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Brink – Hands On Preview

Ah the utopian city of
tomorrow!  Lots of games seem to
take a liking to this notion. Unfortunately, setting a game in a perfect world
would be rather boring.  You only
get some excitement when that utopia goes horribly, HORRIBLY awry in some
manner.  Like, for example, the
population of your perfect city ballooning to ten times what it was intended to
hold.  That’s what happens to the
city of ARK in the year 2045, in Bethesda’s upcoming shooter Brink.

ARK is a floating, 100% green
city intended to be a perfectly self-sustaining habitat for the 5,000 people
who live there.  However when
50,000 refugees are added into the mix, we get a clear message about how to
deal with overpopulation. Kill the hell out of a bunch of people!  I’m sure the single-player campaign
will be more nuanced than that, but the general idea is that players will be
able to join one of two factions, the Resistance who fight for the refugees,
and Ark Security, who fight to keep the vermin in check.


Brink is being developed by
Splash Damage who made multiplayer modes and maps for some very popular
shooters, including
Doom 3, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Although Splash Damage has previously focused on multiplayer games,
their new project has single-player, co-op and multiplayer modes, and claims to
seamlessly allow players to move between the different modes.

There’s also a big emphasis
on character customization as well. 
You’ll be able to choose from “25 Quadrillion” different possibilities
according to Splash Damage, and the choices aren’t just cosmetic.  Heavy body types will be able to carry
larger weapons, while lighter characters can move faster to take better
advantage of the game’s SMART System; an acronym for Smooth Movement Across
Random Terrain.  Instead of
hammering a jump button to make their way across the piles of debris that
clutter ARK’s landscape, players will be able to simply hold down the SMART
button while their character does all the hard work of navigating the terrain.

 
During my lengthy
multiplayer battle at PAX East, I got to try out all of these features.  The customization system is truly
impressive, I could make my character into all sorts of goofy looking goons,
but eventually settled on a standard bruiser who matched the Heavy body type
that I chose (I like the big guns when I’m new to a game).  While this let me carry a lot of
firepower, it did make it hard to run around; I was thankful for the SMART
system after clamoring over rails time and time again as I re-spawned during
the battle. I eventually regretted choosing the heavy body-type, as this
prevented me from experimenting more with the SMART System, and the
parkour-inspired movement.

In the Battle, I had many
objectives to deal with. Instead of a typical Deathmatch, or even one single
mode, I found myself defending waypoints from the enemy team at times, but then
having to stop them from Escorting a VIP to the end of the map later.  The combat and goals varied quickly,
and this is sort of gameplay is supposed to be part of all of the game’s modes,
multiplayer, co-op and single-player. 

Brink also uses a class
system, of sorts, and has branching paths of special abilities in a fashion
similar to role-playing games, so each player can specialize what sort of role
they want to play on a particular mission.  When starting a match, players can choose from a selection
of different characters that they’ve built up during their time with Brink, and
each account can hold up to nine different characters.

Given the developer’s
history of highly-specialized multiplayer gaming, Brink seems to be something
that shooter fans should keep in their crosshairs.  B
rink is coming out for PC,
XBox and Playstation on May 17th.

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