Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Breach is an online-only tactical shooter that looks to capture the more realistic, methodical nature of a firefight. Game developer Atomic certainly does a good job at crafting an experience that differs in pace from games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, although certain presentation elements are lacking such as the audio production. The rest of the presentation package in Breach is solid enough in delivering a true tactical shooter.
Tactical shooters once pioneered by games like Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon seem to be missing right about now. Enter Breach, from game developer Atomic. This game does not move at a fast pace, nor does it baby the player whenever they are under attack. If you get hit, you die. If you don’t work with your team, you die. You get the idea. Breach does a very good job of keeping the pacing to realistic levels, where cover is essential (unlike many other shooters where running around can work fine). Also, because most of the gametypes are objective-based, teamwork is the rule rather than the exception. Let’s just say that playing with an Xbox LIVE headset makes a huge difference.
Atomic has developed what they call the “Active Cover” system to allow you to get behind anything from boulders to crates and overturned trucks. The cover system works well for the most part, although there were one or two instances of not being able to get behind what looked like a perfectly good place to take cover. The real beauty with the cover mechanic is really due to the nature of the destructible environments. Much of the world is destructible, depending on what kind of firepower you hit it with. So if you take cover behind a highway divider and someone shoots at you with a rocket launcher, you’ll pretty much be toast. On the other hand, that same piece of cover will protect you from regular small arms fire. Different materials have different properties, so ducking behind a wooden fence is more concealment than anything else. If your enemies were to see you behind a fence, they can still literally blow it apart until you’re dead. You can even shoot out some floors or bricks from walls to create a sniper window and even level entire buildings by removing the supports. The best part is that getting kills from bullet penetration is more about luck, since the targeting reticule does not tell you where people are behind cover.
If you do happen to get into a firefight there is a mechanic known as Suppression that adds an extra dimension to the game. Let’s say a player is behind cover and pinned down by two enemies. The player’s screen will shake and their accuracy will be reduced, allowing the opposing team to move in on that position. The nice thing about this mechanic is that it brings much more value to the automatic gunner class, which is nearly useless in many games. Speaking of classes, Breach provides leaderboards and an XP system to rank up your character. The more you play, the better your character is ranked and you can use those points to upgrade or purchase new weapons.
Breach definitely is a solid presentation as an Xbox LIVE Arcade (XBLA) game. The game generally has very good textures, although there are some rocks that look comparatively ugly. Level geometry is lacking a bit though, so you won’t see terrain detail up to par with games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. That isn’t to say that the level detail is ugly, just keep in mind that this is an XBLA game. The character models actually look surprisingly good, which is nice since the cover system does pull back to third person view. Finally, the particle effects and physics are a pleasant surprise. Whenever I would blow up a bunker with a rocket launcher, there was always a satisfying outward spray of debris. Breach definitely nailed the destruction effects which in turn made that element of the game more rewarding to exploit. Unfortunately, the sound is more on the mediocre side. The M4 lacks punch and other weapons also sound a bit anemic. Explosions in the game do sound decent but the only highlight in the audio presentation are bullet hits and misses. The sound of a bullet whizzing by your character’s head is quite satisfying in surround sound.
Breach is a promising game that, while not perfect, shows a genuine attempt by Atomic Games to bring back the true tactical shooter. Even though Breach isn’t quite as pretty as other modern shooters, the 1200 Microsoft Points ($15) price tag would allow me to overlook some of the game’s flaws. Breach is a game you should definitely try. Many gamers will find it a welcome relief from the current state of shooters.
Thanks to Atomic for making this review possible!