We talk about so many video games all the time, but there’s always going to be some that never quite make it to the finish line. We’ve talked about some in the past so now we’re bringing up five more ambitious games that were never finished or released.
Starting off with number five! Let’s talk Tomb Raider Ascension.
The game that eventually became the “Tomb Raider” reboot from 2013 was originally a way more ambitious project. The game we got had some horror and survival elements to it. You know, it’s mostly an action game reminiscent to the Uncharted franchise though. It was a safe move but the early versions of that project called Tomb Raider Ascension just looked way crazier. And to a lot of people, a bit more interesting. Now, the basic idea of the game never seemed to change in the transition from original new game to reboot. Laura is trapped on a Japanese island and has to survive. Early concepts show her taking care of a young companion similar to something like Eko or Iko.
And the enemies she would fight look a lot more bizarre and fantastical than anything that ended up in the final game. Things get more interesting when we get to some of the early in-game development footage. We’ll link it all credited in the description down below.
Even though the model here is unfinished Laura looks pretty similar to her final design in the 2013 game. The world itself looks a lot bigger and more open though and you’d have to use a horse to get around. There’s footage that shows Laura using some kind of flame thrower to fight of enemies. And also break through walls in the environment. Combat looked way more ambitious as well with a full on fighting system instead of the basic close range stuff we got in the game.
There’s actually a lot of this. A lot of the combat looks deliberate and way more challenging. Now that horse we mentioned wasn’t just for travel, there’s some footage of Laura battling a giant monster almost like Shadow of the Colossus, which is just so weird and insane but cool! So there would’ve been a bit of Eko, a little bit of Shadow of the Colossus, maybe a little of Alone in the Dark from all that flamethrower footage. Clearly they had a lot of ideas for this but eventually they greatly limited the scope, cut the subtitle entirely and turned the whole thing into a reboot that generally played it safe, although we think that the original, the 2013 game, still turned out better than it’s sequels.
But still Ascension would’ve been something totally different at least, you know? Who knows how it would’ve worked out in the end but as all this footage shows, it was really ambitious.
Next over at number four, back in 2007 Techland, you know, best known for Dying Light, announced a very ambitious FPS game called Warhound. To say that this thing was gonna be ahead of its time would be an understatement. You played as a mercenary and you can chose missions, select when and where you enter the mission area, and spend money on new weapons and equipment and level up your character with new skills.
It basically sounds like a mix of Far Cry 3 and some of the stuff from Metal Gear Solid 5, but years before either of those games came out. Instead of being set in just like one or two areas, missions would be set all around the world. So it wasn’t quite open world. It sounds like more of a Hitman style thing. But from the gameplay footage we do have, the levels look like they would’ve been huge. And apparently were suppose to rival Crisis in the graphics department.
Shout out to Unseen64, they got some great stuff for this. One of the more interesting features listed on this game’s now defunct website is that the missions would apparently change. Enemy placement would move around, patrols would be different, traps would be in new spots, apparently there would even be enemy ambushes that would change. Giving the game almost a rogue-like feeling to it before that idea was as commonplace as it is now. Now one feature they seemed to be really proud of was the FPP cover system that would let you, “For the first time in an FPP FPS game, take cover behind things.” Yeah I’m guessing this would’ve worked something like the cover system from Far Cry 3 where you’d automatically pop up from cover where you aimed the gun. But the actual details of how this works were pretty vague on their site but it seems like something they were working hard on. And you know, while FPS games didn’t have cover systems by 2007 like they do now, having a lean left lean right button was pretty commonplace.
There was some cover elements but we’re curious to see how this would’ve went. Now on top of earning money for completing missions, you could apparently scavenge items from the battlefield and sell them as well. There were going to be vehicles and certain missions would require certain weapons or vehicles that you’d have to buy. It doesn’t stop there though, they also promised fully interactive and destructible environments.
As well as some kind of, “Rivalry with other mercenaries.” So if you can’t tell, they promised a lot with this one especially for a game announced in 2007. But come 2009 it looks like Techland decided to refocus. The team on Warhound was pulled off the project to help finish Call of Juarez Bound in Blood. And from there they probably all got moved to work on the big Dead Island. Now it’s another game where the team was probably a little too ambitious for their own good. But just looking at the list of features for this game and you’ll see so many things that would’ve eventually appeared in some of the biggest games around. Even though a lot of the stuff sounds like commonplace and silly at this point, it was all really ambitious for 2007. And no game has quite been able to achieve what this game was trying to do because it was a lot of ingredients.
Now down to number three, let’s talk LMNO. Now Arkane is an ambitious studio by default. Just look at the recently released Deathloop for that. I mean whenever they make games, they always swing for the fences. It doesn’t always make them a ton of money and they have a whole catalog of interesting but canceled games they’ve been working on, including a Half-Life 2 expansion. But out of all of those, the most ambitious has got to be this little game called LMNO. The whole story of this thing is fascinating.
According to an article from 2014 from 1up that we’re looking at via the Wayback machine, “EA pinned a deal with Steven Spielberg”, one of the most famous Hollywood directors of course, “in 2005 to create three new franchises.” Only one ever saw the light of day. Boom Blox, a game that you’d had no idea Spielberg had anything to do with unless someone told you. Now the other two never came out. LMNO, which was just the internal name, and another project that seemed just totally lost to time. Now development was actually focused around the EA Los Angeles studio with Arkane only brought in later in development to help the project.
How they actually contributed isn’t totally clear but the gameplay footage they revealed during a NoClip documentary, which we will link in the description down below, definitely looks like an Arkane game. Especially the first-person parkour segments. Now the game was all about forming a relationship with this alien creature named Eve. Who you rescued from a government lab. The story of the game has you traveling across the country while being pursued by government forces. Spielberg specifically requested that the game not have any gunplay in it. So you would mostly be escaping from your enemies with parkour, solving environmental puzzles to get around and engage in some close-range fist fighting.
Now the most ambitious thing about this game sounds like it would’ve been Eve herself. She would be governed by a pretty complex AI system to really control how she would react to the environment around her and her attitude would change depending on how you played the game and what choices you make. There was definitely an obsession in the games industry around this time in creating characters like this. You know, I think Alex from Half-Life 2 or Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite or Milo, remember Milo? But they make it sound like she was going to have some kind of a mind of her own here. Making it sound like she would’ve been more like Trico from The Last Guardian, where she would just kinda do stuff on her own.
Now the project was officially canceled in 2010 and even though a lot was written about it, no footage ever surfaced until the documentary by NoClip revealed a ton of never before seen footage from the game that Arkane held onto for all these years. Part action game, part adventure game, part simulation and Spielberg thing, LMNO had some of the biggest names in entertainment behind it but that wasn’t enough to keep it from getting canceled. Nobody is safe.
Now down to number two, They. Now here’s a weird one with a weird history. Created by some developers you’ve probably never heard of called Metropolis Software, They was going to be an action-horror game with a few unique twists. It was announced back in 2007 for PC, PS3 and 360. Probably the biggest selling point was that you’d only have one gun but it could be could be customized with hundreds of different weapon parts that would totally change how the gun functioned. That’s a pretty unique concept for the time.
You know, Crisis had the real-time weapon modding in 2007 but it was nowhere near the level of customization the developers were planning for this one. Apparently parts could be applied to weapons almost Lego style and you could make combinations that could do pretty much anything! There was also going to be destructible environments that you could explore to find secrets. But they could also kill you if you weren’t careful. Now probably the biggest concern when hearing about the idea is that only having one gun would be kind of restrictive.
But in an interview with a website called GGMania, the developers said that, “You could save different weapon builds and swap between them instantly.” Which sounds pretty cool to us. The story of the thing was going to be pretty ambitious. You’re fighting these weird robots in an English city. And the actual plot would play out in an episodic fashion similar to a TV show. They specifically name dropped “X-Files” and “Heroes” as inspirations. Both shows that aren’t exactly well known for their satisfying conclusions you know, maybe not the best idea but it was something different at least.
So while ambitious, there wasn’t so much here that it seemed like it would be impossible for the developers to finish. It wasn’t internal issues that killed the game this time but a little studio called CD Projekt. The creators of The Witcher games and you know, most recently Cyber Punk 2077. In an interesting twist of fate, Metropolis Software originally had The Witcher license. And were making their own version of the game all the way back in 1997. That was canceled of course, and they gave the license to CD Projekt who went to make their own Witcher game with mostly massive success. In 2008 CD Projekt acquired Metropolis and then pulled most of the people from They to work on The Witcher 2. And in 2009 they closed the studio completely. So They, the game, was completely destroyed because of The Witcher a license Metropolis originally had.
This is a pretty cool looking game with some ambitious ideas that was really kind’ve caput because of a business deal rather than anything wrong with the game itself. Maybe it would’ve been disappointing but it could’ve been cool. And now we’ll never know.
Now down to number one, you know we were gonna mention it. It’s been a minute since we talked about this one. Scalebound. Scalebound was an action RPG in third person by Platinumgames, the developers behind some of our favorite games like Bayonetta. Not only did it just look like a cool action combat adventure in some big environments with some big enemies but you were a dude who was able to interface with an actual dragon and there were a bunch of gameplay change ups that would come with that. It had some heavy-weight developers behind it. Most notably it was being lead by Hideki Kamiya, one of the guys behind Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Ōkami, and all that stuff.
This game was blown up, we saw it at multiple E3s, it had Microsoft money behind it, it was going to be a big exciting exclusive. But unfortunately this Xbox One game was delayed in 2016, pushed to 2017. And then was announced that it was completely canceled on January 9, 2017. There’s a lot of information floating around out there about this one. You know, it seems like both parties had some mistakes along the way but it’s also one of the best examples like where we have a ton of gameplay for it. And it just looked really cool and fun to play.
That’s it, that’s the bottom line. Will we ever see it again? Who knows, I still see people try to bring it up but you know, crazier things have happened. Regardless though, these are five more games that we wanted to talk about some ambitious, cool looking games that were never finished or never released. If you’ve got some more in the comments that you’d like us to highlight, definitely let us know. And definitely if you’re interested in some of these projects check out the links we have in the description, there’s some interesting stories behind these games. But if you had fun with us here today talking about these games, clickin’ the like button’s all you gotta do.
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