Disclaimer: This article originally appeared over the weekend on our PAX East 2011 coverage hub. Travel there to read more previews, interviews and features from the expo.
Brink is a game built upon the principles of intuitiveness and customization. This shooter, developed by Splash Damage, aims to deliver an experience that allows players to easily group up with friends, as well as tailor the entire gameplay experience how they see fit. Brinkis also a title with an incredibly slick user-interface and a parkour-esque gameplay mechanic that helps separate it from the rest of the first-person shooter pack.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So let’s slow it down. Firstly, Splash Damage is known for creating Wolfenstein: Enemy Terrority, a highly popular and critically successful expansion to Return to Castle Wolfenstein whose focus was on class-based multiplayer. You can see those seeds have blossomed into what Brink now is. Brink’s structure is incredibly intuitive and easy to pick up and understand. Even with all the things that show on your HUD, and all the customizable options available to you, Splash Damage still managed to make it easy enough to grasp after only five minutes of play.
It’s really the little touches that elevate Brink above a lot of class-based first-person shooters. For instance, as a medic you can easy see on your HUD who needs to be healed and who needs to be revived. This isn’t new to class-based shooters; however, Brink adds one extra element to the mix that really puts it on top. As the medic you can target a teammate — presenting you with a “Press X to heal” message — and just hold down the X button, letting go of the rest of the buttons on the controller. The game will then take over and automatically make your character run over to your teammate to heal him. No longer do you have to juggle pressing X to heal while trying to stay focused on your injured teammate who is running around like a wild jackrabbit. This system also eliminates tossable health packs that, more often than not, go wasted because teammates rarely know you’ve thrown them down.
Traversing the environment is also made easy in Brink. There is one button designated on the controller that, when held down, lets you sprint, as well as performs jumps and vaults. The best comparison is how platforming is handled in the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s that simple too. For the heavier build class — the one that can carry the largest weapons — this isn’t as handy. But for the light class, you’ll be able to bounce across entire maps in a flash using this one designated parkour-friendly button, as I’m going to call it.
Splash Damage is also doing something unique with Brink in regards to single player and multiplayer. They’re one in the same experience. Whether you’re playing solo versus A.I. bots, with friends over the internet, or with complete strangers, Brink manages to deliver a cinematic story through cutscenes that kick off each session. As the story goes, it’s revolutionaries versus security forces on a water-based city. Resources have been tapped and now it’s anarchy. Go!
Gameplay in Brink is very reminiscent of multiplayer in the later Killzone games. There isn’t one specific game type that you select and play. Every game type available is present in every single match, and they’re all objective-based. You simply cycle through the different options over the course of a match. What we got to see in the specific match we played were the classics like escort, defense, deathmatch, etc.
Finally, as I mentioned prior, customization is a major component of Brink. Before you even enter a match you’re able to completely overhaul your character from head to toe. Give him a crazy cowboy hat or a handle bar mustache. How about a jacket that would make Super Fly proud? Sure! The same applies to weapons and gear. These things are completely customizable and how you choose to equip them affects stuff like rate of fire, damage, speed, and more. Brink is a game that’s very easy to slip into and waste hours at the character customization screen alone. There’s just so many options, it’s staggering.
And that about wraps up the all-too-brief demo of Brink that I got to check out at PAX East. Before the show, I knew very little about this game, other than the style looked great. Now I know it plays as good as it looks. So if Brink was off your radar, remedy that quickly. I know I did.