If the queues at Eurogamer Expo 2010 were any indication of quality, then surely Brink was the game of the show. People queued for over an hour to get some time in with Splash Damage’s first game since their involvement with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, desperate to see how the team-based first-person shooter played after the months of heavy advertising, teases and reveals by Bethesda. Needless to say, it was worth the wait.
Brink is, of course, set to hit the PC. But as Splash Damage’s first game also set to hit home consoles, it could well be the class-focused, competitive multiplayer shooter the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 need: the Team Fortress 2 for the comfy sofa and big screen, if you will. You choose to play as either the Resistance, a ruthless guerilla group looking for their share of The Ark, an over-populated and socially segregated floating city in the vein of Mega-City One, or the Security, the team sent to restore law and order. And while both teams feel similar in terms of abilities and play styles, their representation onscreen couldn’t be more different. With both sides sharing an aesthetic reminiscent of later TimeSplitters titles, the Resistance’s reclaimed clothing, faux-tribal face paint and haggard appearance portrays a The Warriors-esque look of urban menace, while Security forces are cleaner, smarter and with more futuristic clothing. Fashion is incredibly important to the world of Brink: Splash Damage’s reps were keen to highlight the good levels of avatar customisation available, with all players being asked to take some time and choose their look before entering the game proper.
Brink is story-based but multiplayer-focused. Members of each team must work together to complete the fast-changing objectives, but the individual is highly rewarded for doing so. Taking its cues from MAG in terms of incentivising the player to work as part a larger squad of up to eight, Brink dishes out the most points and experience to those that make the game better for others. Choosing to play as either a Soldier, Engineer, Medic or Operative (with the option to change class as frequently as desired during a match) utilising each class’ skills for the greater good – such as buffing a weapon as an Engineer or healing a team mate as a Medic – lands you with a higher position when a match draws to a close. Similarly, you’ll need these individual classes to complete the separate primary and secondary objectives you’ll face during each mission, doors need unlocking, barricades demolishing, and so on.
Though your primary task will always be the main priority, secondary quests can open up advantages with which to make them easier. One such scenario in the map I experienced was a goal in which my Security team had to destroy a heavily guarded main entrance in order to escort an armoured vehicle through the rusted shanty town we had landed upon. Making little progress due to concentrated fire power from enemy forces, I decided to change to the Operative class and do a little reconnaissance. Noticing a side entrance secondary objective, I managed to stealth to the area undetected and hack the door, giving my team more options in terms of angle of attack. Unable to defend the area effectively (and taking serious losses along the way) the opposing side fell back and we were able to successfully demolish the entrance we’d had so much trouble with before. I consistently felt that I was assisting my team mates, even if we weren’t directly working together to take down enemy units. And there’s so much more variety than the multitude of other console shooters.
Brink’s world is a tactile one, from the spot-on controls to the sumptuous textures and overall design, and while the shooting is definitely from the Call of Duty school of thought there’s a lot of Borderlands-inspired mathematical data displayed too during combat. The much-touted SMART system (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain – ugh), which has been heavily hyped as the title’s big hook, doesn’t feel as as smooth or even look as impressive as the free running of Mirror’s Edge, but it is at least simpler to perform and consequently more likely to be utilised during combat because of it. It’s a neat move which allows you – within reason – to scale which ever wall or obstacle you so desire with ease, and it definitely keeps the pace of the game at an exciting level.
The Eurogamer Expo attendees voted with feet at the show, so it’s only fair I stake my claim in the ground too: Brink looks brilliant, and its talented development team could absolutely be on the verge (terrible Brink pun averted) of something very big when the title is released in the spring of 2011.