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Chromehounds Review

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Developer: From Software Publisher: Sega
Release Date: July 11, 2006 Also On: None

When Xbox Live launched in 2002, Microsoft touted it for its massive online user experience, friends list capabilities and centralized structure. One of the games to be front and center for the company was an untraditional mech game: MechAssault. While it has its fans, MechAssault was quickly over-taken by games like Unreal Championship, Rainbow Six 3 and then in 2004 the mother of them all: Halo 2.

Microsoft has been searching for that same game that they could point to as the game for Live on Xbox 360 that gamers just can not resist playing. Perfect Dark did not turn out as well as they had hoped and many of the success stories on Xbox 360 (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) don’t have an online component. So unless you are a fanatic of Live Arcade, you probably have not been all that busy with Live on the Xbox 360.

From Software is not new to mech games. In fact, it is arguably their expertise, even if Armored Core is hard not to hate. Why Sega would choose a mech game (they call them hounds) to be their third release on the Xbox 360 after Condemned and Full Auto is beyond me. That said, like Mech Assault, Chromehounds is built for online play, not single-player offline. In fact, they push Live so hard on you that you don’t even have the option for split-screen multi-player.

Offline is pretty straightforward and not all that long or complicated. You choose from the six different types of hound role types (RTs): Soldier, Sniper, Defender, Scout, Heavy Gunner and Tactics Commander. Each role type has a training mission and six different missions. In other words, about 36 real levels altogether. They vary in length, but some can be as short as three to five minutes, while others may take fifteen to twenty.

Obviously depending on your mech, you are going to have a different experience with the game. Armor, speed, mobility, weapon types, among other factors all will play into which role type you select. Some will have actual legs (depending on the type, it may have more than two) and walk slow, others will have wheels and still others will be hovercraft.

Mission objectives vary by role type as well. Snipers will often play a supporting role, whereas a soldier is expected to go Rambo and a Scout is meant to capture COMBAS, which are radio towers that provide radar and audio transmission in a given area. Tactics play a much larger role on Xbox Live than in single-player, where the objective is either confronting the enemies (and possibly destroying their base) or scouting.

Like most games released on the system so far, the graphics in Chromehounds are not something that I can say show the power of the Xbox 360. You do have relatively large maps, but only a few scattered trees here and there, some enemy placements and industrial complexes. Nothing all that advanced at all and the enemies even disappear after you destroy them within about three to five seconds. It is almost laughable for a “next-generation” game.

If you have the patience to play a mech game that is slower than molasses in January, Chromehounds is the game you have been waiting for. A relatively disappointing offline single-player (that lacks replay value and any multi-player), but fairly decent online multi-player component make this an Xbox 360 game to look at for a weekend rental. The suggested retail price of Chromehounds and oh so many other games questions Microsoft’s sanity in their current premium pricing structure for Xbox 360. Still, this is about as solid an attempt as MechAssault was in its day.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.8
Written by Kyle Review Guide