Huxley Updated Impressions - Next-Gen Graphics at Work

Even though it's based on a 73-year-old novel, this upcoming online first-person shooter has got a state-of-the-art next-generation graphics engine behind it.

A 1930s novel about a dystopian future based on eugenics and mind control wouldn't seem to be prime fodder for a game, but South Korean developer Webzen is going to take a crack at the idea with the really impressive-looking Huxley, an upcoming online first-person shooter scheduled to come out in 2006. The game, named after author Aldous Huxley and based on his most famous work, the 1932 novel Brave New World, was on display at Nvidia's unveiling of its latest GPU earlier this month. We've got the latest details.

Though not much about the game is known so far, what we do know is that it simply looks fabulous. The very impressive gameplay trailer that was shown off was running in real time on the latest graphics cards. Of course, the demo focused heavily on the technical aspects of the game, such as the depth-of-field effect that realistically blurs objects in the foreground or in the distance, depending on what you're focusing on. The characters themselves are rendered in vivid detail. For example, you can see the bulging forearms of a soldier, as well as facial self-shadowing, like the shadows on his cheeks and neck. A swarm of giant insectlike creatures then entered the scene. The game was paused so that the designers could show off the incredible amount of detail on each creature. They zoomed in on the skin, which looked like flesh and not some kind of textured polygon.

The designers then showed off the size and scale of the world by jumping into an exotic-looking vehicle and driving around a city that represented only a small fraction of the actual world. The city itself reminded us a bit of Half-Life 2's City 17, but with a more vintage feel to it. For instance, there's a mass transit system in the game that looks like something from Edwardian England, and low-level characters who can't afford vehicles can use the system to travel around town. We also saw some impressive-looking soldiers on patrol through a marketplace, while some other characters stood around chatting or just minding their own business. There was also a tunnel, which acts as a portal to leave the city and enter a battle zone. To demonstrate this, an armored personnel carrier screamed up and infantry disgorged and entered the tunnel.

The overall look of the game can be thought of as a fusion of Eastern and Western influences, which isn't surprising since this is a South Korean-developed game based on a Western novel. It has a fairly unique look and feel to it, though, and there aren't animelike elements that gamers have come to expect from Asian games, but rather more of an Unreal-like vibe. This isn't too surprising, since Webzen licensed Epic's Unreal Engine 3 for the game, modifying it to allow up to 3,000 to 5,000 concurrent players on a server at a time.

Huxley really looks amazing, and if you've seen what Unreal Engine 3 is capable of, then you have an idea of just how good the game looks (Sony's PlayStation 3 demo of Unreal Engine 3 or the upcoming Gears of War for the Xbox 360 are good comparisons). You'll undoubtedly need some serious hardware to run the game. The developers are currently aiming for a 2006 release, though, so this should allow plenty of time for the next upgrade cycle to kick in. We're intrigued by the idea of a massively multiplayer first-person shooter, especially one using next-generation graphics like Huxley does. Keep an eye out for future updates on this game.

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