E3 2011: Gamma World: Alpha Mutation First Look Preview

We meet with Atari and Bedlam for a quick demo of their upcoming Gamma World action role-playing game.

More than 30 years after it debuted as a pen-and-paper role-playing game, Gamma World is scheduled for release as a downloadable action RPG this fall. In case you're unfamiliar with the Gamma World universe, it's not one that takes itself seriously. An accident at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva resulted in an apocalyptic event known simply as The Big Mistake, and as a result, much of the world has been turned into a radioactive wasteland populated by all manner of predatory mutants.

In Alpha Mutation you'll assume the role of a hero created by combining any two of six different origins. Only two of the origins are being disclosed at present, and so the hero that we got to see in action was, amusingly, part radioactive man and part yeti. We're told that characters in Alpha Mutation will wield lots of different powers (known as alpha mutations) and that you'll get to customize their skill trees as you progress through the game, but during the demo all we really saw used were various ranged and melee weapons. These included some pretty conventional looking firearms as well as clearly more-advanced omegatech guns that, because they're so powerful, have a finite supply of ammo. Melee weapons included a baseball bat and a parking meter.

We didn't get to see much in the way of role-playing during the demo. Rather, what we saw looked a lot like a traditional third-person shooter; the hero was battling his way through the remains of a subway station and targeting enemies using a zoomed-in view, as well as shooting from the hip. Those enemies included small groups of flying guardbots, humanoids, and a handful of the anthropomorphic rodents known as hoops. Regardless of their shape and size, most of the enemies simply headed straight for the player, which made the demo feel like a glorified shooting range, but we were assured that the AI is still very much a work-in-progress. The demo ended when the hero encountered a small alien-looking creature known simply as a visitor.

Although the demo that we saw was strictly a single-player affair, we're told that the finished game will support split-screen for two players as well as online for either two or (hopefully) four. Gamma World: Alpha Mutation is powered by Unreal Engine 3 and is currently scheduled for release on XBLA, PSN, and PC this fall. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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As a pen & paper RPG gamer and huge Gamma World fan from way back in the early 80's I feel I must refute the statement made above that Gamma World "is not one that takes itself seriously". That may be true for the bastardized version that was recently released and uses the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rules, but absolutely not for the previous versions (1st-3rd ed, which are the definitive canon). The newest version treats the GW universe as some kind of amusement park with circus freaks running around. Plus it uses those Magic the Gathering-like cards that seem to be all the rage (and are incorporated as a money-generator for the publisher who count on the players spending money on more packs of cards so they can complete the set). For an old-school RPG'er like myself, these franchise "re-boots" are nothin but crap. Why, back in my day we didn't use no new-fangled cards and we liked it! P.S. I'm still getting the videogame version, though, and am extremely happy to finally see one based on one of my favorite (and admittedly not well-known) RPGs from TSR. Even if it is a bastard.