In a world where first-person shooter titles are seeing their campaign modes paired down in favour of robust multiplayer modes, it's worth remembering there are quite a few players out there who don't have much use for online play. It may seem strange, but it's a fact nonetheless. Perhaps these players prize the single-player experience over everything. Maybe, for them, the story underpinning the FPS action is the main draw. Or it could be that they fear that if they sign up for online play, it will slowly take over their lives. Whatever their reasons, I would advise any players without access to Xbox Live (or PSN or the internet), or who don't like playing in online multiplayer modes, to be wary of Brink. There is a single-player experience in the game and there's oodles of content for lone players to get stuck into. But like Valve's wonderful zombie-shooter, Left 4 Dead, Brink's campaign is its multiplayer mode and as such, it's best experienced when played online with friends. The game's story is set in a future world where rising sea-levels have forced mankind to retreat to a giant floating metropolis called The Ark. Over time, divisions have emerged in society with The Ark's poorer folk becoming increasingly unsettled with their lot, and desiring to leave in search of something better. As this would mean The Ark would lose large chunks of its workforce, the powers-that-be have taken a dim view of these plans, and have had their security forces clamp down hard on troublemakers. This, in turn, has sparked a full scale rebellion with those wishing to leave The Ark arming themselves and waging a guerilla war against the city's security forces. The story itself is quite lightweight and exists mainly to complement the level design in the campaign. However, the writers have pulled off a neat trick by deliberately muddying the moral waters in Brink. The authorities maybe dictatorial but they believe they're safeguarding humanity. The rebels are demanding liberty or death, but there's no guarantee their freedom will lead them to a better place. Neither side comes across as overtly in the right (or in the wrong), and so the player's choice at the beginning of the game doesn't necessarily put them on the side of good or evil. Brink starts with the player picking a faction and then customising their character. They can then head into the Freeplay, Challenges or Campaign modes. If they choose the third option, they'll begin working their way through the missions on each side. Each mission contains multiple objectives and a time limit in which to accomplish them. Players can change their weapons load-out at Command Points that their team has taken charge of. They also pick a class from a list which includes Soldier, Engineer, Medic and Operative. Soldiers can resupply teammates with ammunition and place bombs on targets. Medics can heal other players and buff their health levels. Engineers dismantle bombs and buff equipment. Operatives can hack safes and disguise themselves as enemy soldiers. Each class also has an array of unlockable abilities; Engineers can earn the ability to deploy machine gun turrets, for example, while Operatives can hack turrets and firewall Command Points. Every mission will call upon the skills of some – if not all of the different player classes, so it's handy that players can switch their class on the fly at Command Points in their team's possession. They can also capture Command Points off the opposing team. The game's controls are fairly standard for an FPS, with a couple of notable exceptions. First, by tapping the left bumper, players can activate the game's SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) System. This is essentially a free-run mode which allows their character to sprint, leap over obstacles, slide under barriers and climb up structures in the environment. This freedom of movement is one of the game's highlights and its a testament to the skill of the developers that they've managed to include a parkour element in their game which is in no way clunky or obstructive to play. Second, they can use a wheel menu to check on objectives and targets. The game is geared towards forcing players to work as a team in order to succeed. Players earn more XP for kills and completing missions, but they also reap the rewards of performing duties in accordance with their class. For example, soldiers earn XP by passing out ammo, while Engineers earn XP by buffing their teammates' ordinance and handing out kevlar vests. As the XP mounts up, players gain access to Brink's huge amount of unlockables. Beyond the usual FPS fare, such as new weapons and new abilities, Brink also offers audio logs giving the backstory of the game's plot and skins, tattoos, clothes and other accessories for the player's character. It also offers different types of body size – light, medium and heavy – which affect the character's movement and ability to soak up damage. It has to be said that the level to which players can design and customise their characters actually borders on fetishistic. Beyond the campaign, players can pick from a couple of modes which include Freeplay and Challenges. In Freeplay they can choose between public or private matches (which allow solo play) and customise the match in terms of maps, objectives and the skill-level of players they'll end up facing. The Challenges range from Tower Defence, to Parkour, to Escort missions. There's also a Challenge involving the team providing covering fire for one member as they carry out an assortment of objectives. Brink deserves to be ranked among the finest co-op games available. As a multiplayer experience, it is exquisite. But as mentioned earlier, it falters if played solo. While all the modes can be played in single-player, the bots that act as stand-ins for other players are a poor replacement. It certainly isn't the case that gamers who buy Brink will feel ripped off if they don't have access to their console's (or PC's) online network. But until you've fought both with and against living opponents in Brink, you have yet to sample the best of what it has to offer.