SAN FRANCISCO--GDC 2009 is in full swing, and plenty of games are on display, like NHN's long-in-development, Unreal-powered, free-to-play, massively multiplayer, online, futuristic, sci-fi, has-guns-and-vehicles action game Huxley: The Dystopia. The game will be a team-based competitive shooter where you'll play a character who belongs to one of two factions, normal humans and mutant humans who fight for resources on a ruined future Earth that struggles to recover from nuclear fallout and an alien invasion. The long and the short of it is that you'll play as one of three character classes--the Enforcer, the Avenger, and the Phantom (effectively a heavy soldier, a medium soldier, or a light soldier, respectively)--and get into team-based first-person shooter battles that can be either objective-based, faction-based (that is, capturing sectors on behalf of your faction), or freeform deathmatch.
We watched several aspects of the game in motion, including exploring the enormous peaceful city zones (each faction will have a safe home city), which are full of quest-giving characters and shops selling weapons, armor, and other items. Huxley's cities will have public transit systems that will let you get across the city more quickly, though you can still hoof it or, once your character gains some money and status, you can buy a hoverbike for your character to cruise the city streets and finish your shopping faster.
Cities will also be places for players to congregate and prepare for battle. For instance, if you're just looking for a good time, you can run a virtual combat simulator, which is a fancy name for no-strings-attached deathmatch with anyone you want (including players in your same faction, and also across servers). Virtual battles resemble the freeform deathmatches of the Unreal Tournament series, and just like in those games, these take place in levels that come complete with health pick-up items and an occasionally respawning double-damage enhancing item that turns your character a glowing purple, just like Unreal Tournament's damage amplifier item. These matches can be a good way to blow off steam, but they can also help you test out your character's new items and skills.
Each "armor slot" on your character (helmet, gloves, and so on) can be socketed with an item that grants you a special skill your character can use in battle. Different character classes will have different special abilities; for instance, Phantoms have speed boosts, the ability to turn invisible, and even an energy-based healing ability to go with their sniper rifles; Avengers have thermal scanners that can detect far-off or cloaked enemies to help sight targets with their medium assault weapons; Enforcers have armor amplifiers, a damaging bull-rush ability that lets them charge their foes, and a temporary invulnerability skill that lets them get close enough to their foes to use their close-range shotguns.
In addition to free-for-all play, Huxley will offer team-based "battleground" areas where teams of players on opposing factions will do battle on objective-based maps (such as a Battlefield 2-conquest-like mode that requires you to capture and hold a radar station to continuously score points). Battlegrounds will let you earn special rewards for your character, as well as bring in serious hardware to help you out, such as military vehicles like tanks and jeeps to help you snag key points or lay down heavier fire (though in order to access different vehicles, you'll need to spend the skill points you earn after gaining levels on vehicle "licenses"). Winning a map will mark it with your faction's color (blue for human "sapiens," red for mutant "alternatives") on the world battleground map view. Capturing all battlegrounds for your faction will net your faction powerful global bonuses and bragging rights.
Huxley's been in development for quite some time, but the content we saw looked like it was in very good shape. The cities are impressively huge, the character models are extremely detailed, and the battles seem to run at an extremely fast clip reminiscent of Unreal Tournament 3 at its absolute fastest. The majority of the content is apparently already finished, and the primary development work on the US version of the game at this point is localization--translating the game's many lines of text dialogue and recorded voiceover into English from the game's original Korean language. Better still, this promising, fast-paced sci-fi shooter will finally be launching later this year.