by Chris Scott
previewed on X360
Last summer Electronic Arts and developer DICE turned the first person shooter genre on its head by releasing Battlefield 1943 as a downloadable title on the Playstation 3 and the XBOX 360. The game was well received by both critics and gamers alike and it made a case for a different distribution model for online shooters. The success of Battlefield 1943 was sure to attract others to its unique distribution model. Atomic Games, the developers behind the stalled Six Days in Fallujah, is one of the first to jump on board with the announcement of their newest title, Breach.
Breach is a fully featured, class based, multiplayer first person shooter that will release via digital download to the XBOX Live Arcade and PC gaming spaces later this summer. We recently had a chance to play a preview build of Breach and it seems to be shaping up to be something interesting, if not entirely new, for shooter fans. Gamers that are familiar with the multiplayer experience that Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 provide will feel right at home with this game as it controls very similarly to both of those titles. In fact Breach seems to be a combination of Modern Warfare 2's close quarter maps and fast paced gameplay with Bad Company 2's destructible environments.
Atomic Games is very proud of the destruction system that they have implemented into Breach and after having seen it in action I can see why. Almost everything in the game can be destroyed all the way down to taking out individual bricks in buildings. The destruction opens up a variety of different tactics for teams to employ for both offensive and defensive strategies. However like all multiplayer games, it will be up to the user base to adopt these strategies for everyday gameplay. Another aspect of the game that Atomic spent a lot of time talking to us about was the Active Cover system. While active cover systems have been used in games previously, when combined with the destructible environments and the systems ability to immediately adapt to the changing geometry makes it something that players could use to create a tactical advantage for themselves in the game.
In conjunction with the destruction system and active cover system there are a variety of real-life spy gadgets, like a proximity mine that can be placed on the ceiling of a building which will take out enemies attempting to sneak by on an upper floor of a building. The destructive force of these gadgets can severely alter the map's geometry over the course of a match which should make for a unique experience each and every time out.
Something else that should make each experience unique is the five different character classes, four of which will be available at the outset (Rifleman, Sniper, Gunner and Support). After mastering two of the initial classes, a fifth class, the Recon class, will unlock. Kills, assists and achieving victory in matches will provide players with experience points which can be used to upgrade their characters with new weapons, gadgets and perks that act very much like Modern Warfare 2's do. Character customization doe not stop with just better gear and skills though, Breach will allow players to change the appearance of their characters with a variety of skins.
A lot of comparisons can be drawn between Battlefield 1943 and Breach. Another is the way Breach will go about releasing new maps once pre-set requirements are met by the player community. The game itself will ship with four maps (three daytime maps and one night time map) but an additional two maps will be released for free download once certain objectives are completed. I have personally played shooters that have released with less content for full price so Breach is shaping up to be a real steal at just 1200 Microsoft Points.
Breach at this point is looking very good, with a couple added coats of polish to everything Atomic Games should have a winner on their hands. With the use of digital distribution and a low price point Breach could have a huge opportunity to do something special and potentially industry changing within the genre. We will see come mid-summer when the game releases.