First Impression – Brink

Posted on by Michael Black
First Impression - Brink

The first thing that makes you so desperately want Brink right-the-hell-now isn’t the flashy cinematic trailer, though that’s quite good too. No, it’s the gameplay videos that have the game’s director, Paul Wedgwood, talking over them.

Brink is one of those few games where the character customisation is impressive, rather than unwieldy or non-existent: i.e. there’s enough depth to it that you’re almost assured of creating a character you like, yet simple enough that you’re not bogged down by a screen full of sliders for each body part.

In more general terms, the looks are pretty broad and far-reaching. We have futuristic military, Rastafarian badass, junkyard deadbeats and yes, so much more. Everyone has their own range of unique accoutrements in the form of tattoos, face-paints, shades, hats, jackets … You get the idea.

These factions have more meaning than just a cool avatar, they get their own unique story, says Paul Wedgwood. It seems that by “story”, they mean Half-Life style cutscenes where control is never taken away from you: Such a scene shows a small military squad, sporting an eclectic mixture of accents, arriving at a shanty town by boat. While they stop to discuss their objectives they’re fired upon. Cue the action.

It’s a good time to bring up that you can apply kits via in-game terminals to change your class. The usual archetypes are represented: Medic, Assault, Stealth, etc. However, it’s your character using different equipment, progressing the same set of abilities, not some caricature of what those classes should be. This is important because you’re gathering experience as you go along and using it to buy abilities.

Where does all this take place? The game takes place on The Ark which, as of 2045, has been abandoned for 20 years. The Ark is described by Wedgwood as “an immense artificial floating city”. As for the kind of environments shown, we’ve seen a Mirror’s Edge clean abandoned airport, shanty town built out of shipping containers and some more industrial settings. You do get the feeling there’s much more behind the proverbial curtain, however.

So far so juicy, they could have stopped there. Well it gets better: The game has a free-running aspect to is as well through the SMART system. One way to describe it is contextual free-running, meaning the way your looking affects what your character does when you approach something. The implication from Paul’s commentary is of a partially automatic system, with button presses reserved for more exaggerated actions.

If you get to this point and you’re thinking this should be an online game, well guess what: It’s an online game. You can certainly play it as an offline game, but it’s suggested that you can play the single player co-operatively or even play the game as if it were an MMO-type experience, where the world is populated by real players who may help or hinder you.

So what we’re hopefully going to end up with is an RPG based shooter like Borderlands, mixed with the freedom of movement possible in Mirror’s Edge and the class-based high-jinx of Team Fortress 2. Oh, and maybe a bit of World of Warcraft for good measure.

The bottom line? When the videos of a game that get you most excited have no action and a guy talking, odds are the game will turn out okay [understatement? – Ed].

It seems then, the most boring part of the game will be waiting until its release later this year.

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