The buzz for Brink is going to explode – I can feel it. Bethesdaâ€™s been relatively quiet in pushing the new IP since they picked it up, unlike the other new FPS game Bulletstorm, which has been cocking its manly peacock feathers of testosterone. I was starting to wonder what happened with Brink. I finally got some hands-on time with the game, and was blown away by some of the innovations the developers have thought of. While the devs were rattling off new concepts left and right at a recent press event for the game, these particular three things really got my nipples to stand on end.
One of the first things I immediately fell in love with was parkour-style movement was integrated into the game. No longer are you stuck on one side of a barrier, and canâ€™t jump over it. No longer do you have to glaze in contempt at a ledge that you swear you can climb on top of. While some recent FPS games now allow you to climb more freely, Brink takes it to a whole new level, and it feels smooth. Known as SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain), this tech allows both the news and the pros to maneuver around Brinkâ€™s maps and never get hung around corners, ledges, and other obstacles.
This also factors in with the second innovation which I wasnâ€™t sure were going to work at 1st. Unlike most FPS games today, kills and deaths are not tracked. Instead, players receive experience points for actions that can affect the gameplay, whether buffing teammates or completing objectives. You can earn experience killing people, but the devs made sure that it was such a small amount that people would naturally gravitate towards actions that they think would enhance teamwork. By introducing distinct classes that you can switch to and from while playing a session, you are constantly deciding what roll you want to play in order to best help your team. I was pretty certain that I wanted to see a kill death ratio, a stat that I have pretty much come to expect in any multiplayer FPS game, but after several sessions, it simply didnâ€™t bother me anymore.
The 3rd concept that threw me off was how Brinkâ€™s development team created levels that would be both used in singleplayer missions and multiplayer fragfest. Again, my concerns about this approach were due to my past experiences. If you took a singleplayer map, which tends to be linear in design, and tried to let people play multiplayer on it, the experience would appear to be compromised on some level. Or vice versa.
So how did Splash Damage address this potential issue? Multiplayer missions are multilayered. You donâ€™t have simply run and gun deathmatches, but rather have objectives you have to fulfill. Whether escorting a player to a certain location, or taking over a hub, there are several objectives in any given map, and this complexity allowed the devs to create mission maps that are intricate, detailed, and a lot of fun to explore. This actually worked out quite well for both single player and multiplayer experiences.
So is it all headshots and teabagging love so far for me? Well, I do wonder just how much single player content is worth playing through. The maps we played lasted about 10-20 minutes, and while you can play through the story using different characters, ultimately it doesnâ€™t seem like the story introduced may be interesting enough. Also, while you can level up and unlock new features, most of these seem to be of the â€œnew clothesâ€ variety. While this may curtail how high level characters could completely dominate a noob, I still miss the feeling of being powerful if I was a high level character. One other thing I noticed: The weapons I saw so far just werenâ€™t as creative as I was hoping for, as they are mostly of the â€œguns with bulletsâ€ variety.
While there are a few outstanding questions I have, I have to admit, Iâ€™m ready to plunk down some cash to buy this game. The game feels tight, and clearly has some great replayability with multiplayer. You can tell this game was designed by a group that has many years of experience designing FPS games. Brink takes the FPS formula that we are all familiar with, and adds in layers of innovations that just feel like a natural next step in FPS design.