Brink started out confusing everyone, with its bold and baffling intention to blur the lines between single- and multiplayer. Sitting down to play, it's as instantly comfortable as it is relentlessly intense. It's multiplayer maps with a story attached. And no map unlocking: you can play the map/chapters in any order you like. It's not a spoilery kind of story.
The four classes, Soldier, Medic, turret-chucking Engineer and covert Operative, are best described as the result of a quick and angry love affair between Team Fortress 2 and a fistful of sausage meat . but they share the same weapon selection pool, creating the pleasing possibility of a Medic with a minigun. You can swap classes as often as you want at control centres, but when you level up, you can choose to spend points on universal skills and class-specific choices - so aside from having a character to play on both Security and Resistance teams, there's a good reason to build more than character in each faction.
I got to play the first escort map, The Ark, with a room of journalists. As Security, my team accompanied a trundling droid along a... well, it's an Ark. There may be a story attached, but for us it's just a location for a fight. And it's a pleasure to get my arse handed to me as I get used to the objective tracking system, which lets you focus on the main business (protecting and clearing a path for the robot) or the numerous secondary missions that can help your side out.
Engineers are needed here - in their regular role as weapon buffers and turret builders, but also to fix the escort when he takes too much damage. Like all classes, itfs a single button to buff teammates, and a different button to buff yourself. It's the same simple system as SMART sprinting: you just want to get up that stack of crates as quickly as possible and shoot people.
For the second map, we're bumped up to level seven - you'll grow a harem of persistent and specialised characters - giving us a fat wedge of unlocks to play with. Guns, upgrades and cosmetic options ensure your Operative neither looks nor plays quite like any other.
We're on a Resistance-led mission to bust a pilot out of prison, with objectives split between general and class-specific roles. For example, any player can plant the explosive charge to break the power on the main gate, but you need an Operative to hack the Warden's safe to retrieve the passcode to the pilot's hospital room. Changing your class to suit the needs of the map is part of the challenge.
An hour in, all confusion vanishes. You know what you're playing, you know what you have to do - as much from the familiar nature as the friendly mission markers. In seconds flat, you'll be unambiguously and cheerfully shooting people.
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