Xbox 360

Warhound (Techland) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PC]

Warhound is a cancelled open-ended FPS that was in development by Techland (the team behind such titles as Call of Juarez, Dead Island and Dying Light) in 2007, planned to be released for Xbox 360 and PC. The game was quite ambitious for its time, offering RPG-like mechanics, fully destructible environments, usable vehicles, roguelike elements and freedom of choice on many aspects of your character’s development. Players would take the role of a mercenary: you would have been able to freely explore each area and resolve missions as you please, choosing how, where and when to complete each objective.

You could image Warhound as a mix between Crysis, Far Cry and Dead Island. As we can read from the (now offline) official website:

Warhound is an open-ended First-Person Shooter (FPS) set in modern times. In the game, you will play as an ex-Delta Force operative, now working for the world`s largest military company. In Warhound, you`ll complete a variety of challenging missions in battlefields around the world, while later uncovering a massive terrorist plot that targets the United States and thousands of its citizens.

Warhound focuses on complete freedom of choice, and as such, you will have unprecedented opportunities to pick your missions, weapons, battlefield tactics and vehicles. You will select mission start times, insertion/extraction points and the types (land, sea or air) of insertion. You will also need to keep on top of your training, finances and position in the highly-competitive mercenary market to ensure you receive only the most select missions. More successful missions equal more money, which can be used to buy new equipment and weapons for future jobs. Warhound`s innovative First Person Perspective (FPP) cover system will allow you to bring the battle to your enemies in ways you`ve never dreamed of before.”

Unprecedented freedom of choice in an FPS:

– Tackle missions in the order you choose, create your own path through each mission`s objectives

– Plan your tactics and equipment load-outs

– Buy satellite photos, recon data and other intelligence about the battlefield situation

– Pick a deployment time and location, then pay for the means of getting in and getting out

Character development:

– Train your character in several skills, including climbing, repair, and weapons proficiency

– Skills are earned and developed as in the real world  – for ex., shooting ranges improve accuracy, running tracks and climbing walls boosts cover and movement skills

– Develop and use skill specializations to gain advantages in combat; new skills offer fresh opportunities for advancement through the mercenary ranks, and new ways to complete missions

FPP cover system:

– For the first time in FPP/FPS games, you’ll be able to use the innovative cover system, which will forever change your way of looking at FPS games. Use items, trees, buildings and other elements of the environment to hide from the torrent of bullets. Shoot at your enemies from behind safe covers.

Detailed and realistic economy:

– Earn money for each successful mission and by selling materials picked up on the battlefield

– Use your newly earned riches to buy weapons, ammo and new gadgets

– Invest in learning new skills

Constantly changing battlefields:

– Every mission is laid out differently each time you play it, enemy units take up new positions, post new patrols, lay traps in different locations, set up ambushes, etc.

– Enemy A.I. takes into account how you`re playing the mission, and counters with unique strategies and tactics

Interactive, destructible game environments:

– A fully interactive environment means plenty of surprises for the enemy – destroy buildings they are hiding in, set villages on fire to “smoke them out”, cause avalanches and knock down trees to clear your line of fire or to create obstacles for the enemy and cover for you

Rivalry with other mercenaries:

– Climb up the career ladder and increase your reputation among the elite mercenaries of the world

– Successful players will earn prestige among their peers, which leads to better and more lucrative contracts

Some interesting details can also be found in an interview by GGMania:

“Adrain Sikora: There are two primary unique features. First up, we have RPG elements that allow you to specify the characters specialization. This influences the kind of tasks you can undertake and allows you to choose different approaches to achieving a given goal. The second unique element is the economic layer of the game. You need to constantly keep an eye on your finances, and plan expenses ahead. Some missions will require a particular kind of weapon, equipment or vehicle, and you’ll need to buy that. We’ve also played around with various gameplay ideas and solutions, because with got the new Chrome Engine, but it’s too early to talk about that.”

“Adrain Sikora: Weapons and guns are still an open issue. We keep adding new types and models. You’ll get off-roaders, half-trucks, quads, APC’s, tanks and choppers. We’re still planning and testing other stuff. I can’t state a precise number of weapons right now, because we’re still working on it. We want to introduce some variety, but also we want to have all the usual stuff: pistols, SMG’s, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, etc. You’ll also get to use fixed guns and vehicles. We’re not planning a weapon upgrade mode, but most guns will come in different variations.”

“Adrain Sikora: We want to have classic modes, like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and so on, with up to 32 players. We are also working on our own ranking system for online players, which will also allow you to create custom character classes. You’ll also get to use skills and choose equipment just as you’d do in single player. There’ll be vehicles in MP too.”

“Adrain Sikora: The game is 50% done at the moment. We want to release the game in Q4 2007. Warhound will be available in North America, though we haven’t chosen a publisher just yet.”

Warhound was quite hyped at the time, so many screenshots, details and footage can still be found online today. Unfortunately today the project is mostly forgotten by everyone. In the end Warhound was put on hold because the team had to focus their resources and efforts on such titles as Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and the promising Dead Island. As we can read on Engaged:

“Blazej Krakowiak, the company’s international brand manager, told us, “We reached a certain development stage and had to postpone it because of Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.” He continued, “A release of an ambitious and well-received title is always a good moment to unwind a little bit and reevaluate all the options,” speaking to the recent release of Bound in Blood. “It wouldn’t be a good idea for us to discuss them right now.” Though Krakowiak doesn’t exactly confirm our suspicions on the fate of Warhound, his caginess on the game’s fate speaks volumes.”

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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The Oddities (High Impact Games) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360)

The Oddities is a cancelled action adventure that was in development around 2009 – 2010 by High Impact Games, possibly planned to be released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Players would take control of a group of kids that somehow shrunk down while in the woods and had to fight against termites. The team was formed by former Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog developers, to work on such titles as Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and  Secret Agent Clank, so they had skills and talent to develop an interesting game with these premises.

Unfortunately The Oddities was never officially announced so we don’t have any more details about this lost project. Only some concept art is preserved in the gallery below, to remember its existence.

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Blur 2 (Bizarre Creations) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Blur 2 is the cancelled sequel to 2010 arcade combat racing title of the same name (basically “Mario Kart with Real World Cars”) developed by Bizarre Creations and planned to be published by their parent company Activision for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It would have expanded Blur’s gameplay with a new 3D engine and more interactive tracks, for example by using rainstorms and avalanches to spice-up the course, or adding a new ability to race sideways on buildings.

Unfortunately Blur 2 was cancelled due to low sales of the first game, when Activision decided to close down the team in 2011. As we can read on Shacknews:

“Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly. Although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience. Bizarre is a very talented team of developers, however, because of the broader economic factors impacting the market, we are exploring our options regarding the future of the studio, including a potential sale of the business.”

A few years later footage from Blur 2 was leaked online, showing off some new ideas they had for the game:

“This video shows us trying out some new visual effects, partly just because we thought it would be cool, and partly to see how more intense effects would effect the player’s experience (i.e. is driving through a storm shooting and dodging weapons fun and exciting or stupid and annoying).

So we built a load of big storm effects into the Brighton level from Blur and did some fancier animated turn markers. The ‘Shunt’ power up also got an overhaul from the big red ball in Blur, to a big refractive energy pulse here. This new one would throw tear up the road as it homed in on its target, leaving a trail of broken tarmac and scattered, twisted lamp posts.”

In late January of 2020 a Blur 2 playable prototype was also leaked online, preserving what was done on the game before its cancellation. From this proto we can learn the game would have had tracks based on Detroit, Dubai, North Africa, a ski resort, Odessa, Miami, Liverpool, and Hong Kong. Each location would have around 3-4 tracks, along with several test maps, but most of them are just whiteboxed in this build.

Several new cars would have been added, ranging from Ultima, Ferrari, Mazda, RUF, Bugatti, Mitsubishi, and more. There were also a couple of new powerups added, such as a star and a variant of the Shunt powerup, that unfortunately have no effect when used in the proto build. Lastly, a new mode was planned to be added, called “Fans”. It seems that it would have been a competition to get the most fans in a race.

Thanks to AceArroww for the contribution!

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Raphael (Sensory Sweep) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Raphael is a cancelled third person action game that was in development by Sensory Sweep Studios for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game was a free-flying / platform adventure inspired by Dante’s Inferno, in which archangel Raphael would explore hell and fight Satan’s demons. As far as we know this project was pitched by the team to different publishers, but in the end it was never fully developed.

Sensory Sweep closed due to bankruptcy in 2005, with employees working without being paid for months. As we can read on Mobygames:

“The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2005, but kept all projects going with two name changes (including Fooptube). In early 2008 the employees stopped receiving contributions, even though their paychecks were still deducted for the next few pay periods. Soon after that the paychecks bounced and Sensory Sweep lost Brash Entertainment as a big client when it folded at the end of 2008.”

What remains of Raphael today is just some concept art, preserved in the gallery below to remember the existence of this lost game.

Among Sensory Sweep’s other cancelled games are titles such as Crash Tag Team Racing DS, Time Traveler, Sentient and Oregon Files. If you know someone who worked on this lost game and could help us preserve more images or details, please let us know!

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DogTag (DiezelPower) [PC, Xbox, 360 – Cancelled]

DogTag is a cancelled shooter that was in development around 2005 by DiezelPower for PC, Xbox and Xbox 360, to be published by British company Digital Jesters. It was going to be a third-person squad based shooter, featuring cover mechanics and basic orders that could be given to teammates. It would encourage players to use the environment for defensive and offensive maneuvers, with blindfire, flanking and enemies that would counter tactics being used against them.

For the gaming press some of its elements drew comparisons to other cover-based shooters such as Kill.Switch and the then-upcoming Gears Of War, but DogTag had a slightly different gameplay style in mind. By mixing the fast action gameplay of traditional shooters and the slower, tactical combat of games like Full Spectrum Warrior, DiezelPower wanted to create a breed of game in which both these styles would come together. It would create a gritty, but arcade-like tactical shooter, in which players would have to think to defeat their opponents, but could also have fun in fast-paced shooting. Online co-op was also going to be a major feature.

The story would have certainly helped with that grittiness. Described as “controversialby publisher Digital Jesters, the plot focuses on one of the civil wars that frequently ravage a large number of nations in Africa. After a United States-backed group is forced to retreat from the conflict, the U.S. sends in a battalion of Marines to replace them. For reasons unknown, however, the colonel of this battalion revolts and leads a mutiny against his own country. The U.S. once again send in a small elite force tasked to bring the colonel back for questioning. Hell breaks loose when they arrive in Africa, as they are immediately met with heavy resistance from the rebelling American forces, starting a long fight that would pit U.S. soldiers against each other, something rarely seen in a video game.

The most obvious inspiration for the storyline would probably be Apocalypse Now, but it is also eerily similar to another controversial title that would come out in 2012: Spec Ops – The Line (which also featured streamlined tactical combat and a story about a U.S. force led by a mutineering officer and the special ops team sent it to capture him, with the setting changed to an evacuated Dubai stricken by a catastrophic sandstorm). But if the storyline in DogTag was intended to be as psychological or as critical of violence as it was in Spec Ops: The Line, it is unknown.

DogTag was to be released in 2006, and would have been a next-gen title at that point in time. Initially, it would only be released on PC and Xbox, but an Xbox 360 port was planned later on with added content. However, it seems the game was not meant to be.

Towards the end of 2005 publisher Digital Jesters became the center of controversy when it faced several accusations of wrongdoing from many of their business partners. These accusations included lack of payment for games developed by external studios, price changing and selling of games in territories not covered by their contracts, and doing business under different names in what seemed like an attempt to escape financial troubles. Despite a substantial investment that Digital Jesters claimed had left them “110 percent financially secure”, KaosKontrol (the company that owned DiezelPower) petitioned the UK High Court to force Digital Jesters into liquidation, in what is known as a winding-up order. Legal action was also threatened against the key people in the company directly and many of their publishing deals were cancelled. The Digital Jesters website disappeared not long after that.

KaosKontrol claimed that it still owned the rights to DogTag, that its development was not affected and was ready to seek out another publishing deal for their game. However, nothing else was heard about it. With the team presumably unable to find another publisher and left in financial trouble (and possibly accumulating legal fees) they had to close down some time afterwards. DiezelPower themselves seem to have survived in some form and are still around to this day, with their two most recent games, Nation Red and Versus Squad, being available on Steam.

Article by António Pedro Pinto

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