General Chaos is a real time squad based strategy game in which the player switches between different classes on the fly. Before each battle the player must select from pre-assembled squads with different combination of grenadiers, flamethrowers, machine gunners etc... Character movement and action is controlled using a cursor to point and click on new locations or enemy combatants. The exception to this is when the player selects a two person squad which can be controlled in freely in real time with the D-pad.
Each character only has one fire mode, but each also handles differently. There were also Medics available to revive downed allies, however the use is limited. Additionally, units like the Launcher can kill characters outright, with no chance for revival. Other options included side objectives on a few of the maps. These usually involve either destroying or defending a rail car or helicopter, and yielding a small bonus if successful.
General Chaos features a two player co-op mode where each player can control two of the commando classes versus five computer controlled AI players and a four player mode with the multiplayer adapter. Each skirmish takes place on a small battlefield region. Each regions connects together to make the world map - much like a game of RISK. Upon winning, the victorious side will capture the region of the world map and will be allowed to progress to the next tier of skirmishes. As new regions are unlocked the players advance towards the enemies capital city and after completing the final battle eventually sacks the capital, completing the game. After completion the game will reset the world map and the human players can choose to play through the game again on a harder difficulty.
The brief backstory, discovered mostly through the game manual, revolves around Generals Chaos and Havoc, two brothers raised in a military family. Growing up skirmishing against each other until they each became commanders of opposing forces. Generals Havoc and Chaos fought with large armies, causing vast destruction and casualties, but ended in a stalemate. They finally developed the idea of small teams of commando style units, and set out to end the conflict.
Close Quarters Combat
Occasionally, if two combatants run next to each other, they will be enveloped in a dust cloud and have some sort of scuffle. At times, this would lead to a "Close Quarters Combat" encounter. Each player has at their disposal: a high, medium, low punch and kick, as well as a block. Theoretically, each has a varying strategic use (e.g. a high attack does more damage but is easier to interrupt, while a low attack does less damage but comes in faster).
The computer AI at times simply forces a win by repeatedly throwing punches faster than the player can block. Also, the low punch is oddly a groin punch, which doesn't fit at all with the machismo of the game.
Rampant spamming of a single attack to win a close quarters combat match can sometimes result in the attacking player being shot by the opponent with a pistol after it appeared the victim was defeated.
Each side had one medic per round that could be called in to revive a downed player. Once selected, the cursor turns into a cross and can be placed on a downed character, the medic then runs in from offscreen and performs CPR. The downed character is then revived with lowered health.
While medics are invincible to fire, players can position themselves so as to kill a revived player as soon as they stand up.
Characters were able to take several hits before dying, however many explosive weapons would cause them to fall. Once players had reached their damage limit, they would lie on the ground for a time until they expired. Players could use a medic to revive them while downed.
Some weapons, such as the Launcher, can kill players instantly, turning into skeletons and crumbling to dust. The Flamethrower is also capable of doing this. The Blaster can easily trap enemies in such a way as they can not escape between detonations, however this is not an un-revivable, instant death.
In a time where class based game play was not popular, General Chaos employed a class system to give players more choices and more opportunities for planning out an effective attack.
The classes are listed below with strengths and weaknesses. Weapon range is given in the game's "Boot Camp" section.
Armed with an assault rifle, the gunner excels at doing medium damage at a good range. Effective up to 40 meters, the Gunner is essential for dealing damage and keeping the pressure on the opponent. The downside to the Gunner is that the rifle can be prone to jamming, leaving the Gunner vulnerable for a few seconds.
Using a rocket launcher, this unit is effectively the game's sniper, as his rockets can hit any target across the map as long as there are no obstacles that block the rocket. His weapon's range is at 150 meters and can permanently kill members of the opposing team . The Launcher's limitation is that he can only fire one rocket a time, thus reducing his effectiveness at close range, and can be harassed by more aggressive units like the Scorcher or Gunner.
With a handful of grenades, the Chucker can lob his grenades across the terrain and deal splash damage to a group of enemy soldiers. The Chucker's throw is limited to 50 meters, but his grenade tosses can be used to siege out units that are hiding behind cover. Like the Launcher, the Chucker can be taken down by more aggressive units and cannot throw more than one grenade at a time.
Armed with a flame tank on his back, the Scorcher's flamethrower and persistence can literally melt away an entire army. Although his weapon only has an effective range of 5 meters, Scorchers can flank the enemy and light units up and, if timed correctly, barbecue an opponent with no reprisals from the enemy. Scorcher's can also permanently kill enemies like the Launcher. However, opposing units can use Gunners to keep the Scorcher away or force the Scorcher to jump into water and render his flamethrower useless as he tries to clear the tank of water.
Despite having an unorthodox weapon, the Blaster can keep an enemy force suppressed with his TNT charges. While his throw is not as good as the Chucker's, he has more range than the Scorcher, as the TNT throw is effective up to 10 meters and has a greater splash damage effect than the Chucker's grenades. Like the Scorcher, the Blaster can keep units down indefinitely when the TNT is timed correctly. The Blaster's weakness is his range and can be eliminated with long range units.
General Chaos has several gameplay quirks, including the following:
- The Gunner's machine gun will occasionally jam during gameplay, signified by a cartoon bubble "Click Click." The character will then spend time fixing the gun, unable to fire. The game manual notes that players can give the Gunner time to unjam his gun by pausing the game, which stops the action but allows him to complete his animation.
- Similarly, the Chucker's grenades continue to fly when the game is paused (i.e. a player can throw a grenade, pause the game, and the targeted enemy isn't able to run away from the grenade, but the grenade completes its arc and damage the enemy). One Chucker can easy defeat the entire opposing side.
- When approaching the final battle, the General on the map-select screen announces "Victory is within our grasp!" however a spelling error causes it to read "Victory is within our gasp!"
Electronic Gaming Monthly's Mike Weigand (who gave the game a 7/10) seemed to have missed the strategy of the game when he wrote, "...This is the ultimate one-on-one fighting game! The graphic animations and battles are absolutely hilarious -- especially the fist-fights between two individuals!".