Microsoft

Splinter Cell: Blacklist [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an action / stealth game developed by Ubisoft Toronto, Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Shanghai, published for PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PC in 2013. As we can read on Wikipedia, in November 2010 Jade Raymond from Ubisoft Toronto announced that the studio was developing a new Splinter Cell game.

During the Microsoft’s press conference at E3 2012, Splinter Cell: Blacklist was officially revealed with a beta video that you can see below. One major difference is the plot and interactive torture sequence in the beta. After a major uproar from critics, it was announced by the creative director of the game, Maxime Béland that the now dubbed “interrogation” sequences are rendered cutscenes and the only choice made by the player is to either let the target live or die.

Ubisoft responded with an official statement regarding the removal of the controversial scene:

“As with other game features, the storyline evolves as part of the standard development process. Based on how the game has progressed, we felt that this scene no longer fit in the context of the game, so we decided to remove it. Splinter Cell Blacklist, like previous Splinter Cell titles, has always tried to keep the topics and themes relevant and current. Splinter Cell Blacklist explores moral choices and dark themes through the concept of the Fifth Freedom; a recurring theme in the franchise.”

“Definitely we are not going to see when the game’s coming out that there are torture scenes in it. That scene is not there any more,” said producer Andrew Wilson “The first thing I’d say about that is that possibly there was missing context – and in an unabridged snapshot, it seemed like pretty tough material.”

The second major change is the plot: in the beta the group known as The Engineers are a quasi-league of nations rather than a borderless terrorist group that has the national backing of twelve unnamed nations found in the final game.

The level itself was unchanged during development other than who inhabits the camp and level introduction. The camp in the beta was labeled as “ Jadid Basecamp”. In the final game, only the location is given: Mirawa, Iraq. The introduction of the level in the beta has Sam Fisher wearing an enemy uniform and carrying a body into the camp. In the final product, Sam Fisher is air-dropped into the level after enemies near the LZ (landing zone) are eliminated by sniper support.

  • Some minor changes between the beta and final game are:
  • The level’s name colors are changed: green in the beta, white for the released game.
  • Changes in the HUD (heads up display) such as weapon icons.
  • The choice to either kill or spare Jadid Haidos isn’t in the beta.
  • Jadid Haidos’ model is changed between the beta/ released game.
  • Icons for the mark and execute are changed.
  • Sounds for in the process of being detected and finally being detected are changed. Also, the words “Warning” and “Detected” do not appear in the final game.
  • The icons for the three play styles: ghost, panther, and assault are not in the beta.
  • There is no ability to call in an air strike from the Paladin as shown in the beta is not available in the final game.
  • There is no ability to use explosive breaches as in the beta.
  • Drone strike are not as readily available as in the beta.
  • The mission’s endings are changed between the beta and the final game.

Jeff Wheaton noticed a number of notable differences (in chronological order of the video):

  • The level shown is not in the final game. No exact designs are taken from it, though many of its assets do appear.
  • Sam is never wearing the enemy uniform in the final game, nor are there any player-driven animations of him carrying an unconscious or dead character.
  • At no point in the final game do button prompts appear in any language other than the selected localization
  • The animations for most of the stuff in the cutscenes are absent from the final game.
  • The icons for marks in the final game are slightly different.
  • A lot of cutscene dialogue never appears in the final game.
  • A lot of HUD differences
  • Several plot differences. In the final game, the Blacklist is masterminded by a borderless group of individuals calling themselves The Engineers, not a group of nations.
  • Different sound for being detected. The final game also does not feature a “Warning” message.
  • The Ghost, Panther, and Assault point indicators are absent from the entire demo.
  • There is no instance of being able to trigger a UAV strike in the manner shown in the demo in the final game.
  • Jadid’s dialogue is different than it was in the final game, and no Spare or Kill option is given.

Very interesting nonetheless! Thanks a lot to Jeff and Matt Redmond for the contribution

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Earth No More [Cancelled]

Earth No More is a cancelled FPS that was in development from 2007 to 2009 by Recoil Games (a studio based in Finland and founded by Remedy Entertainment co-founder Samuli Syvahuoko), using UE3 game engine, and it would have been published by 3D Realms / Radar Group for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Earth No More would have been set in a small New England town quarantined due to a mysterious environmental apocalypse. Sadly the development had to be stopped because Recoil Games had some financial problems. After a while, they were able to create a new game, Rochard, that was released as a digital title for PC, Mac and PS3, but it’s currently unknown if Earth No More will ever be resurrected for current-gen consoles. You can find more about Earth No More on Wikipedia, IGN and Gamasutra.

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Untitled Cavia FPS (aka “Catacombs”) [Cancelled – PS3 / X360]

Catacombs is a cancelled FPS that was being developed by Cavia for Square-Enix in 2010. The game was never officially announced and the project was shelved in 2011, but in 2012 Siliconera leaked some screenshots and informations about it.

Catacombs was basically an interesting crossover between a RPG with random-generated dungeons and a team-based shooter. The player could upgrade the guns that he found in the ruins but also use magic. Four different characters were available, each one with its own story, which according to the narrative director Brandon Sheffield had an important role in the game:

Since we’re all inherently different and our mind is the only thing we can truly know, then our reality exists only inside of our brains. So each stage was about these people destroying their own fears and doubts and also their identity. They were supposed to be overcoming their sense of self, and how that related to their identity as an American, but also their otherness.”

EDGE in 2012 played an early build of the game that ran on a heavily modifed version of Mindjack engine.

For more informations check Siliconera article and EDGE special feature.

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Wildlife: Forest Survival [XBLA / PSN – Cancelled]

Wildlife: Forest Survival is a cancelled game developed by Electronic Arts which was supposed to be released in 2011 for XBLA/PSN.

The object of Wildlife was to survive in one of the eight different arenas available by exploiting the unique characteristics of the four selectable animals (a hawk, a rabbit, a gator, a fox).

Up to twelve players could also battle each other online. Sadly, it seems that EA decided to shelf the project for good.

For more informations about the game check Destructoid preview.

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Fallen Frontier [PC / XBLA / PSN – Cancelled]

Fallen Frontier is a 2d shooter developed by Moonshot Games which was supposed to be released for PC, XBLA and PSN. As we can see from the video and the screenshots below, it seems that the game was directly inspired by Bionic Commando, inasmuch as the main character could use his grappling hook to pull enemies and to swing across gaps. An offline and online co-op mode was also planned.

It looked quite interesting, but unfortunately Moonshot Games decided to cancel Fallen Frontier in 2013  because, as we can read on joystiq, they wanted to focus on mobile and social games instead:

Post-PAX we came to the grim realization that the market had shifted pretty substantially since we first started working on the game,” Isla said. “The console downloadable platforms had plateaued somewhat, and publishers were less excited about investing there. A game that had sold itself easily the first two times all of a sudden became a much harder sell the third time. By that time, the real interest and the accompanying dollars seemed to had moved on to mobile and social.”

For more informations check the co-optimus hands-on.

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