I have to admit that I am a big fan of mech shooters. Mech games have always been a niche genre but include popular titles like the Armored Core and Mech Warrior series. Mech shooters often consist of two main parts: A garage where you build your mech piece by piece, and battles where you take these customized, walking tanks and see if your engineering and piloting skills are good enough to crush other customized, walking tanks. Chromehounds, developed by From Software (makers of Dark Souls and the recently released Bloodborne) and published by Sega was probably the closest to bring mech shooters out of their niche and into the mainstream.
Chromehounds was not a perfect game by any measure. Plagued with a short single player campaign that felt like several tutorial levels, slower paced gameplay than most shooters of its time, and mediocre graphics, the game had average review scores across the board.
The single player story didn’t have much story to it but at least introduced to the five main Role Types (RT’s). The major issue was this was that essentially the campaign only taught you how to play the game, with a mech you could barely customize, and then drug this out to seven levels for each RT. That translated to roughly 35 levels of “go here and do this”.
However, if you were one of the lucky ones who got to play before Sega shut servers for the game down, you knew how great Chromehounds could really be. All the fun of the game was truly wrapped up in multiplayer where gamers chose one of three countries to join in order to wage virtual war against one another. Day by day, factions captured territories or lost them. The war was only over until one nation had seized all territories or 2 months had passed. After that, players could change countries (each one having its own unique experimental parts to try out) and the war started all over again. RT’s were thrown out the window in order to design a mech you felt like you could pilot the best and battles were decided by maneuvering and well aimed, but overwhelming firepower. Sega shut down servers on August 7, 2009 effectively killing Chromehounds.
Other games, such as M.A.V. on Steam have attempted to carry the torch forward but nothing like Chromehounds has truly existed in a long time. The Armored Core series is starting the go the same way, after its last few installments have disappointed long time fans of that series and warded off any newcomers by virtue of just being bad games. I hope for a day when mech shooters come back to their former glory. Sadly, I do not see that day coming. Still, Chromehounds was fun while it lasted. I wish I could recommend trying this game out but since the servers are dead, so too is the most fun part of this game.
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