Ubisoft Shanghai

Splinter Cell: Blacklist [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an action / stealth game developed by Ubisoft Toronto, Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Shanghai, published for PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PC in 2013. As we can read on Wikipedia, in November 2010 Jade Raymond from Ubisoft Toronto announced that the studio was developing a new Splinter Cell game.

During the Microsoft’s press conference at E3 2012, Splinter Cell: Blacklist was officially revealed with a beta video that you can see below. One major difference is the plot and interactive torture sequence in the beta. After a major uproar from critics, it was announced by the creative director of the game, Maxime Béland that the now dubbed “interrogation” sequences are rendered cutscenes and the only choice made by the player is to either let the target live or die.

Ubisoft responded with an official statement regarding the removal of the controversial scene:

“As with other game features, the storyline evolves as part of the standard development process. Based on how the game has progressed, we felt that this scene no longer fit in the context of the game, so we decided to remove it. Splinter Cell Blacklist, like previous Splinter Cell titles, has always tried to keep the topics and themes relevant and current. Splinter Cell Blacklist explores moral choices and dark themes through the concept of the Fifth Freedom; a recurring theme in the franchise.”

“Definitely we are not going to see when the game’s coming out that there are torture scenes in it. That scene is not there any more,” said producer Andrew Wilson “The first thing I’d say about that is that possibly there was missing context – and in an unabridged snapshot, it seemed like pretty tough material.”

The second major change is the plot: in the beta the group known as The Engineers are a quasi-league of nations rather than a borderless terrorist group that has the national backing of twelve unnamed nations found in the final game.

The level itself was unchanged during development other than who inhabits the camp and level introduction. The camp in the beta was labeled as “ Jadid Basecamp”. In the final game, only the location is given: Mirawa, Iraq. The introduction of the level in the beta has Sam Fisher wearing an enemy uniform and carrying a body into the camp. In the final product, Sam Fisher is air-dropped into the level after enemies near the LZ (landing zone) are eliminated by sniper support.

  • Some minor changes between the beta and final game are:
  • The level’s name colors are changed: green in the beta, white for the released game.
  • Changes in the HUD (heads up display) such as weapon icons.
  • The choice to either kill or spare Jadid Haidos isn’t in the beta.
  • Jadid Haidos’ model is changed between the beta/ released game.
  • Icons for the mark and execute are changed.
  • Sounds for in the process of being detected and finally being detected are changed. Also, the words “Warning” and “Detected” do not appear in the final game.
  • The icons for the three play styles: ghost, panther, and assault are not in the beta.
  • There is no ability to call in an air strike from the Paladin as shown in the beta is not available in the final game.
  • There is no ability to use explosive breaches as in the beta.
  • Drone strike are not as readily available as in the beta.
  • The mission’s endings are changed between the beta and the final game.

Jeff Wheaton noticed a number of notable differences (in chronological order of the video):

  • The level shown is not in the final game. No exact designs are taken from it, though many of its assets do appear.
  • Sam is never wearing the enemy uniform in the final game, nor are there any player-driven animations of him carrying an unconscious or dead character.
  • At no point in the final game do button prompts appear in any language other than the selected localization
  • The animations for most of the stuff in the cutscenes are absent from the final game.
  • The icons for marks in the final game are slightly different.
  • A lot of cutscene dialogue never appears in the final game.
  • A lot of HUD differences
  • Several plot differences. In the final game, the Blacklist is masterminded by a borderless group of individuals calling themselves The Engineers, not a group of nations.
  • Different sound for being detected. The final game also does not feature a “Warning” message.
  • The Ghost, Panther, and Assault point indicators are absent from the entire demo.
  • There is no instance of being able to trigger a UAV strike in the manner shown in the demo in the final game.
  • Jadid’s dialogue is different than it was in the final game, and no Spare or Kill option is given.

Very interesting nonetheless! Thanks a lot to Jeff and Matt Redmond for the contribution

Beta Video:


Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow [XBOX PS2 GC – Beta]

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (also know as Shadow Strike during its development) is a third-person stealth game in the Splinter Cell series, developed and published by Ubisoft Shanghai in 2004. Below you can see a video compiled by Silenceofthehills, with lots of early concept arts and beta screens. Text and video annotations in the video help explain the differences between the earlier planned renditions and the final version of various spots in each area.

As seen in the video, a fully missing level map is viewed under the first game‘s HUD. Since the first game had cut a level and used it as an extra in another version of the game, its quite possible that these shots are from a missing level. Its also possible that these are merely early renditions of a previous level, or even simply a test level considering the unaltered HUD.

Secondly, we can also see the previous incarnation of the PS2 and GameCube port before it had be delayed and taken under various graphical tweaks to ensure the artwork was nearer to par with the original versions of the game. This is also available in the GameInformer article scan as well, which also oddly contains a beta HUD akin to that of the online mode’s. This HUD was also apparently shared between all versions of the game.

Below is the direct quote on this from Gamespot itself, posted on February 4, 2004 by Justin Calvert.

“Ubisoft has today announced that while the Xbox, PC, GBA, and cell phone versions of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow are still on track for release next month, the PS2 and GameCube versions will now launch at a later date. The only reason given for the delay is that the development team is committed to making sure that the other two console versions are as good as the Xbox version.”

Thanks to Silenceofthehills for the contribution!




I Am Alive [Beta – Xbox 360 / PS3]

I Am Alive is a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 videogame envisioned by French developer Darkworks. First pitches of the game already appeared during the early 2000’s when Darkworks was still working on USS Antarctica (a PS2 game which was planned to be published by Capcom but then cancelled). In 2003, the studio worked on Time Crisis Adventure / Cold Fear, originally to be published by Namco. When they ditched Cold Fear, Ubisoft jumped in and became publisher of the game. This laid the foundation for a partnership between Darkworks and Ubisoft, which finally allowed Darkworks to realize their “Alive” project with production beginning in 2005, even though gameplay and environment might have been changed when compared to the original 2001/2002 concept.

As we can see, in 2007 the game was changed a bit. While being first concepted with dark and brown colours, they decided to go for a more realistic style two years later.

I Am Alive was originally planned and ready for a release in early 2009, but Ubisoft was not satisfied with the game’s direction in spite of this initial version being nearly complete. Therefore the game was brought to Ubisoft Shanghai where they wanted to change parts of the game only at first. Then however, they restarted the project completely and also tried implementing a multiplayer mode. This did not work out either, therefore I Am Alive was restarted once again in 2010 and was finally release in 2012, as a much different game.

Some more info can be found in this article:

Months after the release of Cold Fear, Darkworks started planning out their next project, a game their General Manager, Guillaume Gouraud had high hopes for. Concept artists and writers went to work on an apocalyptic horror game. However, pre-production on what was then known only as Alive, was lengthy and itinerant. The team went through various iterations on the original concept. Says our source about the pre-production, “We went from a zombie survival game to a squad-based action game with rollercoaster rides to a single-avatar pseudo-stealth one (also with rollercoaster rides though).”

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot called for all hands on deck. If Ubisoft was going to pour money and resources into Alive, they would need to ensure that Darkworks remained on track. For Hascoët, this meant entrenching Ubisoft employees at Darkworks headquarters to work alongside the team. This approach ended up creating a stressful work environment for the Darkworks employees. “Ubisoft thought it would lead to a greater collaboration (and of course, greater control), Darkworks thought of it as a hostile takeover and proof that Ubisoft didn’t want to let them hold the creative ownership,” says the anonymous former Darkworks employee.

The trailer hinted at an open world, cinematic storytelling, pre-calamity flashbacks, and open-ended combat scenarios. I Am Alive’s public profile was suddenly off the charts. Though the illusion successfully fooled fans, back in France, things weren’t going well. Perhaps foreshadowing the future of the project, Ubisoft didn’t include the Darkworks logo in the E3 trailer.

Then disaster struck. The project was pulled from Darkworks in January 2009. The team’s hard work left on the cutting room floor. “Ubisoft was fed up with Darkworks.” Says our source of the situation. “To their credit, the game wasn’t very good in its current state and it already cost them a lot of money.” The team was devastated.

Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution!