I'm sort of in love with this new shooting game, "Brink," although I'm not sure who to recommend it to, beyond fans of online shooting games.
There's no real storyline, so if you're looking for an action-adventure with characters, acting, and filmic scenes of intrigue, then you will be disappointed.
However, if your idea of fun gaming is to simply be part of a team of first-person soldiers, firing at another team of soldiers, then this endeavor could be your cup of slaying.
This latest futuristic, sci-fi battle game is set on a fictional island the U.S. government created in the middle of the Pacific. All you really know is life there has devolved into civil war.
For half of the game, you are enlisted into the island's security team, gunning down the resistance. In the other half, you play as the resistance, taking down the government on the same battlefields.
You're not just shooting rivals. You must shoot rivals while accomplishing goals, such as reaching a certain checkpoint on the island and defusing a bomb, or setting a bomb, or escorting a prisoner all the way across a battlefield while you're being killed, over and over, and spawned back to life, over and over.
Battlefields are interesting. The action of battles are usually well-balanced between the government and the resistance. Guns are decent.
And there is a fantastic idea here: Even during the middle of a battle, you may change the type of soldier you portray - a straight-up soldier; an engineer who sets up automatic gun turrets to mow down enemies; a medic who resurrects fallen comrades; or a spy who puts on the clothing of the opposing team and infiltrates their forces.
That ability to morph into different types of soldiers comes in handy, because your team may be terrible and in need of medics one moment, and the next moment you may need to portray an engineer to lay down gun turrets to wipe out a rival team's nest of soldiers.
As you progress, you earn points to buy dozens of upgrades. The "Extra Kevlar" upgrade lets you hand out Kevlar vests to teammates mid-action. "Scavenge" lets you pick up enemy ammunition on the battlefield. Upgrades go on and on.
This is a colorful and vibrant-looking game bearing the art direction of Olivier Leonardi, who also drew "Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones" and "Rainbow Six Vegas."
Battlefields are cityscapes - an aquarium attraction; a shipyard; a reactor; a terminal; a resort and the like.
I suppose my only complaint is some guns are quite stronger than others, and that sometimes throws off the balance of warfare. But I could make that complaint about any war game, so it's not extra relevant here.
In other words, if you're an online shooting nut, you must try this game. If you're not, good for you for not being one of us violent cads.
("Brink" by Bethesda retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for PC - Plays fun offline and online. Looks very good. Challenging. Rated "T" for blood, language and violence. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.