayer issue is ever resolved. No single player and a broken multiplayer? Really?
How much is this game worth?
Brink costs about $65.00 new with tax. For a game that has no single player campaign, a broken multiplayer, and terrible A.I., how much is it worth? It takes a lot for me to write a scathing negative review of a game, but I work damn hard for my money and for the first time in ages I feel a bit ripped off. Brink should have been an downloadable title for about $20.00, not $60.00. Somewhere along the line Brink lost its way and used Bethesda’s kick ass P.R. department to save its ass. Could Brink have been a great game? Totally, but Brink needed another 6 months to a year of work before it shipped. While the game was already long-delayed, word of mouth is going to end up obliterating Brink’s legacy..It could have been something spectacular, and that’s what makes me so damn livid.