Playstation 2 (PS2)

Sabotage 1943/Sabotage (Velvet Assassin) [PC, PS2, XBOX – Cancelled/Prototype]

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.

Sabotage 1943

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…”

Engine Specs

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.

Game Features

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, a video preview from Gamestar in April of the same year was published.

Sabotage

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.”

Sabotage 1943 video:

Sabotage 1943 images:

Sabotage images

Amon Ra (Widescreen Games) [PS2 – Prototype]

Amon Ra is a cancelled adventure game developed by Widescreen Games around 2003, exclusively for the Playstation 2.

As we can read on the personal website of Franck Sauer, Widescreen Games had decided to mandate him and Yann Robert to work on this demo, just after the closure of their own company, Appeal Studios, following the cancellation of Outcast 2: The Lost Paradise and Tintin, using assets and technology previously created for those projects:

“After Appeal (our previous studio) went bankrupt (see Outcast II and Tintin stories) Yann and I kept working together on some work for hire while thinking about exactly what to do next.

During that time, Olivier Masclef who had been producer on Outcast came to us with an adventure game concept called Amon Ra. His studio (Widescreen Games) was busy on another production and he asked us to build an early prototype on Playstation 2 based on this concept.

As we had acquired the technology from Outcast II we had something to start with to quickly build the prototype. Yann started cleaning and enhancing the various unfinished technologies that would later serve as the basis for our FreshEngine.

To help me quickly edit the map, I used some refurbished assets from the defunct Outcast II and built some new stuff on top of it. My friend Francois-Xavier Melard worked on the character.

This was a short work of a couple weeks and after this prototype, the project never went further into development.”

Technology

“Some very advanced technologies for the time can be seen in action here (some of which were already implemented in the Outcast II prototype), such as realtime tesselation and vector displacement (water), radiosity and light probes (lighting of the character dependant on the environment, with light bouncing), soft shadows, dynamically rendered billboard (small vegetation), and pixel-occluded lens flares.

One of the amazing thing was the incredible amount of triangles the Playstation 2 was capable of pumping. Around 300k in a single frame, with the prototype running at 60 frames per seconds (…)”

Very few information are currently available regarding Amon Ra as it’s development cycle was pretty short. By the look of videos and concept arts, it seems the game was set in a world based on the Egyptian Mythology.

If you know someone else who worked on Amon Ra and could help us preserve more screenshots, footage or details, please let us know!

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Surface Tension (Krome Studios) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Surface Tension is a cancelled Playstation 2 strategy / adventure game that was in early development by Krome Studios around 2008. Gameplay would have been similar to a mix between Pikmin and Populous, with players exploring an alien “non-Newtonian fluid” world commanding creatures to resolve puzzles and fight enemies. Krome worked on this prototype to try some new ideas but it was soon pushed aside to work on new projects for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

As we can read in an old article by GamesOn (now closed):

“[Surface Tension] was sort of a cross between Pikmin and Populous,” says Steve. “The surface of the world was this sort of non-Newtonian fluid, and you had to guide your creatures from island to island, but if you had too many in one spot, they’d sink.” The team worked on the game’s development for six weeks, creating a demo which allowed you to order your creatures around, drop markers to attract and repel enemies, and so on. The objective was to send your creatures to the end of the level, directing them to solve problems along the way – chopping down trees to serve as bridges across the water, and generally being completely adorable.

“It was never really meant to get shown,” says Steve. “It was more a test to see if we could do something different.” Developed on Krome’s PS2 engine, the game was abandoned when they began to migrate to the next-gen engines built for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, although they did discuss returning to it after the first episode of Blade Kitten was published – a dream that, sadly, may never be realised.

Only a few tiny screenshots for Surface Tension were published on GameOn, if you know someone who worked on this lost game who may help us preserve more images, please let us know!

Thanks to Maik for the contribution!

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Hateful Chris: Shoot the Moon [PS2 – Cancelled]

Hateful Chris: Shoot the Moon is a cancelled action game that was in development by Furious Entertainment and Ubisoft, planned to be published on Playstation 2. As described on its old official website the game was meant to be “a unique blend of cultural satire, outrageous violence and toilet humor that bridges the gap between interactive platform-based action and arena fighting intensity”.

“Hateful Chris will soon be making his 3d debut! Armed with an extensive arsenal garnered from his interactive environments, HC must fight to prevent Dollar Bill from using the moon as a giant, 24-hour billboard! This proposed game from Furious Entertainment is in the design stage ­ check out the site for a detailed story overview, gameplay description and loads of cool concept art!”

Shoot the Moon was actually a 3D sequel to Hateful Chris: Never Say Buy, an anti-capitalism parody PC title conceived by Chris Bourassa and Dana Fortier in 2000:

“Sworn to destroy advertising and consumer culture in all its incarnations, Hateful Chris is the icon of brand resistance! He trashes malls, he burns billboards, he berates boy bands AND he flosses regularly! What more could you want in a protagonist? Using everything from fire hoses to chainguns, Hateful Chris works to change the world into an unbranded paradise – albeit through ridiculously violent and exaggerated means! […] With over 200,000 downloads and steady cult support, Hateful Chris is easily the world’s favourite little cartoon anarchist!”

When released Hateful Chris became a hit and noticing this success Ubisoft approached Chris and Dana to propose a collaboration for a 3D version of the game. As we can read on Ookpixels:

“Released in June of 2001 as Hateful Chris: Never Say Buy, the game developed a loyal cult following and piqued the interest of Ubisoft, who hired both Bourassa and Fortier right after graduation. Furnishing them with a full team, the massive publisher gave them the freedom to expand on their original game and take it to epic new heights.

Their follow-up – slated for release on Sony’s PlayStation 2 – would feature a total 3D graphical overhaul, and centre around Dollar Bill’s plan to extend his commercial grasp to outer space. Dubbed Hateful Chris: Shoot the Moon, it was set to be Bourassa’s big debut in the industry. Then, in a move his own character could have seen coming from a mile away, Ubisoft canceled the game.”

We don’t know how much of the game was completed before its cancellation, but some pre-rendered videos created for the project are still available online. Even if Shoot the Moon was never released, Many years later Chris Bourassa and Dana Fortier worked together on another idea that later became the indie-hit Darkest Dungeon.

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Paparazzi (Widescreen Games) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Paparazzi is a cancelled photography adventure game that was in development in 2005 by Widescreen Games for Playstation 2. This project must not be confused with the European conversion of “Simple 2000 Series Vol. 53: The Camera Kozou”, which was renamed “Paparazzi” by 505 Game Street.

As far as we know Widescreen Games’ Paparazzi was never officially announced, and only a single image with a 3D model made for the game is preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost game. We can assume players would have to take photos of celebrities, then sell them to tabloids.

If you know someone who worked on this game and could help saving more details or screenshots, please let us know!