FPS games with tight multiplayer integration are nothing new, but there’s never been quite such tight integration as Brink, the new game from one-time Quake developer Splash Damage, has promised.
This isn’t a game that’s promising a great campaign, and a related multiplayer game – rather, the entire game’s designed to be played online, and you can mix and match to your heart’s content, depending on the style of game you want. It’s an impressive idea, but will this level of integration deliver a heretofore unheard-of level of competitive, yet story-balanced play, or will it just muddy both experiences?
Water, water all around...
Setting is everything in a good game, and Brink’s future apocalypse environment does a good job of delivering a wide range of locales.
Set on The Ark, a floating city designed to carry 5,000 people and be totally self-sustaining, Brink kicks off as global warming is pretty much just flooding the planet – also leading to massive overcrowding on The Ark, with something like 50,000 people looking for shelter. Designed from the outset as a utopian ideal – clean, curving lines in whites and bold colours – The Ark is now overcrowded with festering slums and shanty dwellings.
As pressure mounts, two forces are now clashing. Though functionally identical in terms of gameplay (so far), the two factions offer very different outlooks and fashion choices. The Resistance is all fist-pumping for freedom and semi-tribal in their look, while the Ark’s Security forces are your typical future-SWAT types.
Character design is similarly bold. Rather than show grittily accurate character models, Splash Damage has decided to go with a look more akin to Team Fortress 2 than Modern Warfare. It’s a move we’re honestly not sure about, given the extremely detailed and real-world inspired weapon designs, and the grittiness of the setting. It’s not a game-breaker, by any stretch, but as always with any idiosyncratic design choice you risk alienating a portion of your market.
The Atomic jury’s out on this one.
...and not a round to waste
Of course, Brink’s really going to live or die on the strength of its combat and how the persistently online nature of the gameplay actually works. When in Germany last month for GamesCom, we got a chance to spend a little while trying to beat one of the game’s more intense missions, and it gave us a good idea of its strengths and weaknesses so far.
Playing as members of the Security forces, we and our fellow journos were tasked with completing a series of missions while escorting a robot through a rundown portion of the city. Along the way we needed to hack doors, blow other doors up, and generally keep the robot more or less in one piece.
Brink features four character classes, and we got to experience how vital each is to completing a mission like this. Soldiers are vital to keep friendly ammo counts high, and can blow up certain targets, while engineers are needed for repairs, weapon buffs, and placing turrets. Medics are your archetypal healers and rezzers, while Operatives are competent hackers and infiltrations specialists.