by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on PC
Picking the jewels from amongst the rocks
In a new year filled with the promises of sequels and rehashes of the same concept, game studio Splash Damage is ready to inject a healthy dose of originality and innovation into the first-person shooter. With their new title Brink, the London developer has set their sights high, aiming to dismantle a few FPS traits that, to many people (including this guy), have never really seemed like a problem until now. Bringing their run-and-gun experience over from Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Splash Damage is set to bring about a world of change with Brink.
Set in the year 2045, Brink envisions an Earth where mankind has suffered an unstoppable catastrophe in the form of rising sea levels. Humans have now flocked to the Ark, a humongous floating structure that was once a promising piece of economical and ecological architecture. Originally designed to house only the wealthiest of citizens, the Ark has now devolved into a trashed and broken world brimming with its original occupants and the refugees from the drowned places below. Due to the overflow, strife has ripped the place in two and the people of the Ark have all but broken out into a civil war - and that’s where you come in. Choosing either the stability-minded Security or the furious Resistance, you’ll be transported into the streets and neighborhoods of the Ark ready to bring it to the either side. You’ll have the option to play as four classes: the Soldier (muscle), the Engineer (gadgets), the Operative (cloak and dagger), and the Medic (duh), with the opportunity to switch between any class at specified control points. Objectives will be fought in teams of 8 versus 8, with the objectives themselves being integrated into the overall story, thus giving you a sense of honest completion when you execute them.
Up to this point, the game sounds like standard shooter fare. Class-based gameplay is nothing new and numerous games have been set in a post-apocalyptic world and there will be tons more, but don’t fret. Splash damage is introducing a few fresh concepts designed to whip things up a bit and slap the typical FPS player into a new mindset of blissful explosions and high-octane gun battles.
Onto the good stuff!
One of the first traits Splash Damage aims to knock down are the lines between single-player, co-op and multiplayer. Just which one is Brink? Well, take your pick, as Splash Damage is letting the player blast characters to smithereens whether those smithereens are computers, friends or entirely random people. Gameplay has been based around all three and further enhancing the experience is the fluidity of transitioning from one to the other. Placed in the world, you may choose to go about fighting the AI, but something may pop up indicating a friend of yours has just logged on, in which case you’ll then have the chance to invite him or her to take the place of one of your squad’s AI characters. If you then choose to further your social horizons and take the action into multiplayer, you’ll be seamlessly placed into a battle littered with actual people along your same level and expertise. From one gameplay type to the next, Splash Damage promises constant, fluid action with no long queue lines to bog you down.
But perhaps the most impressive thing Splash Damage is bringing to the table is the new tool that looks to renew the way people traverse the environment. The game’s SMART system (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) will calculate exactly where you want to go and in what manner. It sounds basic at first but how many times in the standard FPS game have you been halted by a five-foot high fence that you just know you should be able to climb? How many times has your character walked around a rock formation when climbing it would’ve have been much easier? With Brink’s SMART system, those aggravations will be laid to rest. Sprint towards a pile of shipping containers and you’ll scale right over them. Run towards a table while looking down and you’ll slide underneath it. You won’t be chained to some pre-determined action, either, when you choose to activate the SMART system, as everything will be rendered in real time, meaning changing your flight pattern in the middle of it is an option and all the bullets whizzing by you can interrupt that pattern. With the new system, Splash Damage is truly placing the movement of your character into your hands, taking away the standard forward-backward-left-right setup of the games before it. Vaulting over security checkpoints and dashing underneath rusted gates is the new M.O. of the first-person shooter.