Everyone who took 2 months of abscense from work to be able to play all the announced top games this fall was really fucked for the trouble: Half-Life 2 leaked, Doom 3 unfinished and Far Cry needs optimisation for the newest technologies. What should have been a great season became a season where the released first person shooters had a free reign. One of them is Chrome, from the Polish developers Techland. Let’s see whether this title can make up for all the good we’re missing…
Chrome is situated in a far away galaxy in the 22nd century. Humanity has discovered the use of colonisation and developed loads of new technologies to survive in outer space. The red line through the story is the commodity “chrome” which apparantly is very valuable in the 22nd century although you never find out why.
You play as Bolt Logan, one of the best freelance bounty hunters of his time. The story starts on Helios, a beautiful green/blue planet that could easily take on competition with our own earth. You and your “best friend” pointer are on a normal mission but what starts out as a routine job quickly moves to become a nightmare for Logan. Pointer lures you into a trap and flees with the catch of the day.
After this you meet Carrie and together with her you manage to escape. Once safe, you decide to leave each other alone and go separate ways.
Strangely enough, the next cut-scene (one year later) you’re in the company of this very same lady. Together you’ve started a little company that accepts and carries out missions for various people. Logan does the hard work while Carrie helps you out by letting you know the changes in the planning. The first missions are mostly search and return of goods but soon the root cause of all problems leads to a certain company lead by a guy we all know: Pointer ! Time for some sweet revenge !
From the first mission it becomes clear why the recommended system requirements are absurdly high. The sun shines nicely through the trees, the grass wiggles and the water streams realistically in the rivers. Graphics nothing but praise for this title which immediately makes you think of Halo. Same goes for the sound: birds sing and you don’t only see the water, but you can also hear it clatter. This game promises more and more to become a real knockout…
But, and a very big “but”, not all is as it seems and that shows clearly again in Chrome. A good example is found in the first mission which I personally found to be the most irritating of the whole game; at a certain point Pointer orders you to get rid of a sniper located a couple of hundred meters away from you. While strafing and jumping you run towards him but still this sniper manages to hit you two out of three times. Once you’ve found cover behind some rocks you can start sneaking up to him from behind but by then your health bar is already alarmingly in the red. If you aren’t too careful with your life forces at that time things won’t turn out to be fine, I can assure you.
If you’ve finally made it to the complex where you need to be a second lesson of keyboard throwing awaits you. A door opens, an enemy appears and *blamblamblam* you shoot a full clip on the guy and he just keeps shooting back. Second clip, taking a bit more cover behind a pile of boxes and supplying the enemy from some more refreshment. Still the same ! My bullets just seemed to ricochet on some invisible door! At least, that’s what I figured from the metallic sound. After moving myself a bit closer the problem was solved but by that time I could use my last medkit while I still had a completely building to clear. Luckily you’ll find enough patches to bring your health back to a normal level (especially on the easier difficulty levels), but still…
What you’ll also immediately notice is the outright ridiculous animation of an opponents that’s hit. Another thing in your disadvantage is when you, crawling with pistol and silencer in the hand, quietly add some air conditioning to the brains of a guard to see this guy fly 2 to 3 meters like he’s just hit by a grenade… when another enemy is nearby this guy will immediately be notified by the flying corpse so you can say bye bye to your stealth.
Later in the game you’ll get more and better implants built in which you can start using. You can get more armor, better aiming or even more total slow-motion. You do have to take your nerve system into account because after about ten seconds of use these implants will start to affect you with the known consequences as result. Measuring the use of the implants carefully is necessary and can be called renewing or boring, depending on your point of view.
The missions are reasonably varied; from fast escapes with some sort of flying bike to big infiltration assignments where you’re not allowed to be spotted. With these stealth missions you’ll get some cloaking utilities at your disposal that will make you invisible for a couple of minutes which is quite handy. On “easy” difficulty everything goes pretty fluent but you’ll get a rough time as of “normal” and certainly on the higher levels.
The game lets you choose out of about 14 weapons, going from 8mm hunting rifles and pistols (with or without silencer) to rocket launchers and even a real electro-magnitec “beamer”. You can also experience the possibilities of 7 vehicles but only a couple of those you can drive by yourself.
The AI has sometimes strange actions while on the other hand it can make some really nice tricks. Often an enemy won’t notice a shot down companion only 2 steps away from him which of course gives you the possibility to give the local grave digger some extra work. The enemy isn’t stupid however, and will surprise you (un)pleasantly a couple of times. Most of them try to take cover and call for backup so it’s the idea to kill an unsuspecting guard with one shot before a whole army is surrounding you.
Multiplayer time ! If you find a decent server, that is… I myself found 10 servers of which only 2 had a ping of less than 100. If you then take a look at the amount of players there were never more than three at the same time playing. Pretty sad, seeing the multiplayer maps vary from small, action-packed close combat maps to huge and enormous worlds where you can also start having fun with vehicles. There’s in total 6 different multiplayer modes like Assault (one team attacks, another defends), CTF and domination (like conquest in BF1942) with the necessary variation.
All in all Chrome has become a decent FPS although some more time could have been used for the storyline. The graphics are definitely nice and you can see it on the system requirements. The game offers a couple of unforgettable missions, like a ride on the back of a buggy through the center of an enemy camp while you are arming the machine gun on the back, but can’t keep you occupied as hard as was hoped. For the stealth fans this is certainly an interesting game, if you like it a little more rough, you better let this one pass.