PhysX-based destructible environments are Breachís most prominent feature, but theyíre really not all theyíre cracked up to be. Itís possible for small pieces to be broken off individually (useful for shooting through walls, but can lead to floating sections), and a shower of debris from a big explosion looks pretty neat, but only certain materials like cobblestone, sandbags, and wood can be affected. The terrain is completely impervious. Breaching a wall adds a new, exciting dynamic to combat in and around buildings, but not everybody is dumb enough to stick around those areas. Not to mention 16 players is on the low side for the size of these maps, which usually makes for a medium-length jog between where you spawn and where the action is.
The main problem with having limited destructibility is that everybody learns to avoid or be extra careful around those materials for fear of them being obliterated. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has the same sort of limits on destructibility, but walls and the like arenít vulnerable to a handful of bullets or a single hand grenade. Sure, you donít get to see showers of rubble crash to the ground with enhanced physical detail because itís scripted in BF:BC2, but at least you can bring down entire buildings. One thing Breach has that other games donít is destructible bridges/walkways. However, while it sounds like a good idea, it encourages bottlenecks and stalemates by leaving fewer paths through the map.
Once you get over the coolness factor of shooting little abandoned houses with RPGs, the overall lack of quality in Breach really hits you. A major glitch that causes the game to hang indefinitely on the loading screen, preventing you from joining some dedicated servers, is high on the list. Controls are mostly standard for an FPS and are configurable, but your character moves around with all the grace and agility of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz; oddly enough, moving to the left prevents you from crouching or uncrouching! The third-person cover system allows you to see around corners without exposing yourself, but you have to lean before pressing RMB to aim, which is really awkward. Plus, cover is too sticky, meaning you have to press the key again to get out of it instead of just moving away from the wall, and until you do, your view is locked into the forward position, preventing you from defending your sides and rear. Thereís no way to even out the teams once they become unbalanced, and the list goes onÖ
That isnít to say the game canít be enjoyable... If youíre lucky enough to get into a game without hackers, that isnít laggy, and has balanced teams, itís possible to have fun chucking explosives everywhere and sneaking up behind the enemy because the spawn points are so wonky. Although, if youíre the kind of person that absolutely despises RPG or Ďnade spamming (noob-tubing), Breach may not be the game for you. Eventually you can gain access to the powerful assault rifles and machine guns that are more useful at range, but for those that are just starting out (i.e. almost everybody), explosives are the most effective way to fight. Be prepared to die a lot if you want to get in on the action because, depending on the map/mode combination, the game usually turns into a clusterfuck or a snipe-fest standoff.
Graphics and sound effects are expected to be sub-par in a budget title, but itís not even the quality of the two so much as how they are used that is the problem. The game looks okay as far as lighting and models (especially for the guns), but the textures are dull and have little variation. The sounds are terrible, particularly for the weapons, most of which make about as much noise as a champagne cork or spring-loaded BB gun. The same reload sound (similar to the one used in the original Counter-Strike) is used for all the rifles and the pistol. The piss-poor volume mixing makes it difficult to build awareness of your surroundings by ear: Itís easy to think your own footsteps are coming up behind you, and then you get snuck up on when you quit looking. Explosions sound the same whether theyíre right next to you or 100 yards away.