In 2003 Chrome hit the gaming scene and really made waves in a lot of other countries, the English-speaking ones kind of ignored it and concentrated on other things for their FPS fix. But regardless Chrome hung on in there and wouldn't go away; those people that played it found it was an engaging game with a pretty solid story and some good graphics. That was two years ago however.
Chrome: Specforce is more of a prequel than a sequel, comes in at a budget price and offers more of the same shooting action as the first game.
We're back in Bolt Logan's boots and Mr. Logan is still part of the armed forces, plying his trade and shooting holes in people. The universe is a dangerous place and the Corporations rule everything with the power of their private armies and wads of cash, behind them.
Logan and his squad buddy Pointer are sent to destroy the labs of a rival Corp, and surprise there's a complication. The base ship is destroyed and they're left stranded on the planet of Estrella, soon to link up with freedom/resistance fighters battling LorGen.
Nothing has changed from the first game and C: SF pads along with the same gameplay mechanics from Chrome which were fairly solid. Run, shoot and drive various vehicles around the levels which are massive just like the first game. Employ a similar array of weapons and shoot holes in the bad guys.
C: SF retains the enhancements from the first game, cutting down on the number and the cool-factor quite a lot. Gone are the excellently designed eye-scope plus features and its replaced with a layer of adaptive armour, camo-field armour and a nod to 'bullet time' which we've seen in a load of other games. Its about time that developers really sorted out the cool tech and went a different route, nano-tech and enhancements are a throw-back from Deus Ex and Cyberpunk now.
The hacking mechanic (match the symbol-pairs) has been retained for doors and computers, which was a fun but sometimes frustrating little mini-game from the first instalment.
It's not too hard to see why C: SF went from an add-on to a budget release though; nothing much has truly changed or added. The Inventory system remains the same as previous and introduces some thought to your FPS arsenal, since it works in the same way as say: Sacred where you have a limited amount of space and must choose your weapons carefully.
Chrome featured large environments and before the likes of Far Cry would have been something special, sadly it was too little too late and the two-year old engine hasn't changed at all, while the rest of the PC game world has advanced by leaps and bounds.
What you do have with C: SF is a serviceable and robust engine, delivering good quality visuals and reasonable eye candy. The large scale environments are there and the frame rate keeps a good consistency throughout.
It has good texturing and everything has a reasonable level of detail to it. In the realms of models and interior/exterior locations C: SF looks decent enough and keeps to the quality of its predecessor.
The missions link from one to the other and it feels far more cohesive in that respect that the first game, having missions taking place on the planet lends a sense of continuing story and struggle to C: SF that was absent from the first, since the game leapt from place to place and left the player wondering what really was going on.
It has functional level design, vehicle sections and large scale battles against overwhelming enemy odds. C: SF is a core shooter in that respect.
It hasn't changed from the first game and the animation in C: SF remain functional, reasonable and provide a solid counterpart to the engine's graphics. The word I would use is: decent. There's nothing groundbreaking since the game's engine really hasn't advanced since the first instalment.
The AI has been tweaked for the enemy but not for your squad mates, often your squad mates seem to react in a predictable manner, not bothering to go for cover and becoming inherent 'bullet' magnets. On the upside they will shoot the enemy and are often much better at that than the player, usually taking down an enemy soldier before you have a chance to pinpoint them.
The enemy AI uses cover, team tactics and often reacts better than your squad mates. They can sometimes get an attack of 'the stupid' and try to hide behind a small tuft of grass, perhaps thinking that this innocent greenery makes them appear as ecologically minded and you'll leave them to fill you full of holes.
C: SF retains the same sound engine as the previous game so what you're getting is a good solid selection of weapon sounds, screams and footfalls combined with the ambient effects in the level and the decent enough music.
Passable, no A-list material here and it is a budget game, some decent performances and nothing that really grates on the nerves.
C: SF features the same MP game types as the first game, boasting improved MP aspects and more vehicles this time around. After playing it and having some fun I can conclude that what you get is worth the price, evidently there's some life in the MP game which has Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and a Capture/Hold variant listed amongst the game types on offer.
ChromED: the level editor (which will appeal to the modding/mapping crowd and extend the life of the game) comes with C: SF. It is a remarkably powerful tool and allows the user to create the same quality maps/environments as in the SP game to share and challenge their friends.
Linearity: my main gripe with FPS as a whole, Chrome allowed you to take a non-linear approach to the levels/missions and do them in a way that suited you. Whereas in this game you're pretty much thrown down a path and forced to follow it with little or no deviation.
In the days of Half Life 2 and Far Cry with their incredibly detailed environments and in regards to the latter, the non-linear approach to the missions this kind of gameplay sadly bores me to tears now. I like to be able to approach things from different styles/tactics and hate just run&gun shooters. So C: SF falls into the blast and run camps and might offer a moment or two of adrenaline soaked amusement for some, leaves me wanting so much more from the still decent game engine.
So to summarise, it is a decent game, budget release and will please a lot of the shooter crowd for a brief while. But if you're anything like me, you'll trundle back to Far Cry where you can enjoy a massive Island and some jungle-based hunting experience without being thrown down a contrived pathway.