The shooter genre is so crowded right now, it%26rsquo;s hard to tell one Billy Buzzcut shouty soldier from the next. Luckily, with playable characters who all look like circus acts and the most intuitive movement system we%26rsquo;ve seen since Mirror%26rsquo;s Edge; Brink shouldn%26rsquo;t have too much trouble standing out from the generic crowd. Recently, we got hands-on with the game in a few four-player co-op sessions. We were even fortunate enough to have developer Splash Damage%26rsquo;s head honcho Paul Wedgewood guide us through the action. So if you like the idea of freerunning clowns murdering each other with hi-tech weaponry, we suggest reading on.
So what's the deal with Brink, then?
%26ldquo;Eh, is that the FPS where the guys look like they%26rsquo;ve had their heads and arms stretched outbya medieval rack?%26rdquo; you might find yourself asking. Well, yes, young Padawan. You%26rsquo;re partially right.
Above: OK, so you%26rsquo;re a lot right
But Brink is a whole hell of a lot more than a bunch of lanky grunts running around tightly-designed maps, shooting each other%26rsquo;s gangly asses. It%26rsquo;s also a shooter with a simple, if ludicrously lofty mandate: it wants to blur the lines between single and multiplayer gaming.
Pitting two factions (Resistance and Security) against each other in a floating city called The Ark, the game Brink most closely resembles is Team Fortress 2. It%26rsquo;s an obvious comparison, as bothtitles revolve around team (objective-based) deathmatches. But where Valve%26rsquo;s masterpiece is focused on purely multiplayer, Splash Damage%26rsquo;s title weaves a story mode throughout its drop-in/drop-out co-op. It means whether you%26rsquo;re playing with the impressively on-the-ball bots or actual human-shaped flesh bags, there%26rsquo;s always the added motivation of a single player-style narrative to get you through what feels like a multiplayer experience.
It%26rsquo;s SMART as hell
No, the caps lock on our keyboard hasn%26rsquo;t suddenly developed a mind of its own, Johnny Wisenheimer. Instead, Splash Damage%26rsquo;s acronym for their Mirror-Edge-style parkour system stands for %26lsquo;Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain%26rsquo;. If you%26rsquo;ve ever played EA%26rsquo;s futuristic freerunner, you should feel fairly at home with Brink%26rsquo;s buttery smooth movement. Simply hold down L2/LT and your gibbon-armed soldier will automatically break into a Usain Bolt-shaming sprint.
Cleverly, it%26rsquo;s a context sensitive system that responds to where you%26rsquo;re looking. Nudge the stick up as you come towards a stack of crates and you%26rsquo;ll automatically clamber smoothly up them, before vaulting over the other side. Likewise, if you aim downwards as you approach a low obstacle, your military man will gracefully slide under it.
Basically, in both concept and execution, it%26rsquo;s such a sloppy kiss towards Faith and her parkour prowess, we suggest the Runner take out a 500-foot restraining order as soon as she can sprint down to her nearest courthouse. Not that we%26rsquo;re complaining, of course. After years of controlling shooters where beefy soldiers move like they%26rsquo;ve been injected with a big fat doze of arthritis, SMART provides the most nimble and refreshing of changes.
You%26rsquo;ll actually want to be a team player
Mainly because Splash Damage bribe the shit out of you by rewarding you with extra points for helping out your team. The game%26rsquo;s four different classes all reward you in different ways. Say you%26rsquo;re playing as a Medic. Well then, Brink will spit out points each time you %26lsquo;buff%26rsquo; (i.e. boost) the health of your team-mates with med-packs. Similarly, Soldiers%26rsquo; rewards come for buffing other players%26rsquo; weapons, while Engineers get a delicious bonus for repairing droids or setting up gun turrets.
Above: Turrets = fun... and obviously agonising death
Operatives are slightly different. Although they can%26rsquo;t directly improve the stats or health of their buddies, they can highlight the position of enemies for their team on the map. If they can successfully hack an opposition player%26rsquo;s HUD, they'll also temporarily steal their identity, which makes them essentially invisible to their enemies for a short time.
Thanks to each class having such clearly defined perks, the action is given a lovely variety with players all performing different jobs. There%26rsquo;s never a shortage of things to do, either. And you always feel involved as the really shooty cog of a much larger machine
Points most definitely mean prizes in Brink, too. And any you earn can be spent buying new clothes or weapon upgrades in the impressively in-depth customisation options, which handily, we%26rsquo;re just about to talk (well, type) about%26hellip;