Breach & Clear Review – Unfinished Business (Vita)
I’m no stranger to Breach & Clear. I first played this tactical strategy title about two years ago on the iPad when it was still in its infancy and cost a meager $2. Although there wasn’t much on offer at the time, I really admired developer Mighty Rabbit Studios for what it was aiming to achieve, and was confident that Breach & Clear would make its mark one day. It somewhat did. While critics have mixed opinions about the game, its success among gamers paved way for a PC port and now, a PlayStation Vita port.
Playing Breach & Clear again and on a different platform felt like a whole new ballgame. I’m now looking at a game that costs $14.99, and boasts about being a comprehensive training tool for the world of Special Operations. The developer has added heaps of content to it since the last time I played it, but somehow managed to make a hash of the Vita port.
Breach & Clear has players assembling a squad of four with six military classes to choose from. The game comes with three modes: Terrorist Hunt, Bomb Defusal, and Escape Plan. In Terrorist Hunt, our job is to infiltrate set locations, and wipe out the bad guys inside. Bomb Defusal takes it a step further by requiring players to not only rid places of bad guys, but to also defuse bombs strapped inside within a set time limit. Conversely, in Escape Plan players will find themselves inside a building already, and must figure their way out unharmed, eliminating enemies along the way. Each of these modes come with a plethora of maps, which are further spread over seven countries. Additionally, Breach & Clear allows players to choose from among five difficulty levels depending on their play style.
Anyone reading this will probably deduce that Breach & Clear offers tons of play time, and it does. But this unfortunately comes at a price. Missions become quite monotonous after a point although players can somewhat counter that by switching between modes when things get repetitive. What makes it worse, however, is the lack of a story. And this was one of my main gripes with the original game as well. You have a team of four, and you’re constantly clearing out a bunch of rooms, but you have no idea why you’re doing it or why you’ve been shipped off to a certain country. Without some kind of background or context, Breach & Clear feels like a shallow game that hints at politics-inspired tosh to make things interesting. Might Rabbit touts a training tool, which is exactly what this feels like. It feels less like a game, more like a digital training camp for those interested in the military.
Strong Attention to Detail
Don’t get me wrong, Breach & Clear does offer some fun time especially to those who are into tactical strategy games. If you don’t mind doing the same thing over and over again with little variation, the game offers a lot of replayability. Players are awarded 1-4 stars on each mission, and as previously mentioned, there are various difficulty levels to choose from. Perfectionists might want to achieve four stars on each mission on the highest possible difficulty, and that means investing quite a lot of time into the game, and possibly replaying a lot of missions as well. You can’t breeze through the missions as the game forces you to think, plan, and form a strategy before you execute your moves. By doing so, you’ll be able to level your squad up, unlock weapons and abilities, and earn in-game cash that you can spend on your team.
Customization is where Breach & Clear truly shines. The game includes a marketplace where you can buy and sell a wide range of weapons, gear, and consumables. For a game of this scale to offer such a high level of customization is impressive. Mighty Rabbit has done its homework, which is evident when you see the attention to detail in the game.
And Then It All Comes Crashing Down…
Any fun that I had with Breach & Clear was short-lived, thanks to its presentation, which is a an utter mess on the Vita at the moment. Quite frankly, I’m a little surprised that it was given the green light in its current state. The on-screen text is barely visible, which is something I’ve already pointed out to the developer on Twitter because it almost made me give up on the game. I was constantly squinting while browsing through the in-game menu, and doing important tasks outside of the missions including, but not limited to, customizing my loadout and equipping my squad. These tasks are crucial parts of the game, and for me to have to practically shove my Vita into my face to perform them is unacceptable. However, the good news is that Mighty Rabbit has assured me that it’ll be holding talks within the team to deal with the issue.
The bad news is that the presentation issues are widespread throughout the game. In missions with relatively complex locations to clear out, the game becomes a hodgepodge of objects and often makes it difficult to view the map clearly. What’s even worse is that it affects controls as well. Breach & Clear uses a combination of controls including the Vita’s touchscreen and analog sticks. The display is so small that if I dared to touch the screen, my fingers would land somewhere I didn’t intend to hit, resulting in the game doing what I didn’t want it to do. I can only imagine how frustrating this will be for those with slightly bigger hands!
What I did like, however, was the game’s soundtrack. As someone who considers in-game music to be an important part of the overall package, I was quite pleased with the tunes. But sadly, Breach & Clear‘s presentation stands in the way of immersion. I fired up my iPad to compare both versions of the game, and I wasn’t shocked to see that the iOS version takes the prize in the presentation category. This is a stark reminder of an increasing number of mobile games being ported over to the Vita with little effort to ensure that they actually do the system justice.
It’s very hard for me to recommend Breach & Clear in its current state and for its current price to Vita owners. Die-hard strategy fans or those into all things military might want to give it a go, but honestly speaking, the game just isn’t ready to be played on the handheld. It pains me to say this because Breach & Clear is an ambitious title that has the potential to be something great, but at present, it’s nothing more than some unfinished business.
Note: Breach & Clear releases in North America on May 12. There was no word of a European release at the time of this review, and no further updates regarding the display problems although Mighty Rabbit did acknowledge the issue.
A review code for Breach & Clear was provided by the publisher. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.