Breach Hands-On Preview – It Takes a Second To Wreck It...
Written Friday, October 29, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Examining Breach at face value, you'd assume that it has a seriously large number of chips stacked against it. Not only is it coming off the back of Six Days in Fallujah - a game that regrettably never saw the light of day – but it'll be entering a market where a new Call of Duty title will likely be joining Modern Warfare 2 in clogging up the charts, Medal of Honor might still be attracting players and Bad Company 2 will also still be doing its Frostbite destruction thing, which is also essentially Breach's raison d'etre.
Breach is a first-person shooter built upon the foundations of Atomic Games' military simulations, making cover the game's most important aspect in its exclusively multiplayer gameplay. In shifting the focus away from brazenly rushing into battle like the majority of FPS titles on the market, Breach “offers a whole new set of military tactics,” according to Peter Tamte, President of Atomic Games. Tamte is fully aware of the competition, which is why he's confident that Breach can offer something new and interesting to the military FPS genre, and on the strength of our hands-on session with the game, Breach has every chance of actually delivering on that remit.
Destruction and cover is the name of the game in Breach, so almost every structure can be blasted to smithereens, whether it's individual bricks or entire walls. While you can entrench yourself behind barriers using Active Cover by pushing in the right analogue stick, it's only a matter of time before you're weeded out from your position, because let’s face it; every gamer loves blowing things up. Active Cover works almost exactly like Rainbow Six's cover system, whereby the camera zooms out to a third-person viewpoint, enabling you to peek out around corners and over obstacles or blind fire. As part of a CIA black ops team, you also have access to a few spy gadgets in your so-called 'Destruction Toolbox' connected to the loadout that you choose. Toys like the 'bionic ear' enable you to detect enemies using a gauge that measures nearby sounds, while the 'sniper reflector' catches the light from sniper scope, revealing the position of foes lining you up in their sights.
Different loadouts bring different advantages of course, so the Support class with its shotgun and speed boost perk is tailored for close encounters, while the Gunner class is more suited to gung-ho players with its heavy machine gun and demolition charges. Rifleman is what Tamte calls the “bread and butter class,” and as such it's suitable for any situation with different fire modes and an invaluable grenade launcher attachment at your disposal. Whatever class you opt for though, you can either shoot a few bricks out of a wall to create mouse holes to peep through or reduce internal and external walls to piles of rubble. It all depends upon your adopted tactics.
You can even blast gaping holes into ceilings and floors, so if you're using the bionic ear and you're picking up movements on the sound gauge above or below you, a strategically placed grenade can work wonders, causing an enemy to drop through the floor or get crushed underneath a shower of masonry. It’s a good job then that materials react in a believable fashion; so wood splinters and cracks can cause timber walkways to topple and crush anyone who happens to be hapless enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, all of Breach's destruction is physics-based, so bullets and explosions invariably create realistic feedback.
Breach might seem fairly limited in offering only five maps, but bear in mind that Battlefield 1943 only offered three, and look at how successful that turned out to be. There's no word on the final number of modes that will be available in the finished game yet, but during our hands-on we played a territory-capturing game type called Infiltration, which supports up to 16-players and is reminiscent of Bad Company's Conquest mode in that you compete to capture and hold tactical positions. Tamte also mentioned a mode (sadly unavailable during our hands-on) called Convoy, which is an assault and defend match type, wherein one team rides in a convoy striving to preserve the vehicles, while the opposing team tries to prevent the procession of transports from making it to the end destination.
There was also only a single map set into the middle of a deep valley called 'The Passage' on show for our hands-on session, but it served as a perfect demonstration of Breach's destructible environments and ambitious scale. Stone walls are degradable, wood can be chipped away slowly, support struts can be destroyed causing bridges, balconies or sniper nests to fall, leaving behind a pile of debris. More solid-looking structures like tunnels set into the hillsides are indestructible, as are certain elements of the environment. This, Tamte explains, was to prevent players from reducing the area to a pancake, with nowhere to hide and nothing to do. You can't therefore, destroy a building outright a la Bad Company, but you can punch holes in practically every piece of scenery that looks like it can be smashed up.
Breach has the potential to be another example of a successful multiplayer FPS on XBLA, following in the footsteps of games like Battlefield 1943 and Blacklight: Tango Down in offering something that's almost as rich and fully-featured as a retail release. With months to go until Breach hits the Arcade, the game already looks fairly solid and stable, with only a few glitches present, which is encouraging. It plays well, the controls are intuitive and blasting your way through walls is every bit as satisfying as it should be, meaning that Breach has every chance of breaking through barriers when it punches its way on to the Xbox Live Arcade next year.
Breach will release sometime in January 2011 on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.