Open World

The Saboteur [Prototype – Xbox]

The Saboteur is an open world action game developed by Pandemic Studios and released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in 2009. Initially the project was pitched with a prototype built using the same 3D engine Pandemic used for Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, running on the original Xbox. In this early version the protagonist was William Grover-Williams, a real life race car driver turned SOE agent during the Second World War: he was the inspiration for what later became Sean Devlin, the protagonist of the final game.

This Xbox prototype was graphically impressive for its time, with some destructible environments and explosion psychics. In the footage below you can see a mission in which players had to capture a Nazi truck, following it with a racing car. You would then enter into a Nazi base, destroying a huge building with a sniper rifle.

Unfortunately Pandemic Studios was shut down in 2009, leaving behind many canned projects: Legends, Mercenaries 3: No Limits, Mercs Inc, The Next Big Thing and Batman: The Dark Knight.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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ZTA (SDP Games) [PSP – Cancelled]

ZTA is a cancelled open world action game that was in development by french studio SDP Games (Smack Down Productions) for Sony PSP. As you can imagine from its name, the game was meant to be a clone of GTA, but focused on the zombie apocalypse. This lost game was revealed some years ago by a French website, with a few details directly from the developers. It seems SDP Games tried to pitch their project to Rockstar Games, but without any luck.

As we can read from the original article (“translated” with Google Translate):

“This is our very first game prototype! It was indeed a GTA with Zombies on PSP, very zany with the music of Weird Al. We were in contact with Rockstar for the edition, but we never could agree on a budget. Unable to find another publisher, we had to abandon it to move to Nintendo DS ”

Only a bunch of screenshots from the ZTA prototype survive today after the closure of the studio, preserved below to remember the existence of this lost game.

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Prototype 3 (Radical Entertainment) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

After releasing Prototype 2 in mid 2012, Radical Entertainment started working on the third chapter of their series, hopeful to quickly releasing it as one of their last games for the 7th generation of consoles or even better as a launch title for Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

Unfortunately Prototype 2 did not sell as expected: the team was already in financial difficulties and their parent company decided to layoff part of their staff, cancelling plans for Prototype 3. As we can read on Kotaku:

“Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers, however, we have explored various options for the studio, including a potential sale of the business, and have made a difficult conclusion through the consultation process that the only remaining option is a significant reduction in staff. As such, some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.”

While Prototype 3 was never officially announced by Activision nor Radical Entertainment, fans of the IP are still asking for it. In June 2019 a few screenshots from an early development version of Prototype 3 were found online. We saved these images in the gallery below, to preserve what remains of this cancelled project.

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DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven [PC – Cancelled]

DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven is a cancelled adventure game that was in development around 2005 by a small French company known as DarkSkyne, composed of former Ubisoft and Eden Games employees. The game was set in a cyberpunk open-world, playable in both first and third person view. The team was trying to create something similar to a mix of GTA, Deus Ex and Mafia, featuring bio-modifications to unlock special skills to manipulate gravity, perform “bullet time” and much more. As we can read on IGN:

“DK Project: The Last City of Heaven is an open-city game set in Skyne City in the year 2030. The story is one of revenge and ambition, as a 20-year-old girl (Nina Stovakov) who has discovered the murder of her father joins the local mafia to take command of her life. You can use bio-implants to increase the capacities of the heroin, letting her jump higher, move faster, and fight with more power. The game also features multiplayer play, and runs on its own unique 3D engine.”

It was meant to have an open-ended gameplay, with a non-linear single-player campaign with multiple-paths like in Fable, Fallout or InFamous. You could behave in a good or evil way, and NPC would react differently according to your behaviour. To explore Skyne City you could steal many different vehicles, while talking to every character you may meet around to build up your own street-gang. Nina was also planned to have her own life-cycle, possibly growing old and being in need of food to stay alive. You could also buy your own house or even build it from scratch. As you can imagine, this kind of sandbox open world game was probably too ambitious for a small team.

In October 2005 DarkSkyne shared a teaser trailer for The Last City Of Heaven to show their project to potential publishers and in 2007 french press such as Jeuxvideo.com hyped up the game to their readers. The team managed to get funds and support from Nvidia and Intel, but unfortunately it was not enough to keep them alive.

In 2010 DarkSkyne closed down for liquidation, alongside Eden World Group, the holding behind DK Project. Work on The Last City Of Heaven was stopped, probably with only an early prototype completed before its cancellation. Some screenshots, videos and concept art are preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.

Thanks to Dean for the contribution!

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Crimson Skies 3 [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

The first Crimson Skies is an arcade flight video game developed by Zipper Interactive and published for PC in 2000 by Microsoft Game Studios. In 2003 Microsoft published a sequel titled “Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge“, developed by FASA Studio for the original Xbox. Both games still have a cult-following, thanks to their fun gameplay and interesting “dieselpunk” story-settings (an alternate history of the 1930s), with a good single-player campaign, plus online and offline multiplayer

A third chapter in the series was in development by Fasa Studio around 2003 / 2004 and planned to be released for Xbox 360. Probably Microsoft wanted to offer one of their “hardcore” IPs for their new console, but in the end the project was never completed. There are currently no screenshot, videos or images preserved

Crimson Skies 3 would have expanded its gameplay by offering on-foot missions and we can speculate that FASA tried to create a much more ambitious project, making it a full open world flying game. High Road to Revenge already had many levels structured similarly to the open-world missions of GTA, where you could fly around and choose different missions located throughout the game map. We can assume in Crimson Skies 3 we could have explored cities with our character and then freely flying around the world using our planes to resolve missions and fight against enemy aircrafts

Unfortunately the game was soon cancelled and the team was moved to work on Shadowrun, the 2007 multiplayer game released for Xbox 360 and PC. Many other FASA games were canned in the mid ‘00s, such as Cesium, Mechwarrior Prime and Shadowrun: The Awakening. The company was then shut down by Microsoft on September 2007.

We tried many times to get in contact with people who worked at FASA on Crimson Skies 3 but without luck. If you know someone who worked on this lost project, please let us know.