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Oh dear. As you could probably work out from the score above, Chrome Specforce is not a brilliant game. This in itself is not a tragedy. The PC is hardly starved of brilliant FPS games, and one more on the reject pile won’t hurt. But in this case it actually makes me feel slightly sad. Maybe it’s because Techland is a small Eastern European developer, or because there are signs of real achievement in this game, but I can’t help thinking that Chrome Specforce could have been a decent game, if only a few points had been kept in mind.
You see, Techland has actually got a respectable engine here; no Doom 3, Far Cry or Source, I’ll grant you, but one that does outdoor scenery with a certain level of aplomb. It has used this to create a world of deep forest wetlands filled with sinister enemy bases, and then tried hard to make a futuristic military FPS with all the current mod cons: allied troops, big set-pieces, vehicles, etc. The only problem is that it just doesn’t quite work. I don’t want to be mean or cruel about this, so if you’re from Techland or any other developer of low-budget FPS games, consider this some friendly advice.
Point One: Play to your strengths, but for goodness sake do something about your weaknesses.
The Chrome engine has a real strong point; it does great forests, swamps, jungles and marshes. True, the vegetation doesn’t look too good up close, but in motion you really get a sense of pushing your way through murky water and dense foliage. The best parts of the game are where this meshes with the considered, tactical pace of the action, with your sci-fi, spec-ops hero creeping in on a group of corporate troopers, or encountering a sudden ambush from a slope above. However, either the Chrome engine doesn’t seem quite so adept when it comes to interior scenes, or the game’s artists simply can’t be bothered with them. Chrome Specforce has probably the worst rooms, halls and corridors I’ve seen in a PC FPS in years, and then repeats them from level to level. Sticking to the trees might have been a smart idea, but making the interiors look as good as the outdoors stuff would have been even better.
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