Chromehounds: Multiplayer hands-on

Participating in a mech-blasting multiplayer match in Chromehounds is an exercise in awe management. This game's flawless lighting and amazing combustion effects really make it hard to focus on your goals, because you may find yourself spending a little too much time gawking at the hot graphics. Once you've gotten over the "oh my god, look at all the shells coming out of my machine guns" phase, you're ready to settle into a profoundly tactical trial by steel and flame.

While the temptation to have your heavily armed Hound jump right into combat with guns blazing is ever-present, without a well-rounded squad, you are headed for the scrap heap. Chromehounds relies on a battle system that requires each squad to have a Tactics Commander that can use superior radar and communication skills to paint targets for the rest of the squad. This means that for each member of the squad besides the Tactics Commander, the battlefield is a hopeless muddle of "is that Hound one of ours?" The Tactics Commander is the only member of the team that can differentiate between friend and foe, so keeping them alive is job one, and job two is making sure the TC keeps the intel coming as to who needs to be shot and who needs to be protected.

Keeping things straight in the heat of combat is incredibly tough, but with a good Tactics Commander, even a ragtag bunch of Hound pilots can achieve resounding victory. Still, it'd be nice to be able to discern comrade from competitor, but the inability to do so presents an interesting dynamic.