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Something's askew

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I haven’t been really gripped by a new shooter game since 2007. I’m trying to figure out if I’ve changed, or if the industry’s changed.

I waited up with a bunch of other esports types until Midnight on Monday for Brink to unlock over Steam. In typically wonky Steam fashion, it took a full client restart in order to actually be allowed to open the game. I played for an hour or so, being largely confused for most of that time, struggling with framerate issues and the customary attempts to get my mind around maps. I can’t say I was really hooked; if I had been, I would have stumbled into the office far later than I did on Tuesday.

For Brink specifically, I think it’s just that the id Tech 4 engine just feels about as responsive as an oil tanker. Listing sideways. Twisting the graphical cvars into garbage territory simply to squeak out some extra frames is of no use; I haven’t managed to make the game run well consistently and be visually decipherable, and it’s put a large dent into my enjoyment with this title. Frame drops seem to happen with no particular rhyme or reason. My machine’s a year old, and ‘just throw more hardware at it’ isn’t the answer, as I felt the same way about Quake 4 several years ago on a machine that was better equipped for its time than even this one is.

But I’ll try to expound on that later this evening on the panel show at thebrink.tv, hoping that I’m not the only idiot on the planet that hates this engine. After making a second attempt at trying to get absorbed by this game last night, I played a few rounds of instantly gratifying, registration-rich rounds of CS gungame before packing it in.

I could include a few paragraphs about how games are more and more about cinematic visuals in the service of selling copies of a game via YouTube, but I’m sure there’s a more eloquent writeup of that argument than I could write floating around somewhere. Yes, these Tribes Ascend screen grabs are indeed sexy, and the cinematics produced for BF3 have been tantalizing, but I’ve learned my lesson: no more preorders for shooter titles.