Single and multiplayer merge in Splash Damage's latest

Splash Damage might have a tough sell with Brink. Not because the game doesn't look phenomenal (it does), but because the concepts and technology they're dealing with a pure gaming witchcraft.

The idea; you shoot stuff with your mates online or in co-op in a long an elaborate story. But, at any point, other players might be working for the opposing side to take out or defend your objective. There's essentially no difference between the single player and multiplayer worlds.

The game's set in a weird future where those living in a megacity ecology thing have been cut off from the outside world. The population has split into two broad factions - protesters and the police and the streets have broken into open warfare. You can play on either side, and take part in the story from both perspectives.

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Here's where it gets crazy. All the missions and maps in Brink have a duality to them - think of them as more scripted and story driven versions of the levels you'd play in something like Quake Wars or Battlefield 2. Choose a class, and get out there and make stuff explode. Meanwhile someone else, or a group of other players will be in the same level, completing their story mode, be it on your side, or your opponents.

This feels like a big deal - a new and innovative way to play. And it feels like a big deal because it's Splash Damage, the mod-makers making it big. They've upped their game in a big way; and talk of heavy hitting hires. They've got the sound designer from Black working on the weapons. They've got the lead designer of Fable 2 producing missions. The little mod team is turning out a multiplayer powerhouse.