At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Richard Pilot PlayStation 3 Bethesda Softworks Splash Damage 1-16 (Online via PSN) Spring 2011

Brink preview

During the press day at Gamescom, we got to try out many of the games that will be released over the next few months and beyond. One of the games that caught our eye was Brink, a mash-up of single player storytelling and multiplayer action rolled into one. The concept allows for other players to drop in and out of your sessions on the fly, replacing the AI opponents with their tougher human counterparts. We got a chance to play a multiplayer session, and what an action packed game it is.

A brief introductory video was played, outlining our objectives for the match where we were tasked with escorting a mobile droid through a dockyard. There are specific choke-points that the robot must stop at and required a human player to interact with the environment before it could proceed. What's unique about this feature is that the different points require different class types to operate. A crane that’s needed to pick the bot up and move it over a gorge can only be fixed by the engineer or an obstacle that’s in the way can only be destroyed by explosions obtained from the soldier. These types of class specific objectives make each class feels like is has an important role to play in the level and encourages you to work as a team in order to utilise your team’s class load out. This approach turns multiplayer games into missions in their own right, almost reaching the scope of a single-player campaign. This is Splash Damage’s intention and they may well have pulled off their aim of blurring the line between singleplayer and mutliplayer and mashing it together into a single experience.

The games allowed you to choose from four different classes. The medic allows you to buff the other players as expected but can also serve an important role by providing fallen allies with a syringe. This is because when you are killed, you can either wait for a medic or simply respawn after a short period of time, although you sacrifice time in getting back to that position. The agent is the typical spy-type class and you have the ability to disguise yourself as a member of the enemy. The interesting part of this transformation is that you must find the body of a wounded enemy in order to do so. The engineer has the ability to fix broken items, such as the aforementioned crane. They also posses a buff skill, similar to the medic which improves weapon effectiveness . Their primary ability, however, is to build things and this takes the shape of a turret which they can deploy. In a similar fashion to Team Fortress 2, an outline of the turret appears in front you and you can only deploy it when the icon turns green. Finally, the solider class can provide ammo for his teammates as well as carrying around explosives to blow things up!

The game itself was very enjoyable, combat felt fun and had plenty of action. The game features a parkour-style free running mode, which you engage by holding down a button. This allowed you to traverse some of the difficult terrain, like jumping up a crate or clamberring up some rubble. This was similar to Assassin's Creed, but it didn’t offer as much flexibility. Additionally, since the game is in first person view, there is a disconnect in the free running as you never get to see the moves your character was supposed to be pulling off. Enemies often appear on your mini-map as radar-style red dots. Unlike Team Fortress with its strong colourful visuals, the realistic approach to the art style meant I often had difficulty determining which team I was on and following on from that, which players were the enemy as outlines were never clear enough for my liking. Additionally, since I was forced to join a match that was already in progress, it was a little bit difficult to tell how far we had progressed. This can easily be solved after getting a feel for all the levels but I can't help shake the feeling that you may lose out on the immersion if you don’t join a match from the beginning, particularly with the 'multiplayer with story elements' style they are going for.

Brink is an interesting take on the class-based multiplayer game. It has the unusual ability to take existing concepts and classes and put its own unique twist on it, such as the modified spy ability or engineer’s providing buffs. It also featured a hefty amount of customisation, which unfortunately we didn’t get to try but seemed impressive from the clip we were shown. The game will eventually allow you modify most aspects of your character, from tattoos on your body to the balance of your gun. This game is shaping up to be a really good multiplayer title; if they can fix some of the issues that I encountered then it will be worth investing in. This is most likely to be one of those games that you buy with a few friends, as once you master the combat and work together as a team, you’ll be unstoppable.

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