E3 06: Chromehounds Hands-on

We got a chance to strap ourselves into these massive machines for a little 5-against-5 mech-blasting action, and discovered a new world of adrenaline-fueled delight. After just a few minutes of this communication-heavy team combat, we were hooked. Chromehounds broadsided us with its attention to every detail.

One of the first things that became apparent was the importance of the roles of each of our team members. Each Hound (the giant human-piloted robots) had a very specific job, and the members of your team had to adhere to their orders and play their individual parts to achieve victory. Chief among these was the Tactical Commander, whose Hound bristled with antennae and radar arrays for communicating orders to the rest of the squad. While the Tac Commander relayed the positions of enemies and the locations of objectives, the rest of the team (comprised of Snipers, Defenders, Heavy Gunners and Soldiers) focused on arraying themselves on the battlefield for maximum destructive capacity.

We rocked a Heavy Gunner, outfitted with a titanic amount of firepower - colossal guns so huge that each report from their mighty barrels would knock our aim off due to the immense recoil they produced. Our enemies were quick, so we had to lead them and gauge the trajectory of each shot carefully to make sure it found its mark. Nothing compared to the rush produced by our rockets arcing across a snow-dusted field to slam into a Hound hundreds of yards away, sending flames and smoke shooting out of them.

While jump jets were noticeably absent and most of the Hounds seemed to plod across the landscape at a molasses pace, the battles were all the more intensified by the deliberate and tactical feel. Still, in even the best situations, once the missiles started flying and the screeching crunch of steel-on-steel rang through the air, even the tightest team found themselves scrambling to score kills... but in a good way.

The whole episode reminded us of naval ship battles, where cautious positioning and precise shot placement were the keys to success. You could charge in with your weapons barking, but without your squad mates to back you up, you were already doomed to become a smoking hunk of fused metal. From our brief time with Chromehounds, we could tell that fans of mech combat games are about to be treated to a brilliant realization of all-out robot warfare. This is one of those games where a tiny taste only whets your appetite for more, and we can't wait until June to get back in the cockpit. In the meanwhile, check out some video of these mechanical monstrositieshere!

May 11, 2006