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Breach Review

Breach Review

Publisher: Atomic Games
Platform: PC, Xbox 360
UK Price (as reviewed): £9.99 Inc. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $19.99 Exc. Tax

Breach is not a very good game. In fact, it’s just plain awful – to the extent that we’re not even sure where to start, other than that our position should be stated clearly and concisely. Breach is a bad game. It is not enjoyable.

It is, however, fascinating in the same sick and morbid kind as watching a late night Channel 5 documentary about lethally obese people – it’s bad, but it somehow pulls you in because you want to see how much worse it can possibly get. Afterwards, you go away and appreciate your life a little bit more; you look at your other games stacked up by the desk and say a silent 'thank you' for not being as bad as Breach.

Breach appears to have it all, at first glance. A multiplayer-only shooter with full scenery destruction and a progression-based level system that lets you buy more gear with credits earned by killing enemies, Breach essentially bills itself as a diet version of Bad Company 2. In reality, however, it’s more like a local own-brand version, with sediment in the bottom.

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Fear my building-destroying rifle!

The destruction system itself is the most noticeable weakness, if only because Breach makes such a big deal about your ability to knock down buildings. Bluntly, Breach handles destruction in the same way as PhysX demos from five years ago, with most scenery behaving as if it were built out of marshmallows. If you plant a grenade in a building then you can easily send most of the ceiling to the moon, although moving debris is still capable of instantly killing anyone it touches.

There’s no consistency to much of the destruction system either, nor any depth to the physics beyond the fact that the buildings are made of little, movable pieces. A few sniper rounds into a single wooden beam is all it takes to pull an entire building apart, as if it was built by a carpenter who’d never heard of nails or weight distribution. Similarly, while a high-powered rifle round can be used to knock bricks out of walls or chip away at cover, there’s nothing beyond that – bullets don’t deflect to damage anything more than their immediate targets.

The destruction itself is carefully limited too, sometimes painfully so. One level, for example, features a section with an underground tunnel with cover at both ends. The walls of the tunnel can be shot out to gain access to side-corridors for flanking, but only in one place at either end where the walls are missing their topcoat. Apparently an inch-thick layer of concrete is what makes the difference between being able to withstand rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attacks and not. Someone should make sure the people in Downing Street are aware of this.

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Bless you

Speaking of RPGs, its worth noting that although destruction plays a big part in Breach’s gameplay (mainly because everyone blows up the sniper nests at the very start), Atomic Games doesn't seem willing to let you explore it straight away. There are four default classes available at the start of the game – Sniper, Support, Rifleman and Gunner – but none of them have any explosive weapons. In fact, they don’t have anything aside from their class weapon and a pistol; their four other inventory slots are empty.

This leads us on to Breach’s second big failing – the endless grind to unlock even the most basic content. As in most modern shooters, players accrue experience points (XP) for killing enemies and completing objectives. Unlike Call of Duty and the ilk, however, this XP must then be spent on specific upgrades, rather than automatically unlocking stuff according to a class tree.

Unfortunately, the whole system is so intolerably unbalanced that it's ridiculous. The first attachment for a default weapon costs 500XP to purchase, for example, yet we got an average of only 9XP for each kill in a TDM match. In other words: grind.