Brink may not be on everyone’s radar, but it deserves to be mentioned as one of the most anticipated shooters of 2011 alongside the likes of Bulletstorm, Killzone 3, Crysis 2 and Duke Nukem Forever. Brink is full of neat gameplay ideas and multiplayer innovation from the team that brought us Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Quake Wars. We got to play Brink ahead of its May 20 release. Read on to hear how the shooter is shaping up.
Developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks, Brink is an online shooter that can also be played offline and feel as much like a campaign-driven game in both solo and multiplayer modes.
In Brink you play as one of two sides called “Resistance” and “Security” fighting in a city called The Ark. The Ark is a refuge for tens of thousands of refugees divided in order to maintain order. Chaos reigns. Disease and famine has taken over, leading to unrest and civil war – hence a city on the brink.
It sounds like a prerequisite for all-out action, but the way in which Brink goes about its business, Brink offers more than that.
Brink, we were told will deliver an experience that will blur the lines between single player and multiplayer. Brink is divided into a series of objectives to complete. We didn’t get to play the single player mode to compare, though we did get plenty of online action in against fellow game journalists at the event.
We were assured that the online mode will have the same quality that the single player mode does. Splash Damage’s lead writer for Brink, Edward Stern said to us “You go online and everything changes. Quality does not drop [in Brink].”
Before diving into a game you have the option to Survive the Ark or Escape the Ark. We chose Save. Even in multiplayer, each task is accompanied by a cut-scene detailing the objectives and why you must complete them. The sequence displayed differs dependent on what team you’re on. It’s the developer’s effort to ensure online play feels as salient to the story as possible, even during online play.
The first mission we played had us guarding some form of bomb transport. Once the bomb was transported the aim was to defend the objective. The ability to play with freedom stood out here more than anything.
Holding the up directional button brings up a dial displaying different objectives. You can continue with the task at hand or choose any from a handful of alternatives.
With your opponents shooting at you when defending your objective it’s tough to get anything done. It’s a constant cycle of shoot, kill, die, respawn and repeat. So it’s worth capturing an outpost that, when nabbed gives your team more health. Simply select to capture the outpost on the dial while the rest of the players are occupied elsewhere. Working as a team is key, but sometimes taking the initiative is just as vital.
How you play may depend on which class you choose. There are four: Medic, Solider, Operative and Engineer. Each have their own abilities.
Medics can offer health buffs to players to boost their health, and revive those on the brink of death. Soldiers carry chaff grenades, have unlimited ammo and can replenish the ammo of teammates. Operatives can hack into computers, disguised as the enemy and plant mines. Engineers can build turrets and repair vehicles and structures.
One exciting addition to multiplayer is how the scoreboard ranks players. Players are ranked on XP rather than kills – encouraging good teamwork as opposed to personal glory hunting. It lends a genuine team ethic to gameplay.
As a Medic you could easily spend a session constantly reviving your teammates and still top the scoreboard for being such a good team player, as we (to blow our own trumpet) did in a mission that required us to escort an injured man to a safety point.
XP can be used to purchase new abilities for each class or Universal abilities to use across all classes ranging from the ability to scavenge dead enemies for weapons to boosting your existing firearms, and too many more to name. Stern told us that, despite the wealth of possibilities to power up your skills, only the best players that put the most effort in are rewarded.
Another area that impressed was the enormous scope for character and weapon customisation. Gun tinkering offers plenty of opportunities. You can change the magazine, sight, give it handles for increased accuracy, equip grenade launchers to it and lots more. We’ve rarely seen as many weapon tinkering options as we have in Brink.
Likewise, character customisation doesn’t just affect the look of your character. It affects how you play. Choose a puny body type and you can forget about equipping the game’s big guns, like the Minigun, which quickly became a favourite.
On the other hand the lighter your character, the nimble they will be, because when navigating characters, gameplay takes on a Parkour style, letting players climb up walls and seemingly impossible to reach ledges by just running towards them without having to press an extra button.
Used properly it gives you more strategic ways to play. Players can also slide on the floor to dodge bullets. Both manoeuvres work well and are great for getting out of trouble.
Splash Damage believes that by adding Role Playing Game (RPG) features such as levelling up, upgrading weapons and all sorts of customisation opportunities players will always find new ways to enjoy playing Brink for a long time.
From what we saw in just an hour there are plenty of ways to play. Brink’s biggest success may lie in that and its ability to, not force, but encourage players to work as a team like not too many have done on consoles (Brink will also release on PC).
Throw in players and teams attempting to tactically outdo each other and Brink could do great things. Brink’s biggest obstacles? Crysis 2 (out 25 May) and Duke Nukem Forever (3 May) will be launching in the same release window. Shooter fans will have some tough purchasing decisions to make in the coming months.
Out May 20 | £TBC | Brink The Game Official Site