After Bethesda's E3 party last night my appointment for 10am seemed rather cruel. However, after seeing what BRINK is offering I think I can find a bit of forgiveness for the team.
Our experience with the game began with being lead into a small private viewing room where, CEO and Game Director of developer Splash Damage Paul Wedgwood gave us a demo; we were first given a background on the game before we jumped into the action.
The story unfolds on this floating man-made island called 'The Ark'. Due to the rising of water levels within the world, The Ark is now a singular floating collection of humanity that consists of many smaller islands. However, not everything is too peachy as inhabitants on The Ark are on the "brink" of a civil war.
You are given two options and from what we were told you can switch "sides" during the game if you so desire. On one hand you have the Rebels, who are under the impression The Ark is really just some sort of experiment and on the other hand you have the Security force there to maintain the peace within The Ark by preventing whatever harm the Rebels try to inflict.
The demo starts off in what I'm told is an abandoned airport. The primary focus here is the "smart button" -- it wasn't explained which button exactly is used on the 360 controller, just that there is one. The smart button allows players to easily get from point A to point B by letting the engine know "I want to go there, make it happen, now". For example, if you look up at a ledge, press the smart button and run towards it you will jump and climb up all without having to do this yourself. The engine figures out what you want to do based on what it is you're looking at. Another example is running towards a security detector that has five or so horizontal lasers, which, when ran through will set off an alarm. Running towards it while looking down towards the base while holding the smart button will allow your character to slide under the lasers without setting the alarm off. Now, I know a lot of other sites have compared this component of the game to something like Mirror's Edge but I can tell you this is not the primary focus of the game, it's merely a tool you can use to enhance your experience so do not associate Brink to anything else that may seem similar, it's in a category of its own.
Next to be introduced was the character customization screen. This was a pre-Alpha build so there were only a few variety of choices per option, however you can totally see how flexible this can end up being to give you a unique character that defines the personality which you want to express. I immediately thought of the possibility of having a gaming clan where everyone had a particular color scheme who all had skull face masks -- awesome! The options I saw were skin color, tattoos, facial features, hair, torso outfits, and lower body outfits, to name a few. My favourite had to be the rubber tire shoulder pads, yakuza tattoos, and staples across the entire left side of the face.
After customizing his character a bit we headed straight into the next demo, a shipping yard. Some brief background on this location was told us this was the place where all the upper class citizens store their possessions of value. The color was very vibrant and the colors of the metal and rust really stood out to me. Then we were introduced to some of the classes available in the game: Soldier, Engineer, Medic and a class which was perfect for Recon. To choose a class you must first access a command post; here not only can you choose you class on the fly but you can choose your loadout; a light SMG would work for some good ol' Recon, I noted. While nothing specific was said I got the impression you could customize your loadouts as when Wedgwood switched over to the Soldier he mentioned something about having previously setup this loadout which consisted of a grenade launcher and an automatic rifle. The dialogue and voice acting seemed pretty well done to me for a pre-Alpha.
After a short dialogue scene your job was to clear out a path of all Rebel resistance for a robot on treads that was actually pretty big. Now, as well as your primary goal you can do "side quests" while playing. For instance you can interrogate an enemy, change classes, blow open a path to create a shortcut and help fix a crane. All of these things, along with killing enemies, nets you experience. The entire scope of what you can do with the experience wasn't thoroughly explained, but you can use it to upgrade your character by getting new weapons, armor and so forth. From what I saw there weren't any customizations such as strength, health, etc., so don't expect any RPG elements as its primary focus is first-person shooting.
Now, I know the game is in its early stages, as mentioned, but at times the enemy AI seemed pretty primitive. They would often run past you to focus on your allies rather than you, who were right next to them, gun in hand, sometimes shooting them. At this stage of development there was no HUD but we were informed the balance of elements was still being worked on, but there would be a HUD added; also, you will not get an unlimited supply of bullets.
To summarize my experience with BRINK, all I can say is the demo left me with a sense of wanting more; I can't wait till I get my hands on this. The tenative release date is Spring 2010 with versions appearing on the XBOX 360, PS3 and PC. Until next year, here is the BRINK teaser, which Bethesda was also showing at their E3 booth.