E3 2009: The Five: Brink
The Three-Hour Tour: Welcome to the Ark. This floating city is the last, best hope of humanity after dramatically risen oceans obscured most of the Earth's landmass. Or, it was. Now it is scarred by battles between security and "resistance" forces in a battle for control of the city and a mysterious resource. Here's what you should know about Brink.
1. There is a campaign storyline for both the security and resistance forces, and as shown in the E3 demo, at least one side of the story has some mysterious tech and/or an alien thing to discover. But the hook is that the campaigns are both multiplayer-enabled. Developer Splash Damage made Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and Brink obviously builds on that game. Playing against live players while controlling a squad should add spice and unpredictability to the tale.
2. Want more unpredictability? Try dynamic objectives. This is the game's real calling card. While in a mission, you can access an objective wheel, which changes based on what is happening around you. Each objective notes the experience that can be earned upon completion, which indicates how critical each one may be. You can pick new objectives at any time, and some will require on-the-fly class changes (from medic to engineer, for example) which can be performed at stations within the game. So, an escort mission can turn into a mini-campaign in which you scout and secure a forward perimeter, destroy a barrier to let your forces take new ground, and interrogate an enemy to gather intel. But with all these goals (and more) created and delivered optionally on the fly, the structure is impressively free-form.
3. Brink bears no small resemblance to Mirror's Edge, but it does that game's free running engine one better. Your camera view is first-person, but by angling the lens up as you run toward a wall, you'll seamlessly mantle up and onto it. Glance down under a pipe and you'll power-slide beneath it. The goal is to retain a great degree of impressive physical movement while keeping the control overhead low enough that you can still kick ass, FPS-style. So far, it seems to work.
4. Multiplayer gunplay may be familiar, but Brink's art style is unique. A mixture of bold colors, exaggerated lines and big, beefy characters that could wrestle the Gears of War dudes without much trouble, this one has a look that borrows from many sources but comes together in a new way.
5. Customization is an old buzzword by now, but it's no small thing when a game's art style is as bold as this, and when you'll be playing online amongst a host of other garish thugs and cops. Customizable weapon loadouts can be switched in mid-mission along with classes and objectives, and while it should go without saying that you can also create visually distinct characters, Splash Damage has handled the task particularly well.
The Crispy Forecast: Looking up. The shooter market is beyond crowded right now, but Brink's seamless movement, multiplayer campaigns and, above all else, dynamic objective system are all features that make a trip to the Ark seem like a great idea.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.