Brink makes use of the id Tech 4 graphical engine. Other notable games to make use of the engine include Doom 3 and Wolfenstein. Since the engine's release, it's been used in Prey and other id-related titles like Quake 4.
The game features a variety of environments, but because Brink is based around small teams of cohorts trying to clear various objectives, the maps all tend to be medium to small sized, which the id Tech 4 engine (not so coincidentally) excels at rendering.
Brink on the PC has the best-looking textures and features overall, but the consoles don't do all that badly (which we'll get to later). As usual, the PC version benefits from graphical horsepower and can drive extra features like ambient occlusion, antialiasing, high-quality post processing, and higher resolutions. Speaking of resolutions, the Xbox 360 runs at the lowest internal resolution, which is then scaled up to 1280x720. The Xbox 360 makes use of antialiasing whereas the PlayStation 3 does not.
We captured images on the Xbox 360 running at 1280x720 using a Matrox MXO2 Mini over HDMI cables. PlayStation 3 images were captured running at 1280x720 over component with an AJA Xena LH. The PlayStation 3 enables HDCP, which prevents HDMI image capture. Stills from the PC version of the game were captured using FRAPs at 1280x720with 4xAA/16xAF with maximum-quality settings running on a Radeon HD 5870. All images were shrunk down to fit into the rollover images. Zoomed images are pixel-to-pixel extractions from the original files.
We'll break down how the images stacked up as we go across each set.
Texture Lag on Consoles
Both of the consoles suffer from a little texture lag. Most games take a little while to pull in all the textures, but Brink does something interesting. When completely rendered, the console versions of the game pull in textures that seem to be on par with the PC high-quality variant, if we disregard the actual resolution advantage the PC gets.
The perk is nice, but it comes with a trade-off. Objects and terrain behind you get pushed out of memory, so when you look at them again, you'll trigger the low- to high-quality transition. In practice, if you're walking down a hallway, everything in front of you will appear high quality after the initial load. If you keep walking in a straight line, everything will remain nice and pretty. The moment you turn around, it will all get kicked out, and the low to high cycle will kick in for what you're looking at in that moment. Should you do another 180-degree turn and look forward again, you'll see the same transition again from low to high quality. The entire process doesn't take more than a second or two to finish, and if you're focused on shooting enemies, you likely won't notice much.
Aquarium Match Start
Lighting in the upper-left area of the screen looks noticeably different on the PlayStation 3; almost as if it were turned off. You can also see that the zeroes in the signage and the word "Standby" don't glow like they do on the PC and Xbox 360. On the PC, the banners in the middle of the screen are illuminated, but neither of the consoles include that feature.
The resolution differences between the consoles and the PC is especially noticeable if you look at the zeros in the signage and the word "Standby." Even when running at 1280x720, the PC version of Brink looks quite a bit clearer than on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The character has a stunning amount of detail across all platforms, and the textures hold up very well.
Look at the computers on the table for an example of the PlayStation 3's higher internal resolution when compared to the Xbox 360. Many of the details turn to mush on the computer in the middle.
Lighting and antialiasing aren't the PlayStation 3's forte in Brink. The escalator railing becomes a staircase on the PlayStation 3, and the illumination on the walls falls flat.
The PC benefits from ambient occlusion, and an example of that can be found at the base of the containers on the left. The minor effect adds small shadows at the bottom of the container.
It almost goes without saying that the PC version is the best of the bunch visually and is here merely as a reference point. The PlayStation 3 benefits from a higher internal resolution but suffers when it comes to lighting and antialiasing. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, gets better lighting effects, but it runs at a lower resolution.