Review: BreakFest


What do you get if you cross Breakout with Doom? No, really. Breakfest provides all the gameplay of the famous ball and block games, complete with every power up option you've ever seen, in full animated texture mapped 3D, with explosions and other visual effects. And, yes, you even get to fire missiles at various points. All that's missing are the monsters... 

Author: Arctica

Version Reviewed: 1.2

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Breakfest screenshot

There's something rather surreal about playing a Breakout clone in the style of a first person shooter, but.. it works, it very nearly works, and in some style. On the graphics-accelerated Symbian^3 smartphones (e.g. the Nokia N8), the textures and frame rates are sometimes almost jaw dropping - you can't appreciate the fluidity on the page here, but it's mightily impressive - one of the most graphically-intensive 3D games I've played on Symbian. Even when things explode (in a mountain of small particles/cubes), there's no significant slowdown in frame rate.

The interface is kept both informative and yet simple, with control icons (for easy/hard, ball-cam [where you 'fly' in with the ball in 3D], info icons on/off [the floating white silhouettes above] and menu) at the top and informational icons (score, balls remaining, time) at the bottom.

There are options to control the 'bat' (essentially your viewfinder) with keypad/keyboard, touchscreen swipes or, best of all, by simply tilting the phone - this last option makes for a really involving and immersive game, when combined with the texture-mapped 3D element.

Breakfest screenshot

There are fifty levels in all, each based around themed blocks protecting a central reactor or two - hit one of the latter and you finish each level, with an exit appearing and an animated 'swoosh' through it. The levels gradually increase in complexity, as you might expect, with the first ten (tutorial) levels introducing one powerup at a time.

Breakfest screenshot

Ah yes, the 'energy vortex'. Whatever else might you expect in a Breakout clone? Of course there was going to be a 3D 'energy vortex'. It's obvious!...  In this case, the vortex is a shimmering cloud of particles that randomise your ball's trajectory if they come into contact. Props to the developer for the way in which the tutorial messages appear clearly and in staggered fashion. Yes, it makes the first ten levels slower to play, but it also means that by the time you've completed them you've a very good handle on all the elements you'll encounter from then on.

Breakfest screenshot

Rockets? Yes, these powerups have been a staple of modern Breakout clones and justifiably popular. And here you not only get to fire them at the mass of blocks, you also get to enjoy the 3D rendered explosions. Especially effective are the 'chain reaction' powerups, where one hit explodes block after block in a long line of multi-coloured blow-outs. Impressive stuff, and all without a drop in frame rate.

Breakfest screenshot

Here's a glimpse of the exit to a level. You don't actually have to hit this with a ball, it just appears when the reactors have been hit - but having this appear and then animate is a nice touch:

Breakfest screenshot

Breakfest is available in commercial form at £3 or, as shown below, in a free version with ad screens between each level, with the 'skip' option appearing after three seconds - this is a good balance between getting the sponsor message across and interrupting the player's enjoyment of the game. Well done all round for pitching this perfectly.

Breakfest screenshot

Top marks all round then, for an absorbing breakout game with a sumptuous 3D twist. A music soundtrack adds atmosphere, you're kept informed and entertained at every point and it's impossible to find any fault at all with the interface or graphical elements.

In fact, the only reason why Breakfest doesn't score in the 90s is that it's very slightly hobbled by a necessary frustration in the staple Breakout gameplay - when there are just a few blocks left in a level, there can be a frustrating minute or so while the ball careers around the arena, bouncing off walls and back and bat without encountering the last target or two. Yes, you can help matters by positioning the bat/viewfinder such that the ball strikes it a glancing blow and so bounces at a different guided angle, but it's still possible to sit there bashing the ball back for a while, thinking "come ON...."

Breakfest screenshot

If you're looking for a graphical action game to while away the last few days of the Christmas holiday then look no further - Breakfest comes with a solid and wholehearted recommendation from me.

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 28 Dec 2011

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