As the new and improved version of Chrome, Advance Battlegrounds: The Future of Combat may be too little too late.

Chrome is already dated. It's over a year old and in this industry that can be a lifetime. That is, unless the game is destined to become a classic. Chrome wasn't - and isn't - and ain't gonna' be. The reason that Advance Battlegrounds exists is to salvage what's left of Chrome and repackage it under a new name. I like this new version but only because it's what Chrome should have been in the first place. Compared to shooters like Half Life 2, Advance Battlegrounds doesn't stand much of a chance of a second life in 2005.

In the future, large corporations rule the universe. An ex-corporate mercenary, Bolt Logan, has now taken on the position of guarding the miners that extract the most precious element in the universe, chrome. It's not made entirely clear why chrome is so valuable but as long as you go with the story you don't even have to know. Advance Battlegrounds is basically a shooter. Your main objective is to blow away the enemy by any means available. That will involve an assortment of guns such as pistols, rifles and machineguns.

Weapons, ammo and health kits can be scavenged off the fallen bodies of the enemy. There are plenty of these packages to pick up so you should seldom worry about getting killed. It's like having access to cheat codes throughout the game. This can make you more reckless but it also increases the pace of the game. You can't take this game too seriously anyway. The main character is an ass. There's not much to like about him in any regard, especially his name - Bolt Logan. That sounds like the name of a porn star action figure.

You can upgrade some of Logan's abilities throughout the game to make him a more powerful force but other than his skills, there's nothing that draws you into the character - or the story for that matter.

Vehicles such as a bike, four-wheeler and a two-legged walking tank offer you some diversion. Unfortunately the vehicles are loose and difficult to control. It's too easy to slam into a wall. There's no way these vehicles would be this hard to control in real life. What we need is a broader perspective of the environment and a speed which is to scale so we can actually see where it is we're going before we get there. There is an on-rails segment where someone else is in control of the vehicle and we just have to shoot at the enemy. It's a lot more fun when you don't have to do the driving.

Not only do you have virtually unlimited health and ammo, but the enemy doesn't really put up much of a fight. They don't take cover and they don't attempt to flank you. They will stand right where they are and shoot. Occasionally one or two of them will duck. Self-preservation doesn't appear to have been a mandate at the guards' safety seminars.

The weapons are effective and easy to aim. They do a lot of damage, often sending the guards flying through the air. The sound effects are somewhat anemic making the guns sound more like firecrackers than death-dealing ballistic machines. The voiceacting is tragic. The actors go through their lines like they haven't even had their morning coffee. They didn't just walk-through their performances, they sleepwalked through them.

There's little change in the graphics since last year. The backgrounds are great but the character models are a little on the rough side. They don't move well and their facial expressions leave a lot to be desired. They all look like they've had facelifts performed by a first-year med student - most probably a dentist. The gameplay mechanics have been smoothed over from Chrome although you can still expect some incredibly long load times and the occasional freeze-up. Online play hasn't gotten much more popular. If you want to play Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch, you'd better try another game. The servers here are about as empty as our Forums.

If you can get this title for less than twenty bucks you might get some value of out of it. It's fast, it's fun and it's totally disposable.

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System: PC
Dev: Techland
Pub: DreamCatcher
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - Multi-Online
Review by Dan