Shadowrun: Assassin is a cancelled stealth action RPG set in the popular fantasy sci-fi universe, that was in development for PC by FASA Studio around 1997 – 1998. While today it’s mostly forgotten by fans, Assassin would have been the first 3D PC Shadowrun video game, and the fourth Shadowrun tie-in after the previously released SNES, Genesis / Mega Drive CD projects.
Some details were published by NEXT Generation magazine (issue 42) in June 1998:
“And yes, Virginia, there will be more Shadowrun titles. Currently scheduled for an early ’98 release is Shadowrun: Assassin, a 3D action/adventure title that is the first of a planned series of Shadowrun games, each of which will detail a different archetype from that universe. Assassin features Solitaire, a high-tech contract killer with a twist. According to producer Vijay Lakshman, “Her job is not to go out and kill business leaders or politicians. Her job is much tougher – she is trained to hunt down and terminate other assassins.”
“Again, as in Mech Commander, the means of accomplishing each mission or assignment is open-ended. The Assassin team is designing each mission from the inside out, placing guards and security systems to genuinely protect the target, not merely to serve as obstacles for a player to overcome. “We’re taking the idea of an action game and moving it more into the area of a kind of sweaty-palmed nervousness,” Lakshman says. “Not like running in and shooting everyone in this room, but in constantly having to watch out how much noise I make — I’m this badass assassin. I’m supposed to get in as a ghost and get out as a ghost. My mission is only 50% complete once I take the target out — that’s when all the shit really hits because then I still have to get out alive!” The idea of stealth is so integral to the game’s mechanics, the eventual release will even feature a noise meter.”
“All the cybergoodies one could expect from a Shadowrun game will be at Solitaire’s disposal, including cyberware dermal sheaths, shock pulse hands, cyberlimbs, and hand razors. In all, the game will feature 25 weapons, 10 unique to Solitaire, and all pulled right out of the Shadowrun books. But what makes FASA Interactive a company to watch are the tantalizing hints about what it will be up to in the future. According to Lakshman, “The whole ultimate goal is to have this online, persistent universe where people come in and get contracts from another human player and go on runs against corporations being led by humans. That’s our ultimate goal.”
In 2019 MrTalida shared on Twitter a previously unseen Shadowrun: Assassin’s Fact Sheet and a PowerPoint presentation which was used by FASA to pitch their project to potential publishers like EA and Hasbro. In this document we can find even more details about FASA’s ideas for their unreleased game:
“In Shadowrun: Assassin you are a covert specialist trained to eliminate targets sanctioned for termination. You will accept a contract, analyze strategic data, and then exercise your contract. You will become known as a deadly operative able to accomplish missions others consider impossible. You will compete in a world of lethal assassins, one-shot one-kill scenarios, and no second chances…”
“High Concept: 007 meets Blade Runner, Action/RPG based on the top-selling Shadowrun franchise”
“You are an assassin, with access to over 20 hi-tech weapons and 15 deadly spells. You will be tested by over 40 different enemies, from huge Troll warriors to elite corporate mercenaries. You will journey through 30 missions spanning 10 unique environments that test your skill and courage. You will hunt down and terminate 25 targets of opportunity. Failure is not an option.”
- Producer: Vijay Lakshman (The Elder Scrolls: Arena)
- Technical Director: Eric Huffman (Age of Empires, BattleTech LBE series)
- Art Director: Brennan Priest (Wing Commander IV, Privateer, Septerra Core)
In the end Shadowrun: Assassin was canceled when Microsoft purchased FASA Studio in late 1998 / early 1999 and moved them from Chicago to Seattle, to focus their resources on MechWarrior. Many years later FASA Studio worked again on a different Shadowrun multiplayer FPS (using the Halo engine) for the original Xbox and on Shadowrun Awakening RPG for Xbox 360, both cancelled. They had to wait 2007 to finally release a Shadowrun team-based FPS for PC and Xbox 360, just before closing down forever.