Chromehounds is the latest project from Sega and FROM Software, makers of the fan-favorite Armored Core series, and will come to Xbox 360 next Spring. Remaining true to their roots, FROM has focused on big, highly customizable mechs and lots of destruction. With a reputation for satisfying the sci-fi gearheads among us, Chromehounds takes a somewhat unique spin on the genre, not terribly unlike their oddball Japan-only Xbox title, Metal Wolf, in which you play the president of the US as he takes on the entire US army to save the nation from a coup d'etat led by the evil VP.
Chromehounds takes place on an alternate history time line that splits from reality during the 1980s cold war hysteria. Three adjacent nations vie for control of the land around them, and each is backed by a one of three factions: the Republic of Morskoj, Democratic Republic of Tarakia, Kingdom of Sal Kar. You play a Hound pilot who must out-maneuver and out-gun his enemies using the most advanced hardware and weaponry around. For whom do you fight? So far FROM is leading us to believe that you can fight for any of the three nations, which should provide some good variety in gameplay and narrative.
Different Hounds serve different purposes, generally the typical roles of battle-centric games: scout, sniper, heavy gunner, etc. Choosing the correct hardware for the battle will be an essential part of surviving all 40 missions in the single-player mode. Online play will support up to 12 players in squad-based battles that play out on over 100 different battlefields. That's a lot of variety and should help make the online aspect of Chromehounds a worthy addition to Xbox Live.
Sega is committed to making Chromehounds the premiere mech league on Xbox Live, and will maintain their own community website in addition to the Xbox Live leaderboards and rankings. FROM is toying with the idea of offering Hound parts downloads for a small fee via Xbox Live Marketplace, and some other Xbox Live features may be in the making as well.
So far Chromehounds is looking real purty. The game supports all of the quality features we expect in next-gen titles, including HDR rendering, motion blur, depth-of-field, and a great physics model. Destructible environments add to the chaos of the fast-paced battles.
As the success of MechAssault on the Xbox proved, Xbox gamers love to take their robots online. MechAssault has been without a real challenger, but if anyone can bring the big metal mayhem to Microsoft's baby, it's FROM Software. Keep an eye out for Chromehounds to hit the Xbox 360 in the Spring of 2006.