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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, itfs 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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