Apart from Fallout: New Vegas, one of the other major new titles that we got to play for a short time at Bethesda's E3 booth was Brink, a first person shooter from developers Splash Damage. With both a campaign for players to blast their way through and a sizeable multiplayer mode, it may seem like just another addition to the already continent-sized pile of shooters on the market. However, with its team-based gameplay and some unique spins on familiar gameplay, Brink does appear to offer a fresher face on the genre, and an inviting atmosphere for gamers looking for a spot of fast-paced fun.
Inspired by Seasteading, Brink's narrative involves two factions known as the 'Security' and 'Resistance' fighting over the Ark. The Ark, like its inspiration would suggest, is a city built in the oceans of Earth after it has been flooded, although thankfully Kurt Russel is nowhere to be found. However, due to the population of the city completely overflowing, this once perfect utopia has slipped into civil war. We haven't got a lot more information at this point on the other specifics of the story, but the setting does lend the game a very clean and futuristic setting, that becomes more war-torn as the action increases.
As we mentioned, Brink is very much a team focused game. While we did not get to try the campaign mode at E3, we did get a shot at a single player skirmish mission, alongside a host of bots. Before entering gameplay, we were given the chance to choose from a variety of preset characters, or to create our own from a wide variety of options. At the time, we just wanted to go with the standard template and get stuck into gameplay, but the options on offer really did run the gamut from macho skinheads to outrageous fluro do's, so expect to see some interesting combinations when you hit the online mode.
The level of Brink that we played really highlighted the dynamic and class-oriented aspects of the gameplay. There are four classes in the game - Operative, Engineer, Medic and Soldier, and each of them have their own objectives in a level. When playing through in single player, you have to select one of these classes, complete its objective, then move onto the next while the rest of the team supports you. We started the level as a Soldier, whose objective was simply to defend the command post. We didn't care too much for this objective, so we switched into the Engineer class. That had a much more active objective of converting a point into another command post. We also noticed at this point that the various classes have passive buffs, the Engineer giving a damage buff to nearby allies as one such example.
After completing this objective, we switched to the Operative class to complete the rest of the level. It was here we first encountered the 'SMART' system (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain), which essentially includes a little bit of parkour into the proceedings. The Operative needed to reach an object that was on a higher floor of the level, so rather than find a staircase, we were able to find a series of crates that we could climb on and jump across to reach it, in a process that felt quite natural. It's not as major a feature as the parkour in, say, Mirror's Edge, just a system in place that allows you to get to objectives in the most obvious way.
The fast paced nature of Brink's gameplay, along with the ever-changing objectives and incentive (and need) to keep changing classes, were indeed quite refreshing. The best thing we can say about our experience playing it is that we could have stood to play it for several hours more, at least. The game always had something new to throw at us, whether it was through the objectives and sub-objectives, or intelligent opponent AI (who set traps and turrets for us through on our most frequent routes). If you're a fan of Team Fortress 2 or any other team-based shooter, and you're on the hunt for something that's easy to get just pick up, play, and be constantly challenged and rewarded, Brink is looking to be just the ticket.