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PS3/X360/PC Preview - 'Urban Mysteries'

by Thomas Wilde on May 11, 2007 @ 6:10 a.m. PDT

Urban Mysteries is an epic title incorporating an intense mix of action, adventure and strategy from new developer Zeitguyz, powered by the Unreal Engine 3.

Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Developer: Zeitguyz
Publisher: TBA
Release Date: 2008

Whatever Urban Mysteries winds up as, I'll always remember it for one thing: the guy with the flamethrower.

One of the stages is set in 1807, as armed rebellion shakes the core of the city you're in. Men with muskets and bayonets are killing each other all around you. Everything is chaos, confusion, and occasionally cannon fire.

Then a guy with a flamethrower comes to punch your ticket.

This is because Urban Mysteries is a game about time travel. In its system, one cannot travel through time with equipment, but they can learn how to make certain things once they get there, and this guy made sure to learn how to make napalm.

Urban Mysteries is an atmospheric, highly story-based shooter from Zeitguyz, a developer that's spun off from IO Interactive, which gave us the Hitman series. In fact, the lead writer on Hitman, Morten Iverson, has contributed the script for Urban Mysteries.

It's set in 2052 AD, in a European city that, to summarize Zeitguyz's summary, is Not Copenhagen Really; it is no specific city, but its design is influenced by several different places.

At some point in the increasingly fluid past, an organization that calls itself Gloria Mundi discovered the secret of time travel. At first, they used it to change mankind's technological progression, preventing harmful ideas from gaining prominence and generally trying to work for the common good. Absolute power proceeded to corrupt absolutely, though, and now they're ruling a dystopia.

Your character is given the opportunity to change history and overthrow Gloria Mundi, through a sequence of events that Zeitguyz has yet to disclose. By bringing certain objects together in certain parts of the city, you can travel into one of three eras in the city's past. One is the aforementioned war in 1807, one is in the 1200s, and the third is in the Viking era.

Since you can't bring anything with you into the past, you'll be limited to using whatever weapons are available when you arrive, such as swords, bows, or black-powder rifles. Of course, Gloria Mundi has local agents in place who are not quite so restricted.

In each of these eras, which represent more than 10 "missions," you'll be given a number of choices, each of which will alter the city when you return to the present. At one point in 1807, for instance, you'll come across two men who are dying of smoke inhalation in a burning building. One is a scientist; the other is a doctor. Which of the men you save will have definite repercussions on the kind of place the city is when you return to the future. Save the doctor, and the city is a kinder and somewhat more populous place; save the scientist, and the city is visibly more technologically advanced.

Right now, Zeitguyz is shopping around for a publisher for Urban Mysteries, and is considering releasing it as a series of episodes. If it were to do that, the first episode of the game would ship in 2008's holiday season. If it ships as a more traditional product, it'll appear in mid- to late 2009. Whenever it appears, whoever brings it out, and whatever title it has when it arrives, it's got a good hook, a solid story, and a decent start. Hopefully, there'll be more information about it relatively soon.

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