Breed makes a horrible first impression. This single-player sci-fi shooter takes so outrageously long to load that it should ship with an alarm clock to wake you up when it's finally ready. Breed then makes many more bad impressions once you actually get to play it. You quickly see that it takes a lot of its ideas from the hit game Halo (and in turn from films like Starship Troopers and Aliens), and that it suffers from flimsy writing, atrocious voice acting, generic enemies and settings, frame rate hits, poor mission design, lagging multiplayer, and severe bugs. All isn't totally lost, though. For all that Breed does wrong, it at least lets you control some neat vehicles in expansive environments. Still, even in its good moments--which are uncommon--Breed is a poor game. During its many bad moments, you'll want to avoid it altogether.
Breed sends you to the twenty-seventh century, where a horde of alien creatures known as the Breed have lured most of Earth's military away to a distant colony to launch a sneak attack on Earth. You play as the few remaining GRUNT (Genetically Revived Universal Tactical Sentient) soldiers, basically clones, who return home to find Earth overrun with little purple and red aliens armed with glowing guns. You'd think a tale of a last-ditch effort to liberate Earth from alien hordes would be gripping. Not in Breed; it totally lacks emotional resonance. The scenarios, settings, and alien invaders feel generic, with no discernible character, let alone real style or imagination. The cutscenes are plodding and clumsy, and the writing leaves even more to be desired: "A tear falls into my handkerchief," your silly and gabby leader solemnly intones. A character duly notes that her "head hurts" when she's blown up by artillery fire, and a soldier calls the Breed "dumb heads" as an insult. Some lines are oddly phrased: "permission given" instead of "permission granted." There are localization problems also, like a few words spelled in German in the subtitles.
Assuming you don't uninstall the game in frustration, you'll progress through eighteen missions, sometimes alone, but often with a small squad of GRUNTs. You play from either a first- or third-person view and assume direct control of any GRUNT in your squad at will. As in Halo, you'll zip around outdoors in futuristic dune buggies and tanks and fly in nimble fighters. You take over enemy turrets to blast hordes of hapless Breed, who often move, fight, and even do little sideways acrobatic dodges just like the aliens in Halo. Occasionally you'll fight indoors, too, but those settings are sparse and boring.
There's little fun to be had fighting on foot in Breed, in part because your squad mates are monstrously inept. They're far more of a hindrance than a help, since they barely return fire yet always manage to end up right in the line of fire--that is, when they're not falling off cliffs. (Things get even worse in some of the airborne missions, where your wingmen literally do nothing to help out.) Since the artificial intelligence allies in Breed always seem to be in need of rescuing, most of your "tactics" revolve around keeping them out of harm's way instead of using them as combat assets. It seems utterly superfluous that you can order them to spread out, close in, assume different formations, and so on. You'll mostly be ordering them to halt behind what little cover you can find or telling them to hand you a medikit when you're in dire straits.
GRUNTs are divided into a few different classes that determine what two weapons they initially carry (the two-weapon limit again recalling Halo). The weapons in Breed are all standard shooter fare: slightly futuristic assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and the like. Breed ignores one of the basic necessities of any shooter: The guns should look so cool and feel so powerful that the mere act of firing them is fun. Here, they're all pretty dull. As in Halo, you can pick up alien energy weapons, but these are also bland, not to mention inaccurate.
Breed takes a turn for the better with its vehicles. The ground vehicles, including tanks, buggies, jeeps, and APCs are easy to control (think Halo or Battlefield 1942) and boast physics that are just realistic enough without becoming cumbersome. Some of them bristle with multiple weapons, like the neatest GRUNT vehicle, the tank. You both steer it and aim the main turret, which lets you switch between a minigun, plasma cannon, guided missiles, and rockets. Meanwhile, other GRUNTs man smaller machine-gun turrets. It's overkill in the best sense. Cruising around and blasting towers and trees to dust can be fun while it lasts. (Fun never lasts long in Breed.) Air vehicles, like fighters and dropships, are a bear to control at first and can fall into irrecoverable stalls too easily, but once you get the hang of them you'll appreciate their high maneuverability.
Unfortunately, Breed's missions can be so numbingly repetitive, predictable, or downright confusing that it probably won't matter to you whether you're driving a snazzy vehicle or merely jogging about on foot. Superficially, the missions are well varied: You fight outdoors and in, on the ground and in the air (sometimes in the same mission). Sometimes there are timed segments to light a fire under you. Beneath that exterior diversity, you quickly see that the missions often follow the same basic patterns. Every time you turn a bend or crest a hill, out pops a horde of enemies, usually with a couple more firing nearby turrets or firing down from nearby hilltops. It's way too easy to guess exactly what will happen next.
Scripting problems, bugs, and confusing goals also mar missions. You're told a wingman is in trouble and that you need to help him, yet there are no enemies left that can hurt him. As you try to escort him to safety, he just mysteriously blows up for no reason, and there goes the mission.
On top of that, the aliens in Breed are about as smart as stones: Other than the occasional dodge, they mostly just charge you until they're all wiped out, or they stand around waiting to be sniped en masse. When they win, it's through sheer strength in numbers, and the game loves to overwhelm you with enemies. Airborne battles are similar in that they usually send one wave of fighters after another toward you with a clockwork precision.
Breed's presentation suffers from the same lack of imagination and polish that hurts the whole game. It's literally hard to remember what the aliens look like (other than their vague resemblance to Halo's enemies), and the same applies to the GRUNT armor, enemy bases, and most of the vehicles. The game's settings usually bear little resemblance to any real place on Earth, but rather feel like some generic fantasy planet. Technically, the graphics are reasonably impressive, rendering all kinds of flashy weapon fire and sprawling outdoor environments, but at the cost of stuttering frame rates--particularly during battles. Even with a high-end rig, you may have to crank the resolution or details down. The game is also annoying in that it requires you to re-specify your preferred refresh rate every time you play.
While the graphics have their good and bad points, the audio is often so bad you'll want to turn it off. Prepare yourself for audio stuttering and drop-outs, forgettable music, wimpy-sounding weapons and explosions, and horrid voice "acting" (by the game's developers instead of professional actors) replete with cheesy accents and mispronounced words ("stealth" comes out as "steelth").
Along with the poor single-player campaign, Breed includes unimaginative multiplayer: just deathmatch variants. It can still be mildly fun to fly above the battlefield and bomb unsuspecting soldiers into oblivion, though we found multiplayer barely playable most of the time, even with the latest patch installed. Various bugs, some ill-conceived maps, and frequent--and often severe--lag, warping, and hit detection issues mean you can snipe someone in the head five times without it registering. Vehicles and characters often seem to teleport around the map, move through each other, or sink into the ground, even when you play over a broadband connection. Really, the only thing Breed has going for it is its wide variety of vehicles. But in a game with so many serious problems, it's hard to enjoy them for long.