Breach review – the poor man’s Call of Duty

Atomic Games aims for a breakthrough, but the results are just broken. Verdict on the Xbox 360 version of the downloadable shooter.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, January 29, 2011

Guts certainly aren’t in short supply at Atomic Games. With Breach, the Six Days in Fallujah developer isn’t simply jockeying for a place in the crowded multiplayer shooter market – feature-wise, it’s going head to head with two of the genre’s household names, Call of Duty and Battlefield: Bad Company, proffering a comparably-flavoured mix of combat classes, a few dozen unlockable weapons and perks, and some much-sung destructible environments.

At the end of the day, though, it takes more than pluck to compete with the big boys. You need compellingly structured shoot-outs, sophisticated maps, decent match-making, imaginative stylings and above all else, a few new mechanics, and in all these regards, Breach is choking on dust.

A “pop-out” third-person cover system keeps the proceedings from degenerating into an attritional fragfest, but the action is otherwise tepid and unadventurous, plagued by slow movement (in fairness, the latter can be compensated with the right unlocks). The landscape-bashing proves limited in practice, even once you get your hands on an under-slung grenade launcher, and the art design is horribly generic, all balaclavas and rusty oil drums.

Worst of all, though, the game’s net code is stodgy and unreliable. “Quick match” rarely gets you into a round first try, and while browsing the server lobby turns out better results, that entails sitting through additional load breaks. In-game, lag often sees opposing troops waltzing endlessly through thin air. These hitches kill off what second-hand fun there is to be had inching round corners and picking out headshots through palls of grenade smoke.

Guns don't kill people - falling houses do.

Breach feels like a warm-up band budging in on the main event. There’s a workmanlike shooter dug in behind the bugs and blandness, but why bother unearthing it, when you could be playing Shadow Complex or Costume Quest? Best avoided.

5 out of 10
The game’s up for 1200 MSP on Xbox Live Arcade, or £14.99 on Steam.

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