Tired of Nazi zombie modes or first person shooters breaking down into teams of snipers camping across the map from each other? Well, Brink is your answer. A futuristic first person shooter that borrows gameplay mechanics heavily from some of the bigger first person shooters out there, FPS developer Splash Damage and publisher Bethesda are attempting to break back into the first person market by cleaning up some of the mistakes its competitors are making. So how does it do?
Set in a post apocalyptic future where the oceans have flooded 90% of the planet, the survivors of the world of Brink cling desperately to life on a once-experimental self-sustaining utopian island called “The Ark”. Unfortunately, this paradise meant to hold 5,000 people is now holding 50,000 people, and the Ark’s ability to maintain life is threatened as more and more global refugees seek shelter. Two factions rise from the turmoil: the Security, which are the militaristic police force governing over the island trying to keep law and order, and the Resistance, a rebel movement trying to get off the Ark to find help for the failing colony from the outside world. You play as a member of either of these factions, each with their own storyline driven campaigns.
While the story takes a back seat to the action and is generally disposable, it is a smirking look at how two different sides of a conflict can told misinformation and lies about what the other side is doing. For example, if you play as security, you are told on one map that you are raiding a suspected chemical weapons manufacturer and that the “terrorists” are attempting to launch an attack. However, if you play the same scenario as the Resistance members, it turns out that the “chemical weapon” is an antidote for a plague that is sweeping through the slums of the Ark that the Security forces in charge want to keep in the hands of the leadership. Tricky.
As for the game, it is a multiplayer focused shooter. Two eight man teams fight across eight considerably long multiplayer maps, with each map having its own series of objectives to complete of one side attacking, the other side defending. Think of Brink as an entire game focused into a longer, more detailed “Warzone” mode from Killzone 3. Matches can be lengthy fist fights and it is not uncommon for maps to run a full half hour of back and forth between both sides. Even in the “single player” campaign, you can allow folks online to drop-in/drop-out to join you or the opposing team to work against you. Have no fear if you can’t find anyone to play with online; spots not filled by human opponents are populated by bots. While these bots are whip crack effective in defensive scenarios, they fall a little short of being able to capture objectives on their own. Many times while playing with bots, I would have to change up to whatever the objective class was for that section of the map and try desperately to complete the objective by myself while being torn to pieces by the enemy bots.
So, what makes this game different from every other shooter out there on the market? Surprisingly, a whole mess of things.
First off, I’m going to call it now: we are going to see future first person shooters stealing Brink’s SMART system like everyone now “borrows” persistent leveling we see in all shooters now a days. “SMART” stands for “Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain”, which turns your soldier into a terrain-climbing fiend. Simply hold down the sprint button and hit a piece of terrain like a roadblock or a balcony, and your trooper scales right up the side of it. Suddenly, that second story ledge where you’re getting shot at from is no longer inaccessible! Just leap up on a pile of crates, scramble up the side of a decrepit bus station, vault over the side wall and boom: you’re in that guy’s face. No looking for stairs or getting funneled into a choke point. Almost everywhere on the map can be reached with a little creative use of this system, which makes combat ridiculously more dynamic.
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