It won’t take me long to summarize Breach. It’s a modern military FPS with destructible terrain, bullet penetration, offensive cover, blindfire, suppression, a rudimentary XP system, a bunch of gadgets and a handful of maps and play modes. It’s $15 on XBLA, $20 on PC and has no single-player campaign.
The game pits CIA covert ops against OPFOR operatives who say the same tough guy lines the spooks say, only in a Russian accent. There are five classes of soldier to choose from that break no new ground in this kind of game, unless lacking a medic is groundbreaking. Riflemen are issued the standard assault rifle, gunners carry a SAW, snipers snipe, support soldiers are your shotgun-bearing close-combat guys, and recon gives players something between riflemen and snipers. The available modes are team deathmatch, infiltration (capture and hold), convoy (very similar to TF2’s payload mode), retrieval (capture the flag, only with randomized flag locations) and sole survivor (deathmatch without respawns).
For $15, you’re getting a lot of game. For the most part, the game delivers on its promise of tense, modern military action. You’ll be constantly ducking into cover or hurriedly clearing rooms of enemies as you try to complete your mission. When someone has the drop on you, the end comes very, very quick. A radar at the top corner of the screen gives you an indication of where your enemies are, but only while you or one of your comrades has sight of them. There’s also a hardcore mode that does away with the radar and halves your health.
The maps are excellent, though there are only five of them. Each has a multitude of hiding spaces and multiple firing angles to key locations. Destructible structures force players to choose between safety and a prime shooting spot. For instance, I was able to kill a few covert ops soldiers from my perch in a cliffside hut, but a well placed RPG round destroyed the building around me and sent me tumbling to the ground to my death.
Players will gain XP and more tactical choices as they level up. Low level gadgets include explosives and sniper detectors. Later gadgets will allow players to receive visual clues on enemy locations, even enabling them to see through walls. You won’t have to decide where to allocate your bonuses for leveling up; you’re given full access to all the perks, weaponry and gadgets available at your level.
My playtest of Breach on XBLA wasn’t completely without problems. More than a few times, popping into the control option of the menu switched my Y-axis reversal. Also, when I popped up my Xbox Guide during gameplay to check out my friends list while a game populated, the music crackled and skipped. Also, the cover is a little TOO sticky. When you’re in cover, you’re in cover, and you’re not going to come out of it unless you press the “cover” button again, even if you attempt to rotate your firing angle behind you.
Those are small problems, though. Breach is a game that is well worth $15 on XBLA. That being said, however, I’d say that another $15 shooter, Monday Night Combat, has even better gameplay value. I know comparing those games is like comparing apples to oranges, but I’m just letting you know where I stand if the question is simply which $15 shooter I’d choose to play. If you’re looking to get it on PC, it might be a harder sell. There are other PC shooters out there that offer similar gameplay, more maps, campaign modes and established communities for not much more than $20.
Rating: Rent It. Approach with caution.
Reviewer: Alex the Producer