Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.
For the week of May 11, 2011, you should insert credit into: “Brink”.
Most video games put a premium on a certain kind of pretty. Square-jawed heroes with smooth skin and full heads of hair prowl pristine virtual worlds. Even when the textures on things are supposed to look dirty, there can be a lack of weight.
“Brink”–the new first-person shooter developed by the UK-based Splash Damage studio–doesn’t suffer that problem. It lets you construct an avatar that looks beaten-up and lived-in, with surgical staples, tattered clothes and receding hairlines all among the options for customization. And you take that wrinkly, pockmarked character into a massive seafaring vessel called the Ark, which began as a floating city eco-experiment but decayed into chaos. A near-future ecological disaster causes seal levels to rise and brings a flood of refugees to the Ark. Decades of dwindling resources and increasing demand make the Ark a powderkeg which explodes into the battles Brink throws you into.
You can either play as the Resistance, the underclass fed up with the Ark’s elites secreted away in the spires of the arc, or as the Security, the cops on the massive seaborne community. Resistance warriors want to escape the Ark, while Security try to establish order out of the tense chaos.
As commentary-driven as “Brink” is, uts gameplay design is what’s most worth checking out. Splash Damage set out to quiet the angry chatter that accompanies so many online games by creating systems that always make you feel directed and helpful. You can change your combat role at any time and then get prompts as to how best to help your team’s efforts. So, if you’re a Medic, you needn’t hear some dude yelling about how he needs health. Voice and text prompts from the game point you to where you can help.
The result leaves you feeling like you’ve accessed the best part of your gamer nature. You’re building defenses, hacking into networks, buffing teammate’ health or keeping them flush with ammo. Sure, there’s shooting aplenty but it doesn’t feel as nihilistic as other FPS experiences.