True Crime: Hong Kong is a sandbox action game that was in development by United Front Games and was to be published by Activision. It was going to be the third installment and a reboot of the True Crime series, but in February 2011, Activision announced that the game had ceased production along with their Guitar Hero franchise. The game was declared cancelled for being “just not good enough” to compete in the open world genre. Activision didn’t expect it to generate enough profit and stopped development. “True Crime: Hong Kong was playable from start to finish and ‘virtually complete’ in terms of content before Activision canned it,” the developer behind the game told CVG. [Info from Wikipedia] In February 2012, it was announced that True Crime: Hong Kong will go trough some changes and it will be released by Square Enix as a different game, named “Sleeping Dogs”.
After Tomb Raider: the Angel Of Darkness had been considered a failure. Core Design (Core), in 2004 came up with a new Tomb Raider Project. The project known as “Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition” aimed to recreate the original Tomb Raider game released in 1996 including various enhancements and extensions to the original game. Core developed their version of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition for approximately 9 months until it was cancelled early June 2006 by SCi. A trailer for the unfinished game emerged on the internet, later that week Eidos officially confirmed the game had been cancelled. Following these events, Crystal Dynamics developed their own Tomb Raider: Anniversary game which released in 2007.
Interview by: PlanetLara with former Artist Richard Morton. (24th July 2007)
Richard: It was a strange time really, we’d just finished Free Running for PSP/PS2 and had developed a really good control system and camera, we started messing about with a Lara model on the PSP in the Free Running engine and the idea of 10th Anniversary was born. We suggested it to Eidos who allowed us to develop it, but when Core was sold to Rebellion it seemed like they didn’t want the franchise to go ‘out-of-house’ hence the cancellation of our project.
It is confirmed that PC/PS2 versions were also in development. However, the existing leaked footage and in-game screenshots have been confirmed to be taken from the PSP version. The trailer which leaked from an unknown source seems to show various different builds of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition. Some sequences in the trailer are from builds later than others. Both Core Design and Crystal Dynamics were working on separate games (Core Design – Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, Crystal – Tomb Raider Legend). Eidos (the game’s publisher at the time now Square Enix) requested Core Design to alter their Lara Croft model so it looks similar to the Lara Croft model used in Tomb Raider: Legend. This is why the Lara Croft model seen in early prototype versions of Tomb Raider Legend is very reminiscent of the one seen in Core Design’s Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition.
Various variants of the Lara Croft model and how it changed during development
The leaked trailer:
By Core Design (www.core-design.com) – 15th June 2006, 11:02:06.
Following speculation on the internet, we would like to offer the following clarification.
The video of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition that appeared on certain sites was an unauthorised release of an internal presentation of a game that was being developed by Core Design until very recently. It was running on PSP and used a Core-developed engine. However, following a recent review this project has been officially cancelled by SCi.
Core is alive and well and working on some great new projects, and we are still planning to announce some exciting news very soon!
By Former Core Dsign Arist Carl released a fly through video of a level he worked on:
By Eidos – June 16th, 2006
Eidos Interactive, one of the world’s leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, confirms today that they are developing a special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider. The new game is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, who recently launched Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend on Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox, PC and PSP, with versions on Nintendo DS, GBA and GameCube later in 2006. “Our ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider, is a one-off title to celebrate both Lara and Tomb Raider, it will appeal not only to the loyal fans of the Tomb Raider series but will also attract a totally new audience.” Said Larry Sparks, Head of Brands Management at Eidos. Tomb Raider originally launched in 1996 and is still one of the best selling videogame franchises of all time, with over 30 million copies sold. The special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider will be available on PlayStation 2, PSP and PC.
Core Design’s opinion:
In 2016 an interview with Gavin Rummery was published by arstechnia. It provided some details as to how the game started and speculation as to why it was cancelled:
He put the pieces together in his head and pitched Eidos/SCi (SCi having taken over Eidos in 2005). They loved it, so a team of Tomb Raider veterans at Core set about remaking the original game in the new engine. It was going well, Rummery recalls—both looking and playing great. But Crystal Dynamics didn’t want Core back in the picture, and the American studio built a rival demo.
“They convinced whatever the politics in SCi was like that it made more sense to just keep it all in one studio,” says Rummery. “Keep the franchise in one place. And so ours was killed, and you’d have never heard if it hadn’t been leaked by someone.”
Steve Pritchard responded to Gavin’s claims with the following:
Steve Pritchard (Producer) via Facebook
No worries. It was a tricky time in the studio when Crystal were doing Anniversary – a lot of hard work had gone into that idea and to have it taken away and handed to Crystal was a painful thing.
Crystal Dynamics are in no way at fault for this – Eidos had become SCi at this point and that whole Eidos/Core/Tomb raider multi-brand was something that hung a little heavily around a few necks. Someone, somewhere, realised that handing a TR title back to the now-not-Core guys would have seemed like a strange commercial move, and with CD having a lot of cool tech all ready to go, it was a straightforward choice for them.
Yeah, it was a massive, massive kick in the nuts for those of us who had done a lot in a very short space of time to get Anniversary running, but from a business perspective it was understandable.
Gav was right to be angry about the way the whole thing unfolded and he’s also right in saying that SCi were up for it – Ian Livingston grinned a smile a mile wide when I described the concept as a “director’s remastering” of the original, with additional content filling out the whole TR1 game. So yes, it was a winner and yes, at the time it looked like me might claw it back. But someone, somewhere realised the media issues that might arise from the old Core lads doing another Lara game . . . and that was where the split began, not with CD.
I put more hours into the Core version of Anniversary than anyone else on the team – production tend to do that – and as we had such a small team most of what is seen in the leaked video was stuff I pulled together across a couple of evening shifts, the thing cut together by Gaz Tongue later. We were all gutted when the project went away. Projects do, all the time, but this one really felt like the last chance to grab back a bit of TR.
The last presentation to the SCi board had Gav and I demoing the Playstation version AND the PSP version, both of which had co-op gameplay in it. They were rough around the edges, still some way from alpha, but if you knew the original game well you could see where we had added real fan service, extra content and just cool stuff that expanded on the original narrative. It felt good to show off, it was received well, but that last presentation had us re-introduced to Toby Gard and some of the CD team who were there to see it. Two days later we got the news that they were going to do the Anniversary project, using their engine and tech from TR Legend. And that was that.
Horrible end to the story but I find it really difficult to lay the blame at Crystal’s door. SCi made the decision, and they really weren’t very good at decisions. They are not there for good reasons.
Not too long after that the studio was sold to Rebellion, Gav moved on and I ended up running the show for the next 18 months to two years. By then Core were a bit battered and bruised and being asked to shift their skills to “quick and dirty” work that was almost outsourcing saw all the talent start to pour away to other companies. “Corebellion” fought on for a while but the writing was on the all by then.
Initially, the attempt to develop a new Highlander game dated back well before this one. In September 2004, the company SCi Games managed to conclude an agreement with Davis-Panzer Productions, holder of the rights of the franchise. It was then the developer Climax Studios who was responsible for developing a prototype for the Playstation 2. However, after the takeover of SCi by Eidos Interactive in May 2005, the project felt into limbo and was no longer officially mentioned before August 2007 during the Game Convention (although already in February of the same year the development of a new game was leaked), where we learned that it would be developed by Widescreen Games and where several details emerged:
“It will be a third-person action adventure that spans over 2000 years, giving you a chance to explore feudal Japan, medieval Scotland, a futuristic vision of New York and Pompeii before the historical volcanic eruption.
Similarly to the film, the aim will be to journey around the world and meet other immortal warriors in battle, lopping off their heads to win. You’ll have the choice of Katana, Claymore or Double to use, and be able to use various techniques to overpower your foe – like Resurrection, Chi Balance, Fireblade, Wind Fury, Stone Armour and other powered-up special attacks.
You’ll be the newcommer Owen Macleod, but come face to face with 77 other characters along the way – some familiar from the television series or films.
Widescreen is promising around 18 missions to tackle in general, and lots of ways to get around your environment: zip wires, dagger and traverse climbing, swan dives, free falls, cannonballs and beams.”
More information arrived in January 2008 alongside what was, for a long time, the only official video of the game:
“Publisher Eidos has officially announced that it will be bringing an Unreal Engine 3 game based on the popular movie and TV series Highlander to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC later this year. Eidos notes that the title, to be developed by Widescreen Games, will be written by TV series writer David Abramowitz, and will take series star Owen MacLeod “on a journey across multiple lands from first century fiery Pompeii, to futuristic New York to discover his destiny and explore the powers of immortality.” By nature of that immortality, Eidos says players will be able to exploit the unique powers it brings and “manipulate situations that death would normally prevent” such as channeling electricity and fire, impaling himself on enemy weapons to disarm them and falling from buildings to escape. The game will also feature “an advanced combat system, gamers will master a variety of Highlander swords including the Claymore, Katana, and Twin Gladius” which will “combine exciting swordplay with the Quickening powers of an Immortal.” MacLeod’s knowledge and strength will be enhanced with each other Immortal he beheads throughout the game.”
In March of the same year, it was an interview with producer Gilles Baril, which explained in detail new points about the game, including its story, that appeared online:
Could you please reveal the beginning of the game’s plot, just a glimpse of the story?
G.B.: “The game starts in New York – large parts of the city are being evacuated but nobody knows why. The hero, Owen McLeod, is about to leave the city when several heavily armed men burst into his loft apartment. As the story unfolds, Owen finds out that a powerful immortal is the leader behind the attacks, searching for a mysterious artefact which was broken many years before into three fragments. Owen sets off after the fragments, sensing that his destiny is closely linked to this ancient artefact, he racks his memories for clues, memories which will plunge him into three different key periods of his past.”
Can you describe the different environments on the game and where it all takes place historically?
G.B.: “The game takes place in modern day New York where Owen must sift through his memories in order to unfold the story. These memory flashbacks take place in: Pompeii in the 1st Century AD, where, as a young gladiator, Owen meets his mentor who teaches him of his true nature and of the rules to the Game; The Highlands in the 9th Century where, in search of his origins, he befriends a fellow Immortal named Ryan, with whom he fights side by side against the Viking ravagers allied to the powerful Pict sorcerer Barak; and finally, Japan in the 14th Century, where, with his ally Methos, he protects the sanctuary of Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, a legendary blade, and fights Shinu, Lord of the Tengus, who seeks to make off with this sacred artefact.”
In the game will you leap between different time periods in history? Will the game also include an RPG element as you progress?
G.B.: “The game moves between New York to Owen’s memories in past time periods so you’ll be moving between different time periods as Owen tries to discover the key to what is happening to him in New York. We’ve kept to a good balance of navigation, combat and story. Each environment varies in terms of balance of these three elements. This is a tricky balance to get right but we’re happy with the outcome. There will also be an element of RPG to the game as you will be able to upgrade Owen’s combat and Quickening techniques as you play through the game, depending on the choices you make as you play.”
Can you explain how you will be able to upgrade your character?
G.B.: “The player can upgrade their player character, weapons and immortal Quickening techniques in two ways – by spending experience points earned in the game and by finding secret bonuses hidden in the levels. The player can earn extra experience points by using more skilled combat moves to finish off their opponents and by completing secondary objectives in the levels (for example, saving all the innocent Scottish villagers from being slaughtered by the Vikings in the Highlands). Upgrades enhance the strength of the weapons, the power and scope of the Quickening effects and increase the abilities of the player character.”
We understand that you can move both on rooftops and on the ground in the New York part of the game. Can you explain how this happens?
G.B.: “The game features levels where navigating deadly heights is crucial. One of these levels features a wind effect which will blow the character off unless the player is careful. The New York levels are pretty vast and do feature gameplay on the ground and higher levels/roofs, however we also have to take care to ensure the player doesn’t get lost, so there are some limits.”
How does the combat system work?
G.B.: “Each weapon has its own set of attacks and the player can create their own combos. This evolves further when Owen is in Fury mode which gives him much stronger attacks. Using the Weapon Mastery Quickening technique each weapon can also become even more destructive. We’re very confident that the combat experience will be easy for players to pick up and play and will also provide a real unique Highlander flavor.”
Will you fight other Immortals?
G.B.: “There are boss fights with other Immortals but we wanted to keep the Immortal fights special so in many parts of the game Owen will be fighting mortals. Some of the mortals are aware that Owen is an Immortal and have been hired to kill him, like the men invading his apartment in New York at the start of the game, whereas others are just generally up to no good like the Vikings invading the Scottish highlands in later levels.”
However, the game, initially planned for the summer of 2008, disappeared again from the radar and was no longer mentioned. We can see that several Widescreen employeesstoppedworking on it around the time when it was supposed to be released. In February 2009, following the economic crisis, Eidos was bought by Square Enix to become Square Enix Europe. In April of the same year, some sources declared that David Abramowitz, during a convention dedicated to Highlander told that the game was postponed indefinitely following disagreements between Eidos and Davis-Panzer. In parallel, Widescreen was already working on a new project, The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, before filing for bankruptcy in July 2009. Oddly enough, it was not until December 2010 that Square Enix confirmed the cancellation of the game, which could imply that after the shutdown of Widescreen, the publisher planned to relaunch the development of the game with a new developer.
It was never officially revealed why Highlander was canceled. Some anonymous sources claiming to have worked on the game indicate that it was finished but was of poor quality and would justify the delay announced by Abramowitz in April 2009, but this remains to this day only pure speculation. On the other hand, Alexis Madinier, one of the former developer on the game wrote on his LinkedIn profile that it was “canceled due to clash between publisher and IP Owner. At 2 months of the release…” Which could confirm the words of David Abramowitz during the April 2009’s convention. No further attempts to develop a new game based on the Highlander franchise have materialized after that one, at least, for now.
Gun Loco is a cancelled third person shooter / action game that was in development by Square Enix for the Xbox 360. Players would have took the role of a series of crazy criminals in a prison-planet with no guards, in which they had to fight against each other to survive and take the power. In march 2011 Square Enix announced the cancellation of the project, but without an official reason for the decision. We can speculate that it was because of quality or economic problems.
As we can read on Wikipedia, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is an action RPG developed and published by Square Enix for the PSP. The game was released in Japan on January 2010 and it is planned to be released in North America and in Europe on September 2010. Development of the game began in June 2005 and was originally intended for the PlayStation 2 with Sora as the prototype protagonist of the game.
Birth by Sleep was developed by Square Enix’s fifth Product Development Division, based in Osaka, the same team behind Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, and uses the same graphical engine as Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
The plot was completed for the PS2, but development was halted six months after it began due to development of Re: Chain of Memories. The development team changed the platform to the PlayStation Portable so as to make use of the PSP’s functions such as co-operative and competitive multiplayer gameplay.
In August 2009, new Famitsu scans revealed a revamped User Interface (having been revamped twice before) as well as new worlds after a lack of news for close to a year.
As posted by Granville in our U64 Forum, hidden in the final game’s code there is a very cool secret world that was cut, but that you can still access via hacking! It’s a world based off the classic movie The Jungle Book.
The first area is in the Monkey Temple of the orangutan Louie. The other areas are your basic jungle type areas, although they are all clearly incomplete and lack a lot of their texture work. I’d say the Temple is the only complete area. The only way to access these areas is via hacks, they were never used in the main game and no images were shown in prerelease photos. It’s a pretty interesting find actually. A hack hasn’t been released yet, but i imagine it will soon.
On Youtube we can also see a video of Keytotruth, who managed to hack his/her way into the data and play around in it.
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