PREVIEW: Just because the world's ending, there's no reason to stop fighting

Remember when everyone was confused about what Brink actually was?

Back in 2009, someone in some marketing orientation brand action meeting - or whatever they're called - decided that a great selling point would be so say: "Brink blurs lines between single and multiplayer games." A phrase so cleverly refined to sound immensely important - yet mean absolutely nothing - that it can only have sprung from a sick-headed genius.

Getting thrown into a game of Brink isn't confusing at all. It's a first-person multiplayer shooter, where teams of up to eight can play against AI or other people. The teams are the establishment Security, against the rag-tag Resistance, fighting in a world that is, design-wise, equal parts Team Fortress 2 and Mirror's Edge, with a spritzy twist of Borderlands.


Sure, there's a story threading the maps together - flooded world, broken dystopia, and so on - but you don't have to play the chapters in order. After all, if your mates were near the end of a film when you walked in, they won't want to start again, and you won't want to have to leave the room.

You can create a bevy of persistent characters and specialise each one differently as they level up. Universal skills provide general perks, but you can also choose class-specific perks - grenades, turrets, healing and so on. Just bear in mind that different maps have different needs, so be prepared to change your class to suit the needs of the team. Even if that means not playing your strongest class for while.

Hack 'n' smash

The maps weave a good bit of story into their objectives - the newest map we played involves breaking a Resistance pilot out of his prison. It's split into stages - first you need to plant an explosive to break into the building. Then you'll need an Operative to hack into the safe and retrieve the code to the infirmary (why you can't blow that wall up too... it's best not to ask).

Once you've got your pilot, it's a matter of escorting your limping hero to safety - you'll need medics to keep him alive, and engineers to buff your weapons and build turrets to reinforce your path through the map, with soldiers providing the brute force and distributing ammo.

Brink plays simply - the SMART running lets you scale obstacles with a shoulder squeeze, and using your class abilities is mostly a matter of tapping X when you're facing the right direction. The maps are big enough to give you plenty of options, and the action's intense enough to make sure you never get bored. Brink is looking brilliant and playing better.