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Lawmaker (Darkroom Studios) [Cancelled – PC]

Lawmaker is a cancelled western themed FPS that was in development for PC by Darkroom Studios around 2005. The team planned to mix the usual first-person shooting gameplay with the less-abused setting of old wild-west America, to create a fun action game for fans of the genre. 

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As we can read from their old website:

“Immerse yourself into the chaos of the 19th century gold rush as Colt Kaufman, a man caught in a degenerative struggle for money, power, and revenge in the western FPS Lawmaker. Coming home to Kaufman for the first time in ten years, you find a butchered father, a mother forced into hiding, and an inferno of greed fueled by deception. Old friends have become new enemies, and the word “trust” is a tattered remnant of days gone by. In a town where silence is the weapon of choice, who can you turn to when your back’s against the wall? It’s up to you to reap revenge upon your father’s murderer, but the killer’s scent grows colder by the hour.

Lawmaker harnesses breathtaking visual effects and the power of an intense, tightly knit single player storyline to create a game that completely consumes the player in a world as grand as the old legends of the Wild West.

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Lose yourself in the old Wild West as you brawl your way through a bevy of breathtaking settings including large estates, plantations, docks, mansions, and a riverboat, just to name a few. When you’re not busy fighting for your life in one of those locales, amble your way through one of the multiple expansive environments. There you can hang with the hoodlums in the poorer parts of town or you can wrap yourself in the security of the law-abiding sections. Whether you elect to live life on the edge or revel in the nightlife is up to you. You choose your own destination, path, and, possibly, destiny.

Whether you’re battling along side them, against them, or playing as them, you’ll interact with over 35 individual characters throughout the Lawmaker universe. They have their own goals and agendas, and they definitely have their own way of dealing with little “problems” that come up during the course of the day. If you become one of those problems, you might just find yourself on the business end of a hand cannon. 

Blast your way through the world of Lawmaker using a number of different weapons. If you get bored blowing away enemies with your handy double barreled sawed off shotgun, pick up an axe and hack your way through them. What’s that you say? You don’t want to have to put down one of them just to pick up another? If the carnage inflicted with one weapon just isn’t enough, then why not create your own deadly duo of weaponry by wielding both simultaneously. What can stand in your way when you have the accuracy of the Peacemaker and the close range power of the sawed off shotgun? Absolutely nothing. 

Highlights

– A battery of Single Player indoor and outdoor missions

– Astonishing visual characterization of the real Wild West with goal-driven A.I., photo-realistic imagery, and a rich storyline

– Staggering environmental effects such as tornadoes, dust storms, and lightning.

– Relentless, fast-paced action that leaves you on the edge of your seat”

In the end Darkroom Studios was not able to complete their project. We don’t know what happened, but Lawmaker and its team soon disappeared: as it often happens with cancelled video games, they probably did not find a publisher interested in supporting them and with no money they had to stop working on the game. 

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Codename: Xtreeme Forces [PC – Cancelled]

Codename: Xtreeme Forces was a squad based real-time strategy action game, combining elements of fast-paced first person shooter with wide perspective and worldview of a RTS. Development started off in November 2003 by Raptor Entertainment, with a release scheduled for 2005 on PC. A playable demo was also made available for gaming journalists. Raptor Entertainment developed their own 3D engine from scratch called “XF Engine”, to use for their commercial projects.

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Gameplay was described as anything but a typical shooter. It was planned to have players interact and talk with many different characters and objects during their missions. All of this was to have a somehow realistic gameplay and different characters relationships. 

Squad-control and RTS-based mechanics were to be implemented too. Additionally, the game’s advanced A.I would have helped to carry out realistic dialogues with NPCs. Missions would open out as you play along, alternating between parts of break-necking action and intense strategy planning.

 The story of Xtreeme Forces was described as following

“The Soviet Union was born in violence. The bitterness of its birth left behind a hankering for peace. This drive for stability was subverted by the still nascent Communist government into its own ends. A comprehensive effort was made to institutionalize the rule of the party and to centralize it. The economy was nationalized and a virtual one- party rule was established. A centralized bureaucracy was entrenched within all organs of the state and eventually within all facets of life. The revolution then turned stale and became exactly what it professed to abhor.

The builders of the soviet empire had systematically destroyed any semblance of self expression and will the populace might have had, making them dependant on the state for everything. Central dependencies were actively created and imposed on the people with ruthless brutality. The empire was thus tragically flawed and when it collapsed under its own ideological discrepancies, it left behind a vacuum. And chaos quickly slipped in to take control.

The Soviet Union had stood for years as a bulwark against ethnical and regional strife. The dissolution of the empire let loose the tensions and discord which had been simmering  for centuries and had been controlled with swift and brutal repressions of a police state. Added to the potent mix were the legitimate aspirations of the people which had been denied for so long under the soviet empire.

As the state started to collapse itself, it became increasingly difficult for whatever little structures of authority that were left, to accept the voices of independence. Wars erupted and the years of perceived or real slights and differences erupted out into the open.  

The joker in the pack was of course the Mafiya. For years the ‘vor y zakone’ had been the lubricant which had kept the state machinery humming. It thrived on chaos and began to move in where the state left off. The Mafiya networks transcended all boundaries and permeated all walks of life. Ruthless and armed with purpose when no one around them had any, it became strong and firmly entrenched within the fabric of all that had once been Soviet. And then there is you……”

A whole range of different vehicles (such as trucks, jeeps etc) and a wide collection of weapons would have been available in the game. A multiplayer mode was in development as well, but it was set to come out at a later point of the games lifespan. Xtreeme Forces contained a custom level-editor as well. Finishing the story-mode would have taken about 12-13 hours of gameplay.

Due to the lack of support from publishers, the team had to give up on Xtreeme Forces in 2004. A new design document was written in 2008 in an attempt to revive the game, but unfortunately they still did not fund a publisher interested in funding their project. By then, the game was fully abandoned.

Initially Raptor Entertainment started working on Xtreeme Forces in order to test out their 3D engine, possibly to use it for other, following games. In the end it seems the team never released any commercial project and they soon vanished without traces. 

Article by Vipaah, thanks to Raupidu and Dan for the contribution!

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Hogs of War 2 [Cancelled – Wii, PS2, PC]

The first Hogs of War is a turn-based strategy game developed by Infogrames Sheffield House (Gremlin Interactive), released for the PlayStation in 2000. While the game received average reviews at the time, it soon became a cult-hit and many years later (2008) Infogrames officially announced a sequel for Wii, PlayStation 2 and PC, titled Hogs of War 2. A Nintendo DS version was also announced, but we can assume it would have been much different from the others.

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Hogs of War 2 artwork was preserved by the Gremlin Archive in their awesome book, with some more details about the project:

“Hogs of War II was started as a concept by the Infogrames Sheffield House team, but never materialized. Was cancelled at Gremlin by Infogrames, passed by Sumo Digital and then cancelled again by Atari (Infogrames) after Blitz Games (Oliver Twins) had started a DS version I think.”

Some images from this cancelled sequel are preserved below, to remember its existence. At the moment we don’t have any screenshot from the lost Nintendo DS version.

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DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven [PC – Cancelled]

DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven is a cancelled adventure game that was in development around 2005 by a small French company known as DarkSkyne, composed of former Ubisoft and Eden Games employees. The game was set in a cyberpunk open-world, playable in both first and third person view. The team was trying to create something similar to a mix of GTA, Deus Ex and Mafia, featuring bio-modifications to unlock special skills to manipulate gravity, perform “bullet time” and much more. As we can read on IGN:

“DK Project: The Last City of Heaven is an open-city game set in Skyne City in the year 2030. The story is one of revenge and ambition, as a 20-year-old girl (Nina Stovakov) who has discovered the murder of her father joins the local mafia to take command of her life. You can use bio-implants to increase the capacities of the heroin, letting her jump higher, move faster, and fight with more power. The game also features multiplayer play, and runs on its own unique 3D engine.”

It was meant to have an open-ended gameplay, with a non-linear single-player campaign with multiple-paths like in Fable, Fallout or InFamous. You could behave in a good or evil way, and NPC would react differently according to your behaviour. To explore Skyne City you could steal many different vehicles, while talking to every character you may meet around to build up your own street-gang. Nina was also planned to have her own life-cycle, possibly growing old and being in need of food to stay alive. You could also buy your own house or even build it from scratch. As you can imagine, this kind of sandbox open world game was probably too ambitious for a small team.

In October 2005 DarkSkyne shared a teaser trailer for The Last City Of Heaven to show their project to potential publishers and in 2007 french press such as Jeuxvideo.com hyped up the game to their readers. The team managed to get funds and support from Nvidia and Intel, but unfortunately it was not enough to keep them alive.

In 2010 DarkSkyne closed down for liquidation, alongside Eden World Group, the holding behind DK Project. Work on The Last City Of Heaven was stopped, probably with only an early prototype completed before its cancellation. Some screenshots, videos and concept art are preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.

Thanks to Dean for the contribution!

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Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 (River City Ransom 2) [Wii, PC – Cancelled]

As we can read in the Kunio-Kun Wiki, Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari for the NES / Famicom is the third entry in the Kunio-kun series, published in the west as River City Ransom / Street Gangs. The game is more RPGish and open-ended than other beat ’em ups, with a non-linear city to freely explore while fighting against enemies to level-up your characters. In the main Kunio series you take the role of Kunio, a japanese high-school delinquent (bancho) with a good heart, punching and kicking other gangs to free the streets of your city.

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The game was released for the Wii Virtual Console in 2007 and a sequel titled “Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2” was announced in 2011 by Miracle Kidz (a team of former Technos developers), planned to be released for Wii and PC. Unfortunately the team decided to officially cancel the project in 2012, to switch resources on different projects.

As noticed by Arc Hound on Twitter:

“Miracle Kidz’s teaser site for Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 (the canceled Wiiware sequel to River City Ransom) is still up after all these years, although it only contains character bios and a link to purchase the planning document from their site.

Sueshiro and Okita, the two planned protagonists from DNM2, actually appeared in a fan-video from 2008 by AC-Promenade supporting the launch of Miracle Kidz’s website. Shame that the game become vaporware and Miracle Kidz has since been disbanded.”

If you can do a translation / summary of the details found in those japanese Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 design doc pages (saved in the gallery below), please leave a message below!

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