Playstation 3 (PS3)

Ride to Hell: Retribution [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ride to Hell: Retribution is a low-rated action game developed by Eutechnyx and Deep Silver Vienna, released in 2013 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC: the game is a linear, buggy, and occasionally tasteless mess. When it was originally announced in late 2008 as Ride to Hell it was meant to be an true open world adventure taking place in 1960’s California, with influences coming from Biker films. The game was planned to be published in 2009 and formally shown off as the cover story for the January 2009 issue of Play magazine.

As we can read in the first press release:

“Action loaded from the very start with free roaming environments, players can immerse themselves in the liberty and freedom of riding full throttle with their gang on a multitude of different vehicles through the dusty flats of Western America. Protecting their turf, their brothers and their machines from rival gangs is just a taste of what this epic game will involve.

‘Ride to Hell’ is not for the faint hearted; it’s aimed heavily at the player who wants to become fully involved in the original West Coast biker culture. With its hard drinking, bare knuckle environment, this is as close to the action as you can get.

In a movie style production model, the internal Deep Silver studio is teaming up with leading creative companies such as Eutechnyx, Perspective Studios, and others, to bring the authentic and massive game world of ‘Ride to Hell’ to life.”

The keyword to describe the original “beta” game was “free”: freedom to explore the world as you please with your bike. The team’s goals were to create a vast experience, a sandbox world with incredibly high details. Your motorcycle was just as important: it would be used to move around the map, earn respect from other NPC bikers and to show your power. You could have been able to customize your own motorcycle to recreate nearly anyone you’d find in real life.

You would take control of a man named Ray, a Vietnam War veteran returning home to find his world changed. He would soon join a Biker Gang named Devil’s Hand: this would start the game’s adventure, with the mission to earn respect for the gang, to make it grow and heighten your reputation as one of the best bikers. This had effects on gameplay and on the game’s NPCs, with other bikers following you as a posse, drivers being weary about you and Police trying to arrest your gang. All depending on how you would play.

Sex, drugs, rock and roll: these all would find a place in Ride to Hell.  Allegedly, over 300 licensed songs were to be featured in the game, fitting each mood, from Blues, Country, to Hard Rock. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf was even featured in the reveal trailer. In the original beta version of Ride to Hell you could deliver mushrooms to a chef to cook them and eating the wrong one would cause a psychedelic reaction. You could have been able to help a doctor bring special medicine to an outskirts Hippy Joint, work on a porn movie-set to earn a camera you could use to blackmail a sheriff found with a prostitute. These are a few examples of the sandbox mechanics were planned for the original version of the game.

Unfortunately development of Ride to Hell was not going well and the title would be cancelled in 2010, along with the closure of the Deep Silver Vienna team. The game would reappear in early 2013 with only Eutechnyx to develop it, losing most of its original open world and sandbox mechanics. The beta main protagonist Ray was replaced by Jake Conway, a  Vietnam War veteran on a quest for revenge after his brother was murdered by the Devil’s Hand, now a rival gang.

In the end Ride to Hell: Retribution was published in 2013 by Deep Silver, a Xbox Live Arcade / PSN game titled Ride to Hell: Route 666 and a mobile game titled Ride to Hell: Beatdown were also planned, but due to the highly negative reception of the main game both titles were later cancelled.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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Eden (Antichrist) [Cancelled – PC, Xbox 360, PS3]

Eden is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development in 2009 by Zentropa Games as a tie-in / epilogue of the Antichrist movie directed by Lars Von Trier. Zentropa Games was part of Zentropa Entertainments, the Danish film company started in 1992 by Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen and from an interview published on Eurogamer DK it seems that Aalbaek was the one to suggest making a game related to Antichrist.

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tie-in

Eden was based in the same universe as Antichrist, with a new plot starting where the film ends. The player would have assumed the role of Willem Dafoe‘s character, who goes back to the lodge in the woods (called “Eden”) to try to figure out the cause for the violent events seen in the movie. Eden would have been a deep dive into your darkest and most gloomy personal fears, as players had to create their own profile at the start of the game, answering to a series of questions about their fears, and thus making the adventure a very personal experience, that would change for each individual.

We can assume gameplay would have been somehow similar to the Silent Hill series mixed with Heavy Rain and other Quantic Dream games, but played in first person. The game was conceived to be played multiple times, to see all the different endings and events. Zentropa Games planned to release Eden in 2010 for PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.

As we can read in an article by Superannuation published by Kotaku:

Morten Iversen, formerly a writer on the Hitman franchise at IO Interactive, led the development of the game, and Politiken added that “Von Trier [had to] approve the [team’s] final design. […] In an e-mail, Iversen said Eden “was originally intended to be a companion piece to [the film],” but the development team ultimately felt Antichrist’s audience was too narrow, so they decided to reposition it as a unique story-driven title appealing to people interested in games like Heavy Rain. Iversen compared the connection between Eden and Antichrist to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name: there would be elements – the setting and general universe – discerning fans would recognize, but it would still be an accessible product for a larger audience.

The game began “with a short prologue about legal and emotional repercussions” of Antichrist’s events, and then tasked players with “collecting clues in a mystery that slowly unfolds – [they] unlock areas in and around the cabin [from the film],” Iversen said. In order to succeed in Eden, players had to confront their personal phobias and “explore the darkness in [the game’s] universe” and within the players.”

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tiein Willem Dafoe

Unfortunately in early 2010 Zentropa Games had to close down because of economic issues:

“Even after receiving 100,000 Euro in aid they just couldn’t manage to keep it going. It seems that the games industry in Denmark is coming to a crushing halt as now 4 developers have closed in the last 12 months.  “There was just no budget to continue development. Over the years it became increasingly clear that there simply was not enough money,” said Morten Iversen, former head of Zentropa Games to PC World.”

Only a few concept arts remains from the development of Eden: if you know someone who worked on this game that could have some screenshots or videos, please let us know

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

 

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