Classes can be flicked between at command posts, and objectives are handled by an on-screen pointer that guides players to their chosen destination, easily selected via a radial menu. Here you can choose to busy yourself with primary and secondary objectives, or keep yourself informed of class-specific objectives such as reviving downed allies. While the amount of stuff you need to take into consideration can be flustering, the objective wheel helps point players in the right direction.
Customisation is handled in its own tab from the main menu, with specific clothing options being made available as you shoot up through the 20 levels. You can adorn your body with scars and tattoos, too, but these are permanent and cannot be removed. Brink allegedly boasts over 100 quadrillion clothing and colour combinations (there are no female options, however) across the two factions, which means even the most sartorial of players should find something they're happy to wear. And, during the game, enemy players always have a slight red hue to make identification simple.
In an especially nice touch, Brink dishes out XP for completing objectives and for landing bullets as opposed to scoring the killing shot, a masterful system that makes the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield seem positively archaic in comparison. The experience system is perfectly attuned to promote intelligent team play, and with no screen detailing kill and death ratios the onus is very much on the performance of the team rather than its individual players.
As you progress you'll unlock points which can be spent on upgrading skills, with both general options and class-specific traits available. These are locked by rank, which increases by one with every fifth level to a maximum of five. With a maximum level of twenty you're left with more purchasable skills than there is points, so there's no possible way for one character to own everything.
The problem here is that, when you're playing with random people over the internet, you've got no idea what skills you're going to need. While a few months of play will make it easy enough to have a set of characters tailored specifically for each class, there's no ability to flick between them in the middle of a game - which means you're completely stumped if you pick your engineer-oriented character and stumble into a game where there's already an abundance of turret-droppers.
It's also a real blow to see no proper lobby system included on the console versions. Almost every other aspect of Brink suggests a studio that knows and understands the ins-and-outs of a multiplayer experience, so to see gangs of players routinely collapsing at the end of games is absolutely bizarre. Unlike almost every other game on the market, you can't fiddle with your appearance, skills, and loadout at the post-match screen, either, and are instead required to quit back to the menu for such options.
The real question when assessing Brink, however, is whether Splash Damage has created a framework and accompanying scenarios that encourage people to advance their characters, explore its boldly coloured world, and to invest their precious multiplayer time into Brink as opposed to genre heavyweights such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Bad Company 2. The game will expand and refine over the coming months, with strategies being developed and, hopefully, patches being applied to iron out any of the residual bugs with the network code - some of which were observed with the review code supplied, but we were assured would be fixed in time for launch.
Brink is a game that deserves a chance, and those with a penchant for the multiplayer shooter owe it to themselves to give it a look. It's not without its faults, some of which are more serious than others, but Splash Damage achieves the impossible: a game that feels fresh in the stalest of genres.