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15 Jun 2011

Brink Review - PS3 (tested)

After hitting the streets nearly a month ago Brink has caused a few divides; initial reviews were damning but reviewing an online game without a community is a stretch. Follow-up reviews started to see what Splash Damage was trying to do and parts of the community started to take notice.

When gameplay videos and details first became available to the public, the game seemed to offer much more; it looked great and promised some interesting stuff. The finished product, let's be honest, didn't quite get there but it has delivered a slick and varied online shooter that is certainly fun to play.

Visually, the game has a certain style and holds to it well. The characterisation of player and non-player models reminds me of Timesplitters or 2000AD characters in the way they are drawn. The levels are detailed enough, and while not being as tightly modelled as a COD map, they do their job well. While some might complain about the lack of detail and dressing in these levels, I really haven't noticed as the game runs at a fast enough pace that you don’t need to spend time poking around in dark corners.

The front end is clean and refreshing, putting you in reach of your character customisation and is driven by a simple menu, again a clear message that this game is something other than a generic FPS franchise as it does not need the gloss. The character and appearance customisation unlocks with experience progression and can be fun to use. The end result is generally satisfying and furthers your feeling that this is your online presence. One aspect that isn't a skill is the SMART movement button, a fitting acronym for a parkour sprint button. Hold it down and you are given a mix of skill that belongs in Mirror's Edge and Assasin's Creed. The SMART system allows the running player to vault

low objects and clamber or jump up taller objects. It makes movement engaging and, depending on your chosen body type, different levels of athleticism will be available.

The classes available are typical: Soldier, Medic, Engineer and Operative. Each with their own subset of unlockable skills and abilities along with a generic set that covers all classes. This is where I start to like Brink, the RPG-like progression. Your character will gain experience whether you are playing with bots, with people or just completing the challenge rooms. Experience means levels and levels mean upgrades. The more you play, the more skills and toys you will have to play with. The upgrades themselves offer some attractive buffs or gadgets and while offering the

player more options, they never veer too far from the ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ parameters.

Buffs are also reminders of the team-based nature of Brink, playing as an engineer I can ‘buff’ teammates by supplying them with enhanced firepower for a while, buffs are varied and can help to turn the tide.

Add to this mix the ability to change your class on the fly at Control Point, which is essential in bot heavy games as the AI lacks some of the tactical nous of human teammates, and things start to get interesting.

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