Hold on to your hand grenades as Breach explodes onto the FPS scene!

Atomic Games arcade action shooter Breach has burst onto the online multiplayer  market with all the force of a C4 charge on your garage door. Will it be able to steal thunder from the already established giants of Call of Duty and Medal of Honor? One thing is for certain, it takes no prisoners in its upstart bid for a slice of this lucrative pie.

Looking far sharper and with gameplay faster and less ‘glitchier’ than some of it’s mega-buck’s rival’s Breach has arrived on Xbox Live PC and the Playstation Network like the unexpected gatecrasher at your house party. But instead of leaving your fireplace in the front garden and your labrador spray painted blue this party-crasher has all the personality of the captain of the football team combined with the magnetism of the local heart-throb.  

Like another of the recent titles that has attempted to corner the arcade style download only FPS market, Breach has followed in the footsteps of last year’s underground classic Blacklight Tango Down in its bid to snatch away a portion of the money-bag’s market that is the online combat shooter. With its easy to access gameplay and its ‘Just Do It’ attitude to multiplayer gaming it has to be said that Breach has more potential to syphon followers than its futuristic Blacklight rival.

Set in familiar surroundings, as opposed to the more sci-fi position opted for by competitor’s, Atomic Games present day shooter takes place over terrain that is more Hampshire than Halo. Not that this is a bad thing, far from it, it just means that if you are expecting jetpacked tomfoolery and shields that will stop a charging hippo then best you think again. This is modern combat, wart’s and all, so if you are unsure of your ability to take down enemies with just an assault rifle and your gaming prowess, then best you stay in Viva Pinata just to be on the safe side.

The graphics are as good as you have come to expect with any online arcade title, and to be fair a lot more polished at than most if truth be told. Expansive map’s and realistic terrain in large combat zones make for compelling matches as you play through the nice selection of modes in your search for action nirvana.  To be fair to Breach what they have managed to accomplish with this game in terms of the actual gameplay and the fully destructible environments is quite remarkable, given that we have been playing the same tired engine in Call of Duty for the past few years now and still do not have multiplayer map’s that feel as good as some of the environments that are on offer to the player in Breach.

The game is more reminiscent of Medal of Honor in that respect, as trying to avoid an enemy’s line of fire by tucking up behind a wooden fence is about as sensible an idea as the chocolate fire guard. Unless you take cover behind something concrete or metal then it’s a safe bet that you are going to end up on the K.I.A. list, but before we hear howl’s of ‘unfair’ from the less able players, ( see also: ” noob’s “ ),  first consider how battles and real life situations require nothing less. Breach just offers that little bit more realism than a lot of its rival’s.

The gameplay itself consists of you first selecting your load out from the preset lists. You will, however, notice that each load out is fully upgradeable with everything from weapons to perks being completely customizable once you have attained the necessary level and number of XP points with which to purchase the desired upgrade. Following your choice of combatant from the available classes, the standard blend of Recon, Support,Sniper and Assault are all on offer here,  you then proceed to the game zone menu where you must choose from the Team Deathmatch style modes to the highly enjoyable ‘Capture the Flag’ type game, which has been tweaked by Atomic so that in Breach instead of running off with flag’s the two opposing sides face off against each other as the Black Op’s players must attempt to retrieve a canister of nuclear material, whilst the bad guys, or OpFor (boo!), are attempting to steal said radioactive canister for their own sinister purposes.  This mode is one of the more superior takes on a gaming classic and it works very well within the gameplay and map’s. 

Upon attaining those all important experience points, that are awarded for streak’s, kills and personal best achievements etc throughout the rounds, you are then able to attend the character customization section of the menu where you will be able to purchase upgrades, not only for your weapon’s, but also for your avatar so that you may equip better armour and/or kit. This also works well in that it never really allows one person to upgrade their character to the pont of invincibility, and so instead of having a group, or an individual, running around the map utilising the full alphabet of available perks and upgrades and turning himself into a one man wrecking machine of Terminator style proportions, you will see that you are only ever able to equip a small number of upgrades and attachments at any one time. This makes for a far better system offering fairer gaming and more balanced gameplay.

Maybe there are the odd sections where you feel that the mechanic’s of the game are a little clunky or that the frame rate could do with a patch, but apart from these really minor issues Breach, it has to be said, is an excellent outing into the FPS market for Atomic Games. We just hope that it gets its fair share of disciples, as the way that the developers have put the game together deserves it.

The game’s audio is quite entertaining and doesn’t feel hollow in the way that a lot of other shooters have that ‘tinny’ sound to the weapons and explosives. Breach offers solid sounding rifle blasts and automatic weapons chatter that, if you have surround sound, will see you diving for cover when you hear that snarling raspy bark of an M60 coming at you full throttle.

All in all Atomic Games have done a wonderful job with Breach and one that, should the developer feel the urge to expand the series into a full-blown retail title with all the added effort and work that goes therein, we feel would quickly develop a following of its own. The game plays a lot smoother than some would have you believe, as never once during our time spent reviewing the game did we suffer FRD or glitching of any kind. The menu and interfaces are very user-friendly and the controls are quick to master and a joy to use. The weapons, modes and customization system all make Breach an attractive alternative on those occasions when the hackers are just ruining your day on Call of Duty, or you are just plain tired of the aimbot users making your time spent on Black Op’s a waste of your efforts and skills.

Graphics: Remembering that this is not the latest blockbuster retail release should let you forgive Breach some of its shortcomings in exacting detail as Atomic have concentrated their efforts into getting the destructible environments just so, as well as giving the actual combat the focus of their attention. That being said the game looks great next to other arcade titles of the same genre, and its only the pedantic reviewer who would score this down comparing it to the likes of Black Ops or Medal of Honor as their evidence. Breach is an arcade game, and in that respect it is a quality title, but where it truly shines is in its gameplay.    7

Gameplay: We absolutely loved it, and as the developers can attest too during the review period, we were never off the game and put in a considerable amount of hours as we blasted our way from one cracking round to the next, ( Breach37, your run and gun skill’s are astounding by the way! ).  A truly enjoyable title with some excellent gameplay to be had in all of the modes that are on offer to you. As we have already stated, we had no issue with any kind of problem, glitch or frame rate drop in any of the considerable number of rounds we played in. The combat was fast, frenetic and fun with the control’s being an absolute blessing to use. The interface is easy to manage and the community was a true privilege to meet. If you want good online action with no fuss then this is the game for you!  8

RePlay Value: Considering that we only got the code last week and that we were somewhat latecomers to the party, it has to be said that you can normally judge how good a new title is doing by the amount of reviewers and journalists who are still coming back to play the game even after they have completed their article. We are pleased to be able to tell you then that the lobby’s were packed! Constantly! And that the enthusiasm by the gaming press, ( yes, some of that very same gaming press who are now scoring the title far lower than it deserves ), are even now continuing to load this game up every night.  Readers should be aware that these same said reviewers who underscore games are the same people who will be playing online with us later this evening. Read into that what you  will? 8

Presentation: Atomic Games could well have a winner on their hands with Breach, particularly if they continue to build on this title and release a full retail version of the game. If this is Atomic dipping their toe into the FPS pool to gauge the temperature, then all we gave to say is this: “come on in the water is lovely“. A really cracking game that will have players coming back for more time and again! We just hope that Breach gets the kind of sales and audience that is so rightly deserves.    8

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