Breach XBLA Review

In this day and age a company that wants to release a new first-person military-shooter either:

a.)  Has balls the size of a buffalo, to take on the big daddies of the genre.

or

b.)  Has simply gone insane, prays to shooting stars and lives on another planet.

It’s not an easy market to try and break into when you have gigantic titles like Call of Duty, Battlefield and the resurging Medal of Honor fighting for gamer’s money and time. Atomic Games (the guys that developed the controversial and now MIA, Six Days in Fallujah) have decided that rather than fighting them at retail, they will attempt to take some of their players through digital distribution on Xbox Live Arcade and PC.

Breach follows in the footsteps of the ever-so-popular blueprint of experience points and levels. The game even uses familiar classes; Rifleman, Sniper, Support and Gunner. The fifth class, Recon, is unlocked after you max two classes.

Slightly disappointing is the fact that each class is only separated by their weapons and weapon unlocks. It makes you wonder if Atomic Games could have thrown away the idea of the class aspect and just left it to the player to customize their weapon layout.  Classes have no effect on how the skills can be used, so gaining levels and spending those experience points allows you to acquire new gadgets/perks to use on whichever class.

Breach is strictly a team-based multiplayer only game. There are no bots to play with either, so if you don’t like playing with other people then you might as well just stop reading now and go back to your crippling loneliness. For everyone else; carry on.

As a multiplayer game, Breach seems to be ticking all the boxes with regards to what is expected of the genre. As a result, it’s all a bit too familiar. Atomic Games realised that they couldn’t just put out a cheap Modern Warfare clone so the team have tried to inject some difference into the mix with an environmental destruction engine.

Wait a minute, destructible environments? Well we know that Battlefield: Bad Company has already been there and done that, so how does it stack? Breach does a remarkable job of not letting you know. My first few matches resulted in me not once destroying any buildings or walls. Also I don’t remember seeing anyone else in the match blow stuff up either, so there’s obviously a lack of communication on the game’s behalf.

Destruction feels more personal in Breach than it does in the Bad Company games. Bad Company is all about blowing up huge buildings causing a problem for anyone inside. Breach on the other hand is about using ‘breach explosives’ and rushing into the building to take down whoever awaits you.  It’s pretty limited as to what you can blow-up in the environment (small building walls or floors) which is probably why people don’t seem to bother with it much.

If you aren’t worried about stuff exploding in your face, then you can use a cover system to hide behind environmental defensive points. Initiating cover makes the camera go into a third-person view, a lot like Rainbow Six: Vegas, but not as well implemented. There is a limit to how far you can aim while in cover, so if someone is behind you or in your blind spot to the sides, then you’ll need to un-stick from the wall rather than spin around, by which time you’ll be dead anyway.

After taking away the highlight of what supposedly makes Breach different, you’re left with five game modes and five maps to fight your virtual war. As before you’ll need no introduction to decipher what Team Deathmatch is. Along with that you have Sole Survivor (Team Deathmatch with no respawning), Infiltration (capture points) and Retrieval (capture the flag with a virus). Convoy is the last, and for me the most fun mode. This mode is a little reminiscent of the Payload mode from Team Fortress 2. Although instead of karts loaded with TNT it’s a team trying to push a convoy of vehicles to a destination before the opposing team destroys the lot.

In a way, Breach is reminiscent of  older PC games that get multiplayer mods. The game feels a little lifeless and rough. The controls are a little sluggish, and movement occurs at an incredibly slow pace. It detracts from the fun when you die, and have to ‘run’ all the way back to where the action is. Convoy mode doesn’t have this problem because of the checkpoint spawning, making it another reason why it comes across as the most fun of all the game modes.

At 1200MSP, Breach isn’t that expensive, but do you really need another military shooter? It wouldn’t be difficult to recommend if Breach was exceptional, but it isn’t. It suffers for its lack of polish. Its interface feels ancient and clumsy, often forcing players to quit or wait for the match to be over to change load-outs?  All of this hampers any chance that the game had in competing with the bigger shooters on the market.

In the end going for the Call of Duty/Battlefield audience is what will send Breach to its grave. To try and move players from such high profile games to something like Breach is going to take a lot more than what Atomic Games are offering. Breach simply doesn’t match up to what is on offer in the video game market today.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aFMh9SjAJM&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

5/10

by

Version tested: Xbox Live Arcade

Developer: Atomic Games

Publisher: Atomic Games

Genre: Multiplayer First-Person Shooter