The Big One [PS2 – Cancelled]

The Big One [PS2 – Cancelled]

The Big One is a cancelled action adventure / open world sandbox game that was in development by Melbourne House for the Playstation 2 in 2004 / 2005. After releasing Transformers on the PS2, the same team got started working on Transformers 2, but after only a few months this sequel was canned:  Atari was starting to go through its financial troubles, and as a result they sold the Transformers license back to Hasbro to gain some money.

As we can read on Wiki News, Bruno Bonnell, then-head of Infogrames/Atari, had an a idea for a game that involved natural disasters and aliens having weapons that could cause earthquakes. The project was given to Melbourne House to make, that started to brainstorm different game designs and gameplay around natural disasters, while the art team went ahead and built ‘look-and-feel’ concept arts for destructed environments.  This new game was going to be based on the great  Transformers 3D engine, so the coders started updating it where necessary.

After some thoughs, they decided that the game would have followed a number of different characters in the aftermath of “The Big One”, the biggest earthquake to hit San Francisco. Similar to Raw Danger / Disaster Report 2, players would have been able to do different tasks depending on the character (one of which was a firefighter, as seen in the video below) and then the available area would open up and allow to freely explore the city (in a “Prince of Persia Sands of Time” style. to climb in and out of broken buildings) and to help more people (or leave them to die).

Melbourne House had an idea for a “karma system” based on the good / bad actions of the players and their interactions with the NPCs, but they did not have enough time to finish its design before the cancellation.  The Big One would have included physics puzzles (for example you had to use crates and rocks to stabilise a tettering bus before rescuing the driver) and heavy use of fire, water and destruction-related effects (smoke, debris, etc).

The game had potential, but sadly only an early prototype was done and the apartment level seen in the video below was just a tech / art demo that had gameplay forced on it for demonstration purpose. When Atari’s Eden studio was working on Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360 launch, Atari decided that to offset the risk of the launch title, they would have Melbourne House port TDU to PS2 and PSP, instead than to keep working on a tricky project as The Big One. TBO was cancelled and TDU PS2/PSP was the last game from Melbourne House before they were bought out by Krome Studios in 2006.

Thanks to TN for the contribution!


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6 thoughts on “The Big One [PS2 – Cancelled]

  1. ECM

    Shame this (and Transformers 2) never showed–that engine was an amazing bit of tech for the PS2, and T: Armada was a very good game.

  2. GRKG

    It looks like it showed more promise than Real Heroes: Firefighters and that was a decent 2009 title. Speaking of other disaster titles, is what would it have to compete with? I don’t think there would have been much if we’re comparing The Big One to Raw Danger and the Disaster Report series. Although from this tech demo I could see many improvements that might have better sold the project. The building didn’t seem to deteriorate over time but sort of as you progressed though that didn’t even happen all that convincingly as I didn’t see the condition worsening all that much. I believe I learned while earning my Fire Safety merit badge a while ago that flames could double within minutes what they engulf. The inferno seemed to be just sitting there and after it was put out one could walk right over what it scorched as if no it had suffered no damage.

    1. monokoma Post author

      I really like the “survival against nature” concept in games, i had lot of fun with Disaster Report / SOS Final Escape / Raw Danger and the first Lost in Blue… now we’ll need to wait for I AM ALIVE, but i wonder what really happened to its original concept…

  3. AkaiRonin


    The envoirment interaction and de cinematic-ishness kinda reminded me of the next gen Alone in the Dark.

    Maybe AITD inherited some basic mechanics from TBO…

  4. Anonymous

    that’s so not fair, they should have for ps2 too, other people don’t have these other kinds of systems today ya know

  5. ccrogers15

    Highly sad Krome bought them lol… krome currently is doing horrible. Only 10 total employees and only working on small IOS games lol.

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