First-person shooter (FPS) games are starting to develop a certain stigma; if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Typically, FPS games fall into two categories: Call of Duty and Halo. If a game opts for realism, it’s compared to the Call of Duty franchise. Conversely, if a game goes with the fantasy angle, Halo fanboys will lash out with fury saying the game can never compare to Halo 2 or Halo Reach. Each franchise excels in both single and multiplayer play. So, when you go into a game demo and see an FPS, all you can think is, “Yeah, it’s like Call of Duty or Halo with a few bells and whistles.”
Well, thankfully, Bethesda Softworks and the developers at Splash Damage have decided to shake up the world of FPS gaming with Brink.
After getting a good hour of hands-on time with the game, it’s clear that Brink is a deft balance of innovation and creative entertainment in a genre that was becoming more monotonous every year.
What sucks the most about playing an FPS title?
You either play it for the multiplayer component or the single player campaign. However, one usually comes up short. There’s only so much realism you can get in a single-player campaign mode before “realistic graphics” loses its significance. Also, no matter how many textures you add, the eyes tend to always look dead. Then when you hop on multiplayer, those realistic graphics are downgraded; plus, you usually end up with the same cache of Deathmatch and Objective missions.
Brink says screw realistic graphics. And, screw fantasy for that matter too. Splash Damage decided to give gamers a hybrid instead. Brink combines FPS play with MMO customization and a slight-Anime style. If you’ve ever watched the Jackie Chan cartoon or The Batman, you’ll know what I mean.
The game takes place on a floating city called the Ark, which is on the “Brink” of civil war. Gamers can play as the Security or the Resistance, in teams of up to eight players. The actual campaign is completely multiplayer based. So gamers can jump into and out of gameplay at any time. Hopefully, you’ll be paired with a good team so you can continue on.
There are four classes: the soldier, the medic, the engineer and the operative. Obviously, each class has its own benefit. But what’s different in Brink is that gamers can jump swap classes at any time. Gamers are also rewarded with experience points for playing out their character type. For me, playing as a Medic was finally fun. Actually, it was one of the most rewarding gameplay experiences. Giving my team health and speed boosts or reviving them before they bled out was handsomely rewarded. Soldiers can boost their teammates ammo and engineers can buff weapons or give out Kevlar ammo. Yet, there is no XP given out for buffing yourself with medic supplies or armor. Operatives are the only class type that cannot buff their fellow players, but they can walk up to downed enemies and dress up like them. They can also put a homing device on an enemy so that teammates can track them down.
This is a game that really rewards you for playing strategically. We’ve all played Objective multiplayer games, where one player will think that he or she is Rambo and go around killing people without helping out the team. Sure, at the end of the game they have a high kill-to-death ratio, but they didn’t actually do anything to support the mission. Brink makes team play absolutely necessary by design.
Richard Ham, the Creative Director at Brink who also worked on Prince of Persia, joined the Brink team to flesh out the overall direction on the characters. He opted for exaggerated body proportions in the design. As far as customization goes, you there’s an insane load of different facial types as well as character accents. Olivier Leonardi manages the art direction, while Tim Appleby (who worked on Shepherd and the main aliens in Mass Effect) handled the character designs. Instead of just regular fatigues, your grunts will wear more patchwork clothing like homeless people. These are fighters who use the resources around them to stitch loads of crap together into awesome designs.
It’s only fair to say that the customization in Brink is far superior to anything you’ve experienced in a multiplayer game before. Not only are the characters customizable, right down to the voicing, but the weapons have ridiculous levels of customization as well. You can add a silencer to a weapon, but it may take down the weapon’s overall damage. Putting on a drum magazine may slow down your fire rate. You can press a button at any time (Triangle on the PS3) to see how your character or your weapons would look outfitted as a Resistance or a Security soldier.
There are light, medium and heavy body types. Each type has its own benefit. Lighter types will be able to climb to certain places but headshots kill in one shot. Medium and Heavy types will need more than one shot to the head to die. Splash made the active choice to give characters a little more power so that newer gamers weren’t so easily killed. Heavy types can carry bigger guns and have access to different weapons. You can change anything at any time, except for tattoos, which are permanent. As for character classes, you can switch between class types seamlessly and you will still be able to use any weapon.
Levels are broken down in sections of 5, with gamers able to rank up to level 20 at present.
Scheduled to launch in mid-May, Brink may just be the game that will lead gamers through endless hours of play this summer.
See the screens below for some additional game stills and set designs: