Breach – In Depth Review


Publisher: Atomic Games
Developer: Atomic Games
ESRB Rating: T for Teen – Blood, Mild Language, Violence
Console: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Cost: $15 (1200 Microsoft Points)

First and third person shooters have been becoming more prevalent on Xbox Live over the last year or so.  With titles such as Monday Night Combat, and Black Light: Tango Down bringing unique qualities to the shooter genre, Breach has to aspire to meet such a high benchmark.  Are the good people at Atomic Games up to the task?

Game play

Breach is an online, multiplayer only, first person shooter.  You play in either the role of CIA Black Ops specialists or their enemy aggressors.  For the most part as far as game play is concerned, it’s very much your basic shooter.  However, a few interesting features and plenty of game types make the game highly enjoyable.

The first feature, which I enjoy the most, is Active Cover.  Like in Gears of War, this allows you to duck in behind an obstacle and either blind fire around the corner, or, with your left analog stick, peek around and take an aimed shot.  This gives your enemies less of a target to shoot at, while giving you a full range of view.  Another nice perk of this feature is that when you’re looking around the corner, you do so in a third person view, and see who’s coming without giving away your position.

Another feature in Breach that I really don’t think enough developers use in their games is the use of destructible environments.  Bridges, walls, and even whole buildings can be brought down on top of your foes.  This is not only a game changer by taking out bridges and entrenchments, but it’s especially helpful against those pesky campers that sit inside buildings and pick off your team one by one.  Many laughs have been had with my team-mates and I as someone would pick up an RPG and just blow half the building to kingdom come.

Gadgets and Perks, like in the Call of Duty games, allow you to access tools and abilities that give you an advantage over the opposition.  These are unlockable through ranks gained by earning experience points given by playing games and tallying kills.  You can later purchase them in the Character menu.

There are about ten different gadgets available for you to acquire.  You can pick up items like the Sticky Bomb.  This, as the name implies, sticks to just about whatever you throw it at.  There’s also the Infra-red (IR) Sniper Detector.  Can’t find that pesky sniper hiding in the bushes way back behind a stack of buildings?  As the name suggests, the IR gadget helps you greatly by creating a glare off of any sniper scope’s lens in your field of view.  Finally, one of my personal favorites: the M79 Pirate Cannon.  A single shot grenade launcher that uses a 40mm grenade round.  Just enough to ruin everyone’s day.

Perks give you an advantage over your enemies.  13 of them are available to unlock, ranging from Steady Hand, which reduces the recoil from firing your weapon, to The Bad Ass.  It takes down half your health, but as a reward you get double the experience points.  This would be for those “leet” gamers who score heavy on the kills.  Or the Bandolier, which gives gamers, like me, a little extra ammo in your inventory if you do better with pepper-spraying everything in your way.

The selection of weapons and attachments is pretty sweet as well.  You have my personal favorite, the MP5, a Saiga-12 auto-shotgun, breach charges, an M203 grenade launcher attachment, silencers, ACOG and holographic scopes and much more.  I could actually write a very lengthy article on the weapons and their attachments alone, so just think of it as a veritable toy store for the virtual gun nut.

Despite all the goodies, the game doesn’t pass without a few snags.  There’s no automated playlist, with the game instead depending on players to start a match.  Also absent is the ability to switch teams in the pre-game chat room.  These are a couple of features that are a must in modern day online shooters.  However, the two most frustrating complaints I have about the game play are with the grenades and lack of an ability to switch weapons.

When a grenade is thrown, the path they take is inconsistent in the air.  While, with most shooters, you’d see the grenade fly off in a gentle arc from where you threw it, the grenades in this game tend to be more inconsistent.  Sometimes they arc, and others they will go for a few feet and drop straight down.  All too often, I find that when they do land on the ground, they do so with a solid thud instead of bouncing or rolling.  This makes it difficult to determine where to throw a grenade in order to take out an enemy.

And even though you have a standard issue sidearm available, you aren’t able to switch to it until your ammo count on your primary weapon runs dry.  Likewise, when you pick up an RPG, you cannot save it for later by switching to your primary weapon.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically, the game is very sound.  It’s not the top notch graphics that you would expect from a Triple-A such as Modern Warfare or Black Ops, but they are on par with many Xbox Live shooters that I’ve played in recent history such as Battlefield 1943 and Blacklight: Tango Down. 

The effects are wonderfully done.  When a building is blown open by an RPG, plumes of smoke and rubble can be seen.  Cars explode; walls and sandbag barriers disintegrate when hit by an RPG.  So, I wouldn’t feel too safe sitting behind one for long if someone has your number.

The sound quality is beautiful too.  Each weapon has its own unique sound.  Bullets ping off of concrete and metal very crisply, and if one goes by your head, you definitely know it.  Also, the automated put-downs and character comments are definitely a nice touch.  Hearing, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” after putting down the little jerk that was running around and took you out three times in a row brings a nice bit of self-satisfaction.

Something for Everybody

For such a “small” game, Breach has an excellent complement of game types.  You have Infiltration, a domination game type where you capture different map points and defend them from the other team.  Convoy, where one team escorts a convoy of trucks to a designated location on the opposite side of the map that they start on.  Retrieval, where you pick up a canister and bring it to a designated extraction point.  Sole Survivor is a single round elimination game type.  And of course, everyone’s favorite, Team Death match.

Also available, is the Hardcore mode.  This mode removes your HUD, providing more challenge by taking away your crosshairs and ammo count.  Weapons are more powerful as well, which means you’ll die quicker by taking fire.

Overall

Graphically, the game is not on par with your average Triple-A title; however it is very comparable to other XBLA shooters such as Battlefield 1943.  This is made up for by the addition of a robust number of game types, weapons, and perks.  There are only four maps available, but Atomic Games expands on that well by having a night time version of each of those maps.  Make no mistake; these nocturnal counterparts require very different tactics to play effectively.

If you’re tired of Halo: Reach or Call of Duty: Black Ops, and are looking for something different until Bulletstorm releases, this game is money fairly well spent.

I give this game a 4.0/5.

~W75

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For more news, reviews, and articles on Science, Technology, and Videogames, visit the rest of the team at http://pnosker.com.

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