I love that door-kicking moment. In a military first-person shooter, it's the moment when you rush into the room and everything goes all slow-motion — can you pick off all of the enemies in time? In Gun Media's Breach & Clear, it's the moment you find out if your men live or die.
Crafted by Gun, Saturday Morning Cartoon RPG's Mighty Rabbit and ex-Infinity Ward man Robert Bowling, Breach & Clear is a tactical strategy game that doesn't mess about with flowery naming conventions. The task of your four-man Navy SEAL, Special Forces, Army Rangers or JTF2 squad is to enter a building occupied by the enemy and make sure that whole "occupied by the enemy" part is no longer the case once you're done.
Here's how a mission plays out. The player chooses to split their team or move en mass. Then each of the four members of the squad are issued orders — where to move, which tactics to use, where to face when the turn ends. Then actions are played out in real-time. Doors are kicked in, bullets are fired, grenades are tossed.
The most important factor in the game seems to be the direction squad mates are facing when the turn ends. Round a corner with your side to a doorway, odds are the enemy is going to get a clean shot at your soldier, and suddenly your four-man squad isn't anymore.
Planning your moves feels important in Breach & Clear, but there seems to be a random element at play here that keeps the player guessing. A mission might play out one way the first time you run your men through it, only to have the enemy react completely differently the next. This does wonders for replay-ability, but brings the importance of the players' input into question.
There is gear to buy, and weapons can be customized. This is not a free-to-play game, so the purchaseables are more geared towards impatient players who don't want to wait to unlock things — gear that makes a real difference in play can generally be purchased.
As I ran through the available missions (many more are planned, along with additional game types) I found myself playing an odd sort of meta-game within Breach & Clear. I would penetrate deep inside an enemy stronghold, and then I'd see how quickly I could get my men wiped out. Maybe breacher Justin Norman would accidentally drop a grenade. Perhaps weapons sergeant Ethan Schmitt would tell a joke, causing the rest of the squad to turn towards him instead of the door through which the enemy would no doubt be streaming any second. I started playing How Not To Breach & Clear, incredibly pleased that the game was flexible enough to allow me to do so.
The controls may be a bit finicky; the action somewhat random, but with so much flexibility and room to play, I get the feeling that Breach & Clear could grow into something much bigger than four guys kicking down a door and looking in the right direction. Best pick it up at $1.99, before the regular price kicks in.
Breach & Clear
Genre: Squad Tactics
Price: $1.99 (Normally $3.99)