You can’t always have what you want. Sometimes a game doesn’t live up to your expectations, sometimes it is downright awful, and sometimes you never even have the chance to play it.
If there’s one thing the video game industry does well, it’s generate excitement about a game years before its release. Just look at this year’s E3, for instance. How many of those games have we been hearing about for the past few years? Let’s examine a few examples:
- Days Gone – Revealed at E3 2016 – Scheduled for release in February 2019
- Crackdown 3 – Revealed at E3 2015 – Scheduled for release in February 2019
- Anthem – Teased at E3 2014 – Revealed at E3 2017 – Scheduled for release in February 2019
- Kingdom Hearts III – Revealed E3 2013 – Scheduled for release in January 2019
While this can be successful in getting gamers excited about a game early on, it can also frustrate the hell out of them if it gets cancelled. I’ve had glorious-looking games dangled in my face, only to eventually learn that I would never play them. Instead, I am forever left to look at screenshots and watch gameplay videos, and wonder what could have been.
Here are some cancelled games that I lament never having the opportunity to play:
Frame City Killer
Teenage me nearly lost my mind at first sight of this game about a hitman assassinating his way through a futuristic urban environment in search of a drug-dealing terrorist. Frame City Killer was all about tracking down and profiling your targets using a variety of methods and technologies, and then executing the hit however you’d like. Visually, the game looked terrible, and the shooting seemed awfully boring. However, I was intrigued by the prospect of having a choice in how you wanted to approach assassinations, and the hand-to-hand combat looked intricate and fun. Unfortunately, many people didn’t share my enthusiasm for Frame City Killer, so Namco cancelled it in May of 2006.
Based off the acclaimed graphic novel series of the same name, 100 Bullets looked like a rip-roaring shoot-em-up full of explosive gunfights and ultraviolence. I particularly remember being impressed by the smooth gun slinging mechanics that allowed you to shoot at multiple enemies in different directions. Also eye-catching was the art design, leveraging cel-shading and comic-styled text boxes to capture the essence of the graphic novel it was adapted from. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned when Acclaim filed for bankruptcy in September 2004. Since then, the project has had no luck being picked up and finished by another studio.
2 Days to Vegas
Ambitious is the one word I would use to describe this adventure game from developer Steel Monkeys. Centered on a recently released convict who needs to help his brother get out of trouble, 2 Days to Vegas planned to set players on a journey across America to reach Las Vegas in 48 hours. It was rumored that gamers would be able to explore seven major U.S. cities throughout the course of the campaign, including New York City and Las Vegas. While it hasn’t been officially stated, it is presumed that 2 Days to Vegas has been cancelled due to its long development timeline and lack of recent progress.
Just from the few seconds of gameplay shown at E3 2005, Killing Day nearly convinced me to buy a PS3. It looked like such a gun-slinging good time, with super fluid gunplay that allowed you to seamlessly aim two handguns in entirely different directions. Equally impressive were the visuals and attention to detail. Vapor trails from bullets whizzed through the air, and chunks of the environment exploded after being blasted by gunfire. It’s clear to me now that this clip was a concept render and not actual gameplay footage, but that still doesn’t stop me from wishing I could see a final product. The good news is that not all hope is lost. On January 4, 2013, Ubisoft filed a new trademark application, but Killing Day has been spoken about since.
Survival horror is my favorite game genre, so you can only imagine the soul-crushing disappointment I felt when the bozos at Konami pulled the plug on Silent Hills. If P.T. was any indication on how good that game would have been, the gaming world has been done a great disservice. The product of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, two of the brightest minds in entertainment, Silent Hills looked to focus more on psychological horror and subtle creepiness instead of cheap jump scares. Shortly after the internet went crazy for it, Kojima and Konami had a falling out, ultimately leading to the game’s cancellation. Now that Konami is basically out of the video game business, it’s unlikely that Silent Hills will ever be finished. Oh, and Del Toro was really pissed off about it, and he had every right to be.
Rockstar games is one of the only companies that actually breaks ground in the video game industry. Nearly everything that comes from their development studios is pure gold – from well-known titles like GTA V and Red Dead Redemption to less popular games like The Warriors and Bully. Agent was gearing up to be another win for Rockstar, immersing players into a world of counter intelligence, espionage, and political assassinations during the Cold War. Gameplay was rumored to be stealth-based and similar to Manhunt, another great game from Rockstar. While it hasn’t been officially cancelled, not much news has been released about Agent over the past few years. Take Two Interactive did refile its trademarks for the game back in 2016, but there is no substantial evidence to prove the project is still active.
Who wouldn’t want to kick some bad guy ass as one of the most famous movie detectives of all time? At E3 2006, a gorgeous cinematic trailer for a Dirty Harry video game blew the minds of gamers and critics. The story was supposed to take place between the events of Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, leveraging an opportunity to add more depth to the iconic character. Also, rumor has it that players would be tasked to walk a moral line, and that AI would be reactive to their actions. This means that if you were too soft on criminals, they may not take you seriously, while using excessive force could get you in trouble with the police chief. Unfortunately, the project was cancelled in 2007 due to trouble with developer The Collective, which was later revealed to be budgetary issues and a rushed schedule.
Fun fact about me: I adore the TimeSplitters series. The games are absolutely bonkers, pitting you in absurd scenarios where you need to save history from being altered by an antagonistic alien race. So you can only imagine my excitement when it was announced that TimeSplitters 4 was in development. Shortly after the announcement, promotional materials parodying other series, such as Gears of War and Halo, started to appear, which led people to believe that poking fun at other games would be a major theme. About a year after development started, Free Radical was purchased by Crytek. In 2012, Crytek confirmed the game was no longer in development. However, some concept art emerged on Reddit earlier this year. If these images tell us anything, it’s that TimeSplitters 4 was likely going to be the wackiest and weirdest installment in the series. Such a shame that we may never get to play it.
An intense E3 2006 demo flaunting some fancy gunplay had me eager to hop on the hype train for Eight Days. Developed by SCE London Studio, the game was to be set in eight different states over the course of eight days, which would have made it the largest game map at the time. Players would be given a choice between two characters with completely different storylines; one good and one bad. Also, Eight Days was rumored to have a real-time clock, meaning that if the game were being played at night, then it would be night in the game. Sadly, SCE pulled the plug in 2008 to allocate more resources to other projects. It was later revealed that a lack of online play in Eight Days was a significant reason for cancelling it.
More likely than not, this would have ended up being another Peter Molyneux game that failed to deliver on grandiose promises. However, since it was never finished, part of me wonders if this would have been the one game ol Petey fully delivered on. As you can guess from its title, B.C. was set in prehistoric times. Players would control a tribe and have one simple goal: Evolve to become the best species in the world. Ape-like creatures called simiens would be the main adversaries throughout the campaign, but players would also have to fend off various types of dinosaurs and other creatures. Out of the blue, Molyneux announced B.C.’s cancellation in 2004. In 2015, game preservation group PtoPOnline released gameplay footage of the project from its development, giving us a small taste of what it looked like.
What are some cancelled games that you wish you had the chance to play? Were you as excited as I was for any of the games on this list? Let’s discuss in the comments below!