It can definitely be said that First Person Shooters are leading the way in terms of graphics and playability. Chaser is the latest in a long line of FPS games which promise action packed gameplay, excellent graphics and a storyline to boot.
According to the story, you play John Chaser, who wakes up on board the spaceship H.M.S. Majestic. He doesn't know who he is, what he's doing here, why he is being sought by men in black uniforms, and what they'll do to him when they find him!
The players goal is to find out who Chaser really is and why he is being hunted. The story leads the player from the H.M.S. Majestic to Montack City on Earth, then on to Siberia and finally to Mars, where the trail ends and hopefully the truth can be found.
Chaser is built on Cauldron's own in-house, state of the art 3D engine CloakNT and it does look nice. The in-game graphics were very good, the textures are nice and crisp and look just as good close up as they do from afar and while it is not going to set any new standards in graphical quality it does stand right up there with the other hi-end 3D engines.
The CloakNT engine supports curved surfaces, projected shadows, reflection mapping, dynamic lighting and particle effects to name but a few of the effects it allows. All of these options can of course be turned off in the menus, however I found that the speed of the game wasn't affected too much when they were all turned on.
In terms of gameplay it does need some improvements. I felt that the controls needed tweaking slightly and especially jumping didn't feel right. I think it was the fact you either jumped too quickly or could not jump far enough. Also ladders are handled slightly differently than with other games and I did seem to fall off them more times than I reckon I should have. I guess these improvements will be done in a later build and besides these minor gripes everything played well.
The levels were nicely done and it was never too hard to find out where I needed to go. I did noticed a few clipping problems with the levels but overall they looked good and were well designed. The in-game Physics system allows you to break objects and move realistically. I did spend a few minutes testing this out on a few planks of wood and indeed wherever I hit them with my knife they broke. According to Cauldron there is also a glass system so that glass breaks realistically but unfortunately I could not find any anywhere to test this on.
Chaser features 23 real-life weapons with some futuristic elements added in. Although on the levels I played I only managed to get 4 guns, they did look as nice as everything else and sounded as realistic as you could expect.
The in-game sounds were appropriate for the levels I played on and the music was not at all intrusive to the gameplay. The sounds however were very limited and besides my gunfire, the splash of water and the enemies shouting the same lines again and again there was not too much to judge on.
Moving on to the enemies, I only ever encountered 2 types, however the AI was very good with the enemies ducking behind barrels and around corners, popping up every now and again to take some pot shots. The major gripe I had with the enemies is that they seemed to come from nowhere and were terribly accurate, offering me little or no chance to return fire. There was also hardly any way for me to judge which direction I was getting shot at. After getting shot the HUD did change to let me know I was getting hit but offered very little in the way of letting me know where it was coming from.
So, after playing it what do I think? Well the game did play well, the graphics are very good and the AI a bit too tough. However I reckon that if they keep on track, fix the odd bug or two I noticed, Chaser does look like it could do very well indeed.