Playstation 3 (PS3)

Alien Fear (Rage) [Beta – PS3, Xbox 360]

Alien Fear is a FPS that was announced in September 2010, initially to be developed by Farm51 and to be published by CITY Interactive. In February 2011, CITY Interactive was displeased by the work done by Farm51 and moved the project to one of their related companies based in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Farm51 responded that they still had rights over the work done so far on the game, so CITY Interactive reworked Alien Fear to change some of the previous work, and planned to released the game on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. In the late summer of 2012, CITY Interactive restructured was renamed to CI Games. At the time that CI Games took control of Alien Fear, Farm 51 reported that the game was 75 percent ready but it is unclear exactly how much was playable.

There are screenshots available of both versions of Alien Fear: the game as designed by Farm51 and the later game that was reworked by CITY Interactive/CI Games. Screenshots from the first half of 2011 reveal that Alien Fear utilized a point system similar to the one used in Bulletstorm and was using the Unreal 3 engine.

The game’s location was set on a ship in deep space. At this point, Alien Fear was similar in tone to the 2008 game Dead Space with many dark corners populated by monstrous aliens. Others who have viewed these early screenshots of Alien Fear compared the game to Doom and Alien. The reworked version of Alien Fear by City Interactive/CI Games used less of an horror setting with larger and more mechanical oriented characters, somehow similar to Gears of War.

In May 2013, Alien Fear was reworked again due to another commitments by the time and title was changed into Alien Rage. The director credited to the game is Mark Lambert Bristol. The game marked Bristol’s first director credit on a video game and Bristol would also direct Enemy Front in 2014. Alien Rage was released on the PC on September 24, 2013, and later on the Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 in October 2013. The game received mixed to negative reviews with many critics focusing on the game’s generic play and glitches.

After Alien Fear, Farm51 began work on several new projects, including a FPS mixing the Bourne Identity and Gothic and another FPS with an Indiana Jones atmosphere. Farm 51 would ultimately create two games for the Xbox 360/Playstation 3: Painkiller: Hell & Damnation and Deadfall Adventures. Work on the Gothic based game likely ended up in Painkiller where the player fights demons, while the Indiana Jones game became Deadfall Adventures which is set in the universe of Alan Quartermain, a 19th century novel and series of films from the 1980’s about an archeologist adventurer.

Article by Blake Lynch, thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Chase [PS3, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Chase is a cancelled action adventure with RPG and racing elements that was in development around 2010 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, possibly to be published by Evolved Games. While we received some details about the game’s story and gameplay, we don’t know the name of the studio that was working on this project and it seems that only an early tech demo was developed before its cancellation, probably because the pitch was not fully green-lighted by the publisher.

Described as a “cinematic and emotional action RPG and Driving game”, Chase could have mixed some interesting gameplay mechanics from different game genres, within modern day real world settings. Some of the areas planned for the game included California (Los Angeles), Nevada (Vegas), California (San Francisco), Utah (Salt Lake City),  Arizona (Grand Canyon), Texas (Baytown Refinery, largest oil refinery in the United States), New York (New York City),  Michigan (Detroit),  Illinois (Chicago) and Louisiana (New Orleans).

Such games as Burnout Paradise, GTA, Twisted Metal and Midnight Club: Los Angeles were quoted as inspirations for the game’s feel and gameplay, and in Chase players would be able to explore 12 different areas in North America, driving around with many upgradable vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, jet skis and airboats) while trying to escape from enemies or chasing down a target, for example a truck with a gas tank that has to be destroyed. Each vehicle would have had many weapons at its disposal, you could customize your car as you please to became a powerful road warrior. By looking at the early tech demo footage, we can say it kinda looks a bit like the Mad Max game tie-in developed by Avalanche Studios and published in 2015.

Two playable characters were available, Logan and Gina chase, each with their own skills and strengths. We can assume the final game would have included many cinematic cut-scenes with a feel similar to high-speed action movies, with reckless driving, chases, car combat and crashes. Levels would have had destructible environments, dynamic night and day cycles as well as weather that would influence gameplay.

Here are some details from the beginning of the story planned for the game:

“Logan Chase has only scratched the surface of the plot from the secret group called The Hand of the Patriots. The clock is ticking and it’s up to Logan and his wife Gina to stop the chain of events that will cause the United States to fall into chaos.

Logan Chase has lost everything and is now an inmate of a maximum security prison awaiting his execution date. This former agent has been labeled an enemy of the state, locked up and all that he cared for has been taken away from him.

The victim of a major cover-up he has been betrayed and lied to by everyone he trusted even his own lawyer. There is a long list of dirty cops, rogue agents and other dark forces standing between him and freedom. Believing his own life is over Logan’s only concern is for his wife. Before his imprisonment he was able to secure her escape. Gina Chase is probably the only person that knows his innocence and is also a target on the run.

HAND OF THE PATRIOTS: From America’s social elite to generations of political dynasties and hard core religious zealots . The Hand moves in shadows and has pull in it’s many political, religious and charity organizations. They are the one’s who are pulling the strings.

After receiving the final verdict of guilty Logan is being transported back to the prison along with other prisoners. He is told by the warden that they finally have word on where his wife is and she will soon be taken. Handcuffed and bound he fights but can’t get free. But then the prisoners attack the guards and grab the keys. A fight between the prisoners and guards begins on the bus.

The prisoners have the bus and the cops are chasing them. A firefight between them begins. (This includes cars and helicopters). Logan shoots down the helicopter and takes out most of the pursuing cop cars but the bus is on fire and can’t go on much longer. He spots a transport filled with new cars. He decides to jump for it from the roof of the bus. Logan makes the jump and begins to hotwire one of the new cars. The cops are closing in as he starts the car and floors it off the carrier.”

It seems that while Chase was set in real-world settings, there would have been some sci-fi or near-future elements, such as chemical compound used by Hand of the Patriots to render the masses passive and release their free will, and the high-tech combat cars you can see in the footage below.

Multiplayer was also planned for Chase, we can assume it could have been some kind of car combat online mode similar to Twisted Metal.

If you know someone who worked on this game please let us know! We’d love to save even more details about it, before it could be forgotten.

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Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow [PS3, Xbox 360, PC – Cancelled, Beta]

Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow is the cancelled third game in the Death to Spies franchise, in developed in 2010 by Haggard Games and to be published by 1C Company on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. While the original project was never released on the 7th generation of consoles, the game was later reworked and rebranded as Alekhine’s Gun and published by Maximum Games for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on March 2016.

Previous Death to Spies chapters (Death to Spies and Death to Spies: Moment of Truth) were set during World War II and the protagonist is a member of the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH called Semyon Strogov. In Ghost of Moscow players had to use stealth to resolve different missions and kill enemies without being detected, exploring non-linear levels with multiple ways of completing objectives, somehow similar to the Hitman series.

As one member of Haggard Games explains, Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow was originally canned because of internal changes at 1C Company:

“Not related to the game. It’s more of their change in business strategy. They closed almost all projects in development and all their internal studios after financial problems and focused only on distribution/publishing already finished products.”

To continue development of the title, Haggard Games ran two crowdfunding campaigns: one on Indiegogo in 2013 and another on Kickstarter in 2014. Unfortunately both campaigns failed to reach the funding goal but they were later able to collaborate with Maximum Games to continue the development of the game as Alekhine’s Gun. This new version follows the same SMERSH (now KGB) agent, Semyon Strogov, who was recruited in the CIA during the 1960’s to untangle a plot inside the United States that could spark nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The original beta version of Death to Spies 3 had two other playable characters: Olga Godunova-Lopes and Victor Kovalev. Players could switch between each character at any time during a mission. Alexegy Agamalov, lead developer of Haggard Games was able to provide more details about some the cuts and changes made on the game:

Matt Redmond: I’ve noticed from media, such as screen shots that Victor Kovalev and Olga Godunova-Lopes were to be playable. Was that removed for gameplay balance or to focus the narrative on Semyon Strogov?

Alexegy Agamalov: They were removed because of complexity. It was too much work to design/balance/playtest/focus test/etc.. And we had to cut some features to release the game in time. (After we signed with Maximum Games additional work related to consoles were added). Story also did change, some levels were redesigned to be played by Semyon only.

MR: What kind of abilities were planned for Victor and Olga?

AA: Olga was able to attract guards and other NPC’s, also climbing into some special places (such as small passages not wide enough for the men). Victor was a sniper and knife master, able to hide in shadows or grass. Semyon was able to use disguises.

MR: How was the story modified as the characters were reduced to only Semyon?

AA: Story was completely changed. First story was based mostly on Bay of Pigs invasion. We also had to change the story because rights on it belonged to our previous publisher.. Well, mostly there was gameplay feature cuts (like removing multi-characters), levels were redesigned. Two of the levels were changed from Cold War era to WW2 era (Dts1 levels remakes).

MR: Did Maximum Games decide to pick up the title as they announced plans that the company wanted to expand their publishing portfolio to more mature/adult games? Or was because of the original gameplay demo? (And how much of the game was completed before Maximum Games picked up the project?)

AA: I can’t speak for Maximum Games, but I guess it was a way for them to expand their portfolio. As for how much it was completed, on the moment of signing with MG, Death to Spies 3 was about half-way completed for features/gameplay and 70% on content (graphics/animations/sounds/etc..)

Death to Spies, Death to Spies: Moment of Truth and Alekhine’s Gun are all available on Steam.

Article by Matt Redmond

 

Devil’s Third [PS3, Xbox 360, PC – Cancelled]

The premiere game of Tomonobu Itagaki‘s Valhalla Game Studio, primarily made of ex-Team Ninja members Devil’s Third was released in 2015 to incredibly divisive reception.  This would come as no surprised as the title was in development on and off for the good hunk of six years.  Starting development as a Microsoft published Xbox 360 title only to move to a multiplatform title under the now defunct THQ, only to soon after transfer to the Korean Publisher Doobic, a partnership that promised mobile and PC releases as well, who too would end up going out of business, finally resting on the Nintendo WiiU as a Nintendo published title.

The game was first formally announced at E3 2010 by THQ,(who later that year would announce the ill fated Insane) after Itagaki met with Danny Bilson, who would stay with the game until the end. Announced as a PS3/360 title the game looked to be an action game with a deep focus on mixing gunplay with melee combat.  While that much is true in the final WiiU release, one big change can be seen right away.  Despite being used for the reveal trailer and title logo, the 3 characters that had been shown would end up replaced by the new protagonist Ivan.  Not much is actually known of the original cast of three, but the male character focused on in the trailer bears a resemblance to a villain in the final game named Big Mouse.  Another change that can be seen is the excursion of wall running in the final release.

The game would not be shown off more until another trailer the following year, this time focusing on the Japanese celebrity Hard Gay (Masaki Tsumitani) going on a tour of Valhalla’s studio. Despite being four years before the eventual release, in this video a boss (Saha Grundla) and many characters from the final game can be seen.

Another drought of information would come, this time for three years until randomly showing up at E32014, this time by Nintendo.  The game had made a drastic change from the last time shown and the lead protagonist was the easiest to see.  This would be the first time the game would be shown off in any real detail including a multiplayer mode, according to Itagaki a main reason for Nintendo picking the title up to begin with.  The title would then release the following year, despite promises of Nintendo polish, the title would be plagued with issues relating to framerate and lower end graphics, which would give off a very last-gen feel.  The contributing factor to polish issues comes from the title shifting through almost as many engines as it did publishers.  Starting from proprietary to the Darksider’s Engine, ending with Unreal 3.

Despite the lukewarm reception of the WiiU title in most regions outside of Japan, Valahalla also released a multiplayer-only PC version in Asian territories and their subsidiary Soleil is developing the upcoming Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strike for current consoles.  Valhalla also opened up a headquarters in Vancouver to watch over each of it’s subsidiaries.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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The Outsider [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

The story behind The Outsider is closely linked to David Braben, a prolific game designer, recognized as one of the most influential figures in the industry, and to the company he founded, Frontier Developments. Braben started actively working in video game development in the early eighties while still being an undergraduate at Cambridge University and delivered his first title Elite in 1984, in a joint effort with fellow university colleague Ian Bell.

Elite was published by British software house Acornsoft, which mostly specialized itself in developing educational applications for the BBC Micro and the Acorn Electron, released in 1981 and 1983 respectively for the UK market by the now defunct Acorn Computers Ltd, also based in Cambridge.

Elite was revolutionary in several regards. For one, its deep mechanics and open ended nature, a revolutionary approach in a time when games used to be intense experiences set to just take some minutes of the player’s time. But it also became widely recognized for the technology running behind, being the first title to include hidden line removal in its tridimensional engine, a crucial first step in the transition between the primitive 3D wireframes and into what the more complex rendering engines would be capable of doing in the upcoming years and decades.

After the success of Elite, Braben delivered Zarch for the Acorn Archimedes, another family of home computers and the first general-purpose line produced by Acorn. Zarch would be subsequently ported to other contemporary systems under the name of Virus. It was just after this that Braben started work on the long-anticipated sequel to his awarded title Elite, named Frontier: Elite II, as well as foundation of his own game development studio, Frontier Developments Ltd, company which still nowadays operates with Braben as its CEO.

Frontier-Developments-Elite-2

After publishing yet another entry in the Elite series, called Frontier: First Encounters and a sequel to Virus for the PlayStation, titled V2000, Frontier was keeping a steady flow of own-produced games covering different genres and platforms. From several expansions of the Rollercoaster Tycoon main series to A Dog’s Life for PlayStation 2 and two entries in the Wallace and Gromit game series, among others.

However, the title discussed here was anticipated to be the most ambitious project Frontier had worked in so far. Announced in the E3 2005 in Los Angeles, The Outsider was an action thriller with strong sandbox roots set to take place in the city of Washington DC and some nearby real world locations, such as the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Joint Base Andrews, and the Newport News Shipbuilding, where panic and martial law has taken over after the Air Force One has been shot down. The main character, CIA operative John Jameson has been wrongly pinned with the crime and must explore the city as a fugitive, fighting back when necessary and finding the clues to clear his name; all while running away and – ideally – keeping a low profile towards police and army forces.

The game’s plot was to be heavily motivated by the fear of terrorist attacks present back then in the occidental society and was said to reflect how a single man could feel and behave after being cornered and seemingly having lost everything in life. It definitely reminds of other widely popular action thriller films and TV shows of the time, such as 24, Prison Break or the Jason Bourne series. But more on that last one later…

Just looking at the available screenshots and trailers gives the impression that the game was meant to be yet another sandbox / open world game where the player must navigate the city and fulfill a – mostly linear – set of missions; all while blowing up facilities or driving some vehicles in the process. However, Frontier’s ambitions with this game were going far beyond this. As the tagline on the British developer’s website explicitly says “(…) The Outsider stimulates characters’ motivations in an immersive, dynamic world and storyline. This gives the player genuine freedom to change the story outcomes in a way not seen before.”

The aim was to bring something closer to Elite’s openness into a different genre and offer the player a range of opportunities to explore and discover. For example, the player’s choice between a stealthy and a more brutal interaction with the environment would have led to different consequences in the story’s progress and point it into different directions. Even in-game dialogs were influenced by this pursuit of freedom, with a quite generous range of answers to choose from in conversations with NPCs, allowing the player to get different reactions from them or again, conduct the plot in different directions.

Unfortunately, the development process of The Outsider underwent some ups and downs that led to the eventual abandon it suffered, after reportedly three years of preproduction work and another two of actual development work had been invested on it. The original publisher, Codemasters dropped its support with the title very advanced in development, which caused the dismissal of around 30 Frontier employees and rendered the company unable to cope with the enormous development costs. The exact reason as to why Codemasters would suddenly drop financial support for a title almost close to completion seems to lie in an internal change of policies and realignment of priorities after purchase of the English developer and distributor by the Indian entertainment conglomerate Reliance Entertainment.

At least on paper, The Outsider was a very promising idea and this woke up the interest of Electronic Arts, company that noticed the resemblance between the game and the Jason Bourne franchise and proposed a reworking of the title to accommodate it in the Bourne universe, as from a market perspective it was safer to bet on well-known intellectual IPs rather than risking a lukewarm reaction with a new one. Sadly, this new iteration of the game did not go forward as negotiations did not fully fructify between both companies.

The Outsider has never been seen again since then, although Braben himself had stated back in 2011 that the game had been abandoned but not cancelled. A few years passed and Frontier kept themselves busy in the meantime with a hefty variety of titles, including new entries in the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, several Kinect games or the beloved Lost Winds and its sequel for Wii.

The latest first-hand information on the game came from Braben himself in declarations to Eurogamer during the Gamescom in 2014, where he stated that “it was stopped,” and “it probably is gone for good.” Considering how much The Outsider was aiming to revolutionize the story telling in games and just try to stick out from the rest of sandbox and action games, it is indeed a pity that we never got to experience David Braben and Frontier’s unique way of interactive storytelling by ourselves.

In 2014 Frontier Developments released Elite: Dangerous, the latest chapter in Braben’s space adventure series, developed thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The game has sold almost 2 million units in 2016 and while Frontier Developments seems to keeping up their promises with Elite, we’ll still miss what could have been with The Outsider.

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