Chrome (video game)
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|Release date(s)||October 28, 2003|
Chrome is a first-person shooter video game by Techland, released in 2003 by the publisher Strategy First. A prequel, Chrome: SpecForce, was released in 2005. In March 2006, Techland announced a sequel, which will feature the latest version of the Chrome Engine but was reported to be "on hold" soon after.
The game takes place in the distant future and the player assumes the role of bounty hunter Bolt Logan. On the first assignment in the game he is betrayed by his partner and gets ambushed. He survives and while trying to escape the complex he meets a woman named Carrie. He does not know her motivations but as they are both trying to escape the guards they decide to work together. After successfully leaving the planet she becomes his new partner who will support him via radio on all future assignments. As the game progresses the two discover a great conspiracy involving the discovery of the most valuable resource known to mankind: "chrome". They make contact with several factions and on the final mission it is up to the player to decide which faction Logan will stick with.
As Chrome is a first-person shooter most of the gameplay involves traversing 3D environments by foot and fighting human enemies with an array of ranged weapons. Occasionally the player has to solve simple puzzles and find keys that allow to enter new areas. What made Chrome stand out upon its release was that a large part of the game's action takes place in vast open areas, providing some tactical freedom to the player. The player is also able to utilize six different kinds of vehicles that allow for fast movement and provide protection as well as heavy weaponry in some cases. Another feature that was not common at the time was the ability to slightly zoom in with every kind of weapon.
Despite being a rather classical linear FPS game the developers included several features atypical for this kind of game, some of which were inspired by System Shock 2 and Deus Ex that utilize more RPG mechanics. There is a wide array of items that the player can pick up, this not only includes weapons, ammo and health packs but also food or even CD players which have no practical purpose (but can be used to play short music loops). Inventory space is limited and the items are being managed on an inventory screen similar to those seen in System Shock 2 and Deus Ex. The player sometimes has to rearrange items and has to decide which weapons to take with him. Before all missions, aside from the first one, the player has the ability to customize his weapons loadout.
Another feature inspired by Deus Ex is the ability to use implants. Over the course of the campaign Logan automatically receives implants which give him superhuman abilities such as increased accuracy, movement speed, jump height, zoom level or even reaction time which is simulated by introducing slow motion (generally known as Bullet Time among gamers). The use of these implants, however, causes a physical strain that may hurt Logan if they are not deactivated in time. This strain is symbolized by an additional energy bar which automatically refills over time but can also be replenished by using special items. All implants can be managed separately but it is also possible to create four groups of implants that will be activated or deactivated at once. For example the player is able to create one group consisting of increased accuracy and a higher zoom level which could be utilized for long-distance combat and another one consisting of slow motion and increased movement speed for close combat. At first the efficiency of the implants is rather low and the strain very high but over the course of the campaign Logan gets used to them which results in him being able to use them for longer and gain higher bonuses.
The game utilizes an engine that was specifically developed for this project. It is the first version of the Chrome Engine and would be used in all of Techland's major future releases and also licensed to several third-party developers. The engine is notable for being able to handle vast open areas as well as detailed interiors. It also allowed the implementation of simple vehicle physics as well as a ragdoll effect for dead characters.
The game's scripting engine is written entirely in Java. The Java source code is freely available and can be extracted from the code pack shipped with the game.
The game was later repackaged as Advanced Battlegrounds: The Future of Combat. Some changes were made, mostly fixing instability issues.
Chrome is known as the first action game developed in Poland to get a major international release and receive some critical acclaim beyond the country's borders. On Metacritic it holds a score of 69 which indicates "mixed or average reviews" and on GameRankings it holds an almost identical rating of 69.43%.
Many reviewers[who?] praised the game for the high quality of its visuals and the vast open areas most of the action takes place in. One reviewer[who?] even stated that the production value is comparable to that of Valve Corporation's or id Software's products. Some reviewers[who?] also noted that the game featured a good plot.
Many reviewers[who?], however, criticized the game for being average or generic in many aspects. They cited bad AI, "uninspired weapons", and claimed that many design decisions obstructed a tactical approach by the player.
Chrome: SpecForce is a strike force unit of the Federal Expeditionary Corps (FEC). They are tasked with maintaining the Federation's stability and keeping order. They are used for missions such as high-profile assassination, espionage, infiltration, and sabotage of enemy territory. The protagonist of the game is Logan, a member of SpecForce. The main goal of the game is to fight a terrorist faction on a planet called Estrella. Logan is later stuck in the midst of a large conflict after his mission escalates to galactic proportions. SpecForce's members are given the latest equipment, such as Power Armor. The game has elements of strategy, large maps, and multiplayer.