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Cool Games Radar Preview Huxley!

MMO meets FPS in this ambitious persistent shooter
Dec 17, 07

There’s no place for moonlight walks on the beach in Earth’s far future, because the planet’s celestial satellite is no more. An unidentified object has demolished the moon, causing earthquakes and tidal waves that ravage the Earth’s surface. In the wake of these apocalyptic natural disasters, mankind’s struggle for survival splits the species into two rival factions - the “normal” Sapiens and the mutated Alternatives. The war between the estranged sides is the story behind Huxley, Korean developer Webzen’s upcoming MMO shooter. We got a chance to playtest both the RPG and shooter elements of Huxley, exploring the massive digital cities and battling both human and AI opponents in deathmatch dungeons.

Siding with the Sapiens faction, we started off by customizing our avatar. The Sapiens are split into two physical groups, the ONE and the SYN, which only differ in their visual traits (the ONE are pure humans and the SYNs have slight mutations). After tweaking our facial structure and hair - typical MMO avatar features - we picked one of three play classes, which determine your fighting style and what weapons or armor you can utilize. As the Phantom class, we were a ranged attacker, with lots of energy abilities but weak armor capacity. Huxley will offer players nine weapon categories (Rocket launcher, shotgun, etc.) with hundreds of statistical permutations that you can purchase of loot.

In addition to weapons, we equipped our character with skills, which are both passive and active combat abilities that are used in the real-time deathmatches. Huxley’s skills seem fairly typical and offer expected bonuses, such as faster sprint or improved vision. Picking your skills will be an important part of giving yourself an edge in combat. Each piece of armor has a one to three skill slots; we geared up with infrared, sprint and double jump. Other options available included cloaking, tackle, clone decoys and others that will be unlocked as you level up.

Speaking of levels, gamers in Huxley will rank up through quests and combat to a tentative 50-level cap (which should take about three months of play). At around level 30, you acquire the ability to craft and tune weapons, and the post-level 50 game revolves around clan play and group questing. Dedicated players will eventually earn enough in-game currency to buy property, vehicles and gain special titles like “Gladiator.”

Exploring the Sapien home city of Nostalonia, we were impressed by the intricate amount of style and detail that went into each building and vehicle. Nostalonia is made of six districts, each ornately designed with unique architecture. The main area resembled a Victorian city with a steam punk vibe. Cable-car trolleys that provide inter-city transport stood out against the futuristic looking cars parked along the brick roads. Eska, the Alternative’s home city, will have a completely different style and high-level raids will let players on one side catch a glimpse of their rival’s domain.

Between Nostalonia and Eska are “Battle Zones,” the wastelands where the two factions fight for valuable “Lunerite” energy sources. Huxley will ship with around 20-30 Battle Zone maps at launch, which will support standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, radar domination (control point capture) and component collection PvP gameplay modes. PvE quests take place in Battle Zones and also in underground sewer dungeons, where players face off against a third AI controlled faction: the Hybrids. Defeating these NPC monsters slowly unravels a plot that reveals the secrets of the lunar Armageddon and the dark history of Huxley’s world.
On one PvE quest, we drudged through winding tunnels and large laboratories, blasting away at low-level Hybrid beasts. Slaying these NPCs was fairly easy with circle-strafing, but Webzen promises that the AI will prove to be more challenging in later stages. More exciting, though, were the PvP matches where we faced off against the developers in mid-sized 4v4 maps (the largest maps will accommodate 20v20 firefights). Here, our team automatically formed a squad, which gives each member health buffs when close together. Indicators on the HUD show the direction of your teammates and when they were sufficiently close for squad-status, which was very helpful after respawning from untimely deaths.

As for the gameplay, Huxley’s deathmatch mechanics felt familiar and responsive, as if we were playing Unreal Tournament III (it helps that they’re both built on the same game engine). Learning to activate skills and familiarizing yourself with the wide arsenal of weapons is what makes this more than just your typical online shooter. Competing with 5,000 players to be top dog on a server is a more exciting venture than topping a leaderboard in a random online match. As long as the final deathmatch mechanics are up to snuff, the promised persistence and long-term rewards that come along with being an MMO definitely makes Huxley an exciting proposition for both MMO and shooter fans.

Compliments Of Games Radar

Last edited by gobbly2100; 04-03-2008 at 01:52 AM.
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