Breach: review

  • Format: XBLA (version reviewed), PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Atomic Games
  • Developer: Atomic Games
  • Players: 1-16 (online only)
  • Site:

The long awaited Sussex life simulator has finally landed! Your avatar trawls the streets of Breach, West Sussex in search of newsagents, old ladies with small dogs, and somebody who can give you directions to East Grinstead.

Of course not. Breach is an online-only military flavoured FPS, closer to Battlefield than CoD. This is due to the large open maps just as much as the emphasis on destructible environments. Breach does plenty to stand out from the crowd nonetheless; though unfortunately, not always in a good way.

The most immediate difference from ‘the big two’ in the genre is Breach’s cover system. Hit the button when next to an appropriate piece of scenery and the view changes to third person while you’re tucked behind or around it, a la Rainbow Six. Cover in many online shooters can seem a superfluous addition, as a head or hand pokes out leaving players just as vulnerable. This can still happen in Breach; but a little common sense makes your enemies’ fields of vision clear. Realising and exploiting this (and remembering that some cover can be destroyed) makes the difference between a surprise attack and a humiliating death.

"Lucky you're hiding behind the indestructible bit of wall!"

Each of the five game types, also available in Hardcore (of course) are team based. You have Team Deathmatch both with and without respawns, Capture The Flag and Domination modes – and Convoy. Here, the defending team must transport the eponymous convoy (consisting of just two vehicles, which is more of a buddy movie road trip really) from one end of the map to the other before time runs out. So long as at least one defending player is near, the convoy slowly trundles along by itself (though each vehicle has a mounted gun). The trucks must be repaired if they take too much damage, and there are occasional roadblocks which must be dealt with by planting a charge. It’s a neat idea which works very well and is one of the most popular game modes.

There are only five maps which means that they all become familiar very quickly, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The maps are brilliantly designed, with plenty of flanking and ambush opportunities; you must be aware of every corner and angle if you wish to succeed. It’s also one less advantage experienced players will have over newer recruits.

Each class starts out with one primary weapon, one secondary, a knife, two ‘breach’ charges (timed explosives) and… that’s it. One class – Recon – isn’t even available at first. Perks and gadgets such as extra health, new weapons, more stamina for running, and even grenades must be unlocked and ‘bought’ with XP – which is much harder won than in other shooters. Earning more XP for killing higher ranked players is a nice touch, but the system still seems a little unfair.

Sticky grenades which look like cans of baked beans (which ironically can’t be ‘cooked’) and glide through the air in a disturbing manner aside, the graphics are perfectly competent. There are few complaints.

Until you get disconnected for the third time in twenty minutes.

"Wow, I never knew my clarinet could do THAT!"

On the 360 at least, Breach currently suffers horrendous connection issues. People are being kicked out of games constantly; and when the host goes, there’s a chance that everybody else will lose XP during host migration. Sometimes, a ‘join game’ attempt will fail completely.

Breach is great fun to play. As it stands however half or more of your games will be cut short, or suffer from crippling lag; and this brings the experience as a whole down considerably.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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