Breach 1 logo

Artronic, Amiga £19.95

Breach is not exactly a new product, having surfaced on the Amiga through the American company Omnitrend in 1987. The game is based around tactical-level ground combat of the future, space marines serving as the backbone force in nine conflicts.

The screen is split into three areas, the status panel occupying the right third of the screen with the combat area taking up the left two thirds. Along the bottom of the display are the six main orders including Pick Up & Drop, Open Door, Fire Weapon, Use Object and Use Lift. Movement is conducted via the mouse.

Objects on screen can be picked up using the mouse when near them, and include detectors for scanning the area, gravbelts for unhindered travel, medikits and stimulants, shields and weaponry. The weaponry includes grenades, demo charges and rocket launchers (plus a very limited number of rockets) - not a widely varied selection.

Fire Weapon fires the personal laser while Use Weapon is the option to utilise grenades, rockets and the more powerful firearms including demolition charges and psionic stun guns. The weapons have different encumbrance levels, areas of effect and damage levels but all this is academic as nearly all the enemy lifeforms can be dispatched easily enough with a humble laser blaster. A neat touch is the presence of fuel tanks which explode if hit, but even this has been done before in Target Games' Laser Squad.

As in Laser Squad each unit has a finite set of movement points per turn depleted by firing weapons, moving across rougher terrain etc. This system of command allows units to perform multiple tasks within a 'turn'. Unfortunately the effects of such actions are purely short term only, no long term strategic thought can be allowed for, the inflexibility of it all preventing the player from performing more complex actions.

All actions take place on screen with animation accompanying laser combat and movement - creatures bite, lasers fire across the screen and totally unnecessary screams attempt to impart some realism into the proceedings, most unsuccessfully as both marines and aliens die with exactly the same scream effect! As well as the lacklustre use of sound, the embarrassingly bad use of animation serves no purpose other than to entertain (for all the wrong reasons!).

Flexibility is not one of Breach's better points. The game is centred around a simplified form of marine laser fire combat and movement with little room allowed for expanding on the theme. Laser Squad on the 64 did it much better and in a much more user-friendly manner as well - at times the use of mouse can be most awkward. Having to quit the game to create another Squad Leader for your team is a major frustration - more so considering that when the Squad Leader dies the Squad ceases to function and it is 'game over'. I would have thought marines were a little more intelligent than this!

Breach offers a moderately high level of variables (including differing levels of suit protection, weapon effect, six types of alien and four levels of Squad Marine fighting through a series of ongoing missions), but this all goes to waste as the game behind it is very one-dimensional, limited in ideas and far too simple to appeal to hardened wargamers expecting much more of their Amigas.

The conflicts provide some variety to the proceedings, increasing in difficulty very quickly from the first few 'seek and destroy' and rescue missions to near suicide combo-missions. The hardest mission of all involves a single Squad Marine entering the heart of an enemy fortress to rescue an Admiral. A Scenario Builder is also included on the disk and at least Artronic have seen fit to release an expansion disk containing a further 16 missions for £7.99. A great pity the shell of the game around the missions is far too simple.