X10 is a cancelled first-person shooter for the Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox developed by the defunct Warthog Games. Known mostly for licensed games, Warthog Games was founded in 1997 and worked with such properties as Harry Potter, Looney Toons, Star Trek, and Animaniacs. Like many licensed video games, the British developers’ output was rarely met withcritical praise as their work achieved an average of 59 on Metacritic. X10 was to be a deviation to this formula, as it was not based on any previous IPs.
“X10 situates players in the role of a soldier who, following strict orders, must explore a world of the same name. The planet presents gamers with many challenges, including environmental difficulties, political problems, military factions and of course dangerous enemies and predators.”
Conspiracy Entertainment senior vice president Peter Bergstrom also noted the lack of new Intellectual Properties in the video game industry, and their excitement for the project:
“We are very pleased to team up with an outstanding partner like Warthog to develop a new game and a new game IP for today’s increasingly discerning consumers.”
Little was shown off of the game during its reveal, besides concept art, a screenshot, and an Easter2004 release date. More information about the game was revealed during an interview with Worth Playing.com. The Project leader on X10, Hal Sandbach, discussed many details about the game, including an explanation of the games’ title:
“Without giving too much away, the player and the rest of their squad are sent to investigate why there is a lack of communications from a particular research station. Twelve such research stations exist, although the player only gets to see one. The one the player is sent to is the tenth, hence x10.”
As for gameplay, X10 would have featured open-ended levels set on an alien planet and facing off against space marines, settlers, X10’s indigenous population, and the mysterious Hollow (which despite being important enough to be named dropped in the Worth Playing interview, the Hollow were not mentioned in any other pre-release materials). The game also would’ve mainly been set in varied environments on the planet, with Hal Sandbach specifically stating how “we want to get away from the corridor-based games as much as we can.”
To traverse these large environments, the game would’ve featured several different vehicles. Sandbach even teased that the games’ opening was to be set inside a vehicle. X10 would have also implemented a complex physics system for each of the in-game vehicles that was being developed using the teams’ previous work with physics-modules. The Worth Playing interview teases that the game planned on using boats, buggies, air vehicles, and even trains.
The game was also to feature light survival mechanics, with players’ carrying capacity would be limited so they would have to choose what items to take with them throughout the levels. This goes in tandem with the weapon selection for X10 and while not much is known about the full loadout, Hal Sandbach did divulge some details. The game was intended to have a mix of traditional FPS weapons like sniper rifles, and more unique weapons, although nothing in particular was revealed.
After the Worth Playing interview, X10 was not discussed much by either Warthog or Conspiracy. A November 2002 interview with website NoFrag.com took place but no substantial new information was revealed, and the game was not heard from again after 2002. In 2004, Warthog was acquired by Tiger Telematics to develop games for the then upcoming Gizmondo handheld. Now under the umbrella of Gizmondo Europe, they were developing several games for the Gizmondo including Momma Can I Mow the Lawn?.
After the failure and bankruptcy of Gizmondo, many staff members from Warthog came together to form Embryonic Studios, which was purchased by TT Games to become TT Fusion. The team still exists and are working on the LEGO Franchise and their handheld counterparts to this day.
Article by Alex Cutler Thanks to Dan for the contribution!
Symbiosis (formerly known as Project Alpha and The Incident) is a canceled futuristic stealth action/adventure game developed by elseWhere Entertainment in 2002 for PC, alongside potential Xbox and Playstation 2 versions.
Information about this project is pretty scarce. The game was designed by former developers of Appeal Studios, known for developing the 1999 PC game Outcast. The title was first mentioned in 2002 by Gamekult:
“(…) elseWhere Entertainment, a two-year-old company is currently working on Project Alpha, a working title which, admittedly -even from its founder, will be the conceptual continuation of the first Outcast.”
It was then Jeuxvideo.com which, in 2003, revealed the first images of the game alongside new information:
“elseWhere Entertainment is currently developing Symbiosis, an adventure/action game planned for PC and consoles. If the developers maintain still some mystery concerning the scenario of the game, we know that the action will take place in a futuristic universe with a crucial part of interactions between the characters. The team wishes to go beyond their previous project, Outcast, in terms of A.I. and storytelling, leveraging their NeoReality technology.”
After that, elseWhere Entertainment decided to cancel Symbiosis in order to focus on Totems instead, also canceled a few years later. Michaël Defroyennes shared in 2013, on his personal blog, some additional information on the concept of the game:
“Some concepts I did for a game prototype called Symbiosis, started in September 2002 : The game concept was about action/stealth combats in a space station on an unfriendly planet, unfortunately it was stopped to focus on other prototypes.”
Oddly enough, Gamestar also shared information regarding the concept of Symbiosis, slightly different than what was revealed until now. According to them, Symbiosis was going to be:
“(…) A squad based tactic shooter with a 4 player coop mode set in an futuristic environment. Before it was announced as Symbiosis it had the code names Project Alpha and The Incident.”
After the cancellation of Symbiosis, elseWhere Entertainment was acquired by 10Tacle Studios and released their only game in 2006, a sport title named David Douillet Judo, before shutting down in 2008.
City of the Dead, also known as The Living Dead : City of the Dead and George A. Romero’s City of the Dead, is a canceled horror first-person shooter developed by Kuju Entertainment and published by Hip Interactive for PC, Xbox and Playsation 2 platforms in 2005.
Presented as “the goriest game ever made”, City of the Dead was first revealed in August 2004 by none other than American McGee as his next game, wanting to sign a deal with Living Dead Productions, the company of the father of the Zombie film, George A. Romero:
“Recently, my company TMIEC partnered with Asylum Entertainment to bring to life a new Romero concept called “City of the Dead”. We’re now in the process of shopping the interactive rights to games publishers. The tagline for the product is “the goriest game ever made”.
“The guys at MercurySteam sent over a couple of cool zombie concept images. Based on what an amazing job they’ve done on Scrapland we’re really excited to have them attached to develop the Romero “City of the Dead” game.”
In December of the same year, Hip Interactive revealed to have signed a deal with Living Dead Productions about a game named City of the Dead, without saying if it was the same concept initially pitched by American McGee, or a brand new one as some media would later said that it was a different game:
“Horror fans have been searching for the ultimate experience in gaming, and we intend to deliver it to them with the tremendous creative input of legendary director, George A. Romero, and Living Dead Productions,” said Arindra Singh, President and CEO of Hip Interactive.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to share George’s work and ideas with the game buying public,” said Simon Bailey, Managing Director of Living Dead Productions. “We are very impressed with the quality of work that Hip will bring to the games. George’s fans and gamers alike will not be disappointed!”
Shortly after this announcement, media revealed that it was ultimately Kuju Entertainment that would develop it, replacing MercurySteam, which was slated for release in March 2006:
“Back in December, Hip Interactive announced it will produce games based on the work of horror director George A. Romero, creator of classic zombie-fests like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
Hip Interactive has recruited developer Kuju Entertainment to produce the first of the Romero games, which is expected to appear by March of 2006.”
The game was officially announced shortly before E3 2005 in a statement from Hip Interactive:
“City of the Dead” begins as four desperate survivors escape a ravaged zombie infested city by helicopter. After making it to the remote island of Isla Mortal (N.B. : some media wrote that the name of the setting was Island of Ningun Futuro instead), an accident destroys their only means of escape. Unbeknown to them the island is home to a top secret military installation, overrun by the walking dead. Armed with an arsenal of traditional and futuristic weaponry, players must battle the living dead from dusk ’till dawn in series of abandoned locales. With split-screen co-op missions, party mode, and four-player online feature, “City of the Dead” also promises a range of multiplayer features that allow gamers to play as human or zombie.”
We also learned that Tom Savini lent his voice to one of the main characters:
“The company also revealed today that Tom Savini, star of From Dusk till Dawn and known horror makeup artist, will lend his voice and likeness to City of the Dead. Savini will play William “Red” McLean, a battle-worn ex-cop who initially lends support to the player, but will eventually be a playable character himself.”
Presented at E3 2005, the game received various previews from IGN, Gamespy and Gamespot. Thus, IGN wrote:
“Hip Games’ City of the Dead is a first-person shooter that’s “Trying to become Burnout for the shooting genre.” That’s at least according to company representatives, anyway. Judging by the short presentation we saw, it seems that City of the Dead can more accurately be described as, “a totally vicious FPS that features buckets of blood interspersed with the occasional cubic ton of tenderized brain matter.” City of the Dead does still feature some cool Burnout-like gameplay elements, though.
One of the modes within City of the Dead mimics Burnout 3’s infamous Crash Mode and tasks players with killing as many zombies as possible with a single shot from a specific weapon. To do this, players will want to wait for the most opportune moment to fire their weapon at one of a number of preset environmental hazards, be they massive crates suspended from cranes or conveniently placed combustible barrels. Once you shoot, the widely used Havokphysics systems will take care of the rest. This way the results of the action are always different.
In terms of an actual story mode, City of the Dead features one city, some animated dead people who are terribly reluctant to stop moving, and a few dudes who’d really like to not become one of them.
In a way, City of the Dead sort of resembles a cross between Resident Evil and Soldier of Fortune. That is, the game features an excessive amount of dismemberment and gore, which it is not at all afraid to highlight with a number of cinematic, slow-mo camera swoops, zooms and pans. But unlike Soldier of Fortune, the enemies just keep on coming.
Before we go, check out this cool thing we noticed that most people might overlook… When you shoot an enemy, he is entirely governed by physics, meaning he’ll flop around like any good rag doll should. But, totally unlike just about every other game under the sun, enemies in City of the Dead can actually get up and begin animating after the physics routine has initiated and played out. This is, as far as we know, a technical problem no other developer has yet been able to resolve well (at least we haven’t seen it implemented in any other game).”
“City of the Dead isn’t based on any specific Romero films, but it is based within the larger Dead universe. In it, you play as one of five different characters, all of which are just trying to survive in a city that has been overrun with the walking dead.
The game itself is a first-person shooter, and it really doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a fast-paced arcade shooter. You’ll find a number of different weapon types, including pistols, machine guns, grenades, and shotguns. There were a couple of unique aspects of the weapons we saw. For instance, the shotgun is fully pump-action, meaning each time you fire, you’ll have to manually reload it using the left trigger button. While that might seem a little cumbersome at first, it actually wasn’t, and it seemed to add to the intensity of the action. Another cool thing is the way you can kind of jury-rig other things onto your weapons to make them more effective in melee combat. For example, you can tie a shovel to the butt of the shotgun, making it much easier to explode a zombie’s head. The same can be done to your pistols, by taping brass knuckles to them.
Zombies tend to travel in groups, and they come in different varieties. Obviously, there’s the usual lumbering, biting, angry zombie, but we also saw a cop zombie, who continually fired a shotgun at us at random intervals and a leaper zombie, a creepy little guy who crawls around on the ground and then jumps at you. Zombies cannot be killed unless you destroy the brain, but you can knock them backward or even blow off body parts if you hit them elsewhere.
There will be 14 to 16 story missions in the game, though the story here is barely the focus. The developers used Burnout as an example of how they are really looking to make a super-arcadey, over-the-top kind of game. So a lot of the mission objectives will be appropriately focused on killing as many zombies as you can, without much worry about anything else. Once you complete the story mode, you’ll also have arcade and multiplayer modes to check out. The arcade mode works similarly to Soul Calibur’s weapon master mode. You’ll be given a series of available challenges, each with semi-arbitrary rules, like you can only use melee combat, or you have to kill a certain number of a specific type of zombie. The multiplayer will be online for up to four players and features competitive and cooperative play. The cooperative mode sounds especially cool, as during the mode, your friends can be infected. Here, you can opt to just kill your partner immediately, sparing him the change of death, or you can keep him alive long enough to help you kill some more zombies. You’ll have to be careful, however, because once they turn, they’ll come after you.”
“The game’s big visual attraction is the physics engine which flings zombies realistically around based on point of impact. Naturally, this means that there will be a variety of classic weapons such as pistols, shotguns and rocket launchers to turn the zombies into so much zombie goulash. Since it takes a headshot to kill these things, the game also rewards good shots with a beautiful images of exploding heads using a slow motion “bullet-time” effect. Given how tough the zombies are, though, it’ll take more than just a steady hand to take them out, though. That’s why the environment is full of exploding things such as gas canisters, fuel drums and crates of explosives that can set off awesome chain reactions. Judicious use of these items will be vital in clearing out levels in story mode.
As much fun as story mode looks, though, it doesn’t really hold a candle to the “One-shot” levels. These are bonus levels that are unlocked as the player goes through story mode. Undoubtedly inspired by Burnout 3’s crash challenges, the “One-shot” levels puts you in an enclosed space with a bunch of zombies wandering around and a gun with only one bullet. The challenge is to pick out the correct exploding device to shoot to set off a chain reaction that will kill as many zombies as possible in as entertaining a manner as possible.
City of the Dead will sport a multiplayer mode, but rather than just offer up a vanilla deathmatch capability, the game will instead sport a four-player co-op mode that works off the strengths of the setting. If a player gets bitten once during the game (as opposed to shot or hit), that’s it, a countdown timer starts, the player dies, and turns into a zombie. That means that even though four players start the game together, eventually someone’s going to end up a zombie — and that’s where the real fun starts. Players who become zombies will respawn as new zombies when they die and start hunting those who are still alive. They get all the strengths and weakness of the undead (slow speed and incredible resilience), so the game for the zombies becomes using their brains to set up ambushes for the human players.”
Unfortunately, only 2 months after City of the Dead was revealed, Hip Interactive filed for bankruptcy:
“After failing to strike a last-minute deal to bolster its shaky finances, Hip Interactive said it has ceased operations and would close its doors completely in short order. The company said this morning that “discussions with a third party to provide interim relief in respect of the Company’s immediate financing needs were not successful.”
“The publisher had a number of high-profile games on its upcoming slate including Call of Cthulhu: Destiny’s End, George Romero’s City of the Dead, and Jackie Chan Adventures. There has been no word on which publishers are in line to pick up those and other games due from Hip.”
Only a month after the publisher’s demise, Kuju Entertainment was trying to find a new one for the game, but alas, no deal will materialize and City of the Dead vanished after this news. It was once suggested that Freeze Interactive, a Franco-Swiss publisher founded by former staffs of the European branch of Hip Interactive, had taken over the game, now titled World of the Dead, but nothing was officially confirmed, and World of the Dead disappeared very quickly without any information, just like Freeze Interactive. This rumor followed the fact that Ghost Wars, another game initially canceled with the closure of Hip Interactive, was taken over by Freeze shortly after.
Sword of Dracula is a cancelled horror First-Person Shooter developed around 2004-2005 by Critical Mass Interactive for PC and Xbox. It was based on the eponymous comic-books franchise.
Few details are currently available about this game. According to its developers, their Sword of Dracula’s project was inspired by Call of Duty in terms of gameplay.
It was officially revealed by Critical Mass Interactive in February 2004 with a press release indicating that a demo would be showed at the Game Developers Conference the next month, thanks to Gamespot:
Critical Mass Interactive (CMI) has today announced the development of Sword of Dracula, a first-person shooter based on the Image Comics series of the same name. No release date or platforms for the game have been confirmed at this time, but CMI and the series’ creator, Jason Henderson, have stated that they plan to have a demo of the game ready for next month’s Game Developers Conference in San Jose.
“The moment we saw the Sword of Dracula comic, we knew this was the franchise to jump on,” said Critical Mass Interactive Vice President of development Billy Cain. “We’re talking a commando-vampire war in fierce, cinematic, Call of Duty-style gameplay. You could see it from the first issue. We knew we had to make this happen.”
In the Sword of Dracula comics, Dracula is portrayed as the world’s foremost terrorist, using the blood of thousands of victims to build himself a vampire army. Henderson describes his take on Dracula as “a king, a massive 300-year-old ubervampire with an army of vampires and zombies, and it’ll take every Humvee, cannon, and Blackhawk Ronnie has to bring him down.”
The character Henderson refers to as Ronnie is the character that players will assume the role of in the game, a covert agent named Veronica Van Helsing, who leads a UN-connected antivampire operation known as Polidorium.
Shortly after, HomeLAN was able to get an interview with Billy Cain, where some more informations about it’s Call of Duty approach was shared:
HomeLAN – What can you tell us about the graphics engine that the Sword of Dracula game will use?
Billy Cain – Unfortunately, we cannot make a final decision on the engine until we sign on with a publisher. Right now, we’re using Call of Duty to pre-visualize the game for potential publishers.
HomeLAN – What is the current status of the game’s progress and when will it be released?
Billy Cain – At this point, we have secured the license for all video games based upon the comic book, Sword of Dracula. We are in the process of building a demo to show publishers one way to visualize the game, and we happen to be using the Call of Duty engine, and modifying it to suit our needs. As for release dates, that will be part of our negotiations with publishers. We want to find a publisher that will give the game the time it needs in development, so that it can compete with the best games out there.
After all of this, developers went silent about the game for some months, only briefly mentionned in june of the same year by GenGamers, where we learned that they were in negotiations with different publishers:
Critical Mass Interactive´s Billy Cain sent over a few words in which he mentions that Critical Mass Interactive is still in negotiations on their upcoming FPS Sword Of Dracula with a number of publishers.
It was only in February 2005, almost a year after its official announcement, that the game was talked about again thanks to NoFrag.com, announcing a change of graphics engine and the addition of an Xbox version:
Without news of Sword of Dracula since last June, I contacted the developers of the game: it is still in development at Critical Mass Interactive. After its first prototype, the developer changed the engine to please some publishers interested in the project and is currently preparing a new prototype (this time on PC and Xbox) with the aim of signing a contract with a publisher. In any case, the release of the game is therefore still a long way off.
Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on Critical Mass Interactive’s side as they never managed to secure a publisher, forcing them to definitely cancel the game and refocus on outsourcing. As an outsource company, Critical Mass worked on games such as Rift, Ultima Online, Tabula Rasa and Borderlands, before disappearing. The licence was, in the end, never adapted into video games.
Velvet Assassin is a stealth game released in 2009 for PC and Xbox 360, developed by Replay Studios (formerly Team Toro) and published by SouthPeak Games. The title takes place during the Second World War, where player take control of Violette Summer, a British spy in the service of MI6, attempting to thwart the Nazi war effort, operating behind enemy lines. The game’s story was inspired by the real-life secret agent/saboteur Violette Szabo.
But before being released in this form, the game had two other versions, during a hectic development spanning approximately from 2002 until its release in 2009.
In February 2003, German studio Team Toro revealed its very first game, Sabotage 1943, a First-Person Shooter whose scenario and background were identical to Velvet Assassin. It is then planned for a release during the Winter of 2003/2004 on PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox, and the press release revealed some information:
“France 1943. Behind the façade of stability a secret, desperate, and cruel war of liberation has already begun. As a spy, saboteur, and partisan of the French resistance movement, the Résistance, you will also get involved in this fight.
The omnipresent enemy keeps everything under control and reacts on every kind of resistance in a barbarous and brutal way. An open military confrontation would be a lost cause.
Therefore, another way has to be found to fight the enemy. You conspire against the Nazis, operate underground, and pretend to be a harmless civilian. This way you can deceive and infiltrate the Nazis to strike secretly. But don’t fall in the hands of the Gestapo that even plants spies in the resistance groups…”
3D tactical first-person shooter with the newest technologies offers extremely realistic game visuals. Dynamic real-time light and shadow effects perfectly reflect the sinister atmosphere of the background story.
Particle system makes the explosions look extremely realistic. Environmental effects, such as dust, rain and leaves, create a dark and gloomy atmosphere.
Flexible camera control and exact details of the game world even allow the player to peek through keyholes.
22 levels will lead you through the cruel story, which is based on true historical facts.
Scenarios in authentic French theaters of war in 1943/44, such as Paris occupied by German forces.
Seven different characters with various specific attributes
Complex enemy AI with numerous surprising behavior patterns
Various clothing and uniforms allow the player to operate secretly in military areas behind the enemy lines.
Player’s behavior has a direct effect on the relationship between the population and the Résistance (betrayal, assistance, etc.)
By skillfully sneaking up on the enemy, soldiers can be overwhelmed and forced at gunpoint to open doors and reveal vital information
When under fire, the player can fake death by using the “Playing Dead Mode” to deceive the enemy
Shortly after, the developer showed a first trailer, then, later, it was a video preview from Gamestar in April of the same year that was published.
However, after these revelations, the game felt into total obscurity and was not mentionned by its developer until May 2006, just after completing Crashday for Moon Byte Studios. Unsurprisingly, after almost 2 and a half years of absence, the project had undergone a complete overhaul. Simply renamed Sabotage, the title did not change context nor main character, but took the form of a Third-Person Shooter, planned exclusively on PC for 2007 and published by Anaconda, the label of DTP Entertainment. It was presented at the E3 and Game Convention 2006 shows, and it was again Gamestar that released a video preview in November of the same year, notably showing several phases of gunfights.
Early 2007 should have been the release window for Sabotage, but it wasn’t. The title would reappear briefly during the Game Convention 2007 for a release now planned in Autumn 2008, where we learned that Gamecock Media Group took over the publishing rights.
Finally, in March 2008, new changes occured for this project, now named Velvet Assassin with an Xbox 360 version in addition, it would see its main character partially redesigned, as well as its HUD. The gunfights phases that we could see in Gamestar’s preview seem to have been mostly dropped in favor of a more tactical and stealth-oriented gameplay.
Velvet Assassin would finally see the light in Spring 2009, after experiencing an additional delay and a final change of publisher with SouthPeak Games, following the acquisition of Gamecock Media Group. The game received mixed to average critical reviews and Replay Studios filed for bankruptcy in August 2009, only 3 months after its release.
During these 7 years of existence, Replay Studios seemed to have a lot of difficulty in the development of its titles. In addition to the chaotic one for Sabotage 1943, the company also had Survivor in production, a title announced in October 2004. Crashday, only available on PC since 2006, should have been released in 2005, also on Playstation 2 and Xbox. At some point, we could even read on the now-defunct Replay Studios website this:
“Sabotage 1943 is a tactical shooter game in WWII. As allied elite agent Jason Turner you perform dangerous, top-secret guerilla and sabotaging activities which officially don’t exist behind enemy lines.”
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