We didn't. As much as we adore the game's quirky art-direction, the plot is utter nonsense. You're situated on a water-based city known as the Ark, but there's chaos aboard the warring location as its inhabitants are divided by two factions: the Security and the Resistance. Cut-scenes try to tie the narrative together and make you care about the factions but they fall short, and force you to skip through them at the earliest opportunity.
To some degree, Brink gets away with its shoddy narrative. Despite promising to bridge the gap between single-player, co-op and competitive gameplay, the game is very much focused on its multiplayer. So much so, the single-player is a big disappointment. Offline, you're essentially playing multiplayer against bots. While the gameplay is functionally fine here, the bots are pretty stupid, stripping away any of the team-based tactical gameplay that developer Splash Damage has attempted to breed online.
Thankfully, Brink is much more exciting when played online with other human participants. You can play online in co-op against the AI, or in versus against human opponents. Both methods are fun in their own way. Because the AI is so stupid, well organised teams will steam-roll the enemy in co-op which can be quite satisfying. Versus is much more demanding, insisting on solid communication with your team as you try to overhaul a similarly capable enemy faction.
Objectives change on the fly, requiring teams to make use of the game's mix of player classes. Brink's not doing anything particularly original with its team driven gameplay, giving players a choice between soldiers, operatives, engineers and medics. But the action is balanced and fun, with each class bringing a unique set of benefits to the team dynamic.
If you choose to play Brink offline, you'll easily get through the game's two campaigns in under four hours. It's online that the game comes alive however, significantly enhancing the replayability of the title's slim roster of missions.
It's worth clarifying that Brink's missions and objectives remain the same in whichever mode you choose to play them. Unlike other first-person shooters with multiple campaigns, Brink has just one that transcends seamlessly across each of the game's modes. We had a lot of fun playing the game in co-op as opposed to competitively or alone. In co-op you play with several other human controlled characters against a group of AI controlled bots. Here we thoroughly enjoyed working with other players to overcome the AI, without feeling the tension and pressure of fighting against real human opponents. Despite the crossover of the campaign, Brink is a different experience whichever way you choose to experience it. In single-player the campaign is a touch dry, as you're forced to make up for the AI's incompetence by essentially facing the objectives all on your own. Competitive is the opposite of this, forcing you to interact persistently with your team-mates as you try to overhaul a similarly capable group of opponents.
There's a real unique style to Brink's character design that you're either going to love or hate. We adore the slinky, exaggerated features of the game's cast, but can acknowledge that it won't be for everyone. Brink allows you to customise numerous aspects of your character, including gear and clothing. The game would benefit immensely from more clothing options, but there's enough on offer to keep your character looking relatively unique online.
Splash Damage said that it wanted to bring colour to the first-person shooter genre with Brink, and the British based developer has definitely succeeded. In an industry dominated by greys and browns, Brink stands out with its super clean interface and bold environments. The game can look a bit sterile in places, with flat textures and big blocks of colours reducing the overall quality of the image, but its bright colour palette is packed with uplifting shades, giving Brink an identifiable look that stands apart from everything else.
A big part of Brink's build-up pertained to the game's SMART mechanic — an acronym that essentially pertains to your character's ability to run, jump, slide and climb. SMART gives the game a really acrobatic feel, that makes it fun to rush through the environments at break-neck speeds, jostling over obstacles and leaping through the environments. In some regards the action feels a bit like Assassin's Creed from a first-person perspective. The mechanic ultimately gives the game a sense of urgency. Brink is not a slow shooter and is dependent on your ability to move quickly and make fast decisions. The pace of the game is mimicked in the weaponry, with many guns offering an intense rate-of-fire that makes the action brash and in-your-face.
"Why even bother?" is the underlying sentiment we came away from Brink pondering. Cut-scenes bookend each of the game's missions, but just get in the way of the game's relentless pacing. It's fine that you can skip the cinematics, but they don't even need to be there. Splash Damage would argue that the cut-scenes add context to your objectives, but the woeful voice acting and poorly developed characters make them nothing more than a hastily pieced together distraction.
Brink's bots are a big problem, especially when you're playing the game offline. While we've already mentioned it's fun to exploit them in co-op, it's less fun when your success (or lack thereof) is a direct result of their incompetence. Rarely does the AI help you with objectives in single-player, leaving you to go it alone and pray for success. The game's harder than it should be offline as a direct consequence. We attempted one hacking mission numerous times offline before we gave up and resorted to the more efficient support of human controlled partners. The biggest problem is that you just have no control over what the AI is doing. Online you can appeal to your team-mates for support, but that's just not possible offline. And while the AI runs around like headless chickens trying desperately to pick off an enemy or two, you'll be busy trying to actually complete the objectives. Which just isn't much fun.
Brink promises two campaigns, but in essence you just get one set of missions viewed from alternative perspectives. You can choose to play as either the Resistance or the Security across Brink's eight missions. Where you might need to assault a door playing in the Resistance campaign, you will need to protect it in the Security missions and so forth. It makes the package distinctly slim on content, with just eight missions to participate in. There are a selection of challenge modes for you to rush through, as well as a fairly deep character progression system, but the lack of maps and mission variety means you'll quickly run out of steam with what's on offer. The missions themselves are genuinely fun, varied and well designed, but we wished there was more to dig our teeth into.
Splash Damage has tried to make Brink playable without the need for real communication. Characters will scream when they require ammunition, health or help with an objective. Unfortunately, the voices used are irritatingly distracting. The mix of regional accents used are so bold and frequent that they become tiresome extremely quickly. What's worse is that the accents are completely stereotypical: there's the laid-back Jamaican, intense American commando and brazen British gangster. It's funny at first, but the joke quickly loses its appeal as you spend more time with Brink.
At its core, Brink is a thoroughly enjoyable, acrobatic shooter that relies on fast-movement and quick-thinking. The action's weak in single-player, but Brink's innovative integration of co-operative and competitive multiplayer keeps the gameplay fresh online. Brink would benefit from additional content, but there's enough included on the disc to keep you coming back in short bursts.