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Brink Hands On Preview

by on 03/14/2011

We were lucky enough to play a lot of Brink throughout PAX East. I have been debating between this and Crysis 2 for the next FPS that my friends and I get into. We have been shying away from Crysis simply for the customization options we have seen, and the fact that it is very objective oriented.

Needless to say I was given a lot more evidence supporting this decision this weekend, when we got our chance to play it several times.

As I started the experience I was allowed to customize my character. Although I was forced to make my character a resistance model when I played it was still amazing. You are able to customize many thing on your character. I put on a paintball styled mask, a tank-top that I colored black (it was accidently mesh at one point, luckily I changed that, and some ridiculous capri-styled jeans. With a lot of the items to customize you are also able to pick between a large variety of colors and styles for the pieces you put on.

This was a big reason why female characters were left out of the game. Splash Damage felt that female characters would have way less variety in their outfits and it would have been very unbalanced. The good thing about this though is that it allowed them to put more variety in the male characters.

I loved the character customization, and it only gets better the more you play with unlocking more clothing options. I know when it comes time to play it in May, I will be spending way too much time on it. The only thing that made it better was the gun customization.

Gun customization has taken elements from Rainbow Six Vegas where players could customize clothing that affected the armor and mobility of their player. In Brink the focus is on your weapons and they have a ton of variety in this area also. With many different statistics I found myself searching for a gun with good stability and good accuracy. It made me feel nostalgic over my Rainbow Six days and I made my decisions based on that. After that I chose an extended magazine in my gun, just enough to give me a little more ammo per clip, and then I chose a scope on my gun (a scope with a little too much zoom).

On the battlefield the maps reminded me of Rainbow Six also, opportunities of medium/long range fights and also areas that offered the chance for strategy. I learned very quickly that my scope was a bad choice and a holographic sight would have been a much better option.

For the most part I played as the assault class, this class allowed me to give ammo to teammates, ammo to myself, and throw flashbangs/molotovs. The engineer class allowed you to have one turret placed anywhere you wanted and place a landmine on the ground. The medic class allowed you to only revive in the demo, and the operative class allowed you to disguise yourself as an enemy.

The best part about this is that the class works just as an RPG class. It decides what abilities you have on your guy, it doesn’t constrict what guns you can use or anything like that. The only thing that constricts that is the body type you choose. Choosing a light character allows you to move quickly and parkour with advanced moves, but you are unable to use heavy weapons, choosing medium character allows you to use every gun except heavy weapons, and the heavy character can use every weapon but is slower, lacks a lot of the parkour abilities, and has the most health.

I was a medium character, giving me an all-around type character with my gun selection too. You are shown a cut scene prior to the start of the game and after you are thrown into the action. When I spawned I was given my initial class as a medic. I quickly went to a command post near the spawn and changed my class. You can go to these at any point and change your setup, but you are not allowed to switch your body type.

The mission I was participating in was an escort mission that had one team escorting a wounded NPC and getting him to the docks. The opposing team can shoot and down the VIP but a medic can revive him. This is smart seeing as most games with this type of game mode would end and the mission would be short lived.

As you fight you are thrown into various locations, places like courtyards, hallways, and stairwells that force you to fight an uphill/downhill battle depending on what side of the fight you are on. My favorite part was that in some instances you were forced into what I like to call a “Normandy” situation. Both teams keep firing at each other in a small area with one trying to hold their ground while the other is fighting to push forward. In these situations the spawns ended up being close to the action so it became constant action. Medpacks being thrown to teammates, turrets being setup, and ammo being replenished.

During one of these instances I decided to take advantage of the optional objectives that players can do and branch away from their team. I snuck down a side hallway and started to disable an enemy team command post. This rewarded me extra experience and gave my team an added boost that I am sure most didn’t realize.

Things like this happen throughout the game offering a lot of variables each time you play the game and giving you new experiences each time. That is the type of game I enjoy, a lot of killing, but they make you use your strategy to be truly effective. Imagining getting a full team of eight and being so methodical with our gameplay just brings chills.

As far as gameplay goes, you can expect a good mix. There really are no instant kill situations, this limits camping because even if you shoot first if the enemy is good enough they can slide around a wall and keep themselves alive. You will be able to view the enemy’s health bar that you are shooting at, giving you a good idea if a grenade might be able to end him if he runs around a corner, or if you just need to chase him and spray some bullets. Unlike other games where you are given a pistol as a secondary weapon, you are actually able to take two real weapons. I found myself running out of ammo in my weapon and switching over to finish a guy off instead of reloading. This could be because I wasn’t used to the realistic recoil that is missing from shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, but regardless I was happy it was there. This made me start thinking that it could be a great idea to craft a weapon into a long range, accurate, and stable weapon for those distant fights. Then I would make a powerful, red dot sight, close range weapon with a lot of ammo to deal with those encounters.

The most fun I had in the combat was with some of the free-running elements. There was an instance where I climbed a fence, jumped down towards two enemies, slid at one throwing them into the air and knocking him on the ground, and then unloading on his still standing teammate, and to finish it off as the downed player got up I just clubbed him with a quick melee. There is a good possibility that if you master movement in the title that you could be the Jet Li of Brink.

The RPG elements that they offer, now seem like they should be offered in all games. With all of the options you have in sculpting your character, and the added depth with enabling perks on your character you can tell that Bethesda has their hand in this. The perks don’t appear to be anything majorly game changing either which I find good. Things like being able to shoot your own grenades may not be major, but it gives you the opportunity to do cool things that other plays may not be able to (granted you have the accuracy for it).

As far as Splash Damage has told us the multiplayer will primarily be the campaign missions in 8v8 gameplay. You can choose to do an 8 player co-op campaign and learn the ins-and-outs that way as an option, but don’t expect a capture the flag or king of the hill game mode. I hope if anything that people take notice that innovation is still possible to the FPS genre and that it may be as simple as mixing a genre into it. Playing it the few times that I have this weekend it is clear that I was seeing aspects of Rainbow Six customization, Assassin’s Creed free-running system, and a Halo type damage system but to a lesser extent. It should be encouraged to use other developers’ ideas if it means a greater game.

Expect the game May 17th and pre-ordering it from different places offers a variety of bonuses. Places like Gamestop, Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart are offering a variety of great bonuses for pre-ordering.

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