As a person with all the strategic thinking ability of a kumquat, tactical games tend to perplex me. Not because they’re bad, mind you, but because I suck at them. Outside of the OG Final Fantasy Tactics, which I played at release – yes, I’m that old – I have yet to find a single strategy game my feeble brain can wrap itself around.
Fortunately, the guys at Gun Media accounted for dorks like me when they made the superlative Breach & Clear. At two bucks, it’s one of the most addictive paid titles I’ve played on a mobile device, with fun gameplay, deep customization, and idiot-proofing to spare. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but it managed to draw me in, and my history with titles of the same ilk had me thinking that wouldn’t be possible when I first started playing. That has to count for something.
Murderin’ Terrists for Fun and Profit
My first task in Breach & Clear was to choose a military unit like the Army Rangers or British SAS. Knowing nothing about the armed forces or any of the stats each team presented, I chose the Canadian JTF. Their balanced attributes made it easy to pick them without having an anxiety attack over what each statistic meant.
After naming my squad – with awesome titles like Darth Vader and Cave Octopus, I might add – I was asked to assign a role to each of my four combatants. Picking the right combination of abilities is crucial, I found: It may seem like a good idea to stack a team with assault-type classes, but off-skills like healing and door blocking become every bit as important as the game progresses. Fortunately, in another sign of Gun Media’s idiot-proofing, you’re able to change your crew around (and even employ new military branches) as you make money and add experience.
Gunplay is Funplay
Breach & Clear’s menu design is necessarily cluttered. The sheer amount of info you have to absorb to do well can be mind-boggling: Everything from combat attire to weaponry to attachment for those weapons can be tweaked on an individual basis, giving you an insane level of control over each enemy you engage. The modifications you make can have a big impact on how things play out, too. A new sight might give a squad member added accuracy, for instance, but could hurt his overall mobility as well.
Once you’ve created your team and outfitted them you’re dropped into combat. This is where the game really shines. Your goal is to clear the environment of bad guys, but how you go about it is largely up to you. You might, for example, choose to stack two friendlies on the west entrance of an office building you’re attacking and two on the east; other areas only offer one entry point but come packed with multiple rooms to, uh, breach and clear.
The control you get over each fight can be a bit overwhelming at times. As with many strategy games, moving each of your units counts as a single turn. Putting them in the right spots during those turns is crucial to victory, but that’s far from the only factor deciding whether you win or lose: Screwups as small as facing a character in the wrong direction at the end of a turn can have fatal consequences for your poor, overworked military dudes.
Breach & Clear, to use a little industry lingo here, is fricking awesome. Clearing an office building of terrorists with a hand-selected team is a blast even if you aren’t in direct, one-to-one control of your squaddies… instead of being responsible for twitch reactions and accurate shooting, in other words, you’re tasked with handling the whole squad’s execution. It’s a big difference – and, for dolts like me, a big challenge – but at two bucks, the game is absolutely worth your cash. The gameplay is great, the content is expansive, and the freemium content is at no point shoved down your throat. In other words, buy it now! Or don’t. I’m going to go back and play some more now that this review is done, and that’s all that matters to me.