A first person shooter from Atomic Games, makers of US military simulation games, explodes onto the Xbox Live Marketplace.
If you were one of the many that fell head over heals for Battlefield 1943 on the XBLA and wondered why nobody else was producing such quality first person shooter entertainment, then step this way: Breach has landed.
Spread out over four maps and five game modes – Infiltration, Convoy, Retrieval, Team Deathmatch and Sole Survivor, the opportunities to raise hell are manifold. But Breach’s USP is the addition of the 3rd person cover mode. Find a suitable place to take cover, be it a wall, a boulder or a blown out truck, and you can tuck up tight against it. From this position, you have the option of blind firing, where you can still tweak the aim, or popping up from and getting a 1st person viewpoint.
You’ve got a ski mask and a gun – I’d blow you up too
It takes a little getting used to, but once the penny drops, this extra dimension can make a big difference to the way you play. The transition between the two perspectives is smooth enough to be almost unnoticeable, and the added benefit of protection afforded through this cover is very welcome when there’s snipers tucked up in the hills and light machine gun rounds zipping past your ears.
The locations are pretty sweet. Each one of them has its own individual merits, but all of them have something that’s decidedly different to other shooters; the dramatic variation in heights. There must be something like a hundred metres of playing field in each map, a hundred vertical metres. That 1st and 3rd person perspective might be what stands out first, but after a while, the peaks of troughs on the landscape take over.
If it sounds like this is a sniper’s paradise you’d be right. I have the distinct feeling that the sniper class is going to be very popular in Breach, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to own the maps. Bullets are extremely easy to spot in such open terrain, and once you know where a sharp shooter is, there’s a very simple solution: pick up a rocket launcher and take him out. Because in Breach, as in Battlefield, if you think you can blow it up, you can blow it up. Balconies, bridges, walls, roofs, even individual bricks can be taken out. Got a bunch of enemies in a ground floor room? Blow up the ceiling and crush them to death. Someone pinning you down from behind some sandbags? One trusty rocket will clear up that problem.
The game modes are fairly standard stuff, Infiltration is in fact Conquest, Retrieval equates to Sabotage and Convoy is an escort game, but each and every one of them plays right into the hands of tactical clan teams. Right now I am itching to get my own clan involved in this game because I can see just how much fun it’s going to be with a posse. Out of the five, straight up Team Deathmatch and the unforgiving Sole Survivor will be the modes we’ll plumb for. Team Deathmatch firefights, with one team charging and another holding a tactical point, are enormous fun. Sole Survivor though, has got to be the most compelling game mode available. Two teams, no respawning. It’s been done before, of course, but on terrain like this, with all the above options, and all the tactical ways to play, I don’t think we’ll be playing another FPS for quite some time.
But let's look at all those perks and gadgets that are expected of a modern military shooter these days. For one thing, there are no missile or rocket weapons that you can attach to a class, you have to find them scattered across the maps, and grenades are a perk not a right. You have four slots, one for primary weapon add ons like red dot sights, one for a secondary add on, which you won’t be able to unlock until you’ve ranked up considerably, one for gadgets like body armour and sticky bombs, and one for perks like more stamina and more accurate blind fire. But to get hold of any of these things you first have to earn XP to unlock them and then gain enough XP credits to buy them. You earn XP through getting kills or retrieving bio weapons and dropping them of at base.
I just dropped in to say "arrgh!"
The way the scoring works means that you get more XP for killing more senior players. If an unranked noob dies by your hands you’ll only score 5 points, but take out someone who’s ranked themselves way up and the scores increase dramatically. It’s a nice touch, one that gives instant satisfaction when you score large. You’d need to kill four noobs to one seasoned pro, so even if you’re in a game against high level players only, one or two kills will at least give you a decent score.
Atomic Games are particularly pleased with their range of perks, all of which, apparently, are in Military use. See what you think of these: remote motion sensors, a bionic ear (amplifies enemy sounds so you can hear them through walls), a sniper detector (bounces an IR beam off of a sniper’s scope, creating a lens glare for spotting purposes), a bomb sniffer, C4, landmines, a sonic imager for seeing through walls, dragon skin armour, a medic kit and a pirate cannon. All these goodies are locked up from the start, and some of them are a lot of kills away, but I’m drooling at the prospect of a few of those.
Aside from these, there’s a wealth of other extras, including the wonderful Vendetta perk which marks your killer for a short time after respawns so you can hunt him down and pay your respects.
There are some problems; in a week of playing the game has crashed a number of times, there’s some truly horrific lag nightmares, and I’ve lost count of the number of times the game has forgotten I had set my Y axis to invert, but you can only imagine these niggles will be ironed out before long.
Could we just stop blowing every bloody thing up for a minute and think!
The true mark of a good game is whether you want to go back the next day and play it again, and I want to play it again so bad I had to stop twice writing this to have just another quick go.
For 1200 Microsoft points this game is a steal. Choose your weapon, gather the troops and come find me on the battlefield.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Sniping. And I hate sniping! An excellent collection of perks and gadgets in a finely balanced game.