Ah, Huxley. You've come a long way, baby. Under Webzen's grand display from an E3 three years past, people played the much touted massive multiplayer FPS and experienced a bland, by-the-numbers shooter with a Gears of War style and light RPG elements. It was not something I had been looking forward to seeing this year. Little did I know how much it had grown.
My favorite online shooter of all time is the original Unreal Tournament Though most of the sequels expanded on the original, adding vehicles and more modes, they lost something in transition. The speed, the feel, the excitement - it was all just a little off. Classic Unreal Tournament is the core of the new Huxley: The Dystopia, right down to the deep-voiced announcer and a frantic pace that's way too fast for consoles. Controls are rock solid, letting you double-jump and score a mid-air headshot with ease before racing off to another portion of the level. Maps are also UT-like, with many exposed walkways and other access routes that force the player to keep moving because there's no such thing as a good hiding place.
Choose your side, load up your futuristic weaponry, and kick some serious ass.
Where Huxley: The Dystopia changes things up in the best way possible, it owes its inspiration to possibly the most underrated online shooter of all time, Shadowrun. In that as in Huxley, you can purchase and equip up to four powers, such as invisibility and teleportation, to have a strategy beyond running around like a headless chicken armed with a plasma rifle. I was getting destroyed when I attempted to play Huxley like a straight up UT clone, but once I started finding all the uses for my powers . . . well, I still got wrecked since everyone used their own abilities, but I had a lot more fun.
You can also purchase weapons and various armor components. Huxley: The Dystopia operates under the free-to-play system, meaning that you can spend real world money on this equipment if you want, or you can just play the game, and earn in-game money that can be used to outfit your shooter without spending a dime. Areas are "limited" to dozens of combatants, but the world outside battle will feature thousands of players in true MMO fashion. For in the future, the moon is shattered by nuclearite clouds, and the fragments alter humanity to create a war between Sapiens and Alternatives, with the Hybrids caught in the middle. Choose your side, load up your futuristic weaponry, and kick some serious ass.
But it's not all bang-bang. Besides gaining skills and better weapons, players can earn licenses to drive vehicles and even command their own squads through deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture-the-flag game modes, while advanced battle zones will offer such challenges as parts pick-up and radar domination. The Unreal 3 engine has been used to great effect, so no matter where you go and what you do, it'll always look gorgeous.
Get ready to join the struggle in late 2009.
Watch gameplay footage from Huxley: The Dystopia (Windows Media, 1024 x 768, 84.5 MB).