With E3 oficially at a close, we here at Gamer Limit were fortunate enough to sit in on many press conferences of some of the biggest names in the industry. Finding my way into Bethesda’s conference room, a small hovel consisting of 16 chairs, an Xbox 360, and Splash Damage founder and studio director Paul Wedgwood, my dreams of seeing Fallout: New Vegas quickly diminished as Mr. Wedgwood introduced his brand new FPS IP, Brink. First, let me iterate that I had delusions of grandeur concerning the Bethesda press conference. Being a diehard fan of the original Fallout trilogy, I held my breath in anticipation of New Vegas, for members from the original Fallout development team were hired to work on the next installment. Boy, was I sorely mistaken.
However, after the initial disappointment wore off and I had finished drying my tears, Paul Wedgwood began his presentation of Brink, which I couldn’t help but be instantly impressed with the tech level utilized to introduce the game mechanics to the media. The game uses a system known as SMART, or Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. Those familiar with how Mirror’s Edge leading lady Faith moved across the vast unnamed city will see many similarities in how she was able to fluidly run and climb most obstacles in her path. In Brink though, slight tweaks were made to further progress on this aspect, giving us the SMART system.
The player will sprint and climb most anything, just as Faith, but will have different options on how he will do so. Wedgwood demoed his character running through a security gate lined with infrared sensors, setting off the alarm. By looking upward while holding the sprint button – the controlling aspect of the SMART technology – the character smoothly climbed over the security gate, rather than tripping the alarm again.
Further showcasing this impressive system, Wedgwood once more sprinted towards the security terminal and timed his crouch, enabling him to slide under the infrared lasers. He continued to showcase the SMART technology, running over and climbing literally every obstacle in his way. This proves intuitive; not because something like this hasn’t been done before, but due to the fact that the SMART system occurs in real-time, rather than being scripted actions.
Paul Wedgwood next introduced us to the fictional world of Brink, known as “The Ark.” Set in 2035, The Ark was meant to be a vision of the future through the pinnacle of science and engineering, but now lies as the last refuge for humanity. Two factions operate on The Ark, known as the Security and the Resistance, and are in constant conflict for control
You’ll be able to play as both factions, each supporting their own full campaign that will coincide with each other. After choosing a faction – Wedgwood chose the Security – the player will have the ability to customize their characters to a certain extent (ethnicity, hairstyles, clothing, age), as well as what type of class they will be, ranging from an engineer to a soldier to a stealth operator. Now, up to this point, the graphics proved very impressive working off the id Tech 4 engine.
But as I saw the character models, I was less than enthused with the art direction. They appeared very surreal looking, with exaggerated features that were reminiscent of the freakish inhabitants of the original Fable (their hands were goddamn HUGE). Yet, there is still quite some time before their spring 2010 release.
Diving into a playable level for his audience, Wedgwood explained the game’s more advanced mechanics as he trudged along as a Security stealth operator. His mission: escort a bomb diffusing robot to what is now known, in the world of The Ark, as Container City, once a storage section for The Ark’s wealthiest. A successful mission can only be achieved by completing a set of sub-missions, all granting set amounts of experience points and leading up to one overarching goal.
This EXP system is used in the same vein as Call of Duty 4, allowing for further weapons and outfits to be unlocked. These sub-missions are governed by the situational battlefied, that is, they will appear in real-time and will vary depending on the player’s class. So, after completing a spy’s interrogation “quest” that involves glorious amounts of taser torture, the player has the option to rig a door with explosives, but must be a soldier to do so.
The player could visit a “command post” to change their class, while also acquiring weapons and ammo. And in switching to a soldier to blow the door, more “quests” are received, a very unique system that I welcome with open arms into the over-saturated FPS genre.
The game is built around squad based combat and is 100% fully cooperative for up to 8 players over the internet. More interesting, however, is that the campaign can also be played in a 16 player versus mode, a dynamic feature of gameplay that is rarely, if ever, been used. Not only will the players’ “quests” be updated in real-time, but as you change classes, such as to an engineer, the players team will also receive real-time “quest” updates that revolve around the players’ class, such as escorting him to the quest objective.
Although I attended the Bethesda press conference with expectations of being graced by the presence of Fallout: New Vegas and its development team, I was still thoroughly pleased and impressed with Splash Damage’s Brink, what hopes to be a “revolutionary take” on the FPS model. Keep your eyes on Gamer Limit for the latest news and details pertaining to Brink and its spring 2010 release date.