Breach is a first person shooter developed by Atomic Games. It’s available on the XBLA for 1200 Microsoft points. The publisher provided us with a copy of the game for reviewing purposes.

There’s a moment ever-so-often in any shooter experience when know your enemy is behind a wall, and you’re at that wall, and there’s just one entrance. Death lies in the doorway, but victory lies beyond it, so what do you do? Well, if you’re playing Breach, you just blow up the whole darn wall! Breach brings total brick-by-brick destruction, active cover and authentic tactics all being played in 16 player team modes to the Xbox LIVE Arcade in a powerful way.At first sight Breach is very straight forward, you have a gun, your friends also have guns, and you point them at the people you don’t like that also have guns. There’s a progression system which gives you perks, gadgets and new weapons based on which class you use (of which there are five). Breach also features three objective-based game modes and two deathmatch-style modes. In Infiltration teams compete to control objective locations for points ; in Convoy, one team must facilitate the passage of a convoy from checkpoint to checkpoint; in Retrieval teams must capture bio weapons to score points. Those three objective gametypes are where Breach shines, but there’s also a score-based Team Deathmatch and a one-life Sole Survivor mode.

That’s where the “more of the same” ends. From there, Breach sports a quick and painless active cover system that really helps the flow of gameplay feel more realistic and tactical. Along with that you can take out catwalks, bridges or even entire buildings all within the game’s engine if you so choose or if it gives you that element of surprise needed to turn the tables.

Here’s what we liked:

The Ebb and Flow of Combat: Breach holds its own against the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield:  Bad Company 2 with solid gameplay. Going into combat situations is fun, the controls are tight and there’s plenty of options available when attempting to approach a difficult situation. Destroy a wall, or just barge right in, toss a smoke grenade or rely on covering fire to advance; no matter the situation, Breach’s combat really rewards strong team tactics. Aside from that, using breach charges to blow up ceilings or walls is immensely satisfying, especially if you get a kill or two out of it.

Diverse Game Mode Selection: The size of an XBLA title can often be crippling, allowing only for a couple modes, but Breach doesn’t let size stop them and manages in a whole five different modes. Each of the three objective modes are incredibly different from each other; Infiltration focuses on constant attack and defend, allowing players to play the role that they shine in and making use of different class specialties, while Convoy is all about the hard push to success with the intensity of battle focused right at the tip of the convoy. No matter what game mode you play in Breach, there is fun to be had and a challenge to be overcome.

Sights set on Focused FPS Experience: Everything about Breach screams solid FPS; tactics, destructible walls, active cover… guns. Breach rarely tries to give you something you don’t need (like some awful campaign the game doesn’t need), which makes the gameplay streamlined, focused, and top-quality. The controls are tight, map design is solid, teamwork is fun and greatly rewarded. Sometimes XBLA games suffer for having too many things to do and no substance, but Breach knows what it wants to do, and does it well.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

Tacked-on Progression: RPG elements have slowly made their way into first person shooters where players can progress in level to access more gear and perks to spice up their gameplay, or make a certain class more valuable. Breach’s system is incredibly straight forward and tedious, not to mention punishing for new players. The game attempts to compensate by giving newer players more XP per kill on higher level players, but they have so little to do that with it’s frustrating (most classes only have a gun, a pistol and some sort of explosive to start with). There’s really not that much to unlock, so the experience is padded with expensive unlocks and even an entire class (the Recon class) that can’t be unlocked until finishing two of the other classes. The perks are also for the most part generic; the powerful ones will always be used because most of them just aren’t worth the expense.

This Place is Familiar: Breach comes through with solid gameplay and diverse game modes, but they can only be played across five maps, one of which (Nocturnal) is merely a night version of other map (The Passage). There’s a lot to explore at first, and finding out what to destroy to take advantage of the map is fun, but all the choke points, sniping positions and backdoor passages are found and memorized all too soon, thus watering down the experience over time.

Breach is a focused game that delivers top-shelf FPS gameplay easily able to compete with retail titles. It lacks a bit in the presentation category, but it doesn’t hurt the experience much, and is easily overlooked. Unfortunately, the difference in content between Breach and retail FPS games is pretty clear, and the progression system leaves much to be desired, but once players get past the barrier of early-game progression and options start to open up (as well as by-in-large better weaponry) the game will pick up quick, provided the lack of maps isn’t a deterrent.

I seriously advise to players looking for solid- and I mean rock solid, intense and tactical first person shooter gameplay for only fifteen bucks to give Breach a shot. Tactics and teamwork enthusiasts will find Breach’s gameplay to best even that of some retail shooters. The lackluster progression system and shortage of maps might be worrisome, but players able to blast down those walls and enjoy the gameplay for all its benefits will find love in Breach.

Score: Try It!