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Video game review: Chromehounds

There's no place like Chrome

One surefire way to capture a gamer's attention is to use mech, or giant robots, the combat of which has long been a staple of many a video game. However, as of late, there has been one subset of mech fighting that has been startlingly absent in the gaming world, one that many players have been craving for --- the more methodically paced simulation, like the MechWarrior games of yore. Chromehounds seeks to fill that void, providing a more realistic style of mech fighting.

No instant gratification run-and-gun here: the titular Hounds, the mechs you'll be piloting, are slow, heavy, and control more like old-fashioned tanks than the speedy running and blasting mechs featured in other robot games. That alone narrows the game's appeal somewhat. But aside from that, Chromehounds brings some other interesting elements to the table. Single-player gameplay is deliberately shallow and short, because it serves as training for the chief focus of Chromehounds, its multiplayer options.

Players are treated to a persistent world in multiplayer, where they choose one of three nations to join, form squads, buy parts to build their own mechs, and then wage war on behalf of their country. Battles are tracked over a two-month period to determine which nation is coming out on top, sort of like an MMORPG. However, thanks to the deep levels of customization when building mechs, the learning curve is steep, and the interface isn't exactly the most streamlined, meaning players can spend more time building their mechs and preparing for the battle than actually fighting.

Chromehounds is a niche title, but for those who make up the fighting-robot niche it targets, the experience can be highly satisfying. Chromehounds is an Xbox 360 exclusive, and is rated T for Teen.

--- Phillip Miner