Splash Damage’s 2011 first-person shooter Brink [official site] is, out of the blue, now free. Swing by Steam and its yours for keepsies – it’s not a free-to-play conversion, just Brink being set free. Publishers Bethesda don’t say why they’ve done this (perhaps to celebrate QuakeCon this weekend?) but hey, thanks. Brink does Splash Damage’s usual Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory sort of class-based and object-driven action, this time taking it to a dystopian futurecity and introducing a natty parkour system. I didn’t play Brink for very long back in the day, but I do still fondly remember the parkour and bold, battered character faces.
So! It’s the future and everything sucks. A rebellion and the rozzers are fighting for control of a floating futurecity that was once utopian but now overpopulated, and we get to join in. Levels push the two teams towards objectives that involve escorting NPC vehicles, destroying barriers, hacking, carrying, and generally trying to stop the others by shooting their faces off. They are such wonderful faces, bold and craggy – a bit like Dishonored’s striking visages, and indeed one of the character artists later worked on Arkane’s game.
If you played either Enemy Territory or Splash Damage’s newer Dirty Bomb, you get the broad picture. It has parkour too, which really opens up levels, though only the lightest weight class can pull the sickest moves. Oh, and it can be played as a campaign with bots.
Brink is pretty neat but I was put off by all the cruft added over Enemy Territory. Cutscenes at the start of rounds ruined the pace of playing several matches, persistent progression to unlock weapons is always a bother, different character weight classes and weapon customisation options added complexity but not much fun, and… I missed the simplicity and didn’t have enough friends playing to keep me going.
Not every Brink bit is free. The cosmetic DLC packs and the biggun adding new maps, weapons, and other bits all still cost money. Agents of Change isn’t expensive, though, and is on sale.
A couple thousand Brink players have popped up since it went free, so now’s a good time to play.
Disclosure: several chums worked on Brink.