In May 2011, I was hyped beyond belief for a new multiplayer FPS game to land on my computer screen. Featuring a unique art-style with an emphasis on character customization and Enemy Territory-style cooperative multiplayer action, Brink was going to be that game. Of course, wanting friends along for the ride, I spread my excitement as best I could to those closest to me. When Brink turned out to be a complete piece of shit, my reputation as having a good read on new games took a huge dive. I’m still recovering it to this day, but it is always important to remember the lessons I learned from Brink.
I am still not 100% certain how Brink slipped through the cracks. It could’ve been the game’s solid marketing. Much like Warhammer Online before it, it hit the market perfectly on appealing to my competitive, multiplayer side. It was “different” yet still “old-school; it was “flashy” yet still “grounded. Brink took the parkour movement of Mirror’s Edge and added it to a FPS, which gave the game an even flashier, more active-look. Truthfully, parkour was the only thing the game got right.
Beyond movement, the game was a muddled mess of poor level design and boring classes. It just played wrong. My friends and I sank a solid six to seven hours into the game at launch, but it was pretty obvious early on there was a problem. For one, the matches were objective-based, but featured objectives on completable by specific classes. I am sure in time, the select few people who enjoyed the game enough to stick around found this design really rewarding, but for my friends and I, it was maddening. “Oh, you like that class?” Too bad because we need someone to switch immediately to something they are terrible at to zerg down this objective. I don’t remember many of our matches finishing in any way beyond wasting out the entire time limit.
We all paid full price for Brink. It still remains as one of the few times where I have felt completely let down by media coverage of the game and my own inability to see beyond its marketing/hype. I was sold a dud and I had to eat that entire cost.
I learned a lot though. The simple, “look before you leap, even if leaping has nifty parkour animations to it” has remained a mainstay rule in my gaming consumerism. All of my consumption, actually, has become governed by crowdsourced opinions and careful researching via the Internet. Both of which require braver, richer consumers to leap first.
It can be dangerous to wait too long. Sometimes you miss great deals, other times you miss out on the bulk of discovery and that initial community experience that never gets replicated again. It is a balancing act to choose which games you want to buy day one. More importantly, it requires a great deal of self-awareness and patience NOT to unknowingly spread hype to friends. Lest they blame you for a game you “forced” them to buy years later.
To certain friends of friends, I am the “guy who said buy Brink.” According to the wisdom of the movie Brink, “You are defined by the company you keep and how well you keep it. Not by what you just happen to do.”
Cut me some slack guys, we are soul gamers!