Chromehounds (2006) by From Software

I know that you have been reading all of these posts about my favorite games diligently over the last few weeks.  And you may have noticed that multiplayer games feature prominently throughout my list.  I believe that video games are often at their best when you are able to play with other people.  A few of my friends and I had Chromehounds and we each liked it for different reasons.  I really enjoyed the persistent online war, my friend really liked the mech battles, and another buddy really enjoyed the customization.  This game had a lot of moving parts and they came together in a wonderfully complicated package.

We must also address that the creator of Chromehounds is the same company that would go on to create Dark Souls.  From Software has a history of making this wonderful cult classic hits that really excel at providing unique gameplay experiences.  Looking at the wealth of their creation catalogue it is eye opening to see how many different styles of games they have created over the years.  Honestly, the success of the Dark Souls series has hindered the overall creativity of the studio because the studio was previously pumped out incredibly unique games constantly.  They may not have been as successful or refined as the Souls series but they were unique and weird; two things that I look for most when getting exciting about a game.

Chromehounds was one of the last games that I added to my favorite game list.  I remember playing the game when it came out and I remember enjoying playing it with friends.  I even went back a few months ago and tried to play a round or two online only to find out that the servers have been shut down for a few years so that the game is basically unplayable today.  It wasn’t until I looked at my achievement list that I realized how much I enjoyed this game.  The achievements in this game were very grindy and very difficult to obtain.  Think about Final Fantasy XI‘s achievements that encouraged you to reach level 50 with every character class.  Chromehounds achievements included tasks like deploying 50 times with each different kind of chassis, treads, and/or weapon system.  I remember thinking that I would never get any of those achievements when the first game launched.  However, when I looked back at my gaming history and took stock of all the achievements that I had earned over the years, Chromehounds surprised me.  I actually had a good number of the achievements and I was probably close to unlocking quite a few more.

I did not play the game for the achievements.  I played because the game was fun and the achievements came second.  There are not very many options for gamers to play as large mechanized robots on a war torn battlefield.  For the record I also enjoyed MechAssault for the original Xbox and I have always dreamed of owning Steel Battalion.  But Chromehounds provided a great online experience.  When you first enter the online menu you are tasked with choosing a faction.  Each one represents some real world geographic area, but your choice might as well be about which color is your favorite. After choosing an allegiance you fight battles to gain territory.  The game was very unique in that it would take the data from every online battle over the course of a few hours and then update the map accordingly.  In every instance of the map you could only fight battles on maps that bordered the enemy territory.  Thus every day the borders of your territory would shift based on the success and failures of the faction.  The ability to contribute to something greater than myself was intoxicating and kept me playing for months.

I remember one specific instance that my faction was losing quite badly.  The only map that we could play on was the capital city.  Deploying in this regal area that I had never seen before had a great impact on me.  I really felt like I was fighting for my life.  If your faction loses everything then you could act as a freelancer for one of the other factions.  The whole system was actually fairly similar to the system in For Honor today.  I wish that I could still log into Chromehounds and just check out my mechs and see how the persistent world is doing.  Actually I would just take another open world mech battle simulator too!

Tomorrow we begin to discuss some of my favorite Wii games, starting with Wii Sports.

Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks

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