Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog

Chaser (PC, Slovakia, 2003): Infinite Meh
August 17, 2010, 12:54 am
Filed under: Chaser (PC, 2003, Slovakia), Slovakia)

“Chaser” is a (better-known-than-most) eastern European game that feels like it will never end. I’m a tortoise in the gaming department (and here I am playing this game a mere 7 years after its release—yikes), but I logged in at least 30 hours finishing this opus. Unlike some of the other bottom-shelf, infinitely-long, non-domestic titles I’ve played however, the massive duration of this shooter didn’t excite me too much. Given the time period when it was produced, the graphics generally don’t look as dated as I thought they might (most of the static interiors, lighting effects, textures, colors are fine). But the character models and animations have not aged well at all (I mean, at all).

You play as (gasp!) Chaser, an amnesiac tracking a shadowy man named Scott Stone–from an exploding space station to New York slums and the Russian Tundra on near-future-Earth and back to a prison and hi-tech rebel base on Mars–just to regain his memory (fractured pieces of which are revealed as the story, and his journey, progresses). Further surprise, the narrative becomes so convoluted and double-crossey with so many sketchily drawn characters it’s difficult to know or care who is who and why the action is taking place. SPOILER: The game ends on a negative note–you, as Chaser, are told by your nemesis that you actually ARE Scott Stone (no!), the same man you’ve been chasing after all this time. You are then tricked into killing a rebel colleague who has been assisting you, and then you too are shot and dragged off screen, with nothing but a quizzical look plastered on your face (which looks dumb—I already said the character models were poor). The ending stinks of an impending sequel, but here we are 7 years after the game released. I don’t think Chaser 2 is in the offing. No big loss, I guess. SPOILER END.

The many environments–from the aforementioned space station, to Earth slums, to Russia’s tundra, to  hazy-red prison hallways on Mars—are varied, but like I said, it’s all a bit too mundane. It’s not weird or scary or alien enough. It’s too near-future and not enough far-future, I guess. This is just a matter of taste. All the weapons are conventional–nothing neato or lazer beamy or whatever. It’s more like a tactical espionage shooter than it is a sci-fi thing. My reaction to it is the same as I had playing “Rainbow 6: Vegas” a few years back in cooperative mode: I played it because it was cooperative, but shooting terrorists hanging around slot machines or thugs in hotels or mercenaries in warehouses just ain’t my thang. Give me a big, gooey scary something in deep space to shoot, and I’m on board—even if it’s been done 4 million times before. I don’t care. But there’s just nothing like that in “Chaser.”

As a shooter from 2003, it was very well received, especially online multiplayer; but by today’s standards, the single player campaign just feels like a…standard linear shooter, and taken in the context of 7 years ago as of this writing, forgiveness is required. Other than a stealth mission or two, the sneak-n-stop-n-shoot gameplay gets repetitive and a bit dull, with little variety in enemies. Nice variety of weapons, though as mentioned nothing cool and futuristic (although as a reader of this blog, googoogjoob, points out, you do eventually procure some lazery-type weapons about halfway through; they didn’t make much of an impression on me though). The one letdown overall: Though it began explosively on a quickly-deteriorating space station (very strong intro gameplay for about an hour which had me all excited), most of the following locales are ho-hum, near-future Earth settings (read: dull), the Mars prison chapter notwithstanding (as googoogjoob also points out).

Final note: Although it is a straightforward FPS, it’s not necessarily an easy game to play. I am not ashamed to say I began the game on “normal” difficulty setting, but it was kicking my arse (“game over” every 4 minutes gets tiresome); 5 hours later, I dumbed it down to “easy” to regain some balance. So I don’t beat myself up too much, some of this difficulty curve comes from using a gamepad (360 controller with a wireless Windows receiver) to play a PC game meant to be navigated with the precision of a mouse. But I like slouching on my couch to play, not hunched over my laptop. Sue me.