Breach has finally hit Xbox Live Arcade bringing in a first person shooter with some environmental destructibility at an Arcade price. Unfortunately, the 1,200 Microsoft point price tag is still a bit too high for what you get. The idea behind Breach is fantastic. Atomic Games was trying to bring to the Xbox Live marketplace the type of shooter that you normally would have to go to the store and pay full price to buy it on disc. Unfortunately, even though their intentions were good, the overall execution of the game is sub-par. The game is marred by framerate problems, graphical inconsistency, and bad net code.
Breach offers up five maps and five different game types. You can have a maximum of sixteen players in your game and can choose whether you want to turn on friendly fire or not. You start out the game with access to four different types of weapons, however, these can be upgraded over time. As you play Breach you are gaining XP which can then be used in their store to upgrade your weapons or buy some new gadgets. Some of the gadgets are really cool such as the IR Sniper Detector, Bionic Ear, Sonic Imager and M79 Pirate Cannon. Most of these are initially locked and the only way you are going to get to use them is by getting promoted from within the game. This is all well and good except that leveling up in Breach is a very slow process, at least until you get the â€œBad Assâ€ perk. This particular perk will remove half of your health but reward you with double the XP. Itâ€™s a risk reward scenario where you could potentially level up twice as fast, if you can live long enough to acquire any points. Other perks can be bought too such as Conditioning, Quick Reflexes, Vendetta and Nerves of Steel. Each of these perks will give you a leg up on the competition, if you play the game long enough to unlock these options. There is a fundamental flaw with Breachâ€™s storefront though and it is a part of that bad net code that I referenced above. In order to purchase any of these upgrades you need to do so in their â€œstoreâ€. In order to do that you need to completely leave the game you are in and return to the main menu. If you have found a great group of people to play with and you donâ€™t want to risk not being able to get back in that same group, then you will just have to wait until you are done playing with them before you can acquire any upgrades. Meanwhile the opposition might be purchasing some upgrades of their own so you might quickly become outgunned. A much more efficient move would have been to allow people to enter the store in between matches so that they could stay in their group and can still acquire the necessary upgrades.
Once you are happy with your weapon set and you are going through the game then you will come across some other problems. The gameâ€™s framerate slows down every time you kill someone and it is like a slide show for a couple of seconds. If you are trying to take out multiple enemies at a time this makes it very difficult to do without getting killed yourself and it is unacceptable. The frame rate should have been locked down before the game was released. There are buildings that are destructible as well as wooden bridges and things of that nature which look really cool and they can help alter your strategy as you progress throughout the game. Unfortunately, if you are having a good game but the host has to leave for whatever reason then you are kicked out of the game and back into the lobby, losing all of the experience points you had gathered in that round. This is another example of bad net code. If the host has to leave for any reason the other players should not be penalized. Once the host drops out then the game should automatically pick a new host and let the game continue uninterrupted. Another thing that got old really quickly was playing the same map over and over again. As I said before, there are five maps in this game. Why was I stuck playing on just one of them for the better part of two hours? I thought maybe the host kept picking the same one so I decided to host a match myself. Sadly, once the game I hosted was ending, the game wouldnâ€™t give me the option of what map to pick. It just picked the one we just finished playing on and launched the next game. I recognize the fact that the developers probably wanted to minimize the wait time in between games, however, being able to select what map you play on can go a long way. If someone is getting bored with your game they are just going to move on to the next one. This is especially true of the FPS genre which is stacked with games like Call of Duty or Halo.
Breach is at its best when you have a full sixteen players participating. There are some places where you can drop in from the roof or blow out a piece of the concrete wall to create a shortcut. There is even some vehicular warfare to be found for people who enjoy that. The audio in the game is one of the bright spots where, if you listen carefully, you can listen to your opposition run across a bridge which will give you a general indication of where they are at. There is quite a bit of verticality in the game too which will allow you to get the jump on the opposition if they arenâ€™t paying attention to their surroundings. Overall, Breach had a lot promise but technical shortcomings ruin the experience. Fans of the Battlefield series will no doubt enjoy being able to destroy buildings and bridges, however, strangely enough, you canâ€™t destroy vehicles. The price point is also going to drive some people away with them wanting 1,200 Microsoft points, the equivalent of $15. The fact of the matter is that Call of Duty: Black Ops has a new map pack coming out next week. This new map pack also has five new maps and is also 1,200 Microsoft points. You would be better off saving your money for that. By all means download the free demo and see what you think for yourself. Hopefully, Atomic Games will release a patch that addresses all of the issues that I outlined. Breach is an online only game so be sure to keep that in mind. If you are looking for a single player experience you wonâ€™t find it here. If a patch does arrive then I think this game could live up to its potential. As it is now though I would simply wait for the new Call of Duty content that arrives next week.