Chromehounds is truly a labor of love for the guys at From Software. You can see the painstaking care they took in creating a living, breathing online battlefield. It could be easy to overlook Chromehounds due to a painfully boring single player game and an online setup that can be a bit overwhelming at first. Make no mistake, online is where Chromehounds excels beyond other 360 titles, and I wouldn’t recommend the game if you are not an Xbox Live gold member. If you do have a gold account, please follow these instructions:
Buy or rent Chromehounds
Find a great squad of guys to play with (What’s up grawgroup!!)
Connect to the “internets” and enjoy.
The single player mode of Chromehounds lets you select a class of hound and then plow through levels designed for that particular class. The classes are referred to as RT’s or role types. There are a total of six role types to choose from, and each one brings unique characteristics to the battlefield. The RT’s pretty much describe themselves, but I’ll give a brief description of them anyway. Scout’s are perfect for surveying the area of battle, and they can speedily capture combas towers (communications) that are essential for teamwork. Soldiers are the grunts of the hound group and are generally sent to the front lines for up close and personal action. Defenders generally stay close to the team’s base and help protect other team members when they are in trouble. Heavy Gunner’s have the ability to take out enemy hounds and bases from a distance. Sniper’s are specially designed for precise tactical strikes from well protected areas on the map. Tactical Commander’s bring all these role types together by issuing orders and micro-managing the team. All of these role types bring a different flavor to the war, and each can be an integral part of your team’s online strategy.
The single player is simply a practice session for the real deal, the Neroimus War. The Neroimus War is an online war zone, with the battle being fought around the clock. Even if your squad logs off for the night, the battlefield could look significantly different the next time you log on. There are three nations that your squad can choose to join: Tarakia, Morskoj, and Sal Kar. Each nation has it’s own political and military structure, and can be identified by national flags located on the war map. Besides finding different weapons and equipment to work with, the three nations seemed to be similar in my play sessions. Squads can consist of as many as 20 members, although battle is limited to teams of no more than 6. Battles are won by either destroying the enemy forces or securing more combas towers than your opponent. When your squad decides to go into battle, a spot on the map is selected and everyone prepares weapons and equipment for said battle. In these battles, you will face either human or computer opponents. There is a huge difference between the two, based on my 40 plus hours invested in the Neroimus War. Many of the human squads we faced were very difficult if not impossible to defeat, while the computer seemed to be much less of a challenge. You can also engage in other multiplayer modes such as CTF and standard deathmatch modes, but they are simply diversions for the Neroimus War. Watch out Chromehound noobs, you will be eaten alive your first 10 or so hours into the war, but don’t be discouraged; after putting some serious hours into Chromehouds, you will finally start to feel powerful. That’s where the online customization sets the men apart from the boys.
Chromehounds features the deepest toolset of customizations I have ever seen in any game in my entire life. Everything about the hound you build will be completely unique to other hounds on the battlefield. You can build your hound from the ground up or buy a shell and customize the hound from there. Not only can you change the color of your hound, but you can also apply deals and medals that you have been awarded anywhere that you can fit them. There are simply so many ways to change the look and feel of your hound that it would take me weeks to list them all. It is safe to say that it is rare to see 2 hounds that look alike on the battlefield. Weapons are a huge part of the customization, and there is no end to the configurations you can assemble. You have to take into consideration the weight of your hound as you are constantly adding weapons and other equipment to your hound. For instance, a scout hound is not going to be able to load out with the weapon set that is equivalent to a heavy gunner, for instance. The balancing act that From Software has put in place is simply phenomenal. I would say that a good portion of your time in Chromehounds will be spent in the garage, further attesting the job From has done in regards to customization.
Gameplay is Chromehounds is exactly what you would expect from huge mechanized warriors. In a word, hounds are SLOW. The sooner you except this fact of the game and get used to it, the sooner you will be immersed in this awesome experience. The speed of the hounds does give some initial disappointment, but you soon will appreciate the design choice and the effect it has on the game. Of course different hounds move at different speeds (the scout is faster than the defender – duh!), but the overall handling of each hound is very solid. Weapons feel unique as well. Your standard machine gun won’t elicit much of a response from your hound, but some of the larger cannons will give a nice recoil effect. The feel of the game is very realistic. When you are being pounded by enemy hounds, your hound will react to every shot taken. Every type of hound will feel different to you, as you switch back and forth throughout the war. A heavy gunner may be extremely slow, but he will have enough firepower to destroy a small city. Or a large city. Whichever he is closest to.
Graphically speaking, Chromehounds is gorgeous. The detail of the hounds is simply amazing to look at, and the lighting is exceptional as well. The only real complaint on the graphical side is the lack of environmental detail. Environments mostly seem to be large and empty, with maybe a few trees here and there. The graphics look epecially nice on a HDTV, with the detail and lighting really being amped up in high definition. The real treat for me, graphically speaking, was the nighttime battles. Do you remember all the night vision footage on CNN from the Iraq War? Well, yeah, Chromehounds looks exactly like that at night. The nighttime battles are some of the most impressive effects I have ever seen in a video game. Bullets act as tracers against the sky and watching hundreds of these tracers light up the night is breathtaking. The audio is a nice compliment to the excellent graphics. Weapons sounds lifelike, and the hounds have a unique sound when moving. It’s obvious that a lot of time was focused on getting the weapons and hounds sounding great, because the rest of the audio is forgettable. Looped intro music becomes extremely annoying after you’ve heard it 6 million times while waiting for a match to begin. I swear, I can hear it right now (dum dum du duh duh dum). Get out of my head! Chromehounds exceeds in both the graphics and audio department, thanks to a great effort of the part of From Software.
What else can I say about Chromehounds? Chromehounds is one of the best titles I have ever played on Xbox Live. There are some who will be put off by the pacing, but those who take the time to invest into Chromehounds will reap the benefits it offers. And it does take time. I would say I put about 10 hours into the game before I became comfortable with it. Do yourself a favor and at the very least rent Chromehounds and play it for a weekend. You can thank me later. Or curse me. Chromehounds delivers on almost every level and is one of the better titles to have been released on the Xbox 360 this year.
*** Special thanks to my squad, grawgroup. An awesome bunch of guys to blow crap up with!! ***