Chromehounds: As Polite As War Gets

BY Ed Kirchgessner  //  March 6, 2008

Where are the polite and sane gamers on Xbox Live? Chromehounds.

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ike most mech combat titles, Chromehounds has its share of gameplay imbalances: some weapons are simply overpowered, and class restrictions are far too lax. Add to this equation a community which is obsessed with number-crunching and designing hounds which merely drive home those balance issues, and you complete a recipe for a very angry gamer. Or do you? I can't tell you how many times I've been flattened by a group running the same textbook hound design, only to be greeted by a number of "good game" messages upon entering the post-game lobby. Chromehounds' community may seem to value winning more than they value fun, but they're still one of the most amiable bunches I've happened upon on Xbox Live.




Scout hounds are built for speed.
Just this past weekend, I participated in a three-on-three match which was fairly balanced and where, miraculously, every player was utilizing a unique design. My team won on a "technicality" (one of our speedy scouts made it behind enemy lines to destroy their base), but post match there were no hard feelings and everything expressed by both sides was complimentary. Certainly a far cry from the average Halo 3 match which tends to end with a lot of cursing and the exchange of utterly nonsensical racial slurs. It's difficult to lay a finger on precisely what makes Chromehounds different, but I do have a few theories.




Look. He's hiding.
There's a certain sense of pride which many players (particular those who didn't copy their hound design from a database) take with them to Chromehounds' battlefields — most have spent hours in the game's menus fine-tuning their creations. Even if a design proves to be a colossal failure, most players will give a hound's auteur kudos for trying something new. I remember a match I had six months back in which a British duo gave me and my teammate an honest drubbing — their tactics were unorthodox and their hounds overly specialized, but they'd stumbled upon what was obviously a winning strategy. The string of voice messages one of these Englishmen and I exchanged following the match was unlike anything I'd experienced before while gaming online. We quickly moved past the usual niceties and began having an honest (and enlightening) conversation on strategy. It was clear that each of us walked away with some new insight, and we were both better players for it. Though our paths haven't crossed since (curse you, time zone differences), that player remains on my friends list to this day.

It's a certain breed of gamer that's willing to tinker in menu screens for hours on end before actually playing a game. Perhaps this fact does more to shape Chromehounds' community than any other. Hotheaded teenagers thrive on rocket matches and killtaculars; more levelheaded gamers apparently flock to spreadsheets and giant robot combat that moves at a snail's pace. Whatever the reason, I'd like to thank Chromehounds players the world over: you provide some welcome sanity amongst the otherwise insane interactions which seem to dominate Xbox Live.

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