Face of Mankind was an in-development MMOG I remember nostalgically from my halcyon days of 2004 – 2005, where I spent many a Google query searching for games to play online. It was an interesting concept; a FPS MMOG focused less around grinding for levels and more about roleplay (as in, creating characters and backstories yourself) and teamwork. I got into the closed or open beta at some point and puttered around the game world, soaking in the mechanics of the environment around me. It's a bit tricky to remember the extent of the game's features so far back, but I do remember being blown away at the potential.
The game was set well into the future, with humanity spread out across a vast interplanetary network. The playable map itself was a large number of control points, ranging from planets to space stations to mining facilities, that were controlled by one of eight factions. Everything was dynamic, and gameplay consisted of aligning yourself with these factions and taking over territory. Each faction was run by a governmental body elected by the players, and those players could in turn promote others, grant levels and experience, and dole out cash. There was even player housing, and you could rent out apartments in futuristic versions of New York City or distant planets.
The potential didn't quite match up to reality; in three of the factions I joined, the leaders had more or less abandoned the game, so no one was around to promote anyone or grant levels. The game also had some technical issues and a learning curve that could give EVE Online a run for its money, but I was substantially impressed by the possibility of such an open-ended world driven by the players and their machinations instead of the whims of a developer or story team.
Unfortunately it hit monetary issues and shuttered, only to be revived out of nowhere and set loose with an open beta earlier this month. A lot of the same concepts have stuck around, even though the graphics (which at the time seemed gorgeous to me) now look dated and drab. However, its phoenix moment is about to come to fruition as almost five years later the game itself is nearing its second retail release. Eschewing its original monthly subscription for access, the game will be free-to-play, with bonuses for players who choose to upgrade to premium. Until the 29th, existing open beta accounts have been upgraded to a "trial premium" status to give existing testers a taste of the perks. Although an official release date isn't mentioned yet, I imagine it's coming shortly after. Hopefully it will work out better than the first time they tried this, as an ongoing denial of service attack shortly after the game's 2006 launch routinely brought the game offline and was largely responsible for it being abandoned the first time.
Even though the game has not graphically weathered the tribulations of its existence, knowing that it's going to be F2P means I'll definitely take a look again, if nothing more than just for nostalgic value.