Global warming has at long last screwed over humanity. The continents are now submerged and the final stronghold of the pollution-producing bipeds is a series of artificial islands known as the Ark. Meant to be the perfect green environment, the Ark has become a battleground between hard-nosed rebels and steely-eyed security with the future of humanity at stake.
The above scenario is about the perfect setting for a team-based multiplayer shooter, which is something UK developer Splash Damage has plenty of experience with. The developers started with Enemy Territory, but Quake Wars was the true gem, and QW fans are bound to notice some similarities in Brink. There are two sides, but the game isn't just about slaughtering your opponents. Each level sports a different objective, with a different goal to each faction. There's also a constant flow of class-based sub-objectives to accomplish, earning you EXP to improve your abilities to kick ass. Not only can multiple people join up to accomplish the same sub, but choosing it dynamically creates missions for other classes. The example we saw was of an engineer tasked to fixing a crane, so a mission popped up for the assault class to guard him. This is an expansion of the brilliant mission system in Quake Wars that guaranteed that no matter what class you set your heart on, there were always clear and just plain fun ways of aiding your side.
...a hybrid that's rich in colors but still full of grit and devastation...
Splash Damage clearly looked at the visual extremes of the market, with its dull, gray, realistic shooters and the more cartoonish titles like Team Fortress 2. The result is a hybrid that's rich in colors but still full of grit and devastation suited for a once prosperous city locked in a life-and-death struggle. Maps are massive and littered with landmarks, helping the experienced player know where to go with a quick glance, though there is a guiding arrow for objectives. One big new feature to help navigate these levels is what's called a SMART button. Hold it down for some Mirror's Edge-style sliding, leaping, and corner dashing. Flanking an enemy with a bound and a quick turn amped up the intensity, though the weapons all packed plenty of power, with sets that can be customized and chosen independently of your class.
To personalize the experience further, you create your own unique soldier through character customization. Select your body type, face, tats, clothes, and accessories to make someone other players are going to recognize on the battlefield and remember as the one that gave them a shock to the balls before winning the match.
I'm a little biased towards Brink. Quake Wars was easily the best team-based shooter I ever played . . . on the PC. The outsourced console versions were less than flattering, with awkward controls, missing features, and "bleh" performance. So all fears can be allayed now that Splash Damage is handling all three versions - 360, PS3, and PC - in house. It shows. The game was actually demoed on the 360, and not only did the controls and especially the aiming seem smooth, but the UI was clearly one for consoles, allowing split-second choices without leaving you exposed to gunfire. Now the only minor fear is the PC version suffering a consolized fate, but these aren't the sort of developers to shiv their community.
For those not so into the multiplayer scene, no worries. AI is there to support and shoot you up with adjustable difficulty, along with some adjustments to let you choose whatever class you want and have what fun you want without risking failure. Even more, any experience you earn in single-player can be used in multiplayer matches and vice versa, letting you have it both ways. Just about the only disappointment is that Brink isn't set to be unleashed on our world until Spring 2010.