[GC 2009] Brink Eyes-On

Surprisingly Bethesda and Splash Damage didn't make us wash their cars in order to let us obtain some first impressions of their amazing new IP.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: August 20, 2009
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It's gaming Europe's most important week of the year, and as promised TPS is at the GamesCom09 in Cologne to deliver to you some impressions of the most promising upcoming titles out there. We're going to start right off the bat with a huge title here: Brink. Now, many of you probably know almost nothing about this Splash Damage/Bethesda/Id project. Splash Damage are the guys behind the very successful Enemy Territory games, and most recently Enemy Territory: Quake Wars on the PC (the terrible PS3 version was not something they have to be ashamed for, after all that was made by Z-Axis).

Bethesda overtakes the role of the publisher, while Id's job was to deliver the technology. And what a technology that is. The presentation that went down in a small, sweaty room at the Bethesda booth was held by none other than Paul Wedgwood, CEO and founder of Splash Damage. Understandably he seemed to be sweating as if he had just returned from running the New York marathon. And yet, the moment the presentation kicked off, we totally forgot about the sticky climate.

Brink is arguably the most beautiful game I have seen in a very long time. Paul at one point mentioned that a guy who had been working on Killzone 2 is a key member of the development team. It almost seems like he had a ton of influence on the title's visuals and animations with Brink having a very similar look to its visuals while at the same time going in a very different direction when it comes to art style and setup. It's hard to compare it to anything out there really. The color palette reminded me very much of Mirror's Edge's, with some shiny whites and buckets of poppy colors in between resulting in a look that resembles that of many modern Sci-Fi flicks. Brink has an almost irresistibly natural, calm look to it. The truth is, you have to see it to fully understand my excitement. Now you can (and should) go to our screenshot gallery, however seeing the game in motion perform as well as I did yesterday is an entirely different thing. Ah, and also download the really atmospheric teaser that is up there in our download section only waiting for you to click upon. Trust me, it's worth the download.

Brink is a first person shooter first and foremost. It has some, alright, quite a few RPG elements, however this cannot be compared to a game like Fallout 3. Brink is much more about the action itself. When played the game looks like a mixture of Killzone 2, Bioshock, Mirror's Edge and Crackdown. It has the aforementioned looks to blow you into gaming heaven and more than a few unique ideas to make it a first-person shooter that's appealing enough for someone who has completely lost any interest in this totally overpopulated genre. Brink is definitely not your average shooter, and also not your average shooter with RPG elements.

Wedgewood started off by telling us a bit about the game's story and setup. It takes place sometime around fifty years from now and plays in a giant, floating, artificial and super futuristic city. Once designed as the ultimate place to live in, a sort of artificial urban Arcadia somewhere in the middle of the ocean, things seemingly didn't go as well as planned. Communications to the rest of the world were cut off at some point in the game's history and a civil war escalated between peace keepers and rebels. As the player, you have to make the tough choice of picking a side. This of course means that the game will feature two separate campaigns. The demo was presented to us from the peace keeper's perspective.

Before we jump into some of the details that were shown to us during the mission itself, I am going to talk about the game's basic and very unique mechanics. Brink is a first person shooter with a very cool twist: Splash calls it the SMART technology -- or in other words an action button. You see, by simply holding down one button you will make your character scale obstacles like a professional parkour runner. You won't have to perform every action yourself like in Mirror's Edge, instead it'll probably feel more like Assassin's Creed's action mode where you hold down two buttons and the rest happens almost automatically. Your moves will of course depend on the surroundings and the environment you are in. Wedgewood demonstrated how SMART works with an airport security gate which was guarded by infrared laser sensors. The first thing he did was run through the gate to set off the alarm. He then ran towards the gate while holding down the sprint button and the SMART system recognized the threat in the form of the infrared lasers, and so instead of setting off the alarm again, the character smoothly climbed over the security gate. He then did the same thing while looking down at the ground and the character simply slid through underneath the infrared sensors. All of this seems to work very well with the game almost feeling as if it's reading your mind.
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