So you read a bunch of reviews about Brink and started to wonder if you should even bother trying the game. That was my dilemma. Thankfully, Steam had a "free weekend" event for Brink, and I decided to download the hefty game and create this thorough review.
Brink is gorgeous. The graphics are superb, well done, and just do not have any flaws worth pointing out. The performance of the game is worthy of praise. It does require a lot of your computer, and it might look bad on a console, but if you meet the requirements, the PC version does not disappoint.
The character customization is above standards for shooters, but it is below standards for RPGs. The characters can only be male, no females to be found, at all. The character hair styles are very limited and could use a few more styles for those of us who like to have characters who look like ourselves. Face models are actually fairly nice, but some players may not like the elderly, aged look... or the lack of female characters.
Brink has gun customization features I have not seen in a previous shooter. You can view each gun in a 3d space and customize its components in an upgrade fashion. You can add a shield to your gun to help protect you when shooting, or you can add a knife to do more damage with melee attacks. I did not delve too deep into this aspect of the game due to time restraints, but it looked very similar to the character customization.
The mix of RPG "level up" features and shooter gameplay really works well, and I applaud the effort that went into the menu system. It is not a comfortable system and could use a clearer navigation path, but it looks great, and it gets the job done.
The basic gameplay is, after all, a first-person shooter. You jump, crouch, aim, and obviously, shoot. Do not forget, reload. Being a somewhat new shooter, it also has sprinting and some nifty acrobatic climbing and sliding animations. Most of these animations work surprisingly well, but I could never get the crouch or slide to work for me, and even when sprinting, characters move very slowly.
Aiming is fairly easy and very comfortable. The HUD, on the other hand, is messy and scattered. Some actions are not clearly presented on the screen, so some guess work is needed when learning the controls and getting around the first few mission objectives. Single-player is just multiplayer with bots, so I can say Brink does not have a proper story mode, but you do have the option to play through the story objectives, they're just multiplayer maps with story objectives, nothing special.
Side note: Many other reviewers tend to mention the tutorial video in the beginning of the game, and I would like to point out that it is completely optional and the bonus XP or experience points are easily gained by playing the game. The tutorial is not interesting and does not help to understand the controls or the way the gameplay feels.
The default controls are, for the most part, normal FPS goodness, and everything can be customized fairly easily. Unfortunately, you cannot pause the game! Huge oversight there, devs!
You run out of ammo a lot. You also cannot take ammo from dead enemies, and for a while, I could not find a way to replenish ammo. You die a lot because of lack of ammo -or grenades being thrown all around you- and when you die, it seems like you are stuck on the ground, but there is a way to respawn, it just is not automatic.
The audio is subpar. Music is almost non-existent, and the voice acting, while not horrible, is implemented in annoyingly repetitive ways. Throughout the game, characters repeat the same lines over and over again, and usually, those lines are not even necessary. During the videos, however, everything is good.
I think this game could use a proper story mode instead of just multiplayer maps with a story behind them. The story provided is very bland and uninteresting. The only reason I sat through the story was it looked fantastic. Visuals in this game are second to none, but that still cannot hide the fact that I did not like the plot. Why are the two sides fighting? To paraphrase a reference nobody remembers anymore, why can't they all just get along?
Overall, the game was just too frustrating to thoroughly enjoy. If the developers spent more time perfecting gameplay and giving us more offline content, it might have been worth my time. It was a nice time spent, however, considering I was curious about it and had a free weekend to try it, but Brink is not worth buying until it drops below the $20 mark, in my opinion. A better option for a multiplayer game is Team Fortress 2, which is free now, anyway, but if you are only after graphical appeal, Brink is worth staring at.
Another thing to look for when browsing PC games is the system requirements. There are really 4 things you need to worry about: RAM or memory, processor, video card, and finally, the hard drive space. Memory can be upgraded fairly easily, and it shouldn't cost much. We recommend having at least 1GB memory, 2GB if possible. Your processor needs to be fairly modern, and a Pentium 4 probably won't cut it. We recommend a 1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo or better. Your video card should support DirectX 9 (or higher) and have a minimum of 256mb memory attached to it. We recommend 512mb or greater. Hard drive space is subjective, but we recommend having a fairly large amount of space. You could settle for as little as 40gb and be able to play most games, but we recommend having 80gb or more space to make sure you have room for multiple games at once. Most PC games don't run straight from their disc. They usually require an install process, and most modern games require around 8gb of free space to install.
PCs are the ultimate game console, because they can be upgraded, and they will never go out of style. PCs can also play most old game systems through emulators, so if you lose your Playstation, you can just play your games on your PC. You can also play classic arcade titles and have infinite coins!
A lot of people complain about having to use a mouse and keyboard to play PC games. This isn't a requirement, fortunately, and we have what we call gamepads or joypads. Yes, we can use game controllers! We can even use Xbox controllers! That said, it's not as plug-and-play as a game console, and some games simply will not work with your joypad. Fortunately, Steam tells you if games support controllers, and if your favorite game doesn't support them, you can map the controllers to keyboard and mouse controls.
Just be careful when buying PC games. Read reviews carefully. If a game gets a 1/5, don't buy it. If your PC is a cheapie, don't expect modern 3d games to work. Read the system requirements very carefully. If you don't know anything about your system, you can find help in the PC Stuff forum.