FPS

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan is a cancelled first / third person open world shooter that was in development by Argonaut Games in late ‘90, planned to be published in 1998 / 1999 by Ubisoft on PC. While many other lost games from Argonaut were widely known, this one seems to have been forgotten for many years, until in January 2016 Werta Oldgamesru noticed this title and posted about it in our Unseen64 FB Forum. The project was quite an interesting twist on the classic shooter genre, because of its open world environments and anthropomorphic animal enemies. As noticed by Ross Sillifant, a two-pages preview of the game was featured in Edge magazine September 1998 issue, where we can read a lot of details about its gameplay:

“Think dark tunnels, think robot enemies, think bleak future worlds. The stereotype defined by ID’s seminal Doom has been adhered to with a near-religious reverence by developers worldwide. So perhaps, it’s salient that Argonaut, a traditional console game company once strongly linked to Nintendo, should be chipping away at the genre’s mould. Argonaut first person foray is currently dubbed Kanaan, although the search for a name to replace the development tag of “Chaos” has been a protracted wrangle. While the game’s futuristic setting is nothing new, its dog-themed alien enemies are refreshingly different. Guiding lone human Gabriel Cain, the player must stop the invaders from capturing his home planet of Camrose. Cain is one of two surviving members of Camrose’s crack Chaos Squad, the other being the group’s traitorous captain deSoto. As the game progress, new plot elements are introduced, including Cain joining the underground resistance. New weapons, locations and environments will gradually be uncovered as Cain struggles to defeat the alien foe. His eventual target is the alien leader Commander Kray, who must be brought down for Cain’s final victory.

Through the careful use of tessellation techniques, Kanaan has been gifted with vast environments. […] However, the game also contains a large number of structures which can be entered, the action blending smoothly from interior to exterior. Using Kanaan’s powerful 3D engine fully, certain buildings will feature balconies, giving the player the ability to look across an area and attack enemies from a distance.

In order to move swiftly around these incredibly open areas, the player can capture and utilize a variety of vehicles. These includes jeeps, cars, trucks, speedboats, helicopters and bombers, each with their own armoury available at Cain’s disposal. […]

While Kanaan’s standard viewpoint is first person, Argonaut has strong opinions regarding character depiction, and to that end an additional third person camera is selectable. […]

Cain also has access to a sniper weapon (as seen in Goldeneye) so he can pick-off foes from a great distance by zooming in through the weapon’s sights. Traditional first person puzzle elements also emerge, along with console systems which reveal conundrums that block progress.”

A few more memories about Kanaan’s development can be found in websites of people that worked on it. Simon Grell recalls:

“Kanaan was the first game I worked on at Argonaut. I did most of the character and vehicle designs but unfortunately it was canned shortly before it was due to be released”

In an interview with Julian Alden-Salter posted in the GameOn Forum, we can read:

“I spent 5 years at Argonaut working on Hot Ice (unpublished), Alien Odyssey (unpublished), Croc, FX Fighter Turbo and Kanaan but was made redundant when the project I was producing (Kanaan) was canned.”

As the game was almost complete when cancelled and even Edge was able to try a playable demo, we hope that in the future someone could find a video or even a prototype of Kanaan that could be saved.

Thanks to Werta Oldgamesru, Maik Thiele and Ross Sillifant for the contributions! Screenshots saved from AVOC by Fabio Cristi

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Deep Cover [PC – Cancelled]

Deep Cover was a first-person shooter being developed by Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games in the 1999 to 2000 period. During the development of System Shock 2, the Looking Glass team began work on a new game which would take the concepts of Thief: The Dark Project into a modern setting. Using the Dark Engine originally developed for Thief, the spy-espionage game took on the title of Deep Cover.

“Deep Cover was slated to be one of the coolest games to leave the studio. It was a gritty 1960’s cold war spy action-adventure that had the elegance of thief and the depth of system shock 2.”

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The game was set to incorporate more interactive elements into the Thief and System Shock pallet with a faction system which would react based on how the player decided to complete a mission, though the missions themselves had a set order of progression.

  • Extraction: Berlin, East Germany Sector, 1958. A top German scientist has developed a deadly biological weapon that could threaten the Soviet-American nuclear détente. Jon must find out who this scientist is, and extract the scientist out of Eastern-block Germany (willing or not).
  • Infiltration: Alabama, 1961. Word has it that a Soviet mole has worked his way into a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Infiltrate the Klan enclave, find out who the mole is and get out alive.
  • Surveillance: Cuba, October 1962. Jon infiltrates an installation near Havana to photograph alleged Soviet nuclear SS-4 missiles.
  • Interdiction: Dallas, 1963. Your information is vague but you must act fast. A group of Cuban nationalists are going to try to kill President Kennedy. Find your way into the book repository and stop them.
  • Assassination: Bulgaria, 1964. The Turkish Undersecretary of Defense has been selling documents to Moscow. He must be eliminated before he can make a critical drop. An elite squad of Turkish terror troops heavily guards him.

Irrational and Looking Glass shared equal parts of this project, with the former hiring on staff and the latter seeking investment for the project. Ken Levine put together a story and a design doc for the project to follow, reviving the Cold War theme seen in one of his pre-Thief concepts and inspired by John Le Carre’s storyThe Spy Who Came From the Cold”.

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Among the level designers were Nate Blaisdell, Edward J. Moore III, Michael Swiderek, Steve Kimura (all of whom had no prior design experience) as well as Paul Hellquist, Rick Ernst, Nathan Wells, and Michael Ryan who posted screenshots of the unannounced game online in 2002 as well as implemented a search-light system into the Dark Engine. Other developers connected to the project included Ian Vogel and Alexx Kay. The lead programmer on the project had worked at Looking Glass previously and was called back by Ken Levine to work on Deep Cover.

“When I was at Irrational, I worked on Deep Cover, which was System Shock meets JFK. Hacking closets, feeding attack dogs sleep drugged meat.”

Concurrently with this development though, both companies were attempting to manage their own affairs separately. Looking Glass was having trouble paying Irrational due to the former’s financial difficulties, causing the latter to seek out contract work in November of 1999, beginning work on a project which would eventually become the Playstation 2 game The Lost. Looking Glass were also working on Thief 2, which ended up featuring some of the code originally intended for Deep Cover.

There were going to be multiple factions… depending on how you played each mission, you could make different groups pleased or disappointed. Later missions would be affected by this.   while there wasn’t going to be an overall branching mission structure, each mission in the game could be changed in minor ways that would affect the flow and difficulty. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan

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After 9 months of work on Deep Cover, Looking Glass managed to procure a major publisher: Microsoft, who expected the studio to collaborate with Irrational Games on the title. However, Irrational were moving out of the Looking Glass offices and devoting their time to The Lost, leaving Looking Glass to work on the contract alone. Disappointed, their publisher pulled out of the one million dollar deal in February of 2000, leaving the project on the verge of cancellation.

“When Irrational Games pulled out of the Deep Cover project, the publisher pulled out as well, together with a lot of calculated advances. This put Looking Glass into a very bad position concerning liquidity.” – Tim Stellmach

Work did continue on Deep Cover after Irrational’s departure. The studio attempted to negotiate a deal with Sony to keep the studio and the project afloat, but a restructuring within Sony caused their executive contact to be fired. The lead programmer described at least one level in a playable prototype state prior to a switch from the Dark Engine to a successor technology called the “Siege Engine”, which none of the available screenshots showcase. After his departure, the former lead programmer of British Open Championship Golf was brought on, who also was an expert on the JFK Assassination.

The closing of Looking Glass Technologies in May of 2000 put an end to Deep Cover, and subsequently migrated much of the talent over the industry. In a basic thematic sense, the spy theme with the Looking Glass style of freedom would re-emerge in Deus Ex which was released shortly before the studio dissolved.

The following screenshots were taken from very early versions of the levels… before any gameplay was implemented, and well before Looking Glass decided to switch from the Dark Engine to the Siege Engine. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan

Article by AguyinaRPG

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Turok [Game.com – Cancelled]

Turok [Game.com – Cancelled]

The original Turok was a quite popular N64 FPS in late ‘90 but the series did not have much luck in the last few years and after the 2008 reboot by Propaganda Games, Disney Interactive Studios cancelled a planned Turok sequel. Many years before another Turok game was already cancelled for the ill-faited Game.com portable console by Tiger Electronics. As far as we know Tiger had an internal studios dedicated to develop titles for the Game.com and Turok was probably one of them. This version of the game remains unknown by most gamers as it was only named in a few release lists and most magazines at the time did not have any images. It seems that Tiger often shown mock ups for games that they wanted to make for the console, as it happened with the canned conversions of Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, so we don’t know how much of Turok was really in development for their portable before to be abandoned. At the moment the only “screenshot” available for Turok Game.com was found in Gamepro issue 111 from December 1997, but it seems that some footage from was also shown in an old episode of Cybernet TV gaming show.

Thanks to Jinroh for the contribution!

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State of Crisis [Cancelled / Prototype – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

State of Crisis is a cancelled real time strategy first person shooter that was in development in 2010 / 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC by french studio Darkworks. After Ubisoft took away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to make it finish to Ubisoft Shanghai, the team tried to create many different prototypes to pitch to publishers, to get another contract to survive. We can assume that at the time Darkworks tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (State of Crisis, Black Dead, The Deep) with interesting / original features.

In State of Crisis players would have been able to switch to different teammates in real time, to use a satellite to get strategical information about the enemies and the area, to interact with electronic devices and to requests laser attacks from above. For example we could have been able to study the map of the building in which we would have entered to, checking if there were lights to deactivate to hide in the darkness, to mark enemies and see their position on the map, to place beacon to track an helicopter and destroying it with a powerful laser shoot from the satellite.

To use ammos, the satellite and to hack devices would have cost a certain sum of money from a limited budget for the mission and at the end of each level one could have seen how much the team spent to save the place from terrorists. As far as we can gain from the prototype demo, State of Crisis could have been divided in many different missions to complete as fast as possible and by spending as less money as possible, to gain an higher final score or to save funds to buy better equipment.

Unfortunately Darkworks were not able to find any publisher to fund State of Crisis and the game was quietly cancelled. In 2012 the company was placed into compulsory liquidation and then closed down. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games (Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare in 2001 and Cold Fear in 2005), while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to other developers: a sad ending for one of the most interesting gaming studios in Europe.

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Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Announced in 2011 at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 was to be the next instalment in the Brothers in Arms franchise after Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. The game was originally set to be released sometime in the first half of 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, but that never happened. However, in 2012 Ubisoft let go of the Brothers in Arms IP and The Furious 4 trademark granting the games developers, Gearbox Software, full ownership of both. The president of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, then announced that the Brothers in Arms name was being dropped from the title due to negative fan feedback and from now on the game would just be called Furious 4. Pitchford also said that internal discussions held within Gearbox led to the same conclusion that Brother in Arms and Furious 4 should be separate IPs. He said that there would be another Brothers in Arms game sometime in the future when the time is right but for now Gearbox was concentrating on Furious 4 which would be undergoing some drastic changes.

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While previous Brothers in Arms games followed Sargent Matt Baker and the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in a serious historical setting, Furious 4 would have taken a quite different approach to the World War 2 setting. Furious 4 looked like a cross between Borderlands and Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglorious Bastards. The plot followed a group of four characters as they massacred their way through Germany in 1944 all the way to Hitler, and that’s all we really know about the plot itself.

There is a small bit of information on each of the four playable characters. Firstly there was Chok who was a Native American soldier with a fondness for hatchets. Next up was Stitch who was an Irishman with a few lose screws who seemed to enjoy taking out his enemies with a custom made taser a little too much. Crockett was from Texas and could use a cattle prod to brand enemies. Lastly there was Montana who was a Nazi killing lumberjack with a large machine gun, a chainsaw and bear traps. There was also a narrator who spoke over the gameplay and was just as much of a character as the other four. He would clue you into the moment to moment plan and often hinted that he felt the members of the Furious Four were quite stupid. The only gameplay shown for the game was behind closed doors at E3 2011 and judging from what the people who saw it said historical accuracy was not a concern in Furious 4, apparently they even had a helicopter in a WWII shooter. The only other thing discussed about the gameplay was it’s over the top trigger happy violence that attempted humour.

On the 16th of July 2015 Randy Pitchford was speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference and said:

“Furious 4 is not a thing anymore, right? Creative development is a trip. The idea that something started as a Brothers in Arms game, through some absurd convulsion, ended up as Battleborn is evidence of what’s possible.”

With that Furious 4 was officially cancelled although as Pitchford said it transformed into Battleborn so it’s likely that a lot of Furious 4’s assets will end up in that game. In fact Furious 4’s Montana character will feature in Battleborn.

The good news for Brothers in Arms fans is that Gearbox is going to start development on the next “authentic” game in the series soon which will more than likely follow on from Hell’s Highway. Gearbox has been under fire in recent years for Duke Nukem: Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines although their Borderlands series has been positively received and proves that they are talented developers. Gearbox is currently working on Battleborn and their website says they’re hiring for the next Borderlands game so we can expect news on that soon.

Article by Conor Hutton

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