Splash Damage take us to the edge

Twenty million downloads and six years later, Splash Damage's Enemy Territory remains one of the world's most popular online games, the add-on created for id Software by CEO Paul Wedgwood and his team.

Now, Splash Damage are back and they're promising to go another stage further as part of a partnership with Fallout 3 creators Bethesda. Brink is the resulting title, a first-person shooter that is earmarked for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in spring 2010.

Wedgwood introduces the game to us, a futuristic action offering that looks to shake up the rather staid FPS genre. Set in the near future, 2035, the game will take place on a gigantic floating city called Ark; home to the vestiges of humanity looking to protect themselves from ever-rising sea levels.

One of Brink's advancements will come in the player's movement through the game world, which looks to have been inspired - in part - by DiCE's ambitious Mirror's Edge. Kinesthetics are the key here, the player able to move free-running style simply by pointing in the cross-hair in a context sensitive fashion. This will allow the chaining of jumps, run and climbs - resulting in very fluid motion.

Another pillar of Splash Damage's vision of an FPS future will up the user-generated content ante, allowing players to create heavily customised in game characters, that will work easily both on and off-line. We witness Wedgwood mustering a new avatar, and can testify to the range and accessibility of the creation options available.

Co-op play will be a focus for Brink, but this will once again work seamlessly both online and off, players leaping in and out of the main story action. A cinematic premise is the soup of the day here; a conspiracy plotline pitting those that want to maintain stability upon Ark against those who believes they are the victim of some kind of bizarre social experiment.

Various player classes will be available to choose - and you'll be able to switch roles on the fly to gain certain kinds of experience and address certain mission objectives, which will also evolve rapidly as you work your way through the game. Splash Damage's use of XP, coupled with evolving objectives and a large degree of freedom (despite the promise of a strong, compelling story), potentially sets Brink apart and blurs the line between single and multiplayer action.

Wedgwood treated us to a couple of levels in the game, Container City and Airport - the spartan airport amply demonstrating the new approach the developer are taking to movement, while the complex and intense action was shown off in Container City - the game's crack military team charged with stopping a dirty bomb. The fire-fights are visceral in the extreme, and the shanty town Container level looked incredibly convincing - awash with subtle details and nice touches.

Despite a degree of stylisation, the environments are still highly immersive, while unpredictable (read, kind of crazy) foes will further heighten the tension - combined with some impressive voice work and a fitting soundtrack. As you progress through missions you'll be able to interrogate foes to bag information; further adding to the urban warfare feel.

Taking a lead role in missions, players will be able to deploy turrets during larger battles, while switching roles will enable you to adapt to the challenge at hand. Wedgwood is at pains to point out that the story and the missions are one and the same, which result in less contrived gameplay, while the levels of detail added via classes and XP should hopefully bring something new to the table, as well.

The code we were shown was pre-alpha, but already Brink is shaping up nicely, especially given the cunning blend of co-op and standard singleplayer fun on offer. We'll be revisiting this 2010 release soon, and we're eager to see more of the mysterious Ark.

E3 Trailer