Brink is a big, tricked-out candy store window filled with multiplayer shooter ideas. It's designed to lure noobs who've considered deathmatching in games like Halo 3 and Quake Wars but shudder at the thought of actually jumping into the sensory overload and trying to survive.
Start with the friendly choice-is-freedom vibe. Brink serves up four character classes, but unlike old-school classics like Team Fortress 2, the game doesn't lock you into your initial selection. If you get sick of reviving incapacitated teammates as a medic and decide you'd rather go all engineer and build some machine-gun nests to pick off enemies, it's easy. Just find an unguarded command center and switch. As many times as you like.
Squad-based shooters tend to be everyone-for-themselves affairs. You may be trying to capture the same flag as your teammates, but for most players, it's all about maxing your own kill counts and head shots. Brink cleverly encourages you to act like a basketball-distributing point guard, handing out the stat buffs and ammo packs for your squadmates as often as you can. This is a game where, at least from an experience-points standpoint, it really is better to give than receive -- especially because those points are the key to upgrading your weapon attachments and customizing your character.
The backstory involves a crumbling ocean refuge that's become a battleground for those who'd like to save it and those who'd like to get the hell out. No matter which side you play, you'll quickly learn that Brink's easy-does-it plan only works so far. For starters, Brink doesn't have the same kind of ease-of-use as the Left 4 Dead series, one of the game's clear touchstones. Your objectives and sub-objectives are constantly shifting. You rush to an objective site, using Brink's parkour-like SMART movement feature, only to find that it's time to do something else.
You can play Brink in single-player mode or online, with a varying number of players mixing in with AI-controlled team members to round out the squad. Either way, it's often difficult to tell friendlies from foes. The AI soldiers don't always take Brink's oft-mentioned tagline, "move more than you shoot," as sage advice, and you'll encounter groups of four or five security soldiers and revolutionaries blasting away at each other at close range. Whether you make the mistake of standing still or camping behind cover, chances are good you're going to find yourself incapacitated.
Go through it enough times, and you might start to get the hang of it. Then you can contemplate how even an easy-does-it shooter like Brink can still sport a wicked learning curve.