It would be easy %26ndash; and also very wrong %26ndash; to immediately dismiss Breach out of hand as another generic online shooter. Looks can be deceiving; yes, it borrows generously from the best games of the genre, but Breach%26rsquo;s twists on the oh-so-commonplace FPS model will give many a Modern Warfare-weary virtual soldier an addictive new way to create online mayhem.
It takes a mouthful to define Breach. Officially, it%26rsquo;s a downloadable, online-only, multiplayer-only military simulator from developer Atomic Games. There%26rsquo;s no single-player mode, so you%26rsquo;re thrown into the fray right from the get-go. All the typical accoutrements you%26rsquo;d expect in a modern-day shooter are here, including standard game modes (deathmatch, stronghold, and escort), multiple soldier classes to encourage team-based play, character %26ldquo;perks%26rdquo; you unlock as your experience levels increase, and a variety of map styles that lend themselves to the different modes.
However, Breach really shines as you start to become familiar with the four maps (with one nighttime variant), all of which are layered and full of nooks and crannies that invite exploration, exploitation, and utter destruction. Much of the environment can be blown to bits, including walls, bridges, and floors. This isn%26rsquo;t just for show, either, as bringing a bridge down on top of an enemy is a great way to kill them, or blasting a tiny hole in a brick wall creates a superb sniper spot. Of course, your cubbyhole doesn%26rsquo;t stand a chance against the business end of a rocket launcher %26ndash; another great tool to alter the environment.
Plentiful gadgetry also alters the balance of power between the warring groups in Breach; investing in nifty items like sticky bombs or sniper detectors as you move up the experience chain goes a long way in helping you win skirmishes. Even better, when you go from the standard settings to Hardcore, radar disappears and you%26rsquo;re left to work with your teammates in an incredibly tense atmosphere.
OK, so it%26rsquo;s not the best-looking title out there, the relatively small number of maps could get tiresome after awhile, and any long-term enjoyment hinges mightily on the establishment of a strong online community. However, at $15, Breach is a great value. Sporting plenty of weapons, upgrades, and gobs of stuff to blow up, it%26rsquo;s an undeniably fun way to get out of your current FPS rut %26ndash; or get back into one.
Feb 1, 2011