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First Look: Atomic Games' Breach

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Posted March 26, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson


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First Look: Atomic Games' Breach

Let me get this out of the way first: Atomic Games' new release is not Six Days in Fallujah. Six Days, a historical shooter that was dropped by Konami almost a year ago, was envisioned as a first-person docu-game, a realistic re-enactment of a recent, bloody battle, but controversy killed the title's release. Atomic's new game, Breach, is a class-based multiplayer title that aims to give players a more light-hearted combat experience, while using real-life tactics and weapons.

"With Breach, we want people to go in and have a good time blowing stuff up, so this has a completely different tone [from Six Days in Fallujah's]." explained Atomic Games' President Peter Tamte. "Six Days in Fallujah is an effort to recreate the true stories of specific people. That’s what that game exists to do. Our whole purpose for Breach is to give people the opportunity to use real life tactics in environments where conflicts could take place, but I’m not going to get into recreating the exact environment or the people."

In the demo I saw, the game pits teams of up to eight players in tactical, extraction style games. The gameplay looks very smooth, and the destruction, cover and suppression systems seem on par with any full-priced FPS.

"After the Fallujah thing happened, we scaled our team down, and we said, 'we have all this technology, and we’d like to use this technology to create an experience that other people can’t get," Tamte said. "We have a fresh, clean slate, and we have these assets we can use. We thought the most exciting thing happening in the market right now is digital download, the idea that players can get games conveniently by pressing a button, and players can get games for less than $60. We thought, that is our opportunity."

First Look: Atomic Games' Breach

Atomic and Tamte used some of the Fallujah assets as well as the company's experience in creating realistic war games to make something unique: A multi-player shooter that focuses on tactics, with a more realistic edge than most shoot-em-ups.

"There are three things we do in this game that other people haven’t done," Tamte said, "Number one: Our destruction system is more robust than anyone else's. So you can blow holes in ceilings and floors, you can shoot individual bricks out of walls. You can shoot just the top part of a building. So there’s all sorts of things you can do in Breach that you can’t do in any other destruction system.

"Secondly, cover is essential to real combat, so we asked, 'how can we make a much more ambitious cover system?' We created something called 'active cover.' Active cover gives you all the advantages of cover while that cover is being destroyed, so for example, there’s a wall, and someone blows a hole in the wall, I can still peak around that wall.

"The third thing we did is bring in all real-life spy gadgets, because we have access to all that cool stuff."

Atomic's access to cool spy stuff comes from the real military; the company has worked with the military in creating training tools for soldiers. Think simulations more than games.

"I have to be careful, because we don’t discuss the specific tactics that we use in simulators," Tamte told me. "But let me say a little bit of what we do with the simulation business. The Military guys we work with call them 'Tactical Decisions Making Simulations.' The idea is to teach cognitive skills. They don’t need another way to teach a marine how to shoot. They figured that out a long time ago."

First Look: Atomic Games' Breach

One real-life military tactic that found its way to Breach is an emphasis on suppression fire, a tactic integral to the success of any armed combat, but  one not often explored in games.

"With suppression, when you’re in a situation where enough lead is being thrown at you, we tried to create the psychological effect on you; we do that by making the camera move around and making it difficult to aim. We get that same kind of frenetic “Oh no, I’m being suppressed!” feeling." Tamte said. "Where that becomes powerful is when you can do that offensively; and you’re on a team, and you have a gunner, or even a rifleman, support or any other class that can flank the opponent while you’re holding that person in place with suppression fire."

Judging from the demo, the suppression effect seems to work really well, and encourages a feeling of danger very different from the usual "I'll pop from behind this cover and take only a few bullets," from most games. You'll be able to try it yourself when Breach hits Xbox Live Arcade this summer. Until then, check out the screenshots.

First Look: Atomic Games' Breach
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