Atomic Games has called the cover system in its new first person shooter Breach “active cover”, and with good reason. Nearly everything in the game is destructible, and players hiding behind cover too long will find themselves dying quickly. Using a window as a murder hole? Watch out – the entire wall may come down on you. Furthermore, you can create your own cover as well. (While in cover, however, players do have the option to blind-fire.)
The engine that Atomic Games uses is a remnant of a core mechanic from their original shooter Six Days in Fallujah, a ripped-from-the-headlines game that was too recent for Konami’s taste; they pulled out of financing the game. What’s left is Breach, which is best described as a next-gen Counter-Strike.
Breach comes with the standard semi-persistent multiplayer shooter features: loadouts for various classes of soldier, including Rifleman, Gunner, Sniper, Support and Recon (which must be unlocked). As with most games of this ilk, players use points earned during matches to gain new perks and gadgets.
The game comes with five maps, including Silo, which is in the middle of a missile silo in the middle of a basin, and Peak, which is a base situated on a snowy mountaintop. The graphics are good but not exceptional; most of the processing power went towards the destructible structures, but the sound is quite good; every weapon has a distinct feel to them. Explosions reverberate even when nowhere near the player.
The game comes with several game modes. Infiltration is a basic point capture game, while Convoy is an escort mission game in which defending players must ensure a truck fleet traverse the map safely in a set amount of time. The game also comes with Capture the Flag (Retrieval) and Team Deathmatch, as well as a Sole Survivor in which players do not respawn. For veteran players, all mission types can be played on Hardcore, which removes much of the HUD, a good chunk of player health, and no killcam.
Gameplay itself is standard, but strategy is seriously affected by a player’s skill at utilizing the destructible environment. There’s nothing more rewarding than destroying the floor of a building to have enemies inside tumble to their deaths in the ravine below. A skilled grenadier is absolutely lethal in this game.
Otherwise, the game has a distinct Counter-Strike feel to it; it’s the closest to the classic class-based team shooter that has been around. It’s probably due to the uniforms, which resemble the CT/terrorist outfits worn in Counter-Strike, and the fact that Breach is a very earthy game. The maps and destructible environments give the game the same grittiness that one feels when playing Dust or Italy. The game also has the slow paced twitch feel of Counter-Strike – there is a lot of maneuvering and positional strategizing that can explode in brief fits of violence. It remains to be seen whether Breach can have the same addictive “one more round” gameplay as C-S, though.
Regardless, Breach is a welcome addition to the class-based persistent shooter genre, and inexpensive as well at a nicely priced $15 (1200 MSP). The game will probably find its niche, and hopefully Atomic Games will regularly support Breach with new content. It’s worth a look for any gamer who enjoys this kind of game.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.