Back at last year’s Eurogamer Expo, we got to sit in on a developer session for Brink, which was held by the game’s director Paul Wedgwood. It’s fair to say we were quite intrigued and excited by what the game had to offer. Fast forward 11 months, and we finally had the opportunity to get some hands on time with it.
Play started at the character customisation screen. Here you can select your clothes and facial features, and the demo build had quite an impressive list of styles and colours to choose from, quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a first person shooter before. You could lose quite a bit of time just in this area, getting your character looking just how you want.
Then it advanced to the actual game itself, which was an 8 on 8 multiplayer match between the ‘Resistance’ team and the ‘Security’ team. Security players had to retrieve vaccines from the Resistance base, with the Resistance players trying to stop them. The game plays out with a series of main objectives, with a time limit in which to complete your mission.
As you play, you can also activate a personal, smaller objective which you can complete for bonus XP. Holding Up on the D-pad brings up the objective wheel, and you use the right analogue stick to select an objective. Letting go of the Up button then activates that objective. The objectives you can choose from will differ depending on the class you are playing and the location on the map. For example, if you are playing as an Engineer, you can choose to repair a certain barrier, or provide a weapon buff to a specific team mate, where as the solidier will be able to choose to blow up a specific target or pass on some extra ammo to a specified team mate. In all cases, a large blue arrow will appear to show you the general direction of your current personal objective.
There are four classes to choose from, and you can change at any time by going to one of your team’s command centres and changing it. There is the soldier, who can share ammo with the team and plants explosives and generally destroy things. The engineer can buff friendly weapons and build defensive structures, such as a turret gun or a barrier, as well as placing land mines around. The medic can heal people and also revive incapacitated allies. Finally, the operative works behind enemy lines, hacking enemy systems and disguising themselves.
The gun play is very solid, with the weapons doing a nice amount of damage and feeling quite meaty. When you are downed, rather than dying, you become ‘incapacited’. Once in this state, who have the choice of waiting for a medic to revive you or respawning back at the command center. However, while incapacited, the enemy can come in and finish you off, forcing you to respawn, so it’s a case of trying to decide whether a team mate will be able to revive you or just respawning to be safe.
One of the big elements of the game is the inclusion of a parkour system known as SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain). On the 360 controller, tapping the Left Bumper makes you sprint. If you hold the button down instead, the SMART system comes into play. If you run towards an obstacle, SMART will make your character react accordingly to the obstacle, such as vaulting over a small fence or running up a ramp and climbing up a mid height wall quite quickly. It’s not unlike Mirror’s Edge in the way it works, and it does add an extra level to the gameplay, and feels quite natural.
All in all, Brink looks very promising indeed. The gameplay is smooth and enjoyable, the game looks great and seems to be very well balanced. The classes are very distinct and allow you to choose one to fit you style of play. If you’re looking for something a bit different in the FPS genre, then Brink could very well float your boat.
Brink is due for release in Spring 2011 for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.