Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8


Regardless of the marketing materials and box art, Chromehounds is a MMOG. Its entire fun factor relies on internet play since the single player campaign is useless, boring, and dull. However, Xbox Live play is incredible entertainment, it easily makes up for the games other shortcomings.

chromehounds1xbox360.jpg (112889 bytes)The majority of mech-based games focus on either attempting to simulate something that doesn't exist with exhaustive statistics or simply let players control giant walking tanks and blow things up. Chromehounds is the first game in the genre to appeal to both perfectly. Its in-depth mech creation system is undeniable fun, done through an easy to navigate, informative, and quick-to-grasp menu scheme.

It's best to try out your mech creations in single player first. The entire campaign could be finished in a single session, running around six hours total. Its purpose seems to solely to familiarize players with the various types of war machines used in the game since each style is given six separate missions (one of which is a brief training run).

Thanks to the games openness to customization, you can still craft your own walking tank if the style of mech they've given to you doesn't suit your play style. From a design standpoint, it's not the best call, as players may never learn the ins and outs of a heavy gunner machine. From the player standpoint, it's great to lessen the mission time, test out new pieces of hardware, and warm up for before heading online.

Besides, that's where 90% of your time in Chromehounds should be spent. Setting itself inside a three-nation war zone, players pick an affiliation and defend their country to the death. With a squad of friends, up to six people can march into new territory to take it over and claim it as their own. The eerily familiar real world backdrop adds an extra layer to the conflict.

Setting up or choosing a squad is critical. They'll be your backbone as you begin your quest to end the war. Communicating is crucial, and unless you have a member properly equipped to keep strategy discussions running smoothly, you'll need to secure towers on the battlefield (simply by standing next to them). If you fail to do so or the enemy takes over them, all means of chatting are cut off.

chromehounds2xbox360.jpg (139152 bytes)This leads to pre-war strategy, like using the marker system to set up a plan of attack on the briefing map. At any time, this can be pulled up for easy access in-game. This is of course after you've spent time looking at the main overview war map, reading pop-ups discussing the latest news on the war, voted for a presidential candidate (who may or may not heavily support the war effort), visited the shop for parts, or tackled some free missions to earn cash.

Actual gameplay is a smooth experience. Your personally designed machine runs as you want it to. If you choose to weigh it down with tons of weapons and armor, you'll sacrifice some speed in the process. Swapping between the maximum of four slots for weapons (also customized) is handled with the bumpers. Firing is as simple as holding the trigger. Combat may seem overly simplistic when compared to the depth provided elsewhere, but it allows for the battles to be quick, precise, and accessible.

Aside from single player, Chromehounds also suffers from aggravating server downtime. Maintenance is constant, and when a war is ended, it takes a substantial amount of time for the server to reset. When it's offline, almost nothing can be accessed. All store items, free battles (deathmatches), and war struggles are kept on the servers. This brings forth the issues with the single player game. With a deep campaign, at least the player could move offline and still enjoy the title. That's simply not possible.

Still, even with its problems, this is a game that showcases the best in online video games. Its stunning art direction, addictive mech building, and brilliant multi-player will make this an instant cult classic with the potential to grab a wide audience. If you have Xbox Live, this will be one of the best games you'll play this year.


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Last updated: Friday, August 04, 2006 08:36 PM