Breach & Clear, a squad-based tactical combat game developed by Mighty Rabbit Studios and published by Gun Media, is now available from the app store. Featuring authentic weaponry, customizable characters, tons of purchasable/upgradable equipment, and fairly deep strategic gameplay, Breach & Clear is an engaging and hard-hitting new release.
Breach & Clear Pros:
- Interesting environments with lots of hiding spots/cover objects to utilize
- Militaristic soundtrack
- Easy-to-use touch and drag controls; vision cone is a cool feature
- Plenty of purchasable/upgradeable weapons, attachments, and gear
- Multiple difficulty settings, class-specific abilities, and character stats boosted through experience
- GameCenter integration for leaderboards and achievements
Breach & Clear Cons:
- No replay ability for action phases
- Better suited for iPad screen
- Panning is slow and cannot be used while setting vision cone
Before you even begin the game, there are a number of decisions for you to make, including which of the 4 real-life elite military groups to purchase and play as (US Navy Seals, US Army Special Forces, US Army Rangers, or Canada’s JTF2), what to name your four squad members, what their physical attributes should be, and which class each should represent. The chosen classification will bestow the given individual with a related special ability, with more earned as each person levels up through experience. You can also outfit each soldier with unique weaponry, attachments, uniforms, helmets, and the like. Better (read: stat-boosting) equipment can be unlocked and purchased as you progress through the campaign. There are three locations to play (Afghanistan, Turkey, and China) at launch, with Mexico and Germany marked as coming soon. Afghanistan is the only one unlocked from the start, so you’ll begin there.
You are presented with a top-down/isometric viewpoint of a set of rooms wherein enemies are hiding out, invisible to your omniscient eye. Your goal, as the game’s title suggests, is to breach the location and clear it of all hostiles. Most maps have multiple breach points, so you can select where you want your soldiers to enter and how. Each round involves a planning phase and an action phase, much like Frozen Synapse or any of the Rainbow Six titles. For each soldier, you select where you want him to move to, as indicated by circles that appear upon an invisible gridded floor. Additionally, you determine each soldier’s vision cone at each waypoint, of which you can have several in a single turn. This ability allows you to own every angle, as the saying goes. Buttons are available to allow each soldier to use his special ability, too, such as laying down suppressive fire, tossing grenades, and more. When you are satisfied with your plan, tap the Breach button to watch the action play out. Soldiers will engage enemies automatically when one is spotted or they are fired upon, allowing you to see the enemy location from that point forward. Any soldier standing next to an object is considered to be in cover, with the protection aiding them in surviving a firefight.
The action phase lasts a few seconds before you are allowed to adjust your strategy in a new planning phase. The level ends when all members of one side have been killed. If you are successful, you can earn stars, experience, and money. Stars are used to unlock access to gear, weapons, consumables, etc. Experience offers you 5 points to add to each soldier’s stats at each new experience level, which can be used to boost health, accuracy, reaction, speed, etc. Money is used to purchase the items that you’ve unlocked. Each scenario can be played in multiple difficulty levels, with each offering stars to earn. You’ll want to replay each mission several times to nab the stars needed to unlock everything that you can. The gameplay is engaging and it gives you a lot of control over what happens and how you conduct your business. The focus on where to move, when to move, and where to train your focus are the essence of the game, and we applaud the devs for not trying to add too many options that could overwhelm the player.
That’s not to say that there weren’t aspects that we found frustrating. You cannot pan, rotate, or pinch during the vision-setting moments without altering the vision cone instead. It may not be such a big deal on an iPad, but on the small-screen devices, it was frustrating. The pan speed was also a bit slow, requiring multiple drags to make significant progress. Our biggest disappointment is that the action phase takes place so quickly that we often miss the action. We’d like a way to slow things down and replay the action sequence over again. It seems that once it has played out, however, you cannot go back and watch it again. If you lose a member or part of the action is off screen, you’ll never really know what happened. Screenshots appear to show cinematic viewpoints of the battles, but these kill shot sequences won’t be available until a future update.
Graphically, the game looks terrific, with an impressive level of detail if you really drill down. The choice to use real military units and real weapons is commendable, as it offers a great sense of authenticity that’s lacking in similar titles. The sheer number of weapon/attachment/uniform combinations available for each soldier is dizzying. The environments have plenty of places to utilize cover and nooks in which to hide. Character animations and movements are great, and you’ll really need to act responsibly to escape unscathed. Switching between a top-down and isometric viewpoint is only a button away, and dragging to pan, twisting to rotate, and pinching to zoom ensure you’ll always have a great angle on the action. Setting waypoints is as simple as choosing a squad member and holding on a lit floor circle to drop a waypoint. Once set, you can drag your finger around the waypoint to set the aiming direction of the member, as indicated by a selection of filled-in white circles. Each member also has specified buttons that relate to movement speed and use of their tactical abilities. It’s all quite intuitive. The soundtrack has a cool militaristic vibe that adds to the experience without being overbearing. The limited voice work and sound effects similarly enhance the game.
Replay value is very good, as there are plenty of unlockables and mixing up your loadouts can have an impact on how the battles play out. Additionally, enemy placement varies from one effort to the next, so that helps to keep things fresh. New content, including alternative single-player modes and multiplayer modes, have been teased for future updates, too. GameCenter integration provides a few global leaderboards (Total Takedowns, Locations Cleared, and Total Stars), as well as nearly 40 achievements to earn. Day One purchasers can snag an exclusive Gold M4, as well as take advantage of the $1.99 launch price before it goes up to its regular $3.99 tag. A universal app, Breach & Clear is a solid 4-Dimple effort.
Breach & Clear Review,