Crystal Dynamics

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun is a cancelled a PS3 / Xbox 360 / PS4 and PC single-player action adventure game developed by Climax Studio, that was intended to mark the return of the Legacy of Kain series. The title was first leaked in 2013 by NeoGAF user, Mama Robotnik, in an extensive research thread about the many canceled games of the series throughout the years. According to his research, the production of Dead Sun began sometime between 2009 and 2010 with some supervision from Crystal Dynamics and was subject to strict NDA terms that prevented the developers from discussing any details of their work in the project.

Development and Cancellation

It seems that Square Enix laid down several requirements, which the title had to adhere to, such as being single-player with a multi-player component. The new main characters and a story set apart from the original series would have been an idea by game director Sam Barlow and Climax, because of the difficulty to follow LoK’s intricate storyline. Climax Studio worked on the production of the single-player game, while the multi-player was being developed independently by Psyonix Games.

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The single-player game went through several name changes: the known codename was ‘Blackcloth‘, as it is referred in the teaser, to later settle with title Dead Sun. The multi-player, on the other hand, was the basis for what later would evolve into Nosgoth, the online mutiplayer game that Square Enix finally released.

The development went through several stages, initially intended as a small project to be released on Xbox 360 and PS3,  even if a former developer wrote on NeoGaf:

That’s the only info that I think is wrong. It was never a downloadable game, not as long as I worked on it. Always intended as AAA. Same with the PS4 launch thing – it was intended for cross gen, all systems.

By the time it was cancelled for “old gen consoles” it was being considered as a potential launch title for PS4. This is namely one of the reasons for its cancellation in the first place, as was stated by the source that contacted Mama Robotnik to reveal further details of the project:

– This game was pushing the 360 and PS3 to the limit. A combination of sheer level scale, the twin realm mechanic and the ageing Unreal 3 engine meant it was a struggle to get this running to an acceptable level. A commitment to next gen would have possibly seen the game avoid the chop as we would have been freed from some hefty technical restraints that were holding the game back in a number of areas, including the visuals. Conversely, I can see why switching to next gen would have made the numbers even less attractive to SE top brass, given the far smaller install base.

– Having just finished Shadow of Mordor, which I found hugely enjoyable, I have to say it was eerily similar to the open world (hub as we termed them) areas of Dead Sun. From the art style, to the switching worlds, the environment traversal, character ability progression, combat and numerous other aspects, SOM was incredibly close to half the game we were making.

– The Dungeons were the other half. Given how much work obviously went into SOM, one of the most polished games I’ve played, I think Dead Sun was too ambitious, which probably also contributed to it getting the axe. It would have been a monster of a game – the wetlands hub area you’ve already seen was just one of 3 or 4 entirely different open hub areas, never mind the various dungeons that were planned. They all had distinctively different looks, puzzles and boss fights. The team wasn’t big enough to pull that lot off in a reasonable time frame, to the quality level required of a AAA release.

– Which is all a great shame, as the design of the game was excellent and meticulously thought through. Whilst not a straight sequel to previous LOK games, and not featuring previous favourite characters, it had more than enough depth and references to previous games to both satisfy (most) fans and really bring the LOK series back to life in a modern format. It was certainly a lot more than a re-skinned Assassin’s Creed or Batman, even if it did share some aspects with those games. But there we go, the vagaries of the games industry. Those design docs will still be around somewhere at Climax (or possibly elsewhere) – all it would take is someone with a spare $100 million or so and that’d see it up and running.”

In 2012, Square Enix decided to stop production since the title was no longer forecast to meet sales expectations, with some doubts about the game’s quality and its overambitious features. Due to the amount of work that went into this project, there was a lot of frustration among members of the team when it was canceled. Allegedly, certain members of the team weren’t informed of the decision and kept working on it after the cancellation.

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Story

The story was set in the distant future of Nosgoth; not being a direct sequel of the previous games, but taking place in a similar universe as the Soul Reaver games, to became a reboot of the series. The game would have introduced a new clan of vampires called ‘the Saradin’, who were much closer in appearance to the ancient vampires than their ancestors from Soul Reaver. The Saradin also had very similar powers to that of Raziel, being able to move freely between the material and spectral realms.

Dead Sun’s narrtive revolved around two main characters, Gein and Asher, who were Saradin vampire and human respectively. It would have began when Gein attacks Asher’s village, slaughering many, including Asher and his pregnant wife.

One of the main themes explored in the story would have been fertility. The human race in Dead Sun was inexplicably suffering from infertility and the fact that Asher and his wife were able to conceive a child is recognised being of great significance, as later revealed by Gein, the very reason of their deaths.

Unexpectedly, after Gein feeds off Asher’s soul, Asher becomes trapped in Gein’s body. The game would have featured both characters in the body of one; a unique creature with the body of a vampire and the soul of a human. Their quest to discover the reasons behind Asher’s assassination and who was behind it would eventually have led to a it more close tying in with the original Legacy of Kain lore. Another significant topic was religion and how this influenced human rituals and their interaction with vampires.

It’s important to note that the narrative designer of Dead Sun has implied that none of the Dead Sun story rumors released to the Internet are accurate.

Recently, Mama Robotnik uploaded several videos of Dead Sun to his youtube channel. Among the material, there is a teaser trailer, and a 32 minute long gameplay video. For more info about this lost project, check the Legacy of Kain Wiki page!

Article by Erameris

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Gex 3 [Beta – PSX N64]

Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko is a 3D platform game that was developed by Crystal Dynamics and Gratuitous Games for the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. Steve noticed a lot of beta differences from the various Gex 3 demos that were released before the final game.

First up, a video featuring the level “Clueless In Seattle” that is in volume 4 in a series of Eidos demo discs (it seems that this demo also appears in a greatest hits version of Tomb Raider II).

There are noticeable differences here compared to the level that is in the game’s retail release:

In the retail version, bears are enemies that can be found in the hedgemaze of this level. In this demo, the bears are absent there and only appear as these statues that can hurt you if you jump into them. These statues are also present in the retail version, but will not harm you if you jump into them. Also, there is an instance in the retail version where a small scene occurs in which the statue bears – for a lack of a better term – come to life as enemies. In this demo, this scene never occurs and the statue bears never come to life: 

Tomb Raider Legend Beta [PS2 / PSP / PS3 / XBOX / XBOX 360 / PC / WII]

Overview: Tomb Raider Legend is the first game developed by Crystal Dynamics. Crystal Dynamics worked along side with Toby Gard (the original Tomb Raider designer). They wanted to reboot the game after the failure of Tomb Raider Angel Of Darkness. Development of this game started in 2004 just after Eidos transferred the Tomb Raider development rights to Crystal Dynamics.

There are trailers from around the E3 2005 time which show various different levels which were not present or drastically changed for the final release. Around this stage of development it is confirmed that most of the areas were just for proof of concept and used for testing for example, Lara’s Beach House. There were weapons which were cut from the final release: Smoke Grenades, Rocket Launcher, Revolver.

Early Alpha Stage – Date, May 2005
Platform: PS2

This is the build which was shown at E3 2005.

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Alpha Stage – Date, August 2005
Platform: PS2

This is the build which was shown at GC 2005.

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Editors:
1. Gh0stblade

Change log:
Gh0stblade – Added PSP info and cleanup with dates 14/01/2013
Gh0stblade – Updated basics of post, removed all old info and updated 20/03/2013 

Downfall [X360 PS3 – Cancelled]

Downfall is a cancelled survival horror / sandbox open world game that was in development by Crystal Dynamics in 2007, for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  Sadly the project was canned before being officially announced, so we dont know much about its gameplay, but from the few concept arts preserved, we can assume that it was going to be somehow similar to I Am Alive / Disaster Report / Project Survivors, with some horror twist. Downfall was set in a post-quake San Francisco, as another cancelled game for the PS2, The Big One.

The images in the gallery below were saved to preserve the existence of this lost game.

Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution!

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Gex [3DO PSX SAT – Beta / Unused Stuff]

Gex is a 2D platformer game, developed and published by Crystal Dynamics in march 1995 for the Panasonic 3DO and later for the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Thanks to Gexthegecko we found out that in the final game it’s possible to reach an unused shooting level: it involves taking a certain route in Planet X (check the videos below). There’s also a test levels that include unused sprites from the 3DO version.

Beyond this, there are loads of concept artworks to unlock in the special ending (after the credits roll). It seems that the original plot never involved television and in the early prototype Gex was set in our world instead of its very own fantasy oriented one. There’s also an article with one of the game’s developers, which exposes even more pre-production goodness:

The game was about Gecko X, a Hollywood stuntman (stunt Gecko). The studio he worked for was in financial trouble and helping it fail were the enemies Karl Chameleon and his henchmen like Guido Gila. Each level would be themed around a Hollywood action movie genre. For example the Western. The level intro would show stock footage of old Hollywood western movies (for some reason marketing thought this was the greatest idea ever) and then the level would have Gex going through it doing “stunts”. The better he did the more money the ‘Movie’ made and therefore the better the studio did. One level was designed using that theme and it was just awful. […]

They wanted a 32bit game that would be the next Sonic but they were not willing to put the resources into it that would be required to do it. They had come from a 16 bit world and still thought they only needed a 16bit size team. […]

By June we had decided to get rid of Mode 2 and make each world have only one art set so for example the Horror world dropped the Haunted House art set and became just the graveyard. Done by that time were the graveyard art set, cartoon and sci-fi and almost no enemies. It was around that time that Silicon Knights (creators of Legacy of Kain) were asked to do some enemies for Gex. They cranked out about 26 enemies in about 1 month. Also Steve Suhy was hired and was asked to do many of the enemies.[…]

Since it was now June and the project was not even 50% finished, the company decided to cut the sci-fi levels since none had been done and since they didn’t like the art. That brought the game down to five worlds and they hoped would get the game done by Sept in time for Christmas. […]

Evan had programmed a shooter for his Senior project at Stanford (he was finishing his degree at Stanford and working on this nightmare project and competing in National gymnastics) and we decided to stick that shooter in the game as a bonus. […]

Gex 4 was in early development for the PS2, but it was soon cancelled and only few artworks remain to preserve its existence.

Thanks to Gexthegecko for the contribution!

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