Action

True Crime: Hong Kong (Sleeping Dogs) [Beta – Xbox 360 PS3]

True Crime: Hong Kong is a sandbox action game that was in development by United Front Games and was to be published by Activision. It was going to be the third installment and a reboot of the True Crime series, but in February 2011, Activision announced that the game had ceased production along with their Guitar Hero franchise. The game was declared cancelled for being “just not good enough” to compete in the open world genre. Activision didn’t expect it to generate enough profit and stopped development. “True Crime: Hong Kong was playable from start to finish and ‘virtually complete’ in terms of content before Activision canned it,” the developer behind the game told CVG. [Info from Wikipedia] In February 2012, it was announced that True Crime: Hong Kong will go trough some changes and it will be released by Square Enix as a different game, named “Sleeping Dogs”.

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Rygar [Beta – NES]

Rygar is a 2D side scrolling action game created by Tecmo in 1986 and originally released for arcades in Japan as Argus no Senshi. An home-version for Nintendo was released on April 1987 in Japan for the Famicom as Argos no Senshi and later that year in the United States for the NES. A European release came in 1990.

Yes, a beta version of this horribly under rated classic exists somewhere out there in the world. However all we have to acknowledge its existence with are screenshots. The following screen shots were scanned from the back of the American, European and Japanese boxes as well as a Japanese magazine ad for the game.

The quality is not that great but these were not photoshopped at all.

This was taken from the back of the Japanese box. It shows the first stage. Notice the mountains are not purple and the trees have branches.

Here we see Garloz. Notice the shrine on the right not present in the final version of the game?

Here we see the very top of the Gran Mountain. Just before you travel to the Tower of Garba. Notice that the tree stumps that you use the cross bow on are thinner than they appear in the final version of the game? Also notice that the ropes are attached to different platforms than shown in the actual release?

Last but not least, the Japanese advertisement shown in magazines back in the day. MANY screenshots of an obvious beta are shown. Notice the Hermit’s room has no platform to the left or door to exit? Notice that the boss of the Tower of Garba is being fought on the first floor? Also notice that the world of Lapis is shown with Rygar crossing a rope on cliffs not seen in the actual game?

December 14th, 2012, another screenshot from the beta has been found. This time, a moon seems to have been removed from the background of the Gran Mountain stage. It seems that there was supposed to be some transitioning from day to night in this game that was scrapped.

A beta must exist somewhere and hopefully some day, someone will find it.

Post by Casey Strain

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True Hero (inFAMOUS) [PS3 – Concept]

inFamous is a game for the PlayStation 3, developed by Sucker Punch. The project is a third-person sandbox  game that combines elements of the superhero MMO City of Heroes with a roaming open-world, allowing the player to make choices between being a hero or an antihero that will affect the game accordingly.

In the gallery below we can see some old concept artworks from Sucker Punch, in which it seems that the game was originally know as “True Hero” and the style was different (more similar to the Sly Cooper art) from the one in the final version. Probably the style was changed to appeal more to the PS3 target.

Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution!

Images (concept):

Final art:

infamous-cover 

Kat Burglar [Cancelled – PS2, XBOX, PC)

Kat Burglar is a cancelled action / stealth game that was in development by Krome Studios, probably planned for PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox. In the beginning of year 2000 Krome Studios announced a new game about a lady burglar called Katherine Kelly, who steals works of art for a collector called Hugo Biggs-Lazenby. There wasn’t much information available on the gameplay, but that sure had to be a stealthy game. Some ideas from that project were later used in Blade Kitten.

As we can read in an article on Games.on.net:

Recounting with a touch of bitterness that it was apparently okay to have a dozen identical “muscular space marine” games on the market at the same time, Steve and the team were forced to shelve the game. “They just weren’t getting it, even if they did like the characters”, says Steve, remembering failed deals with partners like Mattel. “I’ll always remember the guys came back from one meeting with a publisher, and the publishers said ‘We’re pretty sure there’s already a 60’s female thief game with a character that has red hair’, and I’m standing there going ‘Are they… talking about our game?’”.

Set on the island of Mont-St. Michael, Kat Burglar featured a number of adventure-game driven mechanics similar to those found in Flight of the Amazon Queen, as well as AI sidekicks who you could give orders to through hand gestures. The intent was to have a Zelda-style unlockable open world, with the island opening up to you as you progressed. Despite the game being developed to a playable state through one prototyped level, they were unable to secure a publisher. Opportunity did come knocking later in the year, as Sony expressed a desire to publish a cartoony platformer on their PS2 – a desire that Krome were only too happy to help fulfill. That game that would later go on to become TY The Tasmanian Tiger, and one of the company’s most iconic franchises.

Post by Chentzilla

Images:

A screenshot (scan from Russian gaming magazine “Magazin Igrushek”, №2/2000)

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Tomb Raider 3 Beta [PSX / PC]

Overview: After Tomb Raider 2, Core Design released another Tomb Raider sequel in November 1998 for PC and the PlayStation. Based on the upgraded Tomb Raider 2 Engine, Tomb Raider 3 features new vehicles such as the: Kayak and Quad bike. These new vehicles enable players to experience a new challenge from navigating down the rapids of Madubu Gorge to driving quad bikes in the Nevada Desert. In comparison to the older Tomb Raider games, the game play mechanics became more dynamic and the engine supported more triangular room polygons plus coloured lighting. Tomb Raider 3 appeared at E3 May 1998 and ECTS August 1998. The game features locations such as: India, South Pacific, Nevada, London.

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Interview:

An interview with Andy Sandham, former level designer for Tomb Raider 3, was posted on Tomb of Ash with some interesting info:

I believe the optional routes were taken out due to time pressure – as our first Tomb Raider game as a team, we were really up against it, learning new tech, etc., so I believe we held out on the ‘hub’ system until tomb raider 4 to prevent ourselves from having nervous breakdowns!

I remember that Heather, level designer and artist on Tomb 2 had built most of Angkor Watt – but that team were offered their own project (project Eden?) and so jumped at the chance, leaving us with a ¾ complete level that was handed over to Jamie Morton.

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There is evidence that Core Design had planned a section of levels set in Peru. There is no clear evidence as to whether these levels were actually created or if the area name was originally intended for another location, later renamed for the final release. Some of the level names changed during development for example (Final level names in bold):

  • Jungle Ruins -Jungle
  • Temple Of Shiva -Temple Ruins

This screenshot was taken from an unfinished beta copy of the game, it shows clear evidence of Peru’s previous existence. During a magazine interview, Core Design explained that the first level in Tomb Raider 3 would provide insight into the game’s story. Then players would be able to choose the start of their adventure set in 4 different locations: India, London, South Pacific, Nevada. It’s possible that the first level may have originally been set in Peru where Lara Croft was supposed to retrieve the first artifact? This is purely speculation and is completely unconfirmed.

All Hallows which is a bonus level was originally intended to come directly after Thames Wharf, a beta version of the game confirms that this was changed during the last month of development. It would make more sense for Lara to slide down a building near St. Paul’s Cathedral only to end up there.

Core Design did a major makeover on the PlayStation engine, it supposedly makes use of all the power the PlayStation has. It had been confirmed in several magazine reviews that the game would support 1-3 routes of completion. Looking at several magazine scans, some levels show doors to other areas which were removed from the final version. This was possibly to help avoid the gamer from getting confused but it would have been a more adventurous experience in my opinion. Also, the Kayak from Tomb Raider III was originally a boat, but blue that resembled the one from Tomb Raider II. Earlier builds show how Lara’s movesets changed, became more complex but some new moves didn’t make into the final game. An example of this is the roll whilst crouching ability. A video feature for Tomb Raider III also shows Lara Croft utilising a combat knife which they further explained was intended to remove objects from stone, or climb trees which yet again never saw the light of day.

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On-screen Debug:

Polygons

Tomb Raider 3 features an on-screen debug with several functions. One of which displays the POLYGON count on-screen so that the developers would know which environments are too large specifically for the PlayStation engine.

The syntax is as follows:

CURRENT_POLYS | MAX_LOADED_POLYS | POLY_LIMIT

CURRENT_POLYS = Amount of polygons currently loaded (the engine hides some).
MAX_LOADED_POLYS = The highest current amount of polys reached (increases based on the current amount)
POLY_LIMIT = Polygon limit, the game should freeze once it exceeds this limit as it cannot be handled by the engine.

In huge areas the polygon limit is at breach of 1990, 1990, 2000 which is also common in Thames Wharf causing the framerate to drop on the PlayStation version.


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Alpha Stage – Date, Late May 1998 (E3 Build)

The title screen is different and I quite like it. Such a shame it never made it to the final release. It is also known that this build has unique loading screens for the South Pacific level which use an unknown render. Although this looks complete, the levels are in early development and contain some interesting parts which got cut. The only known playable levels are: Coastal Village, Thames Wharf. The deleted roll animation can be seen at 0:32. The flare lighting effects look much better compared to the final release’s cut-down version. My favorite part is when Lara is monkey swinging at 0:57, the animation is different.

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Alpha Stage – Date, July 1998

Screenshots from an unknown July build shown in some early magazine scans.

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Alpha Stage – Date, Late July 1998






The Jungle screenshots are looking close to final but it is STILL in early development stages. There are some level differences on the second screenshot, the wall is missing which divides the water from the land. In the third screenshot you can also see there is no save crystal so it’s obviously using the standard Tomb Raider 2 Save system.

Also, the All Hallows screenshots show early deleted parts and the first screenshots lack the red lighting effects used in the final build.

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Beta Stage – Date, Late August 1998 (ECTS Build)
Platform: PC

This build was shown at ECTS 1998. Some areas differ from the public September 1998 demo featured on various magazine demo samplers.
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Beta Stage – Date, Early September 1998 – ECTS Demo
Platform: PSX

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Beta Stage – Date, Mid September 1998
Platform: PSX

Here is a look at some of the left over weapons which can be unlocked within this demo. Some of them are still from Tomb Raider II like the Automatic Pistols and M16. Due to them being unfinished, Lara’s animations seem to glitch whilst using some weapons.


In this version of the game, Peru is on the map. No modifications are needed to unlock it, but the level itself is not there so the game freezes.

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Late Beta Stage – Date, October 1998
Platform: PSX

Full playlist:

About this beta

This is a beta build compiled close to final. Almost everything is done but there are minor/severe bugs which can prevent you from completing the game. The beta still has the deleted sprint and crawl + pickup animation. The sprint makes Lara seem to be more ‘butch’ I believe it’s why they changed it. Whilst picking up items when crawling, Lara will reach out to her bag pack like she’s putting it in there which doesn’t happen in the final.

Glitch 1 – River of Ganges, Quadbike

Another glitch is where the quadbike is too bouncy or can be used underwater. If you drive into a wall whilst falling into the water, Lara will be able to use it underwater without it exploding allowing the level to be completed easily.

Glitch 2 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart

The most severe bug is with the mine cart, it easily picks up speed causing it to become uncontrollable. Along with this, it bounces up and down like a ball. It is impossible to complete Rx-Tech mines because there is a speed issue which causes the lower mine cart to crash every time if used. The only way around this is to use the DOZY cheat to fly rather than using the mine carts.

Glitch 3 – Lost City of Tinnos, Fire Room

In the fire room, you can walk on the floor which should burn Lara Croft.

Glitch 4 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart

There is a bug when putting in the scitimar it will not work if you press X (action) you must go through the inventory.

More differences

In the Jungle the first secret located near the tree doesn’t exist and there is no shotgun.

In Lud’s Gate in the room near the end where there’s a switch in the water. It is not there, there’s actually a button to open the next area.

Editors:
1. Gh0stblade

Change log:
Gh0stblade – Reordering and several video/spelling fixes. 16/03/16
Gh0stblade – Fixed some problems, partial re-write in progress. 21/02/15
Gh0stblade – Added info on debug info and fixed errors 09/12/12
Gh0stblade – Fixed mistakes added stuff. 12/05/12
Gh0stblade – Added August 1998 E3 PC, July PC Screenshots. 2/04/12
Gh0stblade – Started write up, added October 98 beta info 14/12/11, Added Late August info, Added September 1998 Info.
Gh0stblade – Added E3 info, ECTS screenshots. 16/12/11
Gh0stblade – Added more general info, E3 video updated 09/01/11