A hop, skip, and a jump
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.
At The Brink
Bethesda Softworks has published a plethora of big-name titles this generation, including two installments in the popular Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Bethesda hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, as they have six titles currently in development for next generation platforms with one of them being a unique Seasteading-inspired first person shooter called Brink.
Brink was first shown off at E3 2009 with a short teaser trailer depicting “The Ark,” a previously utopian city that is surrounded on all ends by a seemingly infinite ocean. The camera then focused on the bleeding eye of a man with the sound of gunfire in the background, and the trailer concluded. E3 2010 brought about a plethora of new information for Brink, most notably the announcement of the game’s delay into 2011, but curious gamers around the world got a peek at the gameplay and visual style of Bethesda’s latest title.
Set in a Seasteading-inspired world, Brink has an art style that displays a flooded Earth similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, only islands in Brink are completely man-made and appear to be floating on the water itself. The story mode of Brink, which pits two warring sides against each other, can be played as a single-player campaign or with up to eight players as online co-op. Competitive online multiplayer modes will also be included in Brink for an extra level of replay value. During single player or cooperative missions players can select which objectives to prioritize via a “wheel menu” similar to the companion menu in Fallout: New Vegas. Different objectives yield differing amounts of experience upon completion, which can be used to purchase new weaponry.
Character customization plays an instrumental role in Brink, much like many of Bethesda’s previous titles. There are four different character classes for players to choose from, ranging from a Soldier, Engineer, Medic, and an Operative. Each class has their own individual strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to promote team work between party members. Character customization doesn’t end at class selection, however. Players will be able to change the body type, facial appearance, clothing, and even voice for their character as they please.
While these various features have been incorporated in pretty much every first-person shooter ever, what sets Brink apart from the pack is the game’s “Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain” system, or S.M.A.R.T. for short. In other shooters, if a player approaches an obstacle such as a railing or table they’ll be forced to stop or press an action button to climb over it. In Brink, developer Splash Damage lets players simply press a button to indicate to the game that they want to cross an area that wouldn’t have been traversable otherwise. For example, if a player is on a floor higher up with a railing blocking his or her way from the bottom floor, the player can point their on-screen cursor to the other side of the room and activate S.M.A.R.T, thus giving control of the character to the game itself and watch the system take the player to the other side, all in a completely seamless first-person view. The S.M.A.R.T. system isn’t made up of pre-set animations, either, as the game will recognize different obstacle types and the player will actually see their character’s arms stretch out to climb over them.
S.M.A.R.T. isn’t limited to just climbing over obstacles and across chasms. In a developer video, Paul Wedgewood, the title’s Director, showed players some other nifty things they can do with S.M.A.R.T. In an airport-based level, a security sensor would go off every time he would walk through it, so to get by he pointed his cursor below the sensor and used S.M.A.R.T. His character darted at the security sensor at full speed and hit the ground at the last second, sliding underneath it. Using S.M.A.R.T in different combat situations will always make Brink a unique experience, whether the player is playing the game offline or online with friends.
After being delayed several times, Brink is set to release for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC on May 17, 2011 for North America, and on May 20, 2011 for European regions.