Launching a new IP into the FPS genre is brave; doing so with a control system hoping to turn the category on its head about as ballsy as it gets.
Stands to reason, then, that Bethesda and Splash Damage have full confidence in the gorgeous-looking Brink - and its grabbing, leaping SMART mechanic - to make an impact when it hits shelves in May.
Indeed, Splash Damage's CEO and game director, Paul Wedgwood, thinks his studio's first ever attempt at a new IP has a number of things that the shooters we're used to lack - including a sense of freedom you'll struggle to find in any other bullet-fest.
We sat down with Wedgwood, who told us what Brink was all about - and just how SMART it is compared with the competition...
This is your first ever original IP, right?
Yeah. Wolfenstein Territory was obviously in the Wolfenstein universe, we helped out on Doom 3 and then we did Enemy Territory Quake Wars for the PC. Enemy Territory Quake Wars for the PC was a prequel to the Quake universe, it kind of charted the mechanical alien invasion of Earth.
So we had to do concept art for everything from scratch; new Earth environments, new characters, but we didn't have to write the story, we didn't have to create it from the very beginning.
So Brink is the first game where, when I sat down and wrote the high-concept at the very beginning I was basing it on an idea for a setting that I felt was really unique, was really quite different from anything anyone else had worked on.
Is it nerve-wracking bringing a new IP to a market, especially to the FPS market?
I think that doing something that's unique or different can be a really big advantage because when you're creating a world that players haven't seen before, they arrive without pre-set expectations. Whereas if we were to make a game that involved attacking a north-African munitions dump or a fuel depot in Serbia or an aircraft carrier in the Pacific; we've seen those things in countless games in the past, we have an expectation of how they're going to play out and to break people's expectations you end up having to do such wacky things.
Those things become nothing more than a mass of orchestrated scripting and the player ends up just in a mine cart, witnessing a bunch of canned cinematics and animations because what the developer's trying to do is give them something different that's just in the same environment they've seen in the past.
It's much more interesting if the environment can be kind of a third character and add to the narrative. What we do is we use a system or an approach called Instant Deep Context where our lead writer Ed Stern writes the 40 year backstory for each district - and you visit eight of them in the game - and then the environment artist paints concept art that takes the game through that 40 years.
So we started out actually painting marketing brochures for investors, then we did fake celebrity photo opportunities ten years later in its history where it had become a ten star hotel. We go through this process so that we really understand what existed; we record audio diaries with actors for various people for various periods over time over that past.
So when you're playing through a map like Contained City, on your first run through is a super shallow experience; loads of guns loads of explosions, getting objectives, done - somewhat overwhelming I imagine at the beginning. After you've started to play through that two or three times you'll start to realise the centre of that map is actually a ship called Hope - a medical ship - and it has a really important part to play in the back-story of The Ark and the reason for The Ark's existence.