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May 14, 2004 - The fun-loving gang at Funcom are here at E3 showing off, among other things, the expansion pack to Anarchy Online, Alien Invasion. The new expansion takes the series back to its roots, focusing more on frantic action, and offers players the chance to build their own cities and defend them from alien attacks. Game director Marius Enge was kind enough to talk us through a demo of the game earlier today.
The first thing we took a look at was a player-built city. It's massive with lots of unique architecture; there's a lot of variety here so none of the buildings seem to be duplicated at all. Flying cars race along wide avenues overhung with colorful billboards. The city is very dense and urban but there are plenty of trees and bushes available to break up the steel and glass theme.
Houses are placed in the city on a grid pattern. These can either be owned by private individuals or by guilds. All houses have interiors and meaningful functions. You can also decorate your own homes with all manner of furnishings. You can also place NPCs to serve in your house as bartenders or DJs. Each house can have a unique role as well, either as a bar or a player-versus player fight club. There will also be a public marketplace where you can set up player shops and browse a global sell board.
From here Marius led us to the second big addition of the expansion, the titular alien invasions, which target these player cities. A large ship drifts by overhead literally blocking out the sky. Small dropships float down and deposit a number of strange aliens on the border of the cities. These green aliens have interesting and varied morphologies. Some have snake-like bodies, some have four-legged centaur forms and others are merely small spiders.
The aliens know how the number and level of each player in the city and will drop a number of warriors equivalent to the strength of the players. Aliens will even hunt according to their level with higher level enemies taking on the higher level players. If things seem to be going to easy for the player (or if more players arrive as reinforcements), the aliens will send a new wave of enemies. They'll also switch up the type of enemies, trading casters for melee fighters as necessary.
If you manage to kill each wave of aliens, you'll have the chance to engage a large boss mob guarding the dropship. If you defeat the guard, you can enter the dropship and fight your way through even more aliens. The interior is composed of dynamically-generated black tunnels with lots of green lighting. The challenge here will be to kill as many aliens as possible in the fifteen minutes you have before the ship takes off .
The game is due out on the first of September. Players who pre-order the game will get access to some new pets Leets. They come in nine varieties: Calculeet, Bruce Leet, Invaleet, Cheerleet, Violeet, Deleet, Masculeet, Athleet, and Bulleet. They won't have any real effect on gameplay but can be used for a number of non-essential mini-games.
-- Steve Butts