This is not your common or garden first person shooter. If you're expecting to hop onto the game's doomed floating city and be treated to a bedtime story about the end of the world as you leisurely perforate waves of treacle-thick terrorists you're going to be distinctly out of your depth. Brink is about two equally populated teams locking horns over a series of objectives.
This is a multiplayer shooter in the old-school mould - the pace of the action is relentless and solo players are only ever in training for the main event, Xbox Live conflict. The story is a distinctly light touch, with only brief bookending cutscenes for every match and optional audio logs for the more inquisitive. In the fray, you're not offered much more scene-setting than a man barking in your ear to peg it to the front line.
In spite of this, as a lone player it's entertaining enough - not least because of the punchy weaponry and array of well thought out perks. Occasionally your AI buddies will be infuriatingly nonchalant about a rapidly approaching time limit and amusingly they're far more attentive medics than your average XBL oik, but otherwise they provide a convincing recreation of real player behaviour.
It's adding other human beings to the mix, though, that allows Brink to really sing. Even just teaming up with a single friend and working together to lock down a defensive position or make a mad dash for a hack objective massively enriches the experience.
It's clear the game has been meticulously balanced, as you'd expect from multiplayer specialist Splash Damage, but it's not without wrinkles. Usually because objectives take time to complete, it's a matter of a position being too easily defensible by the other team - at certain points you'll be able to drop a couple of turrets and chuck out landmines at a chokepoint and bring all but the very best squads to a dead halt. Splash Damage reckons it'll be tweaking the way matches flow post release, but whether that extends to level architecture itself remains to be seen.
Brink is going to suit very specific tastes, and if you don't have Xbox Live you're probably better off knocking a couple of points off the score. For those with willing and able buddies and a blinged subscription though, this is a delightfully technical team-based shooter. Few multiplayer FPS games furnish you with unique anecdotes about valiant last stands and over-the-trench assaults but Brink is full of them.
A meticulously designed Live shooter
- Rich team play
- Guns feel great
- Unique visual style
- Occasionally moronic AI
- Not really for solo play