"Harsh Realm tells the tale of Thomas Hobbes (Scott Bairstow), a U.S. armed forces trooper recruited to enter a government / military virtual reality experiment called "Harsh Realm". The Realm was designed to be a training ground to prepare super agents to combat -&- circumvent terrorism on the U.S. mainland. Seems the program has been seized by Omar Santiago (played by Chris Carter perennial Terry O'Quinn) - allegedly one of its VR constructs (although we get the strong sense he may be real instead of a construct).
Hobbes goes VR to play the game, finds a bizarre dichotomy inside: a burned out wasteland of neighborhoods, decay, and abandoned sprawl, separated from a sophisticated Nazi-like megoplolis by a quick-fry energy barrier. The people outside the barrier are generally a rather dirty unpleasant lot; unified by a singular set of principles and codes, yet each person keeping to themselves and staying out of everyone else's way. Hobbes discovers these folks are actually other military recruits sent in to Harsh Realm to take out Santiago. All have either failed, given up, or joined the other side (for a better life in the big city). And all are apparently stuck in the Harsh Realm simulation until the game is over -&- Santiago is eliminated.
Slightly pissed off and really wanting out of the Realm, Hobbes enlists the help of an annoyed and disillusioned Mike Pinnochio (D.B.Sweeney). Together, along with Dexter the dog and a mute chick with cool healing powers, they set off across the wastelands of Harsh Realm to have adventures and hunt Santiago. Pinnochio tells Hobbes that taking out Santiago won't matter one way or another: they're stuck there and that's that. Hobbes won't give up his hope for escape, and therein lies the initial thrust of the series...