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Chromehounds

Menacingly detailed walking tanks. Picturesque, sprawling battlefields. Seamless network play. Chromehounds is clearly an Xbox 360 game. Rather than the glitzy, anime-soaked presentation you might expect from a Japanese mech game, Chromehounds is set to offer something much more gritty and realistic. The game's combatants, the so-called "hounds" of the title, are brutal-looking, hulking hunks of metal.

In contrast, the world is naturalistic. The battlefields we've stomped through so far include a beautiful valley with a river snaking through it and a winter wonderland of destructible, snow-capped pine trees. With the 360's graphical power brought to bear, these places are realistic enough to offer a sharp contrast with the menacing metal of the hounds themselves. They're also massive enough to make teamwork essential; you're never going to be able to take on the enemy without scouting and cooperation.

Chromehounds' Xbox Live gameplay is built around this, in fact. The developers want to see gamers form tight-knit teams of war buddies. If you get too far out of range, your radio communication will break down. Each player will belong to one of three nations; as the battle burns, territory will be gained and lost. While you sleep, gamers across the world will still be carving up this fictional globe, so it's up to you to do your bit every time you log back in.

Chromehounds is shaping up to be a slow-paced, thoughtful title about battle tactics and competing in huge areas of territory with customized mechs. You'll be able to build a machine that suits your taste before you commit to battle, giving you just one more reason to care. If everything comes together, in fact, this could be one of the early sleeper hits for Xbox Live on the 360.

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