Gamescom 2010: Brink Hands-On Preview – Back From The Brink
Written Thursday, August 26, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
To say my last outing with Splash Damage’s Brink was an underwhelming experience would possibly be understatement of the century, but something didn’t seem right for a game that showed that much potential. Whether it was the bland environment, erratic pacing of the gameplay or poor level design, we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. However, with a more extensive hands-on, a new level and a bit more colour, our hands-on at Gamescom this year was a lot more positive. Huzzah.
In a nutshell, Brink is a class-based shooter – with soldier, engineer, medic and operative classes – that looks to blur the line between single-player, co-op and multiplayer. Instead of tackling the long, winding – and often sparse – corridors of the Critical Reaction level in this hands-on, we head back to the familiar ground that is Container City, as a six-man co-op team, playing as the Security.
The multi-staged mission’s main objective consists of escorting a bomb defusal robot to point B, whilst along the way getting a solider to blow up the gates, an engineer to repair the crane, before retrieving the bio-weapon and escorting it onto the next chopper out of there. That mission stands for the Security team; if one was to take on the role of the Resistance, your job simply is to stop the Security team from advancing by running down the clock.
Before going out to war, it’s essential to make yourself combat ready and in Brink, that not only means changing the appearance of your character – from the newly revealed acne scaring and impressive looking tattoo sleeves, to the apparel and of course, your build – but also customising your perks and guns. With different clothing options, colour dyes, accents, body types and so on, there is literally so much customisation that I could sit here and write a whole preview on it.
Starting as a level 14 soldier, we spent a good 5 minutes pre-match in the gun and perk customisation screen, which is possibly the most in-depth I’ve ever seen for a shooter of this magnitude. Opting for a pretty standard assault rifle, attaching a front-grip for stability, a muzzle, the duct-tape magazine for quick reloads and a D-flex red dot sight, we were ready for battle.
Before we stepped out onto the field though, it was the perfect time to select our class and non-class specific abilities, or perks if you must. In response to how many perks you can equip, according to Splash Damage’s CEO, Paul Wedgwood, “We have a level cap per character in alpha right now of about 20 – that might change by the time we release – but the general idea is that you can max out your combat role and augment it with a few a universal abilities.”
“But you won’t be able to have everything,” pipes in Richard Ham, Splash Damage’s Creative Director, “because there’s something like about 50 abilities.”
Opting to use the Sense of Perspective ability, which allows you to use a third person camera when completing objectives; Combat Intuition, which puts a yellow indicator on your HUD indicating where you’re being shot from, as well as Battle Hardened, which makes you more of a tough son of a bitch; we were ready to hit Container City. Wedgwood recommended that the engineers take the Turret ability with them and the medics take the Self-Resurrection ability, where medics can give Epi-Pens to injured foes on the floor rather than resurrecting them himself.
Seeing as we were the soldier class, Wedgwood recommended we take the flashbangs along, which incidentally reminds me that Splash Damage has taken an interesting stance on grenades in Brink, choosing to give players an unlimited amount, but with there being about a 20-30 second cooldown between each being able to throw each one... so no grenade spamming!
Having seen the E3 2009 build on numerous occasions, we were more than familiar with the layout of the level and were straight out the gates, along the pier and had planted the explosives before the Resistance had time to react. They weren’t too late however to finish me off as I tried to retreat, but by then, our support was keeping the explosive charge from being defused.
Rather than wait for a medic to throw me an Epi-Pen, we opted to respawn, and attempted to protect the explosive I’d just placed from another angle. Stopping at the command post, we flirt with the idea of switching classes; watching the gloves change colours depending on which class we choose – a subtle but effective indicator – but in the end, we opt to stay as a soldier.
Heading right this time, away from the gate where the explosive is counting down, we use the SMART button to scale a set of containers with relative ease. From there we take up another position, using the grenades and various other abilities to see off the troops, watching the countdown timer count down to zero. When it ticks down, the gates explode, we reassemble and then push onto the next objective.
Flicking up on the d-pad to choose the best mission objective, we then decide to head and capture a command post to give our team a much needed boost. At this point the action definitely seems to unfold at a more steady pace, with enemies filtering through at a more consistent rate, which is a far cry from the minute waiting times for combat at E3.
The team slowly pushes through to the crane, where we take the position on ground level and look to see off the constant flow of Resistance fighters that constantly spawn. Pinging molotovs and flashbangs, we look to funnel all our opponents into a bottleneck, making it easier for our team to hold their position and ultimately, fix the crane.
In a bid to not keep players on the field longer than they should be – you know, to stop people sticking around for 30 mins when there is no chance of winning – each leg of the multi-staged level has a timer – around 4 or 5 minutes according to Wedgwood. With our engineer repairing the crane to carry the defuser robot over the crevice, we continue to watch his back, watching his progress slowly tick up in the far right corner. While the engineer repairs the crane, we’re constantly giving ourselves and our teammates ammo to aid our cause, with our other engineers buffing us up at the same time. As the counter ticks over to 0 and the crane gets successfully repaired, our time with Brink unfortunately comes to a close.
Upon reflection, I’m still not convinced that Brink is a title that would work that well in single-player and although our hands-on with the co-op was a hell of a lot more promising than what we experienced at E3, I’m yet to be convinced that the co-op specifically will have long-lasting appeal… in the same way that Bad Company 2’s Onslaught mode is entertaining in short doses. That being said, the multiplayer component should prove to be a blast when you get a full group of people involved; that is however if the levels can offer the sustainability and draw that Container City offered us in Germany. It’s very reminiscent of Bad Company 2’s Rush game mode, which in my opinion, is one of the greatest multiplayer modes to ever be created.
In contrast to our E3 hands-on, the pacing here was more fluent with less moments of nothingness, the environment was a damn sight more visually engaging, while the level itself, in terms of design, was crafted as to filter players into key gameplay areas and the experience was all the better for it. It should be worth noting though that our hands-on was with the PC version and whether the console experience is as positive remains to be seen, especially on the back of the E3 showing. Still, there’s plenty of months to go till release and it seems as though it’s back on track, although there is still plenty of work to be done to truly hone that experience outside the Container City map. Regardless of that though, the mood in our camp has gone from dismayed, all the way back to eagerly anticipating. Let’s hope that charge continues forward.
Brink is scheduled for a Q1 2011 release.