Preview by: Andreas Misund Berntsen
As a self-proclaimed first-person shooter connoisseur I feel there’s something ‘special’ about sci-fi shooters. When done well they can be truly fantastic, or stink abysmally if done wrong. I have a fondness for anything that shoots rays of unexpected colors, and weird creatures that explode in satisfying ways. So as you might expect, I liked Halo, and I liked it a lot. Breed is similar to Halo in a few ways; like how it takes place on what often is vast outdoor levels, packed with monsters, trees, buildings, and more. I doubt Breed will be one of the year’s best shooters, but I can almost guarantee it’ll keep you entertained, and for quite a while too. And I’ll tell you why.
We recently got to try a beta build of the game that features a fair amount of the game’s roughly twenty missions, each of which take a fair amount of time to finish, not counting when you’re killed and have to replay parts.
The storyline takes place in somewhere around 2600, when man has expanded to other planets, and found peace and harmony outside of mother earth. Everything that’s good usually comes to an end, and this is no exception. A race of aliens called The Breed attacked the humans, and I’m sure you know what happens when someone dares to do something like that. The humans mobilized a great fleet of United Space corps cruisers that journeyed to the aliens’ homeland. It was time to shoot down the pesky aliens, and you get to be a part of it. Oh, and there were a bunch of wars and terrible battles, but you’ll find out about all that when you try the game. To summarize, there are bad guys threatening humanity - you have to blow them up.
The first thing you’ll do in the game is to play the two tutorials, which teach you basic combat, such as using sniper rifles and other weapons properly, including secondary firing modes, and so on. The second tutorial teaches you advanced vehicle use, which certainly comes in handy, because you’ll need some serious firepower to survive the upcoming encounters. Breed is essentially a squad-based shooter, so you’ll often have a small group of soldiers accompanying you, and most of them typically specialize in something – such as a sniping, heavy weapons, engineering, and so on. Each of these start with varying weapons and abilities, so while the engineer can be fairly weak he’s crucial when you need a vehicle fixed, or data extracted from mysterious alien computers. You won’t be planning your strategy to such an extent as in for instance Ghost Recon, but it’ll still be smart to utilize the right character at the right time, such as controlling a sniper when some pesky turret guys haven’t spotted you yet, or using a heavy weapon specialist when you’re close to a group of vermin. Whatever you choose is up to you, but it’s all done by pressing page up / down, or whatever you configure it to be. Like in Halo the characters can only carry two weapons at a time, meaning you’ll have to decide upon what’s the most important to you. There weren’t a whole lot of weapon in our beta, but we did get to try the main machine gun, which happens to work much like the OICW in that it also fires about six exploding projectiles. There was also a shotgun, the sniper rifle, and fortunately some weird blue laser gun. And this is of course not including the weapons on the drivable and flyable crafts.
So what’ll you use all of these guns on? Well, the missions revolve around making Breed life as hard as possible. More specifically this means sabotaging vital Breed buildings, extracting vital data, escorting people, defending our beloved humans, and obviously also making direct attacks at the enemy. Some of the missions were admittedly familiar from other similar games, but in my opinion the game makes up for that in its other qualities.
I mentioned vehicles earlier, and they tend to be heavy hitting tanks that fire different kinds of ammunition, but later in the game you’ll also get to use aircrafts to protect important things, or to attack the pesky and weird creatures. It’s nice to see a game implement everything from turret shooting to tanks, to aircrafts, and more. There were a lot of bugs in the beta we used, but I’m confident that it’ll all be sorted out by the time the game is released.
The game sports impressive graphics too, both in terms of visuals and the performance of the engine. It doesn’t have pixel shaders on every piece of metal or anything like that, but the huge levels and downright beautiful water makes it satisfying enough on the eyes. It’s also worth mentioning that not only the creatures are possibly to blow up, but also trees and small buildings – and that never hurts at all.
There wasn’t a whole lot of music in our build, so it’s hard to say what’ll be in the full game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if trance and / or rock tunes were used – if music is used at all. Not all the voice-overs are totally convincing, but that’s something I’m sure will be, or maybe even has been worked on. We’re not here to judge a beta, but instead dwell on all the nice things. Speaking of which, the sound effects are quite nice, but if you have adjustable bass on your sound system then you may want to turn it up a notch.
We all know vehicles and spaceships are cool in single player missions, but what’s great is that they’ll have all of that in the multiplayer mode as well, so we’ll see how it works out soon enough. The recent Unreal Tournament 2004 demo showed us how this can be done, so we’ll just have to cross our fingers that Breed will play equally well. The maps included were interesting, taking place on some fairly unexpected locations.
Breed has been a long time coming, but it’s coming close to its release date. What we tried made us wanting more, so be sure to check this game out when it hits the shelves – hopefully sometime in March.