Sandbox

Agent (RockStar) [XBOX PS2 – Cancelled]

Agent is a cancelled action / sandbox style game that was in development in 2003 by Rockstar San Diego / Angel Studios, for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. There are not many info available on the project, as it was never officially announced, but we can assume that it was going to be somehow similar to the GTA series. In the end the game was never finished for unknown reasons, but it’s possible that Rockstar San Diego had to shift resources to finish Red Dead Revolver. Only few screens  and a video from an ealry prototype / tech demo are saved in the gallery below, to preserve its existence.

A new project also called Agent is now in development at Rockstar North for the Playstation 3, but we are not sure if the 2 games are somehow related. As we can read in Wikipedia, Agent by Rockstar Nord will be set in the world of the late 1970s and it will “take players on a paranoid journey into the world of counter-intelligence, espionage, and political assassinations”.

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Hell’s Deep [PS2 PC – Cancelled]

Hell’s Deep is a cancelled action adventure that was in development in 2002 by Qube Software for the Playstation 2 and PC. The project was meant to be an ambitious sandbox game, similar to GTA3, but set in a big medieval city, during a dark and menacing time. As the main focus of Qube has always been the development of 3D software for 3D middleware and not games,  they probably found some problems during the development and Hell’s Deep was soon cancelled. Only few artworks and some 3D models are archived in the gallery below, to preserve its existence.

Thanks to Sewia for the contribution!

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The Big One [PS2 – Cancelled]

The Big One is a cancelled action adventure / open world sandbox game that was in development by Melbourne House for the Playstation 2 in 2004 / 2005. After releasing Transformers on the PS2, the same team got started working on Transformers 2, but after only a few months this sequel was canned:  Atari was starting to go through its financial troubles, and as a result they sold the Transformers license back to Hasbro to gain some money.

As we can read on Wiki News, Bruno Bonnell, then-head of Infogrames/Atari, had an a idea for a game that involved natural disasters and aliens having weapons that could cause earthquakes. The project was given to Melbourne House to make, that started to brainstorm different game designs and gameplay around natural disasters, while the art team went ahead and built ‘look-and-feel’ concept arts for destructed environments.  This new game was going to be based on the great  Transformers 3D engine, so the coders started updating it where necessary.

After some thoughs, they decided that the game would have followed a number of different characters in the aftermath of “The Big One”, the biggest earthquake to hit San Francisco. Similar to Raw Danger / Disaster Report 2, players would have been able to do different tasks depending on the character (one of which was a firefighter, as seen in the video below) and then the available area would open up and allow to freely explore the city (in a “Prince of Persia Sands of Time” style. to climb in and out of broken buildings) and to help more people (or leave them to die).

Melbourne House had an idea for a “karma system” based on the good / bad actions of the players and their interactions with the NPCs, but they did not have enough time to finish its design before the cancellation.  The Big One would have included physics puzzles (for example you had to use crates and rocks to stabilise a tettering bus before rescuing the driver) and heavy use of fire, water and destruction-related effects (smoke, debris, etc).

The game had potential, but sadly only an early prototype was done and the apartment level seen in the video below was just a tech / art demo that had gameplay forced on it for demonstration purpose. When Atari’s Eden studio was working on Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360 launch, Atari decided that to offset the risk of the launch title, they would have Melbourne House port TDU to PS2 and PSP, instead than to keep working on a tricky project as The Big One. TBO was cancelled and TDU PS2/PSP was the last game from Melbourne House before they were bought out by Krome Studios in 2006.

Thanks to TN for the contribution!

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Mercs Inc. [X360 PS3 PC – Prototype]

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 the english corrections and to DCodes7 for the contribution!

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Nero Zero [Hasbro VR – Cancelled]

Nero Zero is a cancelled first person virtual reality game that was in development by 3D Creations and KATrix for the unreleased Hasbro VR console. The Hasbro VR was meant to be a “Home Virtual Reality System” for which the company invested $40 million, but because of the increased competition in the home-gaming market, Hasbro decided to terminate work on their new console.

There is not much info about the Hasbro VR or Nero Zero beyond an over-ambitious description of the game from an old press release, found at The Strange (and Rare) Videogame Pics Page:

(Nero Zero) It takes place in the far future on a distant planet ruled by an evil tyrant named Nero. It offers a combination of several areas of gameplay, including a first-person perspective, a labyrinthine 3D world to explore, high-speed racing with hover-chariots through twisting tunnels, and an advanced fighting engine for one-on-one swordplay. Using sophisticated neural net technology, the computer controlled opponents in the game actually learn from the player’s fighting style, and require progressively more involved strategies to defeat.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! Thanks to Jason for the english corrections!

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