Breach is a new FPS from Atomic which is available on Xbox Arcade. Its cheap and realtively quick to download, so how does the game stack up.
The premise is fairly simple, Breach adds destructable environments as a key gameplay aspect to an already crowded FPS market. You can play as either USA or Russian forces in a variety of classic gamemodes (Team Deathmatch, Sole Survivor, Infiltration to name a few). The maps are vast and varied, with plenty of destructable items on each including large bridge spans and shacks hanging off the sides of cliffs. Players are rewarded with new weapons and upgrades as they make their way up a ranking system. Its all fairly much standard fare really. The graphics are not fantastic, but for less than $20 its not Castle Wolfenstein awful. (Let me be clear CW was leading edge for its time, so im not bagging a classic)
Its less than $20. This is an average looking FPS which lends heavily on the social aspect of the game – No AI generated enemies here. This could be a very good social game for those who just want to have some laughs over a not too serious FPS.
It has some not too bad maps. There is plenty of areas to explore, and plenty of destructable environment. This is a great aspect of the game, being able to blow holes in the side of tunnels, drop enemies through the floorboards of a wooden house by destroying the struts and even killing your enemies by blowing up objects to fall on them. Now this isnt Battlefield destruction cool, there are still a large number of items that wont ahave that effect.
And it has the usual FPS ranking candy system, driving the addicted FPS gamer to collect all the levels like they are chocolate coated pokemon.
Ok… Grab a coffee this could take some time. Firstly the game relies heavily on the host.Fair enough, after all this is an arcade title and hosting farms of gaming servers is goingcost a pretty penny. This is usually ok if your connected to the internet on a technology known as broadband. Now im lucky in the sense that our broadband is with Orcon, who quite frankly dont suck to much in the broadband game. The real problem comes into affect when you have to play with a host based more than 10 yards from your house. Its performance is exceptionally marginal. The best part is when you have no data stream telling you where the enemy is, even though they are in plain sight, the game just.. well.. it just makes them disappear.. and when the data stream reappears.. so do they..
Not only does data delays create this awesome pseudo stealth effect, you also have to contend with the fact that alot of hosts have the attention span of a deep fried spanner. For the first hour of the game i got one complete round and numerous host drop outs. Infact one point i actually though that was the gameplay, trying to find a game that didnt drop hosts. You see everyone else suffers lag as well. You might think “hey i will setup my own hosted game” on your ultra fast copper broadband. The problem is that alot of broadband connections are not up to the task of hosting 12 players in an online match. And as a host you manually disconnect because everyone is bouncing around like spaztic ninjas reappearing and disappearing like Scotty is playing human bingo with the teleport system.
Look.. When you find a host that doesn’t lag you find that players stay put. Everyone does the rounds just hoping the host isnt that deep fried spanner who is attracted by shiney objects.
Secondly theres the controls. The default settings for the xbox 360 is “Hulk Smash”. Not even the best brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins is going to be able to align a sniper scope on a target with these settings. Infact its even worse at point blank. At stages you would have better luck smacking a Racoon out of a tree with an M&M while being blindfolded and having bees shoved up your nose. A cautionary tale for all here, change the look sensitivity to low.. I believe the setting is “Rest Home Paitent”.
Once you get your feel for this its not all bad, but out of the box settings might make you want to redecorate your plasma screen with an xbox controller.
Thirdly theres the collision detect. At one stage i had a running battle with the guy across the valley. We both spent 5 minutes trying to shoot each other in the head. Even though most of my body was above the hill i was on, clearly some hand of God effect was in play. By standing fully on the hill was i able to make a hit. So the edges of rocks have magical force fields, which is kinda neat. You can be sitting on a hill watching a battle and eating sandwiches in clear sight, and still not get hit. This was the exception and not the rule, however it certainly came up in a number of areas on the maps.
Fourthly the maps are huge. Which is brilliant, exception for sole survivor – or as i like to call it “Where the **** is Bin Laden”. Great for big battles, awful if your hunting down one poor soul. You can spend weeks looking. In the end the only way to win is if the other player sits in the middle of the field and waits for your eventual return. The best part is when you both sit on opposite sides of the map waiting to ambush… Hours of fun.. Hours..
Oh.. even better still is when the host gives up and goes off to find another game because you have taken so long.. So much enjoyment.
Finally its a steep learning curve for the noob. Seriously we never read the instruction manuals, but for this game its worth undertsanding the controls and basic concepts, especially for the Active Cover mode. Active Cover is kinda cool and exceptionally frustrating at the same time. Not all objects provide Active Cover, and sometimes being caught in a firefight can be hazardous as one tries to detach from the cover to… err.. seek cover.
Wow… I’ve played my share of FPS’ and there have been some amazing results and some not so amazing results. For me a good FPS has to offer a good feel, you gotta feel like your running, shooting, ducking and dodging. An FPS that relies heavily with online players also has to deliver an experience thats easy to use. Also the game has to be about the actual FPS and not about the mechanics of getting an online game.
The problem with Breach is that its going to become a victim of its own simplicity. Tonight the online player count i can see was less than 40. Without local growth of this game its simply just not going to fly. If you and your mates have ooodles of MSPoints then buy up as a team and enjoy an FPS with some not too horrific gaming modes. However if your looking for the next FPS experience i would suggest spending the extra $20-$30 and buying C.O.D 4.
Sorry Atomic – while this game might play out well in the states, for countries like New Zealand with a somewhat marginal tether to the rest of the internet this game is not really going to fly.