I have to be honest, I don’t often look towards the future. If you believe anything you read or see it’s all going to end one of 2 ways: either we’re all going to die from fire or flooding; or China’s going to buy all of us and force us all to make inferior products for Mattel. One small shred of comfort, though, is that, if the last one’s anything to go by, we’re not due a religious rapture. Although Simon Cowell’s massively fixed TV shows still exist, so maybe it’s just taking a little longer than everyone thought. The general consensus is that we’re all going to die because we’ve buggered up the environment, so Brink’s had the good idea of showing us what that future will be like.
So it’s the near future and, to combat global warming, a government group have set up a small floating island known as “The Ark” while resisting, much to my surprise, the urge to call it something like “USA Freedom Land”. Yes, it is a utopia, and apparently one where everyone speaks Jamaican, even the white guys, so perhaps we should be watching out for those guys in future. So inevitably things on Earth go tits up, the water levels rise, and everyone flocks to the Ark in the hope of finding a better life. Want to take a guess at how that turns out? Exactly. Now, since this needs to be a realistic society that reflects modern times, the island needs to be split into 2 groups, and this is where you come in.
At the start of the game you can play for one of 2 totally different groups. You can be a member of the island’s security forces (a bunch of murderous tossers who want to wipe out the other group and stay on the island), or the customary rebel group (a bunch of murderous tossers who want to wipe out the other group and leave the island to look for… something). I’m not entirely sure what they’re looking for, but dammit, they’re going to look for it! Now, here’s where my entire opinion on Brink is revealed. The security people should have just let the other guys go do whatever it they want to do, and it would have saved me a few hours that I’m never going to get back now.
Yes, it turns out that despite all of its hype, Brink is actually a bit shit, and it’s main problem is the character customisation that it spent so long bigging up. You start with choosing one of 4 categories (soldier, medic, operative or engineer), and then change your character’s appearance accordingly. It’s okay, though, you can change class in-mission if you need to. Anyway, character customising. It’s a good idea in theory, but when you’re in a war between 2 equally muddy and dirty groups of warriors it’s hard enough to tell at first glance who’s on which side without taking fully customised characters into the equation. I went for a character that looked surprisingly like a deformed Bruce Willis from Die Hard if you squint a bit, but as soon as you put a hat or a vest on him then he looks completely different to how he started, and this is a major problem. What was at first a small problem where you had to take a second to work out if the big, burly guy or the big, burly guy with a slightly different hat is the one you’re meant to be putting 12 holes in, has now turned into numerous utterings of “Is that one of… oh, no time to think, I’ll just shoot. Ah shit, he was on my team”.
Now, there was a chance for the gameplay to save the game, but unfortunately it’s pretty awful as well. Instead of choosing to play the game’s missions in any order, I chose to play in the correct order. I’d chosen to be a soldier working for the security forces, and my first objective was to plant a bomb on a door and defend it for a little bit until it blew. Simple enough, right? Well, no. The mission started and I immediately pressed a wrong button, threw a grenade, and killed all my team-mates. After quickly restarting, we all ran around a bit, encountering no actual enemies. Once we got within 20 metres of the door i was starting to think this was going to be too easy. I was all set to pause and increase the difficulty when out popped 20 of the bastards from the ether, all of whom were carrying grenades and big guns aimed squarely at my testicles and nipples respectively. After doing the customary COD ducking, shooting and running behind cover for a little while, the rebels dipped into their bags and pulled out magical cover-piercing grenades that instantly left me with a mild case of death. I was all set to be revived by a medic, but he was distracted b a post-apocalyptic butterfly, so I died.
Luckily in this game death is nothing more than a mere inconvenience, so I was given a friendly slap on the back at the starting point and was sent on my way. Now, this is where the vision problems I mentioned earlier took hold, and I quickly realised that the only way I was going to be able to gain any kills would be to get quit close to the enemy. My character type was able to withstand a few bullets, so I ran out to kill the nearest enemy to me, whereupon I was immediately insta-killed by a punch to the face. Things weren’t going well.
After restarting yet again, I used the nearest command post to change my class from soldier to operative. My logic was that getting to the door was now somebody else’s responsibility, and at the first sign of trouble my newly gained parkour skills would enable me to get a quick getaway. Turns out my idea wasn’t actually that good. The guy who now had the responsibility of planting the bomb had no interest in doing such things, and endeavoured to get himself killed at every opportunity. And my parkour skills are no match for a game that decides to spawn enemies from nowhere right where I’m running. I gave up at this point, and decided to quit to the main menu and do the levels in any order.
As for the ending… well, I never got that far. I rented it for a week, but stopped caring about it after about 3 days. It was so unbelievably infuriating that I gave up, and if anyone feels the need to tell me how they completed every single mission in the game within 5 minutes then don’t, because I really do not care. If you want to play a shooting game, play Call Of Duty. If you want to play a post- apocalyptic game, play Fallout. And if you want to play a team shooting game, play Team Fortress 2. I was really disappointed, because Brink was made by Bethesda, who made Fallout, and I hoped some of the magic would rub off. But no. Instead we have to put up with this train wreck, which leaves you hoping that that stupid island and all of its stupid inhabitants fall into the fucking ocean.