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A mediocre single-player game with some pretty good, but buggy, multiplayer. It had so much potential to be truly great.

6.0

Fair
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
100 or More Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Almost, but not quite"

Summary

Chaser is an enigma in the world of FPS games because virtually nobody bought it, and yet it has some of the best old-school multiplayer gameplay in any FPS game (if you can get it working properly). Unfortunately what could have been an outstanding game has turned into a flawed and almost broken multiplayer gem. It's not the best game ever, but if you can get enough people to get a sizable LAN game going and you are able to avoid some of the lag and bugs, then you're probably going to have a good time.

Chaser's gameplay is like your typical old-school shooter, and surprisingly almost all of the weapons are a blast to use (especially in multiplayer). They are all very conventional (sniper rifles, grenade launchers, pistols, machine guns, grenades etc), but they are all modeled very well and sound great. There are no power-ups really (except in single-player, but even that power-up isn't all that useful), but you have your usual medkits and body armors scattered about the levels. To be honest, the weapons are basically the reason you're even going to be able to get through the single-player as they are all very satisfying to use and the campaign itself is VERY long and not THAT great story-wise or atmosphere-wise (no really memorable events). The sniper rifle with "night-vision" (honestly I'm not sure what it's supposed to emulate) is especially fun to use in a LAN match. The most important part about the weapons is that they are all very balanced (except, maybe, for the grenade launcher) and somehow the no-recoil scheme works well in keeping the action engaging and easier to handle for newcomers. The campaign itself is very long and definitely boring and tedious at various spots with some bugs and glitches appearing every so often. There is nothing new at all with the gameplay as it is just like every other FPS game before it. It is pretty challenging, and although it is reasonably fun the first time through, I highly doubt that you will ever want to beat it again - the multiplayer is where the game shines and is where the 6.0 is mainly coming from. The only downside to the multiplayer is that it can pretty laggy (even if you are hosting a LAN game - wtf?), and also there are VERY few maps to play on (like 8 total). However, these maps happen to be VERY well-made and don't really get too tiring. They aren't quite like CTF_Face from Unreal Tournament, but they will definitely entertain you if you give them a chance.

Graphically the game is pretty decent, although the lighting is noticably mediocre. Some singleplayer levels repeat a LOT and this gets pretty annoying, but overall you shouldn't dislike the environments greatly. The multiplayer levels are easily the best examples of how good the artists for this game can get as most of the levels are very well-designed and just look good in general. Some of the them are on par with solid old-school Quake II or even UT levels. The menu screen is actually noticably well-designed and stands out for some odd reason (normally you wouldn't think it'd be that interesting). It's a variety of blue colors with 3D figures in the background and it just looks very professional and cool. On the whole, though, the graphical presentation is pretty mediocre-to-good, but nothing is really "bad" per se.

The story itself is pretty average and really isn't all that great. The ending is definitely a letdown. Needless to say it's very forgettable and it isn't going to be the reason really that you want to finish the single-player (the average A.I. and the fun weapons are). You start off in a space station and head down to the planet after that, with various trips to alien planets following this. I don't want to spoil any of the story because there is very little to spoil in the first place, but let's just say that you aren't going to be "wow"ed by it ever.

The soundtrack is actually pretty good for an unknown game. The menu music sounds particularly inspired and unique and is just a cool little ambient tune in its' own right. The rest of the music is fairly catchy and, although nothing REALLY stands out, it suits the atmosphere pretty decently. The sound of each weapon firing is especially well done, as are all of the jumping and reloading effects. You can tell that they loved old-school deathmatch games and really knew how to make weapons that were a blast to use (though still not quite UT quality). Overall it's a little uneven but, like the graphics, mediocre-to-good (with the menu music being kind of great).

All in all Chaser had the potential to be a great shooter, and its' main life blood is its' multiplayer (when you can get it to work right). If you can get enough people to get like a 16 player deathmatch or team deathmatch game going (or objective match), you will probably have a lot of fun. It's not as great as Counter-Strike or Unreal Tournament, but it's good enough to play with friends if you want something fresh to play for a while. The game is unfortunately pretty buggy and laggy enough of the time, and this, coupled with its' average singleplayer and its' lack of enough multiplayer maps, is why it gets a 6.0 (the fact that the game is actually laggy even if you are making your own LAN server is pretty bad. When it all works, though, it's very fun stuff). I'd recommend giving it a try if you can get a sizable LAN party together as you are going to have a hell of a time finding ANYBODY online to play with.




from Chaser (2003) many developers could learn the true meaning of a full-length PC game

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Old-school"

Summary

It's a 6-year old game now, and comparing it to the present-day games Chaser in some parts has not aged gracefully ... but it's still playable. For play on XP SP2+ or Vista, you need to install a patch that is available at the publisher's site (important: install the patch/fix before installing the game, otherwise the game install will fail).

In short, this is an old school first person shooter, featuring massive levels and many of them ... gameplay can literally last for many days (and not just a few hours as is with today's games). Amazingly, you can still find a few people playing Chaser's multiplayer. The gameplay is pretty much a constant action and shooting and there are amazing number of weapons in the game (funny, it's a sci-fi game but played with the present-day weapons). Mechanics are a mixed bag, from a decent movement to very lousy jumps.

Video/graphics are somewhat below the average considering today's standards, but they are still playable and support widescreens up to 1680x1050. Sound is good with a rather solid background (electronica) soundtrack.

Overall, Cauldron (the developer) did a very good job on this game. Unfortunately, Chaser is probably their best game. Since then we haven't seen much in terms of quality from Cauldron which now develops very mediocre games for the budget line of Activision publisher. Overall score: 7.7/10 (considering the game's age).




Fun and a challenge until you get to the next to impossible scenes.

7.0

Great
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Mixed reactions"

Summary

OK, I am addicted to First Person Shooters. Ever since Duke Nukem 3D that's about all I have loaded at any given time. I like the outdated examples because I often did not have hardware to run the latest. I came upon CHASER for PC (Windows), circa 2003, while searching my favorite vintage S/W source, Amazon. It came from a used S/W dealer without a box. First off, it will not install as-is on any platform past Windows XP SP-1. Gamespot and the JOWOOD sites have an installer patch. I am running it on Windows 7. It seems to only install on C: but after it's running the installed folder can be moved to other partitions.
There are many cut-scene movies, some quite long, but the story is quite sophisticated. Chaser, the protagonist, has amnesia and intermittent flashbacks. Chaser has a "bullet-time" ability that runs on adrenaline but takes about 15 minutes to recharge. The game is a somewhat linear but there are sometimes forks in the road. The action is basically run, gun and look for ammo, health packs and armor. The firefights can become extremely difficult. There are no real "bosses" but some overwhelmingly difficult mini-missions. I finally finished Chaser but the ending is a real downer. Our hero is triple-crossed and all his "friends" are either out to get him or dead. In the end he goes over to the dark side.





Below average generic shooter

6.0

Fair
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Uninspired"

Summary

Chaser is actually a very long and horrible cut-scene that occasionally interrupted for some very boring and generic game play. That's it. There is really nothing more to say. But OK, I will elaborate a bit. Graphics are awful. For any time, for now, for the time of release and for 5 years before that. Story is bad, a B-movie. Shooting is boring, enemies are boring, environments are ... guess what... boring. And those cut-scenes, who else came up with an idea to make whole levels as cut-scenes?! And they are awful, in any aspect. Sounds are bad, they feel like detached from the game. In general, Chaser reminds on Soldier of fortune 1, but without any fun. And on Far Cry, but with lousy graphics. And a bit on Kingpin, but without swearing. There is absolutely nothing in Chaser that would be interesting. At the same time there is nothing that is really bad, except cut-scene movies. All is very generic and very boring. Like dozens of below average shooters out there. And very repetitive after a while. The only thing that amused me, were soldiers in the very start of the game, they wore red uniforms and looked exactly like Crusader (in no remorse / no regret). But that's about it.




A fun Singleplayer romp filled with an intriguing story along with decent gunplay makes for a surprisingly good shooter.

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Easy
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Old-school"

Summary

When I found Chaser I really wasn't expecting a whole lot from it really. In fact, I was only getting it for some LAN parties at my school. So I checked out the multiplayer and became rather interested in what the rest of this game had to offer. I noticed the guns and several locales were quite present-day like for what I assumed to be a futuristic Sci-Fi game (It's actually more of a Cyberpunk story). However, I found the guns entertaining to use, and I found the maps (With how few there were unfortunately) to be well designed, even when comparing it to the games around at the time of this review (End of 2011, so think Rage, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare III, Saints Row the Third; Okay, the last one was a bad comparison). So, having nothing other to do that night and finding only two empty dedicated internet servers, I decided to throw on my headphones, crank the volume, and jump into the single-player campaign. Surprisingly, I wasn't all that let down by it. The intriguing story and fast gun-play (Filled with pleasureful blood) made for what, surprisingly, a rather good shooter, even for now.

Gameplay wise, Chaser can be compared to old-school classics like Doom or Quake, while maintaining the feel of Half-Life with its modern weapons and Cyberpunk/Sci-Fi story (Minus Aliens invading from another dimension though). Players go through different levels ranging from different environments such as hotels, spaceships, and sewers. Players will usually be given some sort of starting weapon (Or in the case of level one, no weapon at all, like Half-Life again), and then proceed to find there way through the level, gunning down enemy soldiers and city thugs, picking up weapons, health, and ammo along the way. For all of you guys playing games like Black Ops, Modern Warfare II, or one of many modern day shooters, you may all be used to things like regenerating health. Chaser, being from 2003, doesn't have such a mechanic, which is actually quite refreshing. Armor can also be obtained to protect yourself from enemy fire. Again, it's a lot like Doom in a sense.

Audio now, the game hits and misses. Music and sound effects are great, and add a great deal of immersion. Bullet ricochets, screaming bad guys, shattering glass; it all adds to an immersive game experience. The music goes with the onscreen action, and guns sound powerful and convincing. Ambient noises are plentiful too, adding a sense of depth to different levels. But now as said, the audio at times misses, badly, mostly in part to the games clunky dialogue and rather bad voice acting. Now, not everyone sounds bad, such as Chaser's friend (Mind you, the game's name is there for the main character's name). But then again, even each individual VA is hit and miss. Chaser's bud has a habit of saying 'Chico' a lot. He also looks Hispanic. But the VA doesn't sound Hispanic, and doesn't put much effort into a good accent. Yet, whenever he doesn't say Chico, he sounds just fine. Chaser's VA though is downright awful. Not bad awful awful, but not good awful either. His lines seem misplaced as well sometimes, and his voice really kills the moment in some scenes. His VA is laughably bad.

Now, graphically, for the time, the game I'm sure looked rather good. When it comes to today, well, they're not so great. First person guns though do look very good, model wise and textures, and in fact, textures look great all around, even today. First Person animations also look nice. But animations for the characters, when not in a cut-scene, look rather bad and a bit stiff. Cut-Scenes seem to be rendered in game, and don't look bad that much, except when it comes to faces. The absolute worst part about the game's models are the facial animations. Emotions aren't portrayed, making it hard to get into a scene, even when the dialogue is interesting and makes compelling story material. In fact, Chaser's VA and his face animation really goof up any scene those things are in. Really sucks. Now, the game does have some other good moments in the graphics department. While shaders seem to be overused, they still look nice, and are pleasing to see with the eye. Lighting also isn't half bad, and particle effects are great. On the second level, just watch the sky and its magnificent skyscrapers, and watch the burning debris come down, set aflame by an explosion in the first level. It looks very nice.

Now for the story, I don't want to say too much other than it's a bit of Cyberpunk story and is interesting enough to go through the whole game. Levels are crafted around the story, and overall all look very nice. However, some of the larger levels can get really repetitive in their layout, but once you get through them, the breath of a new environment in the next level will keep you going.

I haven't played around much with the MP aspect of the game yet, but that's because I haven't gotten around to hosting my lunch time LAN servers yet, and because there is virtually no one online anymore, probably all busy playing other games, like the new ones. Or f they are playing classics, they're probably going Skulltag or Quake. However, note that there are two dedicated Deathmatch servers still running. Also note that there are also Team DM, CTF, and some sort of Counter Strike modes as well. I suggest Chaser if you have the time and money, and if you are looking for a new game to play. You can find Chaser cheap on GOG if you want it. Remember those servers though. I would love to find someone to play against.
8.0

Superb
6.6
GameStop, Inc.
GameStop, Inc.