Specials: The Trick: Publishers providing false hope for gamers that a game is actually on its way.
The Treat: A harsh slap in the face from reality. Wait a minute, that's not a treat...
Happy Halloween Mr. Sanderson! Happy Halloween Mrs. Esterhouse! Happy Halloween to the kiddies alike! Happy Halloween to all, and to all a gory night! We're back. Well, I'm back and you're front. Now let's pretend I didn't say that, and let's get onto my..."our" Halloween presentation. (Insert sinister laughter here)
It's another Halloween week at Gaming Target...and what of it? Well, here at Gaming Target we're presenting you with festivities beyond the normal rituals of processing candy through a candy processing machine to discover if they contain the typical razor blade filling. Here, we're going way beyond that -- by bringing you the most important part of this holiday: video games! Yes, video games and whatever it is they have to do with the season of spookdom. This year in games, it's been all about delays, cancellations, and development switcher-overs. Haven't you ever noticed lately how some games have vanished without a trace? We have too, and we wanted to share with you our pieces of mind about that. So eat your M&M's (or those new Mazing candies), get fat, and feed off our brains all night as we look into the past, present, and future of some important missing links. For, there is nothing more certain in game development cutouts but Death and Axes.
Chris Reiter's Picks
Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Developer: Irrational Games
Last Seen: Completed but buried
Welcome to hell, kiddies! Hmm, hmm, hmm, MUAHAHAHAHAHA... Let's get over this: The Lost is lost. Good-bye, gone, sayonora! What is The Lost, you ask? Let's tread back to mid-2000 when Crave Entertainment announced this original adventure title. Back then, The Lost was aimed to be a demonic third-person adventure game the likes of which gamers have never seen, or will ever see (now that the game has been canceled, and all). It was a tale about a female waitress named Amanda, who makes a pact with the Devil in order to save her missing daughter. She's then granted the power to transform herself into three different inhuman forms to combat foes and solve riddles amongst settings inspired by Dante's Inferno.
Personally, I was one gamer who'd been intrigued by this title. It was a story about demons. It had cool powers, and a hot chick to boot. Why was it canceled to begin with? Unfortunately, Crave Entertainment's had legal issues that forced them to can Irrational Games' completed baby definitely. To you I say sweet dreams, The Lost. May you rust in pieces.
Tomb Raider VII
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Last Seen: Announced July 2003
I admit that I am one of Tomb Raider's biggest fans. But it hurts me to say that last year's Tomb Raider offering, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, stunk. When you have one horrible summer wrought with one stinker Tomb Raider flick and one stinker video game, you have two rotten tomatoes colliding. It was an embarrassing period for Eidos, who had been blamed by Paramount Pictures for all-too-poor sales of the wretched movie sequel to 2000's Tomb Raider. But to that angle, I personally thought last year that both game and movie SUCKED. And this comes from someone who actually purchased all Tomb Raider games on the Sony PlayStation. And I mean ALL games. I bought. I played. I even beat all of the PlayStation-based Tomb Raider titles. Then two years later when Lara Croft's often delayed next-gen sequel finally hit the fan, the fan shredded it to pieces.
Because of such a triumphant mess and to clean up the series from its irrevocable goo, Eidos has replaced the longtime developer of Lara's adventures, Core, with Crystal Dynamics (the makers of the Legacy of Kain and Gex games). Next year Crystal's first go with the booby broad is scheduled to hit store shelves. What will happen to Core? Will Crystal's touch be any better than what Core has or could have done to reprimand themselves? We'll find out next year sometime when the next-in-line for Tomb Raider games comes out of hiding.
Fear Effect Inferno
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Kronos Digital Entertainment Inc.
Last Seen: E3 2002
Sadly, the scheduled third Fear Effect release is no more. Fear Effect began on Sony's dominating PlayStation console as a third-person adventure game, with its unique cel-shaded-like visuals and Resident Evil-esque play style using a toughened trio of male and one female protagonist (who we'd not only see topless, but also find out has a lesbian innuendo in the sequel). Cinematic and effective, Fear Effect received a sequel to its 2000 hit in 2001, which was really a prequel. Both games were good fun too. But, why end the series there? Why not go on and continue to produce another gory, sexy shooter? Little is actually known about Inferno's details, and it seems they will never be unearthed from the game's buried tomb either.
John Scalzo's Picks
Developer: Pseudo Interactive
Last Seen: E3 2003
A solitary press release and a raw E3 demo were the only things that were ever shown of Vectorman to the outside world. Developed by Pseudo Interactive for the PlayStation 2, the game was originally supposed to be in gamers' hands in the spring of 2004. That was when the green Orbot from the latter days of Genesis would be rebuilt as a third-person shooter, one that promised some of the best enemy AI ever crafted. But then, they all do that, don't they?
Vectorman was one of the last shots fired in the Genesis vs. Super NES 16-bit war, and Genesis fans constantly pointed it out as one of the crowning moments for the Genesis. So when the game was shown at E3 2003, fans ate it up and critics praised it, even though the demo was one short level that was designed specifically for the event.
Then Sega went quiet about the game for six months until IGN contacted them to investigate what was going on with the new Vectorman. Sega told them that the project was dead. A Sega rep said, "Sega has decided not to continue with the Vectorman project at this time." So who knows, Vectorman may one day rise from the ashes again. However, the game probably won't be developed by Pseudo Interactive anymore, and it probably won't appear on the PlayStation 2 either.
Status: Dead, but would have starred the undead
Last Seen: July 2004
The game most fitting the title of this article, Activision's Dead Rush was unveiled at this year's E3. Just a few scant months later, in July, the game was as dead as the zombies you would have fought. Dead Rush was in development for all systems, and developer Treyarch had the title on track for a mid-2005 release. Out of every game at E3 2004, Dead Rush was the one that had me the most excited.
Dead Rush was one in a very large crop of "Grand Theft Auto meets" games at this year's E3, almost enough in a sense to create a genre all its own. In this case it was Grand Theft Auto meets 28 Days Later, as players were placed in the role of Jake, a young man with a head injury who wakes up to find his hometown crawling with the undead. Players would have been thrown into this third-person world, where their only hope of survival would have been to find abandoned cars and try to outrun the lumbering crowds of cannibals.
Alas, it was not to be. Regardless of the good buzz at E3, Activision released a press release in July stating that, "We gave it an opportunity, but it didn't meet our standards as a big proposition." I don't know what killed the game. Maybe it was pressure from Danny Boyle for being just a bit too similar to 28 Days Later. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, I'd love for this idea to re-rise from the dead. But, I think we'll see Romero's fourth "Dead" film before we'll see Dead Rush.
Leigh Culpin's Picks
Developer: Trilobite Graphics
Last Seen: E3 2002
Duality, being concurrently developed alongside Strident for Phantagram, was perhaps the most enticing cyberpunk game ever created. Or, at least it was going to be. Taking place in the near future where the player can switch between physical and cyberspace worlds, Duality was an action game with strong conspiracy undertones ready to be propelled to the top of many Xbox owners' game lists. You could choose between classes and elect for strength in either the virtual or physical worlds (or a combination of the two) and watch as your character grew in skill and experienced a thrilling and exceptionally in-depth story. The virtual world was a keystone of the gameplay, offering abstract and fast-paced battles in various artificial environments, and the presentation was set to be absolutely outstanding.
Last Seen: E3 2002
Strident was set to be an equally impressive title as Duality: utilizing an adaptable combat system (featuring hand to hand as well as weapon combat) and a high level of interaction with your surroundings and enemies, Strident was yet another FPS/RPG hybrid that had oh so much promise. You were going to be able to customize your weapon's load, your armor, and your AI team mates before each mission, with each one specializing in different areas. The graphics were looking absolutely exceptional, and the gameplay looked to be keeping pace with the best of the genre.
Both Duality and Strident were most unfortunately and unceremoniously cancelled, when Phantagram was essentially taken over by another company. While they have finally reacquired themselves, Phantagram was internally developing Strident and was publishing Duality for Trilobite Graphics. At the time of the initial take over, both games were cancelled. This is most unfortunate news, both games looked exceptionally promising, and both were well on their way to our homes. The worst reason to lose the chance to play a good game (or in this case two) is politics. It's very disappointing that these two games had to suffer that fate.
Developer: Swingin' Ape Studios
Last Seen: E3 2004
StarCraft: Ghost is the very long awaited latest addition to the StarCraft universe. The game has also been delayed for a rather lengthy period, now slated for a June 2005 release. Assuming Ghost actually makes this deadline (it's been moved back at least a couple of times), it will have been in development for more than three long years, well worth the wait considering what's at stake.
Troy Matsumiya's Pick
Duke Nukem Forever
Publisher: Gathering of Developers
Developer: 3D Realms
Status: Trapped in limbo
Last Seen: E3 2001
We all knew the handsome star athlete in high school, the one envied by every boy, dreamed about by every girl, always surrounded by college scouts, but once high school was over, you never heard of him again. Duke Nukem is that guy, a former star who once shined so bright he confidently scoffed, "I ain't afraid of no Quake," in flippant reference to id Software's next generation shooter. Duke Nukem 3D's highly anticipated sequel, Duke Nukem Forever (which would prove to be the most ironically appropriate title in gaming history) was originally announced back in 1997 for a 1998 release. Then developer 3D Realms pushed it back a year; then another- and another. And here we are seven years later, with nothing except a few ancient screenshots, a three-year-old trailer, and hollow "when it's done" clich?s to show for it.
What's taking so damn long? Your guess is as good as mine, but the words "bungling" and "incompetence" comes to mind. They first started development with the Quake II engine, then switched to the Unreal engine. As recently in September, Take-Two CEO Rich Roedel said they had flipped to the Doom 3 engine, a statement quickly denied by 3D Realms' George Broussard. Despite this public display of seemingly clueless bumbling, you can bet they changed to a more modern engine (again) just to keep up with the competition like Far Cry and Doom 3? and each time you change engines, you have to re-code everything, which naturally takes a lot of time. Hey, 3D Realms, make up your mind!
But at this point, does anyone really care about Duke anymore? During those seven long years, new heroes like Gordon Freeman, Kyle Katarn, Sam Fisher, Master Chief and Serious Sam, Duke's spiritual successor, have endeared themselves into our hearts. The latest news is that Duke Nukem Forever will not be ready for 2005, which will push it into the nine-year mark. Ridiculous.
Duke, you may have once been a bright, shining star, but thanks to your creators, your brilliant (and profitable) potential has been fumbled away to a dull, half-forgotten memory. We still hope to see you again one day, but don't expect us to come rushing up with open arms.
End of the Line...
It seems that another Halloween has come to a bloody finale. In actuality, Halloween has not yet begun (but it's still fun to work around lies so you don't look like an idiot). As for Gaming Target, Halloween's scream shall settle back into its deep slumber. Like the publisher who terminates their awaited project, we so must hack off our article at the legs and wait for them to grow back in a year's time. Until another year, until another fright...wait, watch, and listen for us to bring you readers yet another creepy Halloween delight!