VG REVIEW: Chromehounds
"Chromehounds" Sega, for the Xbox 360
rated T for Teen, $59.99.
"Chromehounds" throws a good deal of exposition, political allusions and other extraneous detail at the player.
But what the game essentially is about is shooting the bad guys before they shoot at you.
I know, I've just described every video game since the age of the Atari 2600, but more than any recent game I can think of, "Chromehounds" throws a lot of unnecessary paint on what is a pretty simple formula.
"Chromehounds" is what as known as a "mecha" game from From Software, which is known for that particular niche. Mecha, for the uninitiated, is basically a genre that involves piloting enormous tanklike robots.
"Hounds" attempts to add a bit of reality to the proceedings by imagining an alternate Earth where the Cold War never quite ended and constant struggles in Eastern Europe led to the development of war machines known as "Hounds."
As a hired mercenary working for various warring factions in this region of the world, you spend most of the single-player aspect of the game learning the different roles that Hounds play on the battlefield (sniper, soldier, scout, etc.).
This part of the game is pleasant enough; controlling the Hounds isn't too difficult, although it can be hard at times to locate the enemy or figure out where you are on the map. And while the mechs themselves look impressive, the landscape is arid and sterile.
But the biggest problem with the single-player version is it's too basic, too uninvolving, too slowly paced to maintain interest.
As soon as I completed a level it quickly faded from my mind. And while the plot parallels certain current events, it's far too dryly told to raise so much as an eyebrow.
Clearly, it's the online component of "Chromehounds" that's designed to attract most gamers. Here, you can build your own Hound using parts acquired in single-player mode (and purchased online) and enlist in an ongoing virtual battle known as the Neroimus War.
Here you sign up with a squad and attempt to seize territory for whatever oddly named country you happen to represent.
Obviously, this is not a game for those with a limited attention span.
"Chromehounds" is a game that requires a good deal of time and patience. What you get out of it depends entirely upon what you put into it, as the saying goes.
If that sounds intriguing to you, and if you've got a strong Xbox Live connection, then "Chromehounds" might prove to be rewarding. If not, however, you're better off with something a little simpler and faster-paced -- say, chess.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006