What Do You do when you've made an embarrassingly flawed and amateurish FPS that's been roundly scorned by the respectable media (ie, us) and dismissed by gamers as sub-Halo nonsense?
Conventional wisdom dictates that you should leave town, fake your own death and possibly get a job at Atari, but Chrome developer Techland has taken a more courageous approach. Ignoring cautions about the intractable nature of turds, the Polish outfit has set about a comprehensive salvage operation, taking all the good parts of the original game (and there were a few) and refashioning them into something a bit less shit.
The result is Chrome Specforce, a sci-fi FPS in the grand tradition of, erm, Chrome. Once again you play tough guy Bolt Logan, formerly a devil-may-care mercenary and bounty hunter, now mysteriously transformed into an elite Specforce operative in the Federation military. An unscrupulous corporation is using mafia connections to sell a new strengthenhancing drug, and it's up to you and your buddy Pointer to investigate.
Taken purely as a renovation project Chrome Specforce is a resounding success. Almost every part of the game is improved beyond measure, from the level design, gameplay and pacing right through to the script and voice-acting. The graphics too have been given a generous spit-wipe, though the fact that many of the game assets are hand-me-downs from Chrome - including buildings, vehicles and character models - does slightly take the shine off.
Specforce also plays to the strengths of the engine, keeping the action focused on the great outdoors and lovely dense foliage, while avoiding the endless bland interiors and rubbish desert missions of the first game. The vehicles too - useless and wasted in Chrome - are brought to the fore. Most of the missions now conclude with a vehicle sequence of some sort, be it a mech-walker shoot-out or a Jedi-inspired speeder chase. Some of the handling is still pretty poor, but at least it works.
Despite all this, some of the worst crimes of Chrome remain intact. The Al is still far from convincing, with enemies that stand immobile in the face of danger and shoot with unerring accuracy across great distances. The interiors too, though less extensive, are still rubbish and strewn with hundreds of storage units that you feel obliged to open just in case. Plus, the Deus Ex-style inventory remains clumsy, forcing you to constantly rearrange items and preventing you from carrying more than one or two good weapons at a time.
And On, And On...
There's also a strong feeling of monotony to Specforce, and it's something that begins in the graphics. Perhaps seeking to distinguish the game from its predecessor, Techland has imbued Specforce with a very brown, uniform look, draining the colour palette to shades of mud. This is not necessarily disastrous, but in combination with repetitive gunplay and bland Al it creates a dull, uninspiring tone that blights the whole experience.
Certainly, Specforce is the game Chrome should have been (and at the price it should have been too). If it had been like this two years ago we may actually have been interested.
Download Chrome Specforce
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP