Chrome has been in our interest for a while now, however despite the somewhat impressive screenshots and promises, its hype never seemed to reach the FPS community as a whole. Being compared to other titles such as Rainbow Six, Deus Ex and Halo, atleast by the developers, one would imagine that either this title wasn't hyped enough, or the developers were trying to cover up a dark and disturbing secret. Chances are, you've already seen our Overall score stamped at the very top of this content section, and you're probably betting on the latter. If you did, congratulations, because unfortunately, Chrome fails to compare to any of these titles.
Chrome sets the scene early by introducing you and your "partner in crime" on their way to a job. Logan is the name of the character who you take control of and incase the quotation marks slipped by you, he is a bounty hunter, or atleast, a bounty hunter to be. Despite the fact Logan looks like he sucks on to many lemons, the voice will be familiar if you have happened to play a game from the Duke Nukem series, although honestly, I felt the use of Jon St. John, Nukem's voice actor, was a little eerie and unsettling.
After a brief introduction to the basic controls and features, the game pretty much spits you straight into the action, and even on the very easiest setting, you'll want to make sure you got the gist of every explained feature because every last bit of gained skill in this game helps. Soon enough, your first mission is over, and so is your career, because thanks to your so-called partner, the only thing on your mind is survival. Without trying to spoil any storyline events, it isn't long before you're back on track with a new purpose in life, and I must admit, the sudden plot twist was indeed unexpected.
Chrome's storyline is an entirely linear experience. Unlike some bounty hunter style games, which allow you to choose jobs for experience points or some sort of other stat increase, Chrome only allows you to complete missions introduced to you by the various cut scenes. This isn't all bad, as with 14 missions included, which I feel is a pretty good number, the predetermined missions vary reasonably well. However, this is no substitute for true linear gameplay, which is something the FPS of today's market really needs.
Naturally I'd say 14 missions was pretty low, however due to the relatively large maps, the amount of gameplay hours offered by Chrome is far more than what I would have expected. Since some of the missions required use of vehicle control, maps are generally very large and varied in terrain, ranging from tropical rainforest to futuristic space structures. If there is one strong point to the gameplay in Chrome, it is the map size and variation.
Similar to what is seen in Deus Ex, Chrome features an implant system, which offers Nano-tech style upgrades to Logan, ranging from speed and accuracy, to longer vision and better aim with plenty more in between. However these are not to be used permanently, you are given a expendable and rechargeable bar which determines how long you can use implants. The more implants that are enabled at any given time, the quicker the bar depletes. Should you spend the entire bar, instead of just disabling your implants, the game will start to deduct your health points in an attempt to suggest the implants are "overloading your system", which is fair enough, however earning implants should really give your more of a permanent advantage in my opinion, perhaps there should have been a limit to how many you could use at a time rather than how long you could use them for.
Unfortunately Chrome doesn't give you many options concerning combat tactics - it is clear after a few minutes of gameplay that stealth is a waste of time. Enemies seem to have the ability to locate you by your distance, not by your visibility. I tried creeping up in lush, thick forest, but alas, everyone suddenly turned to my direction and filled me with lead in the matter of seconds. On top of this, it is hard to use your environment to your advantage during combat. While hiding behind a box or rock will protect you from fire, as soon as you pop your head out, and I mean to the nearest 0.1 of a second, they are already firing at you. Even if you hide behind a massive structure and move all the way across to the other side without anyone seeing you, the enemies will know where you are as soon as you become visible. There is simply no flexibility in the combat environments to allow for anything but plain old running and shooting, which becomes very tedious very quick. In today's FPS, this is unacceptable.
What this problem stems from is the A.I. While some areas seem to be reasonably sharp, such as the actual face to face combat, which is quite challenging, other areas are anything but sharp. For example, firing at one enemy will attract every single one of his mates in nearby proximity, and with their uncanny ability to aim, even on the easier difficulty levels, fighting back is a very tough process. On top of this, when firing, the enemies don't tend to move much, even when obvious cover is nearby.
However some won't consider this A.I. quirk a huge disaster, if you're after some very challenging FPS gameplay then Chrome will certainly provide that, however it's just that the challenge provided is a result of somewhat rushed and dodgy A.I. on top of limited combat tactics. In other words, you won't be challenged because the game is too smart, you will be challenged because the game is too unrealistic.
Early screenshots would suggest that Chrome's graphical engine was DX9 based and of 'never seen before' grade quality. While the graphics are decent, they are certainly not the next best thing since Unreal Tournament 2004, infact they came of a tad dated in some aspects. For example, the character models are pretty lackluster, and the animations to which they move are not exactly impressive either. However, I'll give credit where credit is due, and the environments are very impressive indeed. Most textures are high quality, and with such variation in the landscapes and environments, it is often more fun to sit back and explore rather than jumping around shooting anything that moves. Overall, while some visual aspects are less than desirable and unpolished, the graphics are reasonably impressive and probably up to scratch with today's expectations and standards.
Chrome controls like most FPS titles, with the usual 'WASD' movement system along with the usual mouse functions. Like Deus Ex, items such as weapons, ammo and health packs are stored in your inventory, which is limited in space, represented by a dialogue with the moveable objects inside. Like Deus Ex again, you can organise your items to try and fit more in, however basically, you can control one primary weapon, 2 secondary weapons, and assorted ammo and health packs. These are easy to access, use and get rid of should you need some space - just drag and drop.
One gripe I have with the control system is the weapon selecting. Should you make room for two primary or two secondary weapons, instead of pressing individual number keys to bring up the appropriate weapon, all primary weapons are stored, by default, under the number '3'. What this does is force you to select weapons in a slower scroll type of manner, rather than having direct access to each weapon disregarding its class type. On top of this, by default, the mouse wheel does not cycle through the weapons, which is a very underrated feature during intense combat. Put together, these two problems create a rather troublesome weapon select process, which could have been easily avoided. With this aside, the control system is relatively simple and effective, just not as much as it could have been.
Chrome does an ok job really, though certainly not good enough to compete with the vast array of previously successful FPS'rs out there. While it has the basic fundamental aspects that are needed for a quality shooter, it fails to excel in any specific area - the graphics don't seem to be as impressive as what early screenshots portrayed, the enemy A.I. is all over the place, and the only tactic that even slightly seems successful in Chrome is 'shoot and run' style combat, forget any effective means of stealth or use of your surroundings. When it comes down to it, you'll have a better time playing Deus Ex, even if you have already finished it 10 times, and if you don't want to redo the Deus Ex experience, go get Halo. Whatever the case, Chrome is really only for the hardcore FPS fans who simply must 'collect them all'. It isn't all bad though, atleast it's still better than Daikatana.
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