First Impressions: Yay... more mechs?and these are next generation mechs. Mmmm, next gen mechs...
Chromehounds is the new Xbox 360 mech game from the creators of the Armored Core series and Otogi. From Software is crafting massive robot combat for the next generation and what we've seen so far is nothing short of outrageous. Featuring photo-realistic visuals, unbelievably detailed war machines and tremendous weapons effects, clearly Chromehounds is where the 360 mech action is at. Combine that with immersive team-oriented gameplay that takes place in fully destructible environments and a pervasive online world to conquer, and it's quite possible we could see a return to the kind of fanatical devotion Live gamers displayed with Day One's Mechassault.
Chromehounds takes place in a world where three major countries are duking it out for control of the globe. The armaments of choice happen to be giant robots bristling with cannons, missiles and other assorted dangerous payload. This is where you come in, as you saddle up and get behind the controls to take on the single player campaign ? which puts you through your paces as a mech-jockey in training, which in-turn prepares you to take it online and battle with up to 12 players in both global campaign and free play modes. The global campaign pits you against other teams as you fight for specific countries while free play mode allows you to go hog-wild and play deathmatch, team deathmatch, CTF and other specific gametypes as well as their numerous variants. The single player campaign follows six different story arcs focusing on events specific to each of the six main types of mechs featured in the game. Sounds pretty good, eh? Yea, I think so too. A good buddy of mine who I frequent Xbox Live with once described battle mechs as ?giant robots with massive !*&^ing artillery!!? To be honest, I think that hits the nail right on the head.
Ok, so we have huge mechs loaded with monster firepower, fully destructible environments and some of the best graphics and effects yet seen, so now the question is ? exactly how do we proceed from here? I'm glad you asked, because I'm going to tell you?..we go to 360 Live and play a deep, involving war game with emphasis on the team aspect. Don't worry, Chromehounds promises to be fast, furious and filled with explosive action, however given that the battle arenas (which include open fields, forests, lakefronts and cities) can be up to 2 miles in size you'll need some strategy to successfully approach the enemy and counter with proper deployment. Each team will have six mechs and each unit will have a specific weapon layout that compliments the others. You'll have the choice of an Assault Unit, a Defender, Scout, Heavy Gunner, Sniper and Commander. Commanders have enhanced radar to get a better view of the battlefield and they'll be able to direct the other pilots to maneuver into strategic positions. As expected the Assault and Gunner mechs are best suited to offensive attacks while the Sniper obviously stays back and picks apart the other squad from a substantial distance. Finally the Scout and Defender are the first - as well as the last - line of defense, in that order. As 6vs6 battles begin, Commanders can send out their Scout to report on the enemy's position, backed by the Assault mech. When the recon radios back, he can then situate his Sniper and other units to best counter the enemy. Sweet!!! Once the fight is underway, you'll be able to blow away communications arrays, buildings, vehicles and pretty much anything else that finds its way into your crosshairs. That of course includes enemy units, which can be blasted apart realistically with perfect real-time location damage. In addition, you can cripple an enemy with leg damage which will make them slow, disoriented and vulnerable to a finishing blow.
The control scheme appears to be coming together nicely. At this juncture sources indicate them as smooth, responsive and intuitive. Visually, Chromehounds is astounding. Meticulous detail in both the environments and machines is par for the course here and every last facet of each mech is perfectly rendered down to the smallest element. Missiles launch from bays with the best smoke and fire effects I've ever seen and everything about the entire world is immersive and real. Buildings crumble convincingly, the sound of a concussion blast is spot on and the physics displayed when a sniper lands a massive shell dead-center on some hapless foe have to be seen to be believed. Truly, the next generation has arrived with titles like Chromehounds hitting the shelves. Hardcore mech fans will be happy to hear that they'll be able to customize their machines using over 300 different parts, as well as select their own colors and emblems. Go team?