Developer: WebZen H-Studio
Release Date: Q3 2006
It seems like almost every month a new MMO-something is being announced for next generation consoles or PC, so it’s a clear trend that is not likely to stop anytime soon. One of the first titles to be released that fits this bill is the massively multiplayer online first-person shooter, Huxley. Being developed and published by WEBZEN, Huxley is one of but only a few MMOFPS titles out there, and while the FPS genre has not translated to the MMO arena very well in the past, WEBZEN hopes to change all of this. We recently got a chance to check out an early build of the game for ourselves, and what we saw looked very promising.
All good online games need to have a strong story behind them to give the players a sense of something greater. Huxley is no different and thankfully provides a nice base upon which the rest of the game is built. Huxley takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have mutated into two opposing races, Sapiens and Alternatives. They are currently battling over a new energy source, Lunarites, but in the process, they are also battling for the continuance of each race. Whichever race gains control over Lunarites will gain total control over the world and its resources, leaving the other race to go the way of the dodo bird.
The game itself takes place in a massive world that is always changing and evolving. Right now, there are two massive cities that allow players of the two races to communicate and socialize with each other in a camp-like area before going into battle. Once in battle, Huxley will feature both player-vs.-player and player-vs.-non-player character fights that have the high intensity of other online FPS, but they will also feature RPG elements that will provide for a rich gaming experience. That is one of the key areas that WEBZEN wanted to address. Instead of just doing a FPS on a larger scale, they wanted to combine the fast-paced action of an online FPS with the interactions of an RPG. This mixture of gameplay genres makes for a very satisfying and deep experience. Everything a player does in Huxley not only has an effect on himself (or herself), but also on his/her group, the race, and the world itself. The interactions of the players are linked to the survival of their entire race.
One area this is seen is in the characters themselves, which continuously grow and evolve throughout the course of the game. When you first start, you will have basic skills and weapons, but as you play on, your character’s knowledge will increase, which allows you to gain new skills and weapons, like the ability to drive vehicles. This, in turn, will challenge the player to adopt different gameplay styles to fully master each new skill and weapon in order to be as efficient as possible. The characters in Huxley are fully customizable and can be designed to the gamer’s liking; you can buy new weapons, vehicles, and even a house.
The combat itself is a step beyond what you typically see in an FPS title. The gameplay is focused around strategy and cooperation with other teammates to ensure victory, and you will constantly have to adapt to new forms of combat to protect your camp from the enemy. This being a "massively" multiplayer game, you can expect to see hundreds of characters on screen at a single time, fighting it out in large-scale battles. As mentioned earlier, you won't just be fighting with other human players but also against non-player characters, too. The game’s NPCs have some incredible AI and live their own lives in this world. When you are in battle with other players, large numbers of NPCs will also join in and attack both sides. This adds another whole level of depth to the gameplay and can give a player’s team an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how it's played. Huxley will also feature a number of quests that are updated continually to keep the story fresh and new every time you play.
Graphically, Huxley looks stunning, but that's no surprise, as it's using the Unreal Engine 3. The cities are finely detailed and feature some great-looking buildings. HDR lighting is being used and is simply beautiful, but it also helps to give Huxley a very realistic look. The characters look equally impressive and already sport some nice animations. The engine is capable of having upwards of a few hundred models on the screen at a time, and each server can handle thousands of players. WEBZEN has really done a great job on creating a realistic looking, fully functional, believable world.
Overall, I was very impressed by what I saw. Huxley is shaping up to be a real contender in the MMO market next year when it's released. If WEBZEN can get the balance just right and take care of the many technical issues that hamper other MMO games, then Huxley will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. So far, we have just seen the PC version of this game but WEBZEN has confirmed that Huxley is also planned for the Xbox 360, although they were unable to tell us if both versions of the game were going to launch at the same time, or if one would be released ahead of the other. Right now, Huxley is set for a release some time in 2006 for the PC. We will definitely be keeping our eyes on this one.
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