I got in a few more hours this wweek (not nearly enough!), and I have some initial thoughts and, gods forgive me, feelings. Of course I’ve been reading the rather mixed reviews–some good, some bad and a lot that note that the game had/has a lot of potential that it didn’t live up to. Granted there was a lot of hype about this game as it was being published by Bethesda and used id Tech for the engine and expectations for something awesome was high.
I didn’t even start the campaign at first as I wanted to get as much multiplayer as possible–and also complete some of the excellent challenge mode missions. The challenge missions are all quite fun. There are only four types (variable objectives, parkur, escort and tower defense) and each gives a ton of unlocks when completed. They are difficult without being impossible, and they expose the nuances of the gameplay that I missed jumping directly into multiplayer and just shooting everyone. The parkur challenges are the best and I expect to see tons more puzzle missions like this going forward, even some Parkur races would be fun in this engine.
Gameplay is pretty frantic, but not as twitchy as UT3 or Quake as movement rates are much slower. It’s difficult to run and gun by design, though the game certainly encourages constant movement. There are no gibs and no blood that I saw and one major difference from other games (and the first time I’ve seen this in multiplayer): health regenerates. iI you get shot up and run away and hide, your health comes back after a time as if all the characters in the game were little Wolverines. In addition, when you do get capped, you have a choice, you can either wait for a medic to rez you, or ‘sign up’ to be in the next reinforcement wave (hits about every 15 seconds). So if a big massacre happens, it can occur that your whole team is back in the respawn area. This gives an interesting flow to the game, one the jury is still out on for me due to what I’ve seen most in the multiplayer: Spawn camping.
Even the bots do it. A couple nights ago I was playing against two other guys, and so the server was filled with bots. Once we closed the other team off in their base, the bots hung around right there and built turrets (like 4 of them over the course of the map) and with the exception of the human players who were filled with hijinks (of course), the opposing bots were mowed down as soon as they left their spawn.
And that’s an issue with Brink, not a bad one really because it allows you to play any time without having a full slate of human players, but an issue nonetheless. If you jump on a server with 2-3 people– the server automatically fills the empty slots with a ton of bots all over the place, so it’s very difficult to tell what the game is really like with all real, human people. I have yet to get on a full server filled with only human beings– that’s going to be the true test of the game. As most human-only servers are full all the time, you end up fighting the bots… a lot.
I did get to the campaign a bit and no sir, I don’t like it. The bots all crowd around objectives, running all over outside of cover, not working together except to attack en masse, just shooting while standing in the open and tossing grenades. After 2 missions (about 15-20 minutes each), I was pretty tired of it. The bots on your side don’t help when they should and sometimes seem totally godlike on the other side at times. Added to the fact that most maps have a single big firefight in one central area of 2-3 rooms for most of the game time doesn’t help either. Brink is not a game that you should buy for the single player. While the challenge missions are really fun, the campaign itself is simply the multiplayer maps with bots and a short intro, and the latter is a lot better with actual human players. Like Battlefield/BF2142– I would have scrapped single player all together if this is what it’s going to be like, instead, since they do have bots, just make it so you can play multi-player matches against bots.