If only more games had names as straightforward and descriptive as Breach & Clear. We could transform Dark Souls into “Fight, Die, Fight”, Diablo III into ‘Click, Slay and Collect” and half of the Call of Duty series into “Follow that Guy and Shoot!”
Breach & Clear actually has a link to Activision’s behemoth, with the executive producer being ex-Infinity Ward Creative Strategist Robert Bowling, and it’s not hard to see elements of the CoD style in this iOS military tactics game. Overall, though, Breach & Clear is all about stripping the genre back to its most basic elements. You have a four-man Special Forces squad and an area of terrorists, and you issue the commands so that your troops first breach then clear. It’s that simple.
It’s kind of turn based, but not in the sense of ‘you take your turn then the terrorists take theirs.’ Instead, each phase begins with the action effectively paused. You tap on each unit member’s portrait on the left, tap on the screen where you want them to go (there’s a discrete grid of circles on the map to make this easier) and then tap and rotate your finger around that point to set their arc of view and fire. Issue orders to all your guys and tap the Breach button and it all springs into action once again. Your guys move and fire, the terrorists move and fire, hopefully they go down, hopefully your guys don’t.
The control system is both intuitive and flexible. Visibility and awareness are crucial to survival, let alone success, with the game’s tagline being “Own Every Angle”. Not only can you set waypoints along each soldier’s route, but you can also select arcs of view for that waypoint, so that your guy sweeps the corners and checks the corridors and entrances as he moves. There’s something undeniably cool about zooming the view out, tapping Breach and watching your team at work, hopefully catching the enemy by surprise and putting them down in a swift, clinical sequence of moves.
Of course, that’s only when you get it right. Sometimes you forget to watch the angles. Sometimes you miss a door. Sometimes you send one of your team into an innocuous room to find your enemies already alert and prepared, and outnumbering you three to one. You can usually survive the fall of one or even two members of your team, depending on the state of play, but any more and you’re usually toast. And as the game goes on and the maps get more intricate, it becomes harder to cover every angle.
Breach & Clear: Graphics
Breach & Clear looks good. The map is a fully 3D affair that you can zoom into and rotate however you like, or shift instantly to a top-down view. The characters and the environments are packed with detail, and the main disappointments are that the view doesn’t shift automatically to show important events like enemy contact or a takedown, and that in-game cinematics are limited to closer view of the initial breach. In this respect, amongst others, X-COM shows how it should be done.