Brink is the next team-based shooter from Enemy Territory: Quake Wars developer Splash Damage. Just like its predecessors, this game is another first-person shooter where players have to do more than simply score kills to win a match. During our brief multiplayer session, we got our hands on the character-customization tools, the SMART parkour system, and received a crash course in teamwork.
Our session began with a brief introduction to the world of Brink. The oceans are on the rise for unknown reasons, and humanity's last, best hope for survival lies with the Ark. This self-sufficient habitat floats above the endless blue, which is both home and prison to thousands of refugees. Humankind is facing its darkest hour, so naturally, everyone has started killing each other. The end of the world is pretty stressful after all. On one side of the conflict are the security forces, Ark's keepers of the peace, and on the other are the resistance fighters, who are jerks.
We started by creating a security force character using the game's extensive customization tools. Brink's bright, high-contrast style was instantly reminiscent of Mirror's Edge, but it had a fresh coat of dirt and bullet holes thrown on top. From the dozens of faces, character voices, and articles of clothing, we built a hulking machine gunner decked out in a heavy explosive ordnance disposal suit (something you would never, ever want to fight in). We also hooked him up with a beard; you've got to have a beard. Once everyone had finished creating their characters, no two members on our wildly diverse security team looked alike.
Once our multiplayer match started, the first order of business was choosing our class. There were four available: the soldier, the medic, the engineer, and the operative. Because we were still in unfamiliar waters, we decided to go with the straightforward solider class. Each class has a special ability to aid the team. The solider is basically a walking ammo dispenser, which is of vital importance because everyone's primary weapon ammo is extremely limited. This ability takes a moment to refresh after each use and may be spent to either refill your own ammo or a teammate's.
Soldiers also excel at shooting things, but that won't do you much good if you can't see your target. The SMART system is activated by pressing a single button, which manages all your jumping, ducking, sliding, and other acrobatic maneuvers to get you around the battlefield quickly and easily. No longer will you be restricted by an insurmountable, four-foot-high gate. Using SMART near a low wall vaulted us up and over; using it near a short gap made us jump. Once again, we got a definite Mirror's Edge vibe from the proceedings.
When we were actually locked in a firefight, the action didn't feel far removed from the developer's pedigree. Skirmishes weren't accented by the quick, one-hit kills found in other first-person shooters, such as the Modern Warfare series. Instead, they were battles of attrition, with each class aiding others with health, ammo, turrets, and whatever it was the operative does. Each character had a decent amount of health, making it much less punishing when we stumbled out into enemy crossfire.
Teamwork pays off in Brink. You earn experience for aiding your teammates, completing missions during the match, and (of course) for scoring kills. For team security, our mission was to escort a maddeningly slow-moving robot across the map so that it could recover some sort of sample. As a solider, it was our job to run around and plant explosive charges on anything we couldn't shoot through. Team security emerged victorious in the end, only to have our victory cut down when Splash Damage revealed we had been playing on the easiest difficulty. Check out Brink on May 17 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.