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Brink Preview

Nick_Tan By:
PLAYERS 1- 16 
DEVELOPER Splash Damage 
T Contains Blood, Language, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

It's Team Fortress on water.

Brink makes no apologies that it mimics Team Fortress 2. Two virtually identical eight-player teams battle it out on a sprawling map where the goal is efficient teamwork, class changes, and well-placed gunfire. The only major difference between the two games is that the story is based around a sustainable manmade city that floats on water called The Ark and two factions in the city that oppose each other: the security forces who guard the city and the resistance who wish to escape it or die trying. The campaign mode, capable of both single-player and multiplayer, explores this struggle through cut-scenes on each side.

click to enlargeBut really, the main point is getting your fix of team-based first-person shooter multiplayer however you can get it, and Brink has improved tremendously since its showing at E3. Where Team Fortress has a cartoonish exaggeration and playfulness, Brink's flavor is concentrated, rugged, and serious - not too serious, of course, but just enough to make it distinct. Characters have long, thin heads with wrinkled complexions, and objectives are clear, to-the-point, and firmly expressed.

Since every player can flexibly choose a different class every time they respawn, Brink becomes less about mastering one class and more about being a jack of all trades between operative, soldier, engineer, and medic. Analyzing the current situation well means considering the primary objective, your expertise in a particular class, and the class spread of your team and your enemy's team. The distinctions between classes are rather obvious at this point, but for clarity's sake, the soldier has more firepower, the operative hacks enemy computers and safes, the medic heals and revives his teammates on the spot, and the engineer can plant mines, build turrets, and repair objects.

Of course, cross-class warfare occurs frequently and deliberately. Soldiers plant charges that can be removed by engineers. Engineers can plant mines that operatives can detect. Operatives can begin hacks that engineers can disengage. And everyone can kill everyone else. (What, too blunt?) Meanwhile, sticking together as a team accelerates capture speeds and encourages players to buff their team member's health, ammo supply, and abilities.

click to enlargeBrink also separates itself by making movement fluid and swift. Simply shooting enemies doesn't do much good, since it only takes ten seconds to respawn, so getting to an objective and completing it quickly matters that much more. Just by holding down the sprint button, players can deftly climb, leap, and even wall-hop around obstacles if they have a slim body type - sort of like Mirror's Edge, except you never miss. This rewards players who like rushing in and capturing command centers or being a gnat that goes into enemy territory and breaks their stuff. (As a ninja, I approve.)

Beyond that, the meta-game leaves plenty of places for players to earn experience points towards new weapons, weapon parts, perks, and custom appearances. Players can change everything from a character's face and hair, to their tattoos and head-to-toe clothing, for both their outfits for the rebel and security sides. Of course, obtaining your personal favorite loadout with the right perks and weapons will be your primary reason for continuing the game, apart from teaming up with your friends for an overnight fragfest.

Brink goes over the edge May 10, 2011 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Make sure you check your favorite retailer for various pre-order bonuses.

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