Co-op warfare on a planet on the edge of total collapse

By far and away the most ambitious title we saw at E3, this new shooter from the creator of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars plans to do nothing less than reinvent multiplayer, first-person movement and storytelling in games. And that's just for starters.

The simplest element of Brink is the story. Two factions, Resistance and Security, are battling to claim control of the only safe haven left on a doomed Earth: a floating utopian city called The Ark. Both sides think they're in the right, and depending on which you play as you'll see different sides to the story.


But it's who you're playing against that's most interesting: Brink doesn't draw any distinction between co-op, teamplay and single player. Campaigns can be played completely online, with two teams of eight human players, or in eight player co-op against the AI.

If you fire up the game and see a friend is playing, you can hop into their game on their team or as the enemy. Or, if you're allergic to morons on Xbox Live, you can play it like a normal single-player game with seven AI squadmates to help you against the enemy.

The missions themselves aren't fixed either: the game dynamically generates them as you play. If you want to keep things simple, just press Up on the D-pad and it'll tell you the most important thing you can do to help your team at that moment.

Choose one and a compass marker will appear on your HUD and you'll be able to thunder off towards it. If you want to be choosy, hold Up to pop up a radial menu showing a series of short and longer-term goals.

The game is class based, so which objectives you receive will depend on which one you're playing as. Engineers will be dished out tasks like clearing obstacles and building sentries, whereas Soldiers will have more violence-based objectives. If you want a change, you can swap class mid-battle.

Completing these tasks will earn you XP, which can be used to buy weaponry and upgrades for your character, who will remain persistent in the game world. Splash Damage assures us that this won't unbalance online play - it's committed to making a game that tempts single-player fans online, and is removing any potential unpleasantness.

So, yes, voice chat is muted for people who aren't on your Friends List.

Brink is a tantalising prospect that blurs the lines between single and multiplayer more than any FPS. We can't wait to get our hands on it.