(Written by: William Brown)
Back in 2006, early in the Xbox 360s lifespan, quite a few people may have found themselves wanting for new multiplayer mech games. One such developer, From Software ( of Demons Souls, Dark Souls fame), answered this call with flying colors. To many this game was the Mecca of Mechs, rife with customization options that were never before seen on a console and the ability to build your own Mech (hereby referred to as Hounds) from the ground up to suit your playstyle. This game was a multiplayer powerhouse for those with an itchy trigger finger and a love for all things mechanical.
Quite a few people may remember this game fondly, to others it was soon forgotten under the hype of the Call of Duty Franchise, or other big blockbuster. For me, this game is always on my mind when I remember the old days. From joke builds with my friends, such as storming the enemy in hot pink paint with flowers and Joy Launchers (Smoke Grenades), to taking things serious and rolling heavy snipers or scout builds with my buddys at my flanks, this game had something for every kind of player.
One of the key features to this game was the ability to build your hound, quite literally from the ground up, to suit your needs. Whether you wanted to run around on wheels, a hovercraft, or legs it was all up to you. YOU were the master of your build, if you wanted to put your cockpit sideways between two rocket launchers, nothing could stop you. Want to make a fast little wheeled hound with spikes on the front and stab your enemys to death? GO FOR IT. This game was all about what the player wanted to do, it didn't take away your ability to make the hound the way you wanted to. Rather than other mech games where, if you wanted to be fast you had to pick the scout mechs, or if you wanted to do alot of damage you had to pick an assault mech, in Chromehounds you could mix and match anything you wanted (even if it was just a bunch of cannons on a hovercraft, or just an unarmed scout).
The multiplayer battles in this game were on a GLOBAL scale, with international players rooting for their chosen nation out of three (Morsovakia, Sal Kar, Tarakia), and they would compete against eachother to ensure global domination of their particular faction. Each Nation had special gear they were known for, and players often hopped around to get the particular gear they wanted, but such was the life of a mercenary. Something else true to form was the plethora of options that had certain tendencys one would notice. Players from different nations would often build according to their own personalitys, but the culture would always shine through.
For instance, when I would be fighting Japanese players, I often noticed their mechs were fast, and sleek, focusing on agility and holding control of the battle via manuverability. While the American teams I played were almost always about heavy firepower, shoving the biggest gun on their hound as possible and relying on killing you before you killed them. European players were often a mix of the two, going for medium agility, but being able to take you out rather quickly and efficiently.
However, regardless of your nation or your chosen faction, you were nothing without good teamwork. The battles were fun. Large enough to be intense, but small enough where things didn't devolve into a giant spray of rockets and bullets at anything that moved. Taking place in open battlegrounds, you relied on teammates to have your back, and the capture of the control points (Combat Towers) to see more of the map and gain points that would lead you to victory. Victory could also be achieved by destroying the enemy team or their base, so you had to be equal parts offense and defence, and there were builds I have seen that would capitalize on a loss of both. Go charging in guns blazing? And someone might have a hound that runs around behind you and takes out your base while you are running in. Stick back in your base? Suddenly you find yourself getting pelted by long range artillary from a position you cannot see. You had to be carefully balanced, making tactical decisions with your team in real time. If you knew where the enemy was, you had the advantage, and could close in with your friends or perhaps fall back because you know he is heading around behind you. This brought in teamwork that I have not seen in a game since.
In 2010, Sega, and From Software made the decision to shut down the servers for Chromehounds, effectively killing the game. It will forever live on in my heart, and I can only hope that one day it returns. So much so that I have already came up with how it could be done.
From Software, and Sega, could make a free to play sequal. Now before you go turning up your noses, it would not be pay to win or anything close to it. Think of it like the trading card games that are out there online. You are given parts to have some initial customization, and make your initial hounds to play with and earn in-game credits that you use to buy individual parts. They could make their REAL money by selling “booster packs” of parts, where you pay money for a pack of parts. (These would include cockpits, engines, guns, chassis, paints, armor. Basicly anything that you can screw/bolt/weld on to your mech) The gameplay would not have to change, teamwork would not have to change, the way you buy parts would not have to change. But you could spend real money to unlock more parts, faster. The Parts in the crate would definitely be available in the shop as well, but you would have to purchase them each individually. With the parts crates, you would get a bunch of parts for a certain price -maybe the more expensive the crate, the higher chance that the part you get is more expensive- and perhaps you could buy part crates for individual factions, like Sal Kar parts crate that gives you a random Sal Kar only items.
Rest in Peace Chromehounds, may we see a sequal to you that becomes as beloved and as memorable as you once were.
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