Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Have You Played isn’t always a recommendation – first and foremost it’s a discussion about a game. And Splash Damage’s team shooter Brink certainly brooks discussion, in this case about the question “what went wrong?” Because it’s not as though the game itself was anything like a disaster, yet still its name seems to get passed around as an example of high-profile failure.
Splash Damage’s second follow-up to the revered Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory strove to have the slickness that its predecessor, the massively ambitious but fiddly Quake Wars, did not. Then it tried to introduce a narrative structure around it, together with a ton of character customisation. I remember early buzz, including when I talked to a group of RPS readers who’d just played a couple of rounds at EGX, was extremely positive.
So what went wrong?
Truth be told, it was fine. But in a world where we already have both Team Fortress 2 doing the wildly asymetrical classes thing and Call of Duty doing the straight-up shooting thing, perhaps there wasn’t room for something in the middle, parkour or not. It didn’t help that Brink was oddly anodyne given how much work had clearly gone into world-building, and that its body mass-based equipment system resulted in seemingly arbitrary and confusing load-out choices. That publisher Bethesda seemed to drop it like a hot potato, with no patches or add-ons until months after release, perhaps sealed its fate.
I guess I just feel sorry for Brink. It made its mistakes and it most definitely didn’t live up to its own hype, but it had a solid core, and I never like to see ‘good but flawed’ devolve into ‘disaster!’ in internet discussion.