You DO NOT have to remove the cylinder head. pull the oil pan if the guides are broke up.Welcome to TN . The 22re is a little more in depth when replacing a timing chain. Be prepared for some disassembley when replacing it. You have to remove the cylinder head to replace it. If your mechanically inclined then go for it. Of all seriousness its not as bad as you first think. I though the same way when replacing the head gasket, but the process is very straight forward, just read over the manual before diving in.
I just replaced my timing chain and such today. I found the cam and crankshaft gears to be in fine shape despite being including in the replacement kit. My truck has 167,000 mi on it and the plastic guides were chewn to shreds and the chain had started to eat into the timing cover. The grooves were maybe only 2/16ths deep so I opted for not replacing the cover. My engine also had the ticking noise at start up coupled with a bit of a screech that would dissipate after a minute or two but the ticking would continue. I'll updated tomorrow after I finish the job to see if the ticking stops otherwise i might consider checking the valves (after thought I know). From what I understand the chains can go forever without ever breaking but if given the opportunity they will gladly eat through anything nearby so its worth doing it routinely every 150k if you ask me.