During the recent Eurogamer Expo 2010 I had the chance to spend some quality time with Brink, an exciting upcoming first person shooter from developers Splash Damage. The game quickly gained excitement from early CGI trailers promising fast paced first person action with free running environment climbing acrobatics, along with a unique style that is somewhat reminiscent of a cross between Team Fortress 2 and All Points Bulletin.
Sitting down at the game, we were welcomed with the character creation screen showing a static character with a radial wheel of options surrounding him. You must first select an option you wish to customise (such as hair, shirt, trousers, skin tone, tattoos, etc.) and then select from the radial wheel. We were informed that additional items become accessible as you play, purchasing more with the credits you earn from matches. I was half way through trying to recreate myself before I was alerted that the match was beginning so in a blind panic I quickly equipped some silly tank top (goddamit!) and only then realised there was a second customisation screen for my weapons. This screen allowed me to personalise the armaments I would carry throughout the game ahead of me, being able to set specifics with weapon attachments. I, however, didn’t get time for this as the game had already started and I was being dropped in at the deep end.
As the game began I had to decide what class I would like to play, being able to hot-swap out to a different class at any point in the game (done by accessing terminals located throughout the map). For me there is only one choice, when available, in class based first person shooters. The medic! No role is more appreciated and loved than that of the Medic. Whilst you may not be leading the high scores with a great kill to death ratio, your contribution to the match in the form of reviving fallen comrades and providing health to those at the brink of death are sorely appreciated.
This is when I encountered my favourite feature from Brink, one in which has every contribution to a match providing a set amount of points, contributing to your ‘score’ in the game. Unlike most other shooters you aren’t scored highly simply for killing enemies or capturing objectives, but everything you do has an impact on the numerical value next to your name that tells others of your worth. As fantastic as this is, allowing me to gain renown through the match by playing the role of a medic and not only a soldier, it goes to a whole new level when I notice that each bullet translates to a point value (no doubt based on damage done) instead of straight off kills. This is such a fantastic and simple prospect, meaning that even those that fall in battle are still appreciated and respected in the game’s overall score board.
The game also has a clever objectives system placing locations with arrows on your HUD for objectives personalised to your play style. By pressing up on the d-pad at any time in the match you can define what objective you want to set for yourself and appear on your screen. For the majority of the match I kept with being alerted to injured and fallen teammates, but hot swapped it to defending / obtaining key points when our team’s progress was slowing down. Whilst we sat apart with headsets on (no voice communication) the dynamic of the game had us working in a team automatically, something that feels to be at the core of the Brink experience is teamwork.
Graphically the game looks fantastic housing, as mentioned previously, a unique style that is a blend between Team Fortress 2 and All Points Bulletin; two very stylized and beautiful games. As the game is far less static than your usual first person affair the character animations are fluid and fast, needed to perform the free running stunts that have you pole vaulting all over the place. It’s a shame there weren’t more levels to see as the docking warehouse distract on show, whilst brimming with detail and thoughtful map design, is quite limited in style.
The map which we played on lasted around thirty minutes and had us progressing through an open warehouse that had several paths to take, with some being both under and over ground allowing you to split up and flank with some strategy. Initially the goal was to escort a crane across the map in order to break open a container that held some super special document that we had to flee with. Pretty much the expected objective based multiplayer component of a first person shooter, with the game’s timer being increased once each successful objective had been completed (meaning completely rubbish teams could get out of a painful game quicker).
One aspect of Brink that I had little experience with was the free running, which from trailers has you wall sprinting and climbing between buildings and boxes within the game’s levels. As much as I tried to mount or run along any scenery, all that happened would be my player running face first continually into a wall and looking a little daft. I’ve been told that this failure was purely my own and the mechanic is both there, and straight forward to pull off. Fingers crossed that is the case as, whilst it never felt like it was missing from the game, at core locations in the level a wall run or short climb could have provided quite the tactical advantage.
When the match came to a close, after many (many!) revivals, kills and health boosting I was spent. Brink is packed with action and it had me kept on my toes for the entire duration. Knowing that Splash Damage and Bethesda were behind Blink, I had high hopes and I’m happy to say that those expectations have been met so far. I can only speculate and wonder what the game’s other modes offer, particularly the rumoured ‘massive’ single player aspect. Keep your eyes on Console Monster for further hands on previews with Brink before its anticipated spring 2011 release date.