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Review: Breach

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When you play a first person shooter game like Breach, you will feel a lot closer to the battlefield than you would if you played any other shooter. Sure, you are still playing the game on a console, holding a plastic controller in your hand, and tapping buttons to shoot, but Breach adds another depth to the familiar first person shooter experience. Using the Hydrogen Engine, Atomic created a game that lets you enter the battlefield and unleash havoc not only on your opponents but on your environment too. At least, that's how the game is publicized. While it offers more realistic gameplay elements than other FPS titles, the overall feel of Breach is bland and a bit lacking in what it promises.

Breach puts you in command of the CIA's Black Ops division and lets you play as an array of soldiers who undertake different missions throughout maps inspired by the Middle East and East Asia. The game is a pure online multiplayer, so there is no single player campaign. The downside to this is that the lifespan of the game is dependent on its players, and without a strong community, the game will eventually die. Also, the game costs 1200 Microsoft Points, so it might feel like you're paying full price for half of a game. Breach will feel a lot slower than most other FPS titles, but that's because it's more of real life simulator than it is a game. Your soldiers will run slow and your weapons are somewhat clunky. Atomic Games is no stranger to the genre, and Breach is just a bit more realistic in terms of how your gaming experience will feel like.

Like most FPS games, you'll be able to choose from an array of different classes of soldiers. Breach borrows a lot of its mechanics from the more familiar titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops, so the classes you can choose aren't anything you haven't seen before. You start the game with four classes, and you can unlock the hybrid recon class after gaining enough experience in two other classes. My personal favorite class in any FPS game is the sniper, and in this game, with its wide-open maps and elevated environments, the sniper is one of the better classes. You can also play as the slow and powerful gunner, the all-around rifleman, and the close-range support class. Depending on the class you choose, you'll also get access to some secondary weapons such as grenades, smoke bombs, and pistols.

breach1.jpgEvery time you score a kill, you get experience points that level up your character and give him access to perks, gadgets, and weapons. Again, the game doesn't give you something you haven't seen before, but Atomic does implement real-life gadgets into the game that the US military and intelligence agencies use when on covert missions. That means spy gadgets like Dragon Skin Armor, Bionic Ears, and IR Sniper Detectors that exist in real life will also appear in your game. While some gadgets are unique to each class, perks like defense from head-shots and running duration can sometimes be purchased once and then equipped on all your other classes. Leveling up will keep you coming back since having access to elite gear and weapons really does help you on the battlefield. I mean, try killing someone with a pistol when they have an RPG aimed at your head.

Breach gives you access to the familiar FPS game modes such as Team Deathmatch, Retrieval, and Infiltration. But it also offers the unique Convoy mode that has you and your teammates working together to guide a pair of military vehicles to your final destination while fending off the opposing team. Along the way, you'll encounter barricades that can only be destroyed by manually planting explosives on them. Your vehicles can also catch fire, but they can never be fully destroyed meaning the opposing team will have to drag out the match until time runs out. This mode is one of the highlights of the game since it can get very chaotic achieving your goal and also defending yourself and your vehicles. The last mode, Sole Survivor, has you killing off other players while you try to save yourself. You only have one life, so if you die, you'll have to watch and wait until the match is over.

Breach also includes a Hardcore mode that makes the game a lot more like a real-life military simulator and gives you limited health and removes any on-screen HUDs. I enjoyed this mode a lot because it made the game a more tense and fun. Mimicking the range, velocity, and caliber of real-life weaponry, Hardcore mode turns the game into a true military training aid. You won't get anything more real than this. Without a display map, you're pretty much relying on your senses and your ability to hide too. The game's cover system lets you hide behind objects and then view the game from a third person perspective, letting you aim or blind-fire from behind your hiding spot, even if it's getting destroyed. It's a nice touch, but it suffers from some glitches and I sometimes got stuck trying to exit cover mode.

breach3.jpgAtomic Games may promote the game's destructive environments, but you won't be able to destroy absolutely everything in your world. This would mean giving the player too much power to alter their surroundings. So while you can't destroy the ground you're walking on or the trees in front of you, you can still blow up some wooden buildings and stone structures. This allows you to bomb bridges that provide shortcuts for your opponents during Retrieval mode, destroy floors from beneath your enemies, or shoot some wooden planks from walls to create openings for you to snipe from. While the game gives you these options, chances are, you won't be able to implement them as much as you would like in every mode since you will be focusing mostly on attacking rather than hiding. Sole Survivor mode though, gives you the opportunity to be more of a tactical assassin, hiding from behind some bricks and waiting for anyone to dare cross paths with your cross hairs.

While newer FPS put an emphasis on flashy graphics and fast controls, Breach is more of a basic FPS that tries to deliver a more realistic representation of war. Unfortunately, while the gameplay is realistic, the graphics are not. Its graphics are bit bland and lack the polish of the more prominent titles out there today. While you'd expect a game that promotes destructible environments to showcase this destructibility, Breach, however, doesn't give you much in the form of visual stimulation. The most you'll see is a poof of smoke after shooting off a wall.

Atomic Games seems to have created an FPS title that successfully captures the realistic elements of warfare, but maybe you, as a gamer, don't want to play a game that does too good of a job at recreating the imperfections of that reality. Personally, I enjoyed my time playing this game because it gave me a different type of FPS experience and made it more about avoiding your opponent's bullet than anything else. Once you play the game on Hardcore mode, you'll realize how quickly you can die on the battlefield if you're not careful. Thankfully, this is only a game.

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