It’s been a long time coming, but Brink, Bethesda Softworks and Splash Damage’s class-based first-person shooter is finally here. Brink does a lot of interesting new things and happens to be plagued by some annoying quirks, but overall it’s an interesting take on a team-based and movement-heavy shooter. With the proper care and attention it could be a great title.The game is set in the future, aboard a floating city called The Ark that’s been isolated from the rest of the world for over 20 years due to rising sea levels and environmental disaster. The denizens of the Ark are split into two factions: those who want to start looking for other humans in the world and leave the Ark, and those who want to protect the Ark and keep the population there safe from outsiders.AdChoices广告Customization and ClassesAs soon as you get past the opening cut-scene, you have a choice to make. You’re immediately asked to select a faction: will you save the Ark or escape it? Once you’ve made your selection, you can move right into customizing your character. There’s remarkably little you can really do to tweak the look and appearance of your character from the get-go aside from change his face and skin tone, but as you progress through the game you’ll unlock items to wear like masks and new outfits.You can tweak the size and build of your character as well, which plays a role in how you get around in the game (more on that later,) but since you can change it at any time, it’s not really notable when it comes to personalization. When it comes to gameplay however, it’s pretty important.You also get the option to select a voice actor to represent your character, so you get a real choice in how your character sounds to your teammates. Don’t get too thrilled about it though: there are only a handful of voices to choose from, so you’re bound to hear the same voices over and over again. Even so, it’s a nice touch.Once you’ve finished customizing your character, you can head into your character’s options and select your default class, default weapons, and more. You can select any of four classes as your default: soldier, engineer, operative, and medic. Soldiers are your usual gun-toting bruisers, and their special abilities involve explosives, grenades, and heavy ordinance. They can also replenish teammates’ ammo supplies. Engineers can drop turrets, build barricades, and buff teammates’ weapons. Operatives can disguise as the enemy and hack fallen enemies for their team’s locations. Medics, predictably, can heal teammates and revive them when they go down.You can switch between classes at any time at a command post, and different classes are needed for different objectives. You’ll likely find yourself switching classes frequently to complete missions, especially if – as usually happens – everyone else picks a class and sticks with it. Engineers have to build barricades in some places, for example, and operatives have to hack terminals in others – there’s no getting around it, and if your team doesn’t have one of those types, you’ll have to wait to complete the objective until you do.At the same time, the classes don’t have too much distinction in movement or play style between them until you have a special operation to perform, so while there’s nothing special about playing one class over another (except for Medics, who are always in demand) it’s also good to know you won’t be punished for choosing a class you haven’t played often in the past.Movement and GameplayPerhaps the most innovative and fun part of Brink is the movement system, called SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain.) This is where the size and shape of your character come in. If you’ve picked a particularly bulky bruiser, you’ll get to play with the biggest and baddest guns, but you won’t be able to slide across floors or bounce off walls. If you have a smaller, more light character, you’ll find yourself almost holding down the SMART button to scale walls, jump across gaps, and slide past enemies to shoot them in the back.Since movement is so important in Brink, the SMART system really adds a fun way to get around. You really will feel like you’re standing on top of fences shooting down at your opponents, and pretty quickly you’ll feel pretty good hopping over walls and tumbling to cover while the other team (or the bots, in campaign mode) shoots at you.Brink has some serious RPG elements to it. As you play, you’ll earn experience from killing enemies, completing main and secondary objectives, playing as a team, guarding or defending, and by using your class special ability to help your teammates.As you level up, you’ll get points to spend on weapons, skills, abilities, and even some class-specific traits that are only really good if you prefer one class over the others. On the bright side though, all of the abilities you gain or spend points on stick with you, so you can always use or toggle them at any time: you just have to remember you have them. The game caps out at level 20, and tries to prevent high-level players from dominating low-level ones by keeping them apart in matches.Your persistent character may only get to level up to 20, but the fact that there are so many options, skills, and abilities to choose from will have you rolling different characters to try different traits. Even though you can always switch sides or tweak your character’s size and class, the real reason Brink allows you to roll new characters is to play with the abilities.At the same time, as great as the abilities, RPG elements, and movement are, the core gameplay feels a little unfinished and rough around the edges. Textures load as you approach them, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s very obvious. The gameplay quickly gets repetitive, and the only way to change it is to switch classes and try a different role. Still, the game looks great while you’re playing it, with plenty of detailed environments and maps.The other big problem is the lack of content. The game just needs more maps, more campaigns, and more areas. The zones are large, which is nice, but by the time you’ve played them all you’re still hungry for more. Similarly, the game has a huge catalog of weapons, but so many of them feel the same that it’s difficult to really justify switching your loadout once you’ve found something you like. A little differentiation, at least in feel, would be great. Thankfully, both of these issues are ones that can be fixed with updates and map packs.Story and WorldThe game’s story is interesting, and the duality between the Resistance and Security is stark, if only in plot. The characters and gameplay don’t really change between factions. The problem with the story is that it feels half-implemented, as if important elements were taken out for the sake of action. You don’t get introduced to many non-player characters that actually play a real role in the game, and the story stops short of making you really care about the cause you’re fighting for.The whole utopia-turned-dystopia idea is a great one, and the combination of an internal rebellion to decide the fate of the Ark along with a deadly plague spreading across its populace are a great foundation to what could have been a much better story. Sadly, it all really serves as set dressing and you don’t really have a vested interest in it, even if you fail the campaigns.That’s a really big shame: the premise of Brink is really compelling, and it feels like the writers behind the game didn’t have the opportunity to flesh out the story as much as they would have liked. Similarly, the character you play isn’t really one of importance: you’re either a member of Security or a member of the Resistance. You get important info through second-hand conversations, but you don’t feel important in any way. That’s a double-edged sword – you won’t feel bad about dying, but you also don’t feel connected to the world.Even so, if you’re in it for the multiplayer, that won’t make much difference: you can jump right in and play the campaigns against other real people. The only real difference between the single player and the multiplayer mode is the order of the campaigns and the cut-scenes between them in the single player mode – and the often-horrible bots that make up the opposing faction.ConclusionBrink was released on May 10th in the US, May 12th in Australia, and May 13th in the EU. Expect to see more players popping online over the coming weeks. That’s a great thing, because Brink is best played as a multi-player game against other opponents. Some may take the approach that while Brink is pretty and has some great ideas, it feels unfinished and will only appeal to hardcore fans. We’d agree that it feels unfinished, but disagree that the game is probably only for fans that love shooters: the heavy emphasis on teamwork (you won’t survive without friends for long,) the sci-fi dystopian backdrop, and the RPG elements make Brink a great game for players of all experience levels, especially people looking for something new and different.Still, the glaring lack of maps, the absence of varying styles of play on those maps, and the half-hearted story make it difficult to be really vested in Brink even if you do play. The game is probably best played on the PC (which is how we reviewed it) so you can make use of dedicated servers with settings that match the way you want to play. If you want a more challenging experience, try a server with friendly-fire on, for example.We had fun playing Brink, and will probably keep at it. You do feel rewarded at the end of a campaign when you’ve leveled your character or earned a few points to spend, but Bethesda and Splash Damage will have to bring some new maps and gameplay modes to the table to make Brink a game that’ll stick around. Brink suffers from the “so much potential” problem. The groundwork is there, and we like it so far, it just feels like the game should have baked a little longer to work out the issues and get some more content strapped on.If you’ve been looking forward to Brink, you likely won’t be disappointed. It’s difficult to tell anyone to run out and grab it right now though – it’ll feel more worth the money when the price comes down a bit, or as soon as Bethesda and Splash Damage announce a new map pack or some DLC for the game.Brink is available for the PC, XBox 360, and PlayStation 3.brink_logobrink_logoBrink-WallpaperBrink-TattoosBrink-SpecOpsBrink-ArkThis article was written using the PC version of the game, provided by Bethesda Softworks.