In the near future, our world has finally succumbed to the forces of nature, this time in the form of massive flooding which has buried the planet beneath the waves. Amidst this catastrophe, one shining beacon of hope remains in the form of the Ark, an isolated hi-tech (and 100% green!) metropolis made up of several hundred interconnected islands. It is here that the Arkâ€™s creators, offspring, and thousands of refugees try and live out their lives in some manner of safety and comfort, but resources are running low and tensions in the city are reaching their breaking point. Humanity is at the brink, and before you ask, no, the cleverness of this game does not end with the apt title.
Developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks, Brink is advertised as â€œan immersive shooter, which blends single-player, co-op and multiplayer into one seamless experience, allowing you to develop your character across all modes of play.â€ At the start of the game, players join one of two warring factions; the advanced Ark security forces or the gritty rebels. The latter is trying to gain entrance into the more advanced and secure sections of the Ark, while the security forces are making sure that doesnâ€™t happen. Each side thinks they are the righteous ones, meaning that playing through either campaign will give gamers a chance to see both sides of this sordid conflict from uniquely fresh perspectives.
The art style ranges from dinged up (yet still shiny) cityscapes of Mirrorâ€™s Edge to the torn up, rusting wastes found in Fallout 3. Characters appear slightly caricaturized, with body shapes and facial structures playing to the strengths of a playerâ€™s class type; brooding and muscular for Tanks with graceful and slender lines for a Reconnaissance specialist. Graphically the game is incredibly crisp and bright, playing more towards the artistic flair of a title like Borderlands as opposed to the dour photorealism of Gears of War 2.
After choosing your faction, players will create their own character, who will evolve as he gains more experience and as the player obtains more loot. The security forces have access to more modern technologies, so their equipment carries a more militaristic and hi-tech appearance, while the outcasts construct their gear from the junk they find lying around, leading to a more tribalistic Mad Max styled affair. Players can customize their character even further via a wide assortment of scars, tattoos, face paint, and assorted cranial accessories. This sense of identity will come in handy, as Brink will support 7-player co-op as well as an assortment of multiplayer modes pitting players against the world at large.
Each faction is subdivided into different character classes to play as. I saw everything from SWAT, Soldiers and Snipers to Brawlers, Engineers, and Heavy Weapons Specialists. These classes each have their own unique stats, as well as access to class-specific weaponry. This also leads to one of the most exciting aspects of Brink; the ability for your character to change class mid-mission.
Thanks to handy Comm Stations sprinkled throughout any one mission area, players who grow bored or frustrated with their current skill set can simply swap out for another one. Plugging into one of these Computer Terminals/ Ammo Dumps will change things like weapons load-outs, skills stats, or even some of the gadgets you have on your person. Iâ€™m assuming you can level up different classes as you please, and can probably return to a discarded version with its previous stats intact. Does this mean you can level up specific classes, switching to whichever strength you need on the fly? Why yes I believe it does.
Another game changer that comes into play during combat is the mission structure. New missions and sub-missions will present themselves throughout the game, and at any one moment a player can pull up a screen to view just how many different objectives are available. Different missions equal different EXP, and some may make more sense for your particular class as opposed to others, leading to bigger rewards or perhaps tougher challenges.
For example, while guarding an automated bomb diffuser, the staffer at PAX pulled up the screen and had the option of blowing up a gate, interrogating a fallen enemy, repairing the diffuser, hijacking a crane to get the diffuser over an obstacle, or holding a particular position for a certain length of time. Each of these sub-missions will not only provide a ton of variety for you, but will also let your team members get out on their own from time to time if they so wish.
Let us not forget, however, that Brink is also big on combat. In case you missed it, Brink plays as an FPS, but with one really interesting addition; the SMART button. By aiming your target reticule up or down and pressing this all purpose button, the game â€œdynamically evaluates where youâ€™re trying to get to, and makes it happen.â€Looking up and pressing this button led to the character mounting a train station metal detector and jumping over it, while approaching the same target but this time looking downward resulted in a drop-slide through it.
With a perspective and camera work similar to Mirrorâ€™s Edge, the effects prove amazingly immersive, but by mapping these movements to a single button the developers manage to leave plenty of space open for gunplay while allowing the player an ability to look badass when running up walls or sliding through hordes of enemies. Itâ€™s also a heck of a lot less confusing than having a multitude of button combos for specific moves.
For me, Brink turned out to be the nougaty surprise at the center of the chocolaty goodness that was PAX. I went in knowing nothing about this game, and left craving more. This is a title worth keeping an eye on, not only for its gorgeous visuals but because it may change the way FPSâ€™s are designed. The genre has gotten a bit stale, and Brink looks to be providing us with a much needed breath of fresh air when it releases in Spring of 2010.