|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Splash Damage|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks|
|Release: May 10, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by James Trujillo
Splash Damage is widely known for their efforts in the Quake and Doom franchises, but Brink is looking to make them stand out in a brand-new light. Although it's their first original IP, its roots are firmly planted in some of their previous work. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars will be the most noticeable influence, but they've grown far beyond what they achieved in 2007. We recently got to sit down with the game to see exactly what they'll be bringing to the table in 2011.
The first thing we saw was just how seamlessly they combined their campaign and multiplayer components. Persistent customizable characters will carry throughout three different modes: Campaign, Free Play, and Challenges. All of which will feature cooperative play; although Campaign and Free Play modes will also support up to sixteen-player competitive multiplayer. However, if you wish to play the game alone it's only a matter of changing a single menu option.
The campaign in Brink will tell the story of The Ark, a floating city in the midst of a devastating civil war. The two major factions, the Security and the Resistance, are battling for resources in what was once a distinctly utopian society. Although we didn't see much of the plot itself, there will be two separate campaigns to play as either faction, in addition to Free Play which will access any available mission that has been previously unlocked.
Customization is a key feature in the game, whether it's through character aesthetics or within your own arsenal. The upgrade system in Brink is a bit different than most, and this is where the Challenge mode comes into play. Many shooters grant new weapons and attachments through gaining levels with experience points. However, in Brink you can only unlock these items through completing challenge scenarios as a prerequisite. These are based on three-star grades that range in difficulty, and have you completing tasks in time-based and efficiency settings. This is all separate from the missions in Campaign and Free modes, and will also feature a friend list leaderboard for those looking to earn a few bragging rights.
Luckily, experience points aren't as useless as you might be thinking. This is how characters will unlock new outfits and appearances, in addition to accessing stronger abilities. These can range from general abilities that all classes can use, to the variety of buffs that specific classes can bestow on others during battle. Like most team-based shooters, the variety of classes can provide a wide array of tactics for your squad.
In every mission, each class will have a specific objective that can help in achieving your overall goal. Soldiers can provide new paths for your teammates by planting explosives in designated areas or resupply ammo to those who are in need. Engineers can provide players with weapon buffs, repair damaged equipment, and plant mines, in addition to disarming mines, explosives, and hacking devices planted by other players. Operatives can disguise themselves as the enemy, hack electronics, and spot enemy landmines. Finally, the Medic class can grant a small health boost to squad members, as well as revive fallen players with health syringes.
By far the most impressive feature, and what sets itself apart from other tactical shooters, is the S.M.A.R.T. movement system. It stands for Smart Movement Across Random Terrain, and utilizes a standard running maneuver to execute parkour movements over objects in the environment. It makes gameplay fast and efficient when roaming the battlefield no matter where you might be located.
During our first mission, we chose the Operative class and began our primary goal to escort a maintenance-bot into enemy territory. With a quick leap, we were over a few railings and into the fight in an instant; not missing a beat to shoot some targets along the way. Luckily there are no locked animations during these movements, so you can still maintain a free range of motion when aiming at enemies. After the area was clear, we started on a secondary objective that required us to obtain a briefcase off in a separate location. A few moments later we found an alternate route accessible only to our appropriate class, in which hacking a doorway panel lead us to our secondary goal.
Honestly, much of the gameplay felt like Team Fortress 2 with a parkour facelift. That's not a bad thing, but if you're not a fan of team-based multiplayer games, then you might find yourself wanting something more. Fortunately, there is a campaign to go along with it, but the depth that any plot would contain remains to be seen. Brink's release on May 17th isn't too far off, so if a solid multiplayer experience is your cup of tea, then do yourself a favor and get this on your radar.
CCC Freelance Writer