In the same fashion as Blacklight Tango Down, Atomic has just released a similar contribution to the gaming industry called Breach.
Let me preface with this, Breach isn't a terrible game. Caught somewhere between Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 3, Breach does not break any new ground that most gamers have seen with war-based first-person shooting online. Most of what you get with Breach is as simple as the price you pay for it (around $14.99).
Starting off with your characters, you get a variety of soldiers to play with in Breach:
Rifleman -- This is the grunt of the characters. You're armed with a nice M4A1 and your job is to seek trouble.
Gunner -- Armed with an M60 you're there to take out pretty much whatever you want.
Sniper -- You start off with a nice M40A3 and you get a pretty sweet scope that extends really far (which is great for the beginning of the game).
Support -- Armed with a M1014 you're set to do some very close-range killing. Only the best folks willing to die a few times should use Support.
You also get more characters as you gain experience (which we will talk about later), which opens up more options for weapons.
Outside of characters, you also get a variety of maps. One map is located in a mountain area, another in a snow peak and sometimes you'll find yourself in highway tunnels leading through mountains. The maps particularly impressed me in this game because they were so big. I'm an early morning east coast guy, so when I started Breach I didn't find a lot of people online (because most of you schmoes live on the west coast). The first game I played I did so against 'another' person. Literally, just one other person. So, the mountain terrain map seemed endless. It's shear depth ranged from top of the peak down to the bottom, with a series of houses and shacks strung across ledges. You could probably sit in one spot for a long amount of time without being detected. Most games of this type, that are this cheap, seem to keep players in a more tightly compact area, so that fighting will continuously go on. Atomic train of thought seemed to be more military oriented where you're dealing with huge environments and sometimes sitting for minutes just waiting for the chance to take out an opponent. It's nice mostly, but sometimes you'll get that itchy trigger finger and force yourself into battle (which can be a huge mistake). Anyway, the depth of the boards are impressive.
What's not impressive is the look of the game. Going back to an earlier comment in this review, the game really does appear to be stuck somewhere between Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 3. The maps, when you're looking at them from a distance, have a lot of polygon and model break-up. I'm not a cynical reviewer, so I'm not just pointing that out to point it out. The reason why this is particularly bad is that when polygon and model shifting occurs it looks like enemies are moving in that particular area. So, when a tree shifts quickly the player can mistaken that object for another player, fire their gun and give up their position. The maps are plagued with this stuff. I'm not sure what graphics engine the Atomic team was using, but it didn't work too well.
Another graphical issue is that I had enemy players get caught in some sort of stutter while moving across a map. They would literally jump in mid air and flicker multiple times in the same place then appear well beyond their current spot. It really is annoying, especially when you're trying to snipe them from a distance. I know what you might be thinking, "It's probably your connection speed." Um, no. Here is what I'm currently pushing at my location (this is via speedtest.net):
That should be enough speed to see a game like Breach work perfectly. When I played Crysis 2 on this same box it worked out just fine, as I had no lag or anomalies. I'm not sure if it's on Atomic's end or the game simply has a problem with handling graphics. Whatever might be the case it made the experience a little bit miserable. I'm a sniper by heart and it kept me back from doing my job.
Speaking of which, let's talk about actual weapon contact. One of the more frustrating moments I continually had in Breach is the lack of weapon contact. Starting with the Sniper character, there were times that I had someone sitting (not moving) in my sights and I had put their head perfectly in the crosshairs. When I fired the weapon it did one of two things:
A. It hit the target perfectly
B. It missed perfectly
I can live with the secondary result because I'm not perfect at the game, but I did have a problem when the bullet hit the other player's head. A head shot from a sniper rifle should kill anyone. There were more than a few times where I actually made contact to the player's head in the game and they lived. If your'e going to bring realistic military experiences to a first-person shooter then you need to have realistic military results from gunfire. Medal of Honor and Call of Duty recognize the result of a head shot just fine, as that equals instant death. With Breach it's literally hit or miss (no pun intended) with the results of a head shot; mostly miss. It caused quite a bit of frustration in the game, as it seemed like playing as a sniper really didn't yield many results. All in all, it just seemed like killing someone (as bad as this sounds) was a lot more work than it should be, as there were similar problems with the Rifleman, Gunner, Support and Recon. Most players that I played against used rocket launchers to take care of long range solutions, but in my mind's eye that's almost like cheating.
Now, the brightest spot in Breach comes in the form of 'perks' and 'extras' that you obtain as you gain more XP. You can acquire a shitload of weapons in Breach. Each character has weapons and weapon parts they can purchase to customize their experience to the fullest extent. I'm not quite sure even EA's Medal of Honor has this many options. For example you can get an HK416 and add things like a reflex sight or recoil compensator to it. You can also purchase an AC0G or M203 for it. You can do many things with loads of weapons for each type of character. There are, in total, 27 different weapons and attachments you can use in Breach. Remind yourself that this is only a $14.99 game.
You've also got 'spy gadgets' that you can acquire int he game like a sticky bomb, bionic ear, IR sniper detector (a-hole device), remote motion sensor and a thing called Dragon Skin. The skin is particularly interesting because it protects against really high-power rifle projectiles. The 'perks' are equally interesting, as they're more 'skills' than perks. You get thinks like Nerves of Steel, Agility, ESP (yeah), Vendetta and many others.
These things are what make Breach unique.
With all that said, I haven't quite figured out the point system for the game. To gain all the 'extras' you need to perform well in battle and gain XP. You get a variety of different points for doing different types of kills. I think the most I've gotten on one kill was 11 XP. I'm not sure if that is high or low, but that's the most I've gotten. I've played this game for nearly a week now and I have to say gaining experience and $$ to purchase the extras is a slow moving process. Atomic makes you play the game a long time before you get many incentives. Some will argue that better players will move much faster when it comes to earning XP, but I'm not sure that's the case. From my point of view, Atomic might have set the bar a little too high when it comes to giving reason for a player to continue the game. In both Medal of Honor and Call of Duty you move up in the rankings pretty quickly, but it slows down as you get in the really high areas of XP. Here it seems like a very long, uphill battle to get to the next level of the game. Not only that, but it hurts when you have problems like bullet to enemy contact and jittery graphics. You must give the players a reason to come back and right now it's going to be very difficult to get me to play this game on a regular basis. There's not enough reward for the effort put into it and I need more encouragement in a quicker fashion.
With all of this said, please keep in mind that Breach is only $14.99 (1200 MS points). That's a cheap price for an okay first-person shooter, but if you own Call of Duty: Black Ops or Medal of Honor then you might want to think before you jump into it.