It’s a well-known fact that everything is better with zombies. A lot of major titles are about the creative destruction of zombies, or at least have a “Zombie Mode”. With that in mind, the best way to describe Breach and Clear: Deadline would be “Squad-based tactical shooter, with zombies” which is an interesting setting for the genre. There’s some RPG elements thrown into the mix, a fairly large open world and a somewhat rudimentary crafting system to boot.
In Breach and Clear, you control your squad from a top-down perspective as they wander around the quarantine zone, completing missions and eradicating zombies. When not in combat, control is like a simple game of “follow the leader”. When the bullets start flying, though, control is through a pausable real-time mode somewhat reminiscent of Frozen Synapse or Dragon Age. You queue up orders for your team and then let time resume, watching your orders execute. At any moment you can stop time again, readjust or modify and let the action resume. This degree of control is obviously very fine – but it’s a must-have when your squad of 4 soldiers are surrounded by hordes of zombies trying very hard to add “Commando” to their menu.
The game also has some RPG elements to it, revolving around your soldiers’ skills and equipment. With 6 available roles and a maximum squad size of 4 there’s obviously some overlap but once you make it to the latter half of each soldier’s skill tree the differences really start to shine. Whether it’s the armor upgrades for the explosives expert or the inexhaustible barrage of lead from the weapons sergeant, the classes all feel fun and useful in their own way. Weapons likewise can be leveled up by investing Scrap, slowly becoming better at putting holes in things.
The crafting system in Breach and Clear is simple but serves its purpose. It’s really about two things: crafting ammunition from scrap (the game’s currency) and upgrading weapons through either the use of Scrap or application of mods found in the world. Quite simple and limited as things go, crafting obviously isn’t a focal point in the game and it shows. A bit of wasted potential in my book.
While I don’t generally pay much attention to graphics in games, Breach and Clear does warrant special attention, mostly due to how unappealing things look. The city’s textures are repetitive and bland, with little in the way of light or shadow. Asphalt is simple grey, and building sides are just tiled with whatever texture they happen to have lying around. The animations for your soldiers look very mechanical and unnatural. The one redeeming feature for the game’s graphics are the explosions – they look beautiful, especially frozen in time at their apex. Likewise, your enemies (both human and infected) look like identical blobs of color with no variation or features. While not detrimental to gameplay in any way, the lackluster graphics may still be a turn-off for some.
Breach and Clear’s greatest accomplishment is its dynamic battles. While firefights are restricted to small areas of operation which you can’t leave, infected pour from every possible route. Anything from a pile of rubble to a dead-end alley can be a point of entry for the hungry hordes and you’ll find yourself moving your troops, creating chokepoints and laying down suppression fire in a constantly shifting and changing battlefield. Between the varying infected types and varying approaches they can take, combat stays remarkably fresh.
It’s hard to recommend Breach and Clear: Deadline to anyone not already a fan of the genre, but by no means is it a bad game. Between an extensive single-player campaign and a co-op mode, there’s definitely some fun to be had . If you’re unsure, give it a go – it got zombies!
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