So I guess I am always about 6 months behind the curve when it comes to playing new games. The art style in Brink is cool - refreshing - But there are a few problems with the game.
They have a million different customizations for characters, and yet, we hardly ever see them up close. You rarely have time to admire the characters in this game. They will flash in front of your screen for a second before you are required to shoot them(if they are on the other team) or get away from them because they are in your line of site(if they are on your own team).
The level design is another thing I thought was flawed(not the art style but just the level layouts). It seems like there are alot of chokepoints in the levels. So matches usually end up being a bunch of players firing and throwing grenades through a single doorway. This might have something to do with graphical limitations on level size. Or a desire to reduce the amount of modeling that needs to be done. But it is a big drawback.
The first thing I said to myself when the first level of the game started was "what the heck am I supposed to be doing?" You have this objective wheel. But there is no map system - which I think is a huge mistake. You should be able to look at a map and get a pretty good idea of what the levels look like. What objectives are completed, what still needs to be done. This is essential to any objective based multiplayer game.
Oh and another thing about the objective wheel. Objective wheels are really just circular lists. Supposedly you can access each list item more quickly - but really I think it is just an unnecessary complication. You can sort lists - it's pretty hard to sort an objective wheel.
Also, changing classes was a little confusing to me at first. There are four classes: Soldier, Engineer, Medic, Operative. To change classes, you go to this little computer in your base and it brings up a wheel of classes menu. (again a wheel is really just a circular list - although it works better here) I kept moving the wheel selector to the medic class and hitting the select button. Seemingly nothing happened. After several tries I noticed a little symbol in the top left corner of the screen that was changing. It turns out you have this miniscule symbol in the top left corner of your HUD that tells you what class you are. Other than that, there is no indication that you have changed classes. You don't pop in and out. There is a slight sound effect but you don't switch weapons. No momentary camera angle change. That little symbol just inconspicuously changes. And unless you have played the game long enough to memorize what those symbols are, it is just another confusing HUD item. (The Hud is a mess).
Now instead of having a hundred different kinds of hats for the character models - why not just have four character models - one for medics, one for soldiers, one for operatives and one for engineers. (actually eight - if you consider the other team too). Visual class differentiation is extremely lacking in this game since the character models are fixed. You could be going against a soldier a medic an operative or an engineer - They all look the same!!!
Now let's talk about the SMART movement system. It is cool. It is not like Mirror's Edge though. You never see your legs flying over obstacles. Since it is an FPS, to you it just seems like your floating over stuff. But it is still pretty cool. Sadly you don't get to use it that often because, like I said, the maps usually tend to focus on chokepoints.
I think the biggest mistake the designers made with Brink was they thought players cared about character customization in an FPS. They don't. Maybe they think they do, but they don't. You barely ever get a chance to appreciate character customization in an FPS. Your too busy shooting people. Those resources would have been much better spent on having a map system, and having better first person animation with the SMART movement system (such as legs and hands flying out in front of you like in Mirror's Edge).
They could scrap the character customization(except for visual differentiation of classes), they could scrap the objective wheel, they could even scrap the body types if that would free up resources for making bigger levels(although the body types at least serve a reasonable design goal). The levels need to feel less cramped.
When your competing against FPS's like Battlefield 3 and MW 3, as a relatively small developer, you can't afford to make any big mistakes. Unfortunately, in Brink's case they made a couple doozy's and a bunch of little ones.
Let me know if I mispoke on anything about this game - I've only played it for about four hours total. - I'm going to keep trying because I think that somewhere in this mess there is a good game. I'll write another post if I discover my first impressions of this game were completely off - but mostly it echos what I have heard from other people. And I've got to be movin' on to my Christmas game bonanza soon. (Skyrim, TOR, MW3, Battlefield 3, etc.)