Here’s how we see Brink: it’s one of those games you definitely should’ve heard of, simply due to the astronomical level of potential, but one that has probably slipped beneath a mound of holiday blockbusters. Well, we just can’t allow that to happen any longer; here’s a look at what is rapidly becoming one of our most anticipated titles of the generation.
Somehow, developer Splash Damage is going to blend the heretofore distinct single-player and multiplayer modes into one seamless experience…and in all honesty, we’re still not 100% sure how this is going to work. According to what senior designer Ed Stern told IGN during their hands-on preview earlier this year, “the single/multiplayer thing; it’s been a weird series of mindsets…we’re trying to guarantee all the stuff that’s great about it [multiplayer objective gameplay] and remove all the irking stuff, and make it completely seamless and consistent.” We get the feeling that we’ll have to go hands-on ourselves before we can fully comprehend this concept, but it certainly sounds intriguing on a number of different levels. From a technical standpoint, it sounds like a tremendous challenge but this is hardly the only unique aspect of this incredibly ambitious project. Pay attention now.
Okay, so we know what a first-person shooter is but perhaps Mirror’s Edge has helped to redefine the concept of “first-person.” In what is clearly a nod to that style, Splash Damage will be implementing something called the “SMART” (Smart Movement Across Random Terrain) button, which will provide the gamer with an agility never before found in this genre. And perhaps it’s not accurate to call it a “button;” it’s more about the viewpoint; specifically, the character’s view and how he will react to what he sees. Say for example you’re coming towards an obstacle of some kind – like one of those pipes you would often see on the rooftops in Mirror’s Edge – and when approaching it, you will deal with it by…well, looking. If you look down, the character will slide underneath the obstacle; if you look up, he’ll vault over it. If you include this along with standard FPS elements that may be more dynamic that what you found in DICE’s game, you might get awfully excited.
To add to the depth, characters can be a member of one of four classes at any given time. You can choose to be an Operative, Medic, Soldier or Engineer, and each class is entirely customizable from the ground up, as you can use gained experience to earn upgrades. In this way, it appears they’re taking a cue from a game like Borderlands, which implements role-playing elements into an FPS experience. The final unique facet of this fascinating project is the graphical presentation: it appears to be a blend between the more modernized realistic views and the more cartoon-y palettes found in the TimeSplitters franchise. Splash Damage is taking advantage of a “retooled iteration” of the id Tech 4 engine, and we’re really hoping for a very special set of visuals. When you consider the entire project as a whole, it’s not only ambitious, it’s also quite innovative and we have to applaud the developers for taking such a heavy risk.
Also, while some of you may be concerned at Splash Damage’s past – they were almost exclusively a PC developer before embarking on this multiplatform game – you’ll be mollified when you hear about some of the team members involved. Because they knew they weren’t checked out on the PS3, and owing to the fact that they’d rather not provide PS3 owners with a crappy port, they decided to bring in some top-notch help. They’ve got the lead designer from Killzone 2, Neil Alphonso, director Olivier Leonardi who worked on Prince of Persia, and another lead designer in Dean Calver, who cut his teeth with the excellent PS3 exclusive, Heavenly Sword. Happy now? These guys aren’t fooling around and as Stern said: “We've had to grow – we've come from this hardcore PC background and we didn't have the expertise to make this game, we had to go out and get it and persuade them to trust us: it's going to be good.” Oh, we believe you. In fact, we’re so unbelievably psyched at this point, we kinda don’t want to wait until next year. How’s about just giving us a demo now…?
Brink will arrive some time during the second quarter next year, and although there are a ton of blockbusters on tap for 2010, you’d be foolish to sleep on Splash Damage’s unique project. This could be one of the more impressive productions of the year, you know.
11/27/2009 Ben Dutka