Monday, November 15, 2010


BRINK - Preview
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XBox 360 | PS3 | PC
Back in the day, I used to play a lot of FPS games. We're talking back when the original Doom was top of the line. I played pretty much every game id Software produced at the time.

But something happened starting with Quake 2, and the FPS games just stopped being fun for me. I think this was around the same time that the everyday non-geeks started really getting heavy into gaming. They stuck mainly with the FPS games and didn't spread out into the other styles, and they were good at it. It set new levels of gameplay that I had a hard time keeping up with at the time. But it was more than that, something about the games just weren't fun anymore even playing single player.

So, I spent a decade, give or take, playing other games and while I occasionally touched FPS, they still weren't really there for me yet.

Then came the Tactical FPS. A new style of FPS that focused more on thinking and strategy rather than just running in guns blazing. Battlefield, Call of Duty, Halo (especially Halo 3, ODST and Reach); games that mixed real tactics with a deeper story and helped you feel like you were really involved.

I was slow to join in these, but I did join, and they were fun. They were new and different and I really felt like I was getting better as the tutorials an even the levels themselves taught me new tactics I could use to best the AI and possibly other players.

A lot of this had to do with technological advances in the hardware the games were running on, allowing the game AIs to make more decisions, and allowing the game to support more tactical features without slowing it down.

But lately there's been a bit of a plateau, the games have stopped advancing. They try new things, sure; Vanquish for example is so overloaded with things that, along with it's poor aiming, it's just a monstrosity to even attempt to play. A case of too much, piled on with things that just don't help gameplay and don't make it interesting. The game is beautiful, it has a lot of interesting things, and even a decent storyline, but the controls are just too cumbersome.

In comes Brink, created by the development group Splash Damage.

Being released for PC, XBox 360, and PS3, this game promises to be a complete change from everything FPS has been so far. The game helps relieve a lot of the controls by making choices for you based on how you're moving and where. It will jump over things, climb walls, slide under things all automatically just by you looking at them while you move and press a single action button (at least that's how their videos make it sound). This frees up the rest of the controls for moving, aiming, and primary and secondary weapons, a very modest set used in many other successful titles.

The technology behind it all is called Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain or "SMART", most likely a backronym but fitting if it does everything they claim. SMART is the decision engine behind determining what to do based on your speed, location and obstacles. Impressive technology from everything Splash Damage is claiming.

But it's not the only tech joining Brink. Detailed motion capture is being used to help the game feels more real, along with a whole slew of weapon and other sound bites specially recorded just to give the game authenticity. Even their visual style is new, combining photorealism with exaggerated proportions that make it easy to make out fine details during fast paced action, while at the same time being almost lifelike.

One of the other new tech pieces is the blending of singleplayer and multiplayer allowing players to progress their character offline as well as online. This is combined with a mission system that changes and takes different directions for every character, allowing a truly unique experience for everyone that plays.

Since the game isn't out yet (due Q1 2011) I don't know if it will be everything they claim, but what I've seen so far is pretty impressive, and I certainly look forward to receiving my copy.

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