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.
It is sad and frustrating that Pandemic was shut down as there clearly was a passion behind the creation of this new project. EA boss John Riccitielo at the time really wanted Mercenaries 3 to be released and he confirmed during an interview that if it was up to him that it could go on for a very long time.. going as far as a Mercenaries 10 release.
An article by Cnet explains well the financial struggles EA endured in 2009 and the reason why they felt the need to close Pandemic:
“An Electronic Arts spokesperson confirmed the news to CNET, but called it a consolidation rather than a closing, saying that the company merged Pandemic with EA’s nearby LA campus. The core team of developers integrated into EA will continue to work on Pandemic properties.
Hit by weak game sales, EA has been hurting since last year when it warned that 2009 would be a tough one. The company said at the time that it would need to cut staff, trim product lines, and close studios. EA initially announced job cuts of 10 percent of its workforce, then later revised that to 11 percent. In January, EA also jettisoned Pandemic’s studio in Brisbane, Australia.”
Since the studio closed in 2009 and their last game was released in 2008, Mercenaries 3 didn’t go very far into development. For that reason, not much is known about the game and most of it is sadly up to speculation. Fortunately, we do have a little video showing gameplay footage of what could have been, showing off core mechanics for a few minutes with audio commentary.
During the video, there is a radio conversation between the main character and what we can presume is their boss giving them the mission. The game is set in Cuba 2017 and the protagonist is given directives to meet and escort a journalist for the Russian mafia. You meet her inside a church in an animated black and white placeholder cutscene and shortly afterwards they both drive to where the journalist needs to find proof that ‘Blackfire’ has deployed combat drones. The video ends abruptly with the main character trying to shoot a drone with a machine gun and then with a bazooka.
Since the main character in that video is a character never before seen in the series, it is very likely that its model was a placeholder used for testing purposes until they would have finished creating the real main character for this new game, or maybe it was meant to be a different hero this time around. Sadly we do not have more information about this.
Legends is a cancelled third person action RPG planned to be released on Xbox 360, which was in development in 2006 / 2007 by the original Battlefront team at Pandemic Studios. The game would have merged cover-based third person shooting in a series of floating sci-fi islands, with usable vehicles for combat and exploration, randomized dungeons and rare loot ala Diablo plus a quest system somehow similar to what at the time was used in MMORPG such as World of Warcraft. You can imagine Legends as a lost precursor of Borderlands (which was later published in 2009), taking the classic RPG loot formula into a more action-oriented shooter.
As far as we were able to gather about this unreleased project, the Battlefront team at Pandemic worked on it for about one or two years, with at least a prototype / alpha version of the game running with many placeholder models and images.
Only a few prototype screenshots, missions designs and mockups are preserved in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost game. If you know someone who worked on Legends, please let us know!
Star Wars: Battlefront is an action game developed by Pandemic Studios and LucasArts, and released on September 2004 for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Development for Star Wars Battlefront began at Pandemic Studios in 2002. Greg Burrod, executive producer on Battlefront stated “We wanted to create an online shooter title for the Xbox, PS2, and PC which would allow for team strategy and would feature battles and worlds from every one of the six Star Wars films.”
A beta version of Battlefront was released as an extras DVD for one of the trilogy sets. It’s quite interesting and has a lot of ideas that were not in the final version. The build date is February 03 2004, 8 months before the final version was released. Also, the HUD was different and the graphic was still unfinished.
Stranno posted a video and some comparison-screens between the beta and the final version on the Assembler Games Forum!
Mercs Inc is a spin-off title based on the Mercenaries franchise, planned for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. Pandemic Studios worked on a prototype of the game until its closure in November 2009. After a video of this prototype leaked, EA announced that the game would be developed at EA LA.
As we can read on Wikipedia:
The game was first rumored to be in development by Pandemic Studios as either Project X or Y which were rumored to be based on the Mercenaries franchise. Footage of the game was first leaked onto the internet on November 24, 2009, the footage was a multiplayer trailer of the game. The game was then officially announced by Electronic Arts less than a day later though without a proper platform or release date. The announcement of the game came less than a week after the closure of Pandemic Studios by Electronic Arts as it had been development there under the name, Project Y, the game is currently being developed by remaining Pandemic Studio staff members located at EA Los Angeles.
In november 2010 another Mercenaries video leaked from Kotaku, but we are not sure if it’s from the same project as Mercs Inc, as they call it “Mercenaries 3: No Limits”
Thanks to Jason for English corrections and to DCodes7, Dan for the contributions!
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