Brink is a beautiful game. Let’s get that out of the way first since, well, everything beyond the game’s art design needs work. Some environments are modern, shiny and slick with a minimum of clutter; others are dirty and rusted, industrial. But every environment is full of bright colors, but not sun-soaked or oversaturated. The game’s palette is quite cool. It’s all very pretty.
And the character design is very distinct, slightly exaggerated. Heads are sometimes too small, faces can be too long and jaws, too wide. Arms may be too thick and torsos, too thin. But nothing is so exaggerated that it becomes unfamiliar.
Even the customizable clothing is best described with “too”: too bulky, too skimpy, too rough, too fetish-y. Security characters have a selection of police and army-like shirts, jackets and pants to choose from, some of which are so bulky that they would not feel out of place in say Antarctica. They certainly don’t seem conducive to the parkour style of moving around in the game. Characters of the opposing faction, the Resistance, sport grungy, punkish attire and seem to enjoy showing off their midriff during a firefight.
Now, on to the rest of the game.
As alluded to, there’s a ridiculous number of ways to customize your character in Brink. You can add and modify scars, tattoos, paint and hair, all on your face. You can wear glasses or different masks. You can sport full-body tattoos and choose from a wide selection of shirts, jackets, and pants. And there are different sets of everything for Resistance and Security characters. But it’s not all freely available. Almost everything unlocks as you progress through the game, gain experience and beat missions.
Of course, none of this has any impact on how the game plays. The only character customization that does is body type, which determines your speed, agility, health, and useable weapons. At the outset you’re only able to choose Medium and you gain the Light and Heavy body types as you gain experience. This seems somewhat silly to me: Why not allow all three types at the outset? I can understand unlockable cosmetic items, but unlockable mechanics that modify gameplay and add variety?
Outside of the body types, there are a number of classes to choose from: Soldier, Medic, Engineer, and Operative. Each class has its own abilities and buffs that it can apply to teammates. Soldiers can hand out ammo to those in need; Medics can increase players’ health. Engineers build turrets and plant hidden landmines, while Operatives disguise as dead enemies and spot hidden landmines.
So, it would seem like there’s some variety, but Medics are never really focused on ‘medicing’ and Engineers are almost never focused on engineering. Both - all classes, in fact - are focused on shooting. Ninety percent of what all classes do in Brink is shoot, and all four classes have access to the same weapons, and all weapons are essentially the same, just slightly modified versions of some standard automatic weapon. There’s a rifle here and a shotgun there, but there are no rocket launchers, no plasma weapons, no remote vehicles. No variety. Regardless of the weapon or class you choose, you’ll be holding down the mouse button on enemies for the majority of the game. Unfortunately, that’s not the only problem with the classes.
Pretty graphics, a distinct character design
Too repetitive, “innovative” features feel incomplete