This Preview was written by Lee Bradley.
In its own unassuming way, Brink is a revolution. By dissolving the barriers between single-player and multi-player, online and offline, suddenly the likes of Modern Warfare and Killzone seem hopelessly outdated. The process of jumping out of a single-player campaign and into a multiplayer lobby could be a thing of the past. One day, all shooters will be like this.
Or maybe they won’t. But they should be. Because Brink breathes life into an increasingly stale genre. While the straight-up FPS has reached a pinnacle of proficiency, it lacks that spark of imagination to really get the blood flowing. We need something like Brink. Splash Damage’s latest has ideas coming out of its ears.
Let’s go over what we already know. Brink is a class-based shooter set in the futuristic city of The Ark, a floating utopia that quickly went wrong when refugees flooded in, creating a warren of slums and ghettos attached to the periphery of the island.
Lacking the resources to sustain everyone, the powers that be divided The Ark in half. As a result, a war has erupted between two classes, with The Resistance fighting to get in and The Security fighting to keep them out. Clearly, shooting each other in the face is the only way to resolve their issues.
But that’s not the interesting stuff. The interesting stuff comes in the way the campaign pans out. It’s a class-based shooter you can play on your own, online in co-op with friends or against others in competitive multiplayer, with AI bots slipping in and out to fill the gaps as and when needed. Basically you can play it however you like. It’s all delivered in one seamless package.
There’s more. Brink offers quick, fluid navigation around the environments by way of the SMART system, a nifty little ability that sees you vaulting and sliding, parkour-style, around the city. Engaged by way of a simple shoulder button press, it’s an elegantly executed idea.
A development team with less imagination than Splash Damage would have built a whole game around it. Here it’s just another feature contributing to the evolution of a genre.
Something that hasn’t been showcased up to this point is the way body weight ties into SMART. You can choose between three builds, with damage resistance and weapon loadouts moving in reverse proportion to agility.
So, if you choose a big fella with big guns, he’s not going to be that fast or nimble. SMART goes pretty much out of the window. Choose a slim chap with a light load-out, meanwhile, and you’ll be giving Mirror’s Edge’s Faith a run for her money. May she rest in peace.
The choices don’t end there. Brink has one of the best character creators I’ve ever seen. Not just because of the range of options, though there are squillions of them, but because it offers options you’ll actually want; kit and clothes and hairstyles and tattoos and a plethora of bits and bobs you could loose yourself fiddling with for hours, all part of the game’s distinct art-style.
Alongside the familiar Container City map and game mode we’ve already previewed, Bethesda recently showed off a new level, an escort mission of sorts, where a team of Resistance had to protect an injured NPC colleague as he limped and crawled through the map to safety.
While the map will win no prizes for art design – it’s set in a relatively bland grey complex – the level itself is interesting. Despite offering a large open map, it allows you to get back into the action quickly and easily from a number of routes. It’s a good mix of open areas and ferocious choke points that works well for the most part. But there are a couple of issues.
At the climax of our demo, as our charge was just yards from safety, the Security ramped up their efforts. Combined with a tight, narrow area we had to battle through, everything turned into a bit of a meat grind. We were constantly respawning, running, dying and respawning, making just incremental progress each time. It seemed a little mindless. Perhaps familiarity with the map and improved tactics will bypass this minor niggle.
There’s other stuff too. Throwing health to revive team-mates often sees syringes flying magically through walls to reach their target. Giving aid can also occasionally lead to awkwardness, as it sees you being drawn to them tractor-beam style. A couple of times I clicked the button only to be dragged unwillingly off a ledge as my more agile team mate leapt to a raised platform. It’s annoying.
- Developed by Splash Damage, published by Bethesda.
- Attempts to seamlessly integrate offline and online experiences.
- Effortless traversal system.