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PC Review - 'Chrome'

by ToAstA on Nov. 17, 2003 @ 3:05 a.m. PST

Genre : Action
Publisher : Strategy First
Developer : Techland
Release Date : October 28, 2003


Techland’s Chrome puts you in the role of Logan, a mercenary with a past he wants to forget and a rocky future ahead of him. In fact, the story to Chrome starts off in the first mission of the game. Certain events happen that dictate where Logan’s quest brings him in the coming years of the game’s story. Not too long after the game has started, Logan picks up a partner by the name of Carrie. Skip ahead a few years and you’ll see Logan and Carrie in their own ship flying from planet to planet fulfilling mercenary contracts for profit.

Chrome doesn’t have a bad story it’s just really boring at times and somewhat clich├ęd. The size of each level differs, but for the most part the levels have multiple objectives stretched throughout a massive space. This could be a great thing if the pace and game play weren’t so mundane. I often found myself wandering around looking for enemies to fight, objectives to complete and the like, all the while feeling really bored. If you aren’t playing in the hardest difficulty mode, you will be aided with a large radar screen on the bottom of your HUD. It emits a beep every second or so which will grind on your nerves after a bit. It shows exactly where your enemies are standing, and made the game somewhat less challenging.

Another feature is Chrome’s inventory system. At the start of the game you can learn about it by going through a non-mandatory tutorial. The system in pretty straight forward and is basically drag and drop once you search a body or open a storage container. The only problems I ever had with the drag and drop system is when I run out of ammo and need to drag my empty gun out of the screen and drag a new one into it. Then, I have to drag ammo to reload the new gun, and then health kits to heal myself from getting shot while dragging the new gun into the inventory screen. The inventory screen does add a bit of strategy when choosing which guns to use, keeping room for grenades or health packs and items like binoculars.

Logan also has implants at his disposal, which can be used for various things. The concept of using implants to aid in combat isn’t new by any means and it is also not very useful in Chrome. Sometimes I’d find myself loading up the Dermal Armor implant or the speed boost, but more often than not I didn’t even bother turning any of them on while plowing through the game. The best time to use implants is during some of the game’s boss fights. These occur during the end of some missions when the bad guy you need to take out appears and begins firing away. A life meter will show up on the left side of your screen to show your progress in damaging him. The boss fights aren’t much of a challenge and the implants seemed to make them even easier.

Chrome also sports hit or miss AI. I often noticed that if I sniped an enemy from afar, the guy standing next to him would not even react in the slightest. Also groups of enemies display no tactics other than shooting at you and ducking every so often. If you throw a grenade at an enemy chances are he’ll usually try to run but never make it before it explodes. Also, for some reason, the game has extremely over exaggerated rag doll effects. Shooting an enemy in the leg will sometimes result in the enemy flipping up and backwards in the air, landing and then shaking around on the ground for a few seconds. It looks funny, but I don’t think that’s what they intended to have happen.

Mission types vary from escorting, destroying and sneaking around stealth-style. Before and after you’ll view an in game cut scene explaining the upcoming mission and advancing the story afterwards. These tend to be long, drawn out and boring for the most part in trying to help build up the point of the mission, because, in the end it always boils down to some sort of firefight much like every FPS game does. Techland tried to differ from the latest batch with the inclusion of vehicles in Chrome. Some of which are a lot of fun to drive, while others are a pain in the ass. They all share the same clunky feeling of being stiff. The controls for them are the same as walking, except that the mouse is used to look 360 degrees around while the forward key propels the vehicle in one direction. Certain missions do have some awesome vehicle sequences where you are not the driver. The vehicles themselves range from land speeders, hovercrafts and the standard dune buggy vehicle complete with machine gun turret.

The best thing Chrome has going for it is the engine’s graphics, mainly the outdoor environments, which feature rolling terrain, excellent lighting and amazing reflections in the water. The greatest thing is the way the game’s forests look. Hundreds of trees that sway about will please your eyes as well as the awesome-looking grass and bushes that move with the wind in a totally realistic fashion. Beams of sunlight will also peak through trees all the while looking realistic and helping to build great atmosphere. Character models looks great too, minus the funky faces all characters seem to have. The animation is also somewhat lacking, and in turn everyone looks stiff while running. Model skins look great especially the guys in heavy armor complete with helmets.

Chrome’s sound is also a mixed bag, only because nothing really shines through. The ambient sounds of the outdoors work well enough, but you’ll start hearing the same bird chirping or monkey hooting as you wander through the massive terrain. The biggest downside to the game’s sound has to be the voice acting, which isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t very good. Lines are delivered in a monotone fashion and some of the dialogue is hilarious at times. Though, I suppose it’s still better than Resident Evil was in its day. It works well enough to further the story and I guess that’s all that matters in the end.

Multiplayer in Chrome is executed fairly well. The game’s seven vehicles will be at the player’s disposal as well as the game’s many implants and weapons. Game modes include the standard death match, team death match and capture the flag as well as domination and team domination. Other modes included in Chrome are last man standing, last team standing, assault and frontline. Sadly, I didn’t get much time in on Chrome’s multiplayer modes besides the usual capture the flag romps. The multiplayer system allows up to 32 players and has the same slow-paced feeling as the single player portion does. This seems to work better against actual humans as opposed to shoddy AI.

Overall, Chrome has its good points and its bad. I did find myself having a good time towards the later half of the game, but the game does lack ‘oomph’ and therefore tends to drag. The action is also missing in spots that it should be abundant. This game is average at best and I’d suggest playing it only if you’ve gone through the most recent batch of FPS games already.

Score : 6.9/10

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