Version tested: Xbox 360
The English language has one four letter word which is more beautiful, more important and more heartening than any other. You know which word I'm talking about. It's a word that can bring weightlessness to a lonely spirit, that can chase away the dark, that can come to define you existence. I bet you want to hear it right now. There's no shame in that.
The word is BANG.
Atomic Studios, developers of download-only multiplayer FPS Breach, understand that BANG hasn't been living up to its full potential in recent games. As such, Breach is a game with the unique selling point of some quite nifty destructible environments.
A rocket, grenade or explosive charge will giddily blast a non-scripted hole in the wall of a house, reduce a shed to a shower of planks or topple a wall of sandbags. The game is literally offering you plenty of bang for your buck.
Outside of this tech, Breach is a fairly mundane construct. It offers five game modes, Infiltration, Convoy, Retreival, Team Deathmatch and Last Man Standing, which translate as "Battlefield-style point capturing", "Escorting an APC", "Capture the flag (except the flag is a jar of important chemicals or something)", "Team deathmatch" and "Last man standing".
You get five classes to choose from, - Rifleman, Gunner, Support, Sniper and Recon. These all share the same paltry selection of character models and the same selection of unlockable perks and gadgets, so the choice is simply one of what weapons you want.
With less armour and more agility than the other classes, the Recon is the most interesting of the five, but he's also only unlocked after you played an uninviting heap of matches as two of the others.
As for maps, you've got a choice of four perfectly functional yet underdressed arenas. Mineshafts, empty houses, destructible bridges and perilous cottages built over the edges of cliffs all prove themselves as favourites of the map designers.
There's technically a fifth map, though that's one of the original four but at night, which isn't quite as much of a cop-out as it sounds. They've really gone all-out with the whole night thing, providing plenty of unsettlingly inky pools of darkness for players to hide in.
Finally Breach boasts a broad selection of persistent unlocks, ranging from new guns and gun attachments to perks and gadgets. Once again, this is executed with competence without ever being impressive, like watching a friend park his car quite quickly.
You can get body armour or protection from headshots, or a grenade launcher or a medic kit or the ability to temporarily see through walls, but there's none of the glitzy, shopping-spree excitement triple-A shooters have been offering over the last few years.
In a sense it's unfair to compare Breach directly to competition like this, since Atomic Games are a much smaller studio working with a fraction of the budget. On the other hand, unless you're going to do something really different with your game, competing directly with the big boys is the worst idea in the world.
I'd argue that FPS is the world's most competitive genre today. For Atomic to enter into it with no prior experience of making a multiplayer FPS is a bit like you or me wading into the Congo and punching a hippo square in the eye. You have to try something a bit different.