Warfare Afghanistan is a cancelled third person team based tactical shooter that was in development by Pivotal Games in 2007 / 2008 for Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was meant to be a reboot of the Conflict series of which the last chapter was Conflict: Denied Ops, published in 2008 by Eidos Interactive. Conflict: Desert Storm 1 & 2 were loved by many fans for their fun coop multiplayer, in which each mission has to be played with a bit of strategy, using the special skills of each character to be able to survive and to complete the most complex objectives.
Unfortunately the last games in the series lost the charm of the originals and Denied Ops was mostly a linear, single player experience: it was clear for the team that they had to reboot their saga, to earn again the love of their fans. Planned to have a full coop campaign up to 4 players offline (split-screen) and online, Warfare Afghanistan would have returned to Conflict’s roots, to create a compelling gameplay, with strategy and collaboration between players at its core.
The game’s story and setting were also meant to be something deeper than the usual shooter. The team wanted to create something like Spec Ops: The Line in terms of realism and players’ experience, by hiring a military consultant and slowing down the pace of the game, following a plot that handled the Afghanistan conflict, with all its moral dilemmas.
Unfortunately Warfare Afghanistan was still in early development when Pivotal Games’ parent company Sales Curve Interactive / Eidos (now Square Enix Europe) decide to disband the studio in August 2008, probably because of internal restructure and low sales of their last game. Only a pitch prototype was done before the cancellation, with basic cover, animations and melee mechanics: by looking at the footage available we can only imagine what could have been and it’s sad to know that the team did not have a chance to win back again the heart of their fans.
Tron: Evolution by Propaganda Games was the official tie-in game for the Tron: Legacy movie, but before Disney published this one for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2008 they asked to different studios to pitch a game for their TRON sequel. The film was still internally known with the WIP-title of TR2N and one of these prototypes was made by Day 1 Studios, a team mostly known for the MechAssault series. In the short pitch demos created by D1S in just a few weeks it was possible to play similar scenes to the ones seen in the first official Tron: Legacy trailer from Sandiego Comic Con 2008: a multiplayer racing track and a single player Identity Disc combat sequence (which had 2 playable versions, one of which was built around a rhythm mechanic). Unfortunately Disney wanted to have a fully complete game in less than a year, to be sure to release it as soon as the movie was out. In the end they greenlight the pitch by Propaganda Games and the TR2N prototype by Day 1 Studios was not developed further.
State of Crisis is a cancelled real time strategy first person shooter that was in development in 2010 / 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC by french studio Darkworks. After Ubisofttook away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to make it finish to Ubisoft Shanghai, the team tried to create many different prototypes to pitch to publishers, to get another contract to survive. We can assume that at the time Darkworks tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (State of Crisis, Black Dead, The Deep) with interesting / original features.
In State of Crisis players would have been able to switch to different teammates in real time, to use a satellite to get strategical information about the enemies and the area, to interact with electronic devices and to requests laser attacks from above. For example we could have been able to study the map of the building in which we would have entered to, checking if there were lights to deactivate to hide in the darkness, to mark enemies and see their position on the map, to place beacon to track an helicopter and destroying it with a powerful laser shoot from the satellite.
To use ammos, the satellite and to hack devices would have cost a certain sum of money from a limited budget for the mission and at the end of each level one could have seen how much the team spent to save the place from terrorists. As far as we can gain from the prototype demo, State of Crisis could have been divided in many different missions to complete as fast as possible and by spending as less money as possible, to gain an higher final score or to save funds to buy better equipment.
Unfortunately Darkworks were not able to find any publisher to fund State of Crisis and the game was quietly cancelled. In 2012 the company was placed into compulsory liquidation and then closed down. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games (Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare in 2001 and Cold Fear in 2005), while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to other developers: a sad ending for one of the most interesting gaming studios in Europe.
Kurayami is a cancelled psychological / horror game that was pitched by Grasshopper Manufacture as a PS3 exclusive and originally announced in Edge Magazine issue 162, in May 2006. Being inspired by Franz Kafka novels (a writer known for his stories about alienation, physical and psychological paranoia), in Kurayami players would had to explore a mysterious european castle (that we can relate to Kafka’s The Castle) and the near village filled with creepy inhabitants, using the light from his torch to resolve puzzles and move through the darkness. Light and darkness would have been a central theme in the game, similarly to what happens in Alan Wake (announced in 2005 but released in 2010), in Kurayami the protagonist would have been safer in lit areas while dangers would have been lurking in the darkness.
“When I considered the visuals, I immediately thought of darkness, and I imagined a hero within this night, with a light that would in a way symbolise his life. That became the core concept of Kurayami: literally, ‘darkness’ (in Japanese). […] It’s not about some hideous monsters or evil creatures coming out of the darkness, but playing on our natural fears of the dark, and the uneasiness that comes from the absence of noise and life. […] “Kurayami’s ideas are not about violence or eroticism, but fundamental problems in the human mind, which may find some conflict with the rating system. […] Though I expect the rating level to be quite high for Kurayami, I also expect the PS3 to be mainly purchased and used by an adult audience. I’m making a game for an adult audience, one that shows what life is and what being human is.”
Players would have had to pay attention to the townsfolk too, as the game would have been ambiguous about their intentions and personality:
“It shows how people change when faced with their fears – in a way, you could see a little bit of what Japan, or the world, is like in this town.”
While there are no in-game screenshots available (only the concept arts that you can see in the gallery below) it’s know that Kurayami would have used a cell-shading style focused on the contrast between colors and black, evolving the 3D engine Grasshopper already used in Killer7. From what was said by Suda during an interview with Joystiq in 2009 it seems that the game never entered into a prototype form:
“It’s not even in development right now. We aren’t even really working on it. We’ve just been talking about it, but there hasn’t been time to work on it. Actually it was really just for Edge. The artwork was just something we submitted them. We’re not working on this project yet. They had some special coverage about Grasshopper and we talked a little bit about Kurayami, and so we gave them some artwork.”
Originally Suda51 told to Edge that they wanted to make Kurayami appealing to more people than their precedent games, saying that “The challenge now is to go beyond simple recognition, and transform our original games into a mainstream success”. Only a year later Grasshopper released No More Heroes for the Wii and it became their most successful games until that point. While Kurayami sounded like a dark, introspective and uneasing experience with european inspired environment and characters, No More Heroes was an explosion of over-the-top action, japanese fanservice and quirky personas.
This could have been the reason why Kurayami was quietly cancelled: in the next few years the team was busy developing Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen (Wii, 2008, a new chapter in the popular Fatal Frame / Project Zero series) and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii, 2010), supporting Nintendo’s motion-controlled console and finding a new market for their projects.
While Kurayami was never released, its main concept of light and darkness was reused for another Grasshopper Manufacture title: Shadows of the Damned. SotD was a much more linear, over-the-top horror / action game than what Kurayami appeared to be, and even if the released project is a good one, unfortunately there’s no trace of Kafka influences anymore.
Announced in 2011 at Ubisoft’s E3 press conferenceBrothers in Arms: Furious 4 was to be the next instalment in the Brothers in Arms franchise after Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. The game was originally set to be released sometime in the first half of 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, but that never happened. However, in 2012 Ubisoft let go of the Brothers in Arms IP and The Furious 4 trademark granting the games developers, Gearbox Software, full ownership of both. The president of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, then announced that the Brothers in Arms name was being dropped from the title due to negative fan feedback and from now on the game would just be called Furious 4. Pitchford also said that internal discussions held within Gearbox led to the same conclusion that Brother in Arms and Furious 4 should be separate IPs. He said that there would be another Brothers in Arms game sometime in the future when the time is right but for now Gearbox was concentrating on Furious 4 which would be undergoing some drastic changes.
While previous Brothers in Arms games followed Sargent Matt Baker and the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in a serious historical setting, Furious 4 would have taken a quite different approach to the World War 2 setting. Furious 4 looked like a cross between Borderlands and Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 filmInglorious Bastards. The plot followed a group of four characters as they massacred their way through Germany in 1944 all the way to Hitler, and that’s all we really know about the plot itself.
There is a small bit of information on each of the four playable characters. Firstly there was Chok who was a Native American soldier with a fondness for hatchets. Next up was Stitch who was an Irishman with a few lose screws who seemed to enjoy taking out his enemies with a custom made taser a little too much. Crockett was from Texas and could use a cattle prod to brand enemies. Lastly there was Montana who was a Nazi killing lumberjack with a large machine gun, a chainsaw and bear traps. There was also a narrator who spoke over the gameplay and was just as much of a character as the other four. He would clue you into the moment to moment plan and often hinted that he felt the members of the Furious Four were quite stupid. The only gameplay shown for the game was behind closed doors at E3 2011 and judging from what the people who saw it said historical accuracy was not a concern in Furious 4, apparently they even had a helicopter in a WWII shooter. The only other thing discussed about the gameplay was it’s over the top trigger happy violence that attempted humour.
On the 16th of July 2015 Randy Pitchford was speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference and said:
“Furious 4 is not a thing anymore, right? Creative development is a trip. The idea that something started as a Brothers in Arms game, through some absurd convulsion, ended up as Battleborn is evidence of what’s possible.”
The good news for Brothers in Arms fans is that Gearbox is going to start development on the next “authentic” game in the series soon which will more than likely follow on from Hell’s Highway. Gearbox has been under fire in recent years for Duke Nukem: Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines although their Borderlands series has been positively received and proves that they are talented developers. Gearbox is currently working on Battleborn and their website says they’re hiring for the next Borderlands game so we can expect news on that soon.