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Last year Vivendi Universal bewildered many by letting some of the biggest talents in its games division (Blizzard's Bill Roper, Dave Brevik, Erich and Max Schaefer) resign.
But being dynamic, self-motivated types with brains the size of goblin zeppelins, the day after quitting they all gathered, formed a new studio and came up with a preposterously great idea for a new game.
That game was Hellgate London - a first-person, near-future RPG. It's the year 2030 and sulphurous demons have only gone and invaded, slaughtering most of the city's human population in the process.
Above ground you've got some of the most iconic architecture and heritage-steeped spaces on the planet. Below there's an absurdly atmospheric ready-made dungeon you could lose an army in.
Though the Tube network in Hellgate appears to function as a bit of a refuge, we're assured that there'll be plenty of episodes that exploit this inherent scariness to the full.
Each monster type will have a unique combat peculiarity, ensuring that you have to tweak your tactics depending on what you're up against. Although not coded yet, there was also talk of foul fauna emerging from manholes or crawling down walls from rooftop nests to attack.
The vast majority of the firearms in the game's staggeringly huge arsenal have some form of soft-lock, homing capability, or splash effect, meaning that firefights are never about pixel-perfect marksmanship or your circle-strafing skills. Stats, tactics, kit and companions decide who wins in this game.
Bill Roper painted a pretty picture of an online experience where groups of friends adventured independently but occasionally glimpsed other player-parties in the distance or mingled with them at hub locations. All the social advantages of an MMORPG without the queues, spawn camping, or griefing.
Well, now you know as much as we do about Hellgate London. Feel free to mutter "Hotdiggity!" under your breath and spend the next few minutes picturing the pleasures to come.
We recommend the following scenarios: player in impossibly shiny power-armour brawling with Beelzebub under the cracked dome of St Pauls; player tearing down Pall Mall with pack of undead Corgis yapping at his heels; player strapping himself with unexploded Luftwaffe bombs and...[cut]
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