Brink first seemed to pop onto the radar during a developer session at last year’s Eurogamer Expo, so it seems fitting that Splash Damage have returned to this year’s show with a playable version of the game. Brink seems to takesome fairly usual features, it’s best described as a class-based FPS with a high level of character customisation set in a multiplayer based world, and implement them in new and interesting ways. In particular the fully multiplayer campaign is a fantastic idea.
At the core of Brink is a campaign that has full drop in and drop out co-op on both of sides. That means if you’re playing as the security forces your friends can either join you for the mission as you try to crush the rebellion, or join the rebel forces and try to take you out. Of course if you want to play through by yourself you’re more than welcome to, but you’d be missing out on something that seems fairly fresh and different.
There were four classes available in the demo; Engineer, Soldier, Medic and Operative, each of them being needed for different parts of the mission on the Container City map that was shown at last year’s developer session. Your aim as the security forces is to escort a robot through the shipping container lined streets and retrieve a bio weapon, of course the rebels have to stop you.
Usefully you can quickly switch classes in game if you go to a control point, meaning that you’ll always have someone to complete each of the mission’s objectives. For example the Solider is required to set explosives on a main gate, and you need the Engineer to keep the robot repaired as it takes damage on your progression.
One of the most appealing things about the gameplay is that as well as the mission’s core objects you can just hit up on the d-pad to select side objectives and earn additional XP. It’s a nice mechanic that keeps things varied as you move through the level, and gives you a variety of options for character progression.
The use of objective-based gameplay in a multiplayer world seems most reminiscent of the Assault gametype in Unreal Tournament and Invasion in Halo: Reach, but feels much more rounded out. Perhaps it’s the variety of objectives, or the addition of class based gameplay but something makes it just feel like a much more tightly knit experience, and one that’s a lot more enjoyable.
Finally a word on the game’s movement system, Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain or SMART. The closest comparison that can be made here is to Mirror’s Edge, but nowhere as involved. If you hold down the sprint button you won’t just run in a straight line as fast as you can, you’ll vault over some obstacles, slide under others and even climb up onto ledges. It all works very slickly without you even having to think about it, and really makes your character feel more real rather than a dumb avatar who runs into obstacles. In fact obstacles aren’t really obstacles any more, they’re just a new way of moving through the level.
Whilst character customisation didn’t seem to be available in the demo, there wasn’t anything in the game that disappoints. Every concept that separates Brink out from the pack works well and simply enough that it doesn’t take away from the run and gun action. Even shooting feels better in this than some other FPSs, feeling very solid and powerful. Brink caught people’s eyes last year and this year Splash Damage look like they’ve consolidated the initial interest into genuine excitement.