Cancelled games are heartbreaking at the best of times, but nothing ever hurts quite as bad as when you’ve seen so much of a title, and it gets so close to being in your hands, only to have it ripped away.
See, sometimes a developer can fall at the final hurdle. Often, factors outside of their control will destroy a project, regardless of whether it’s in its early stages, or a stone’s throw from release.
The following nine games are all titles that were very nearly finished (or even completely finished) before they sadly kicked the bucket. Some you may have heard of, others perhaps not.
A third person action/RPG set in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe? If you think that sounds awesome, you would be entirely correct.
Oh, and it was being developed by Obsidian, the team behind Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity and South Park: The Stick of Truth.
So what the hell happened here? Some of the team at Obsidian reckon the game was pretty much ready for release, while others were less certain. At any rate, Crucible was canned in 2009, as publisher SEGA revealed it wanted to ‘carefully consider the type of Aliens game to release.’
Do you know what we got instead of Crucible? Aliens: Colonial Marines. A steaming turd of a videogame, if ever there was one.
Six Days in Fallujah
Six Days in Fallujah has the distinction of being the first videogame to deal directly with the Iraq War. Unfortunately, many believed that the subject matter was way, way too recent in 2009 – to be honest, it’s still a raw topic for a lot of folk in 2016, and understandably so.
This project, from developer Atomic Games was to be a tactical shooter that was set during the Second Battle of Fallujah over the span of six days in November 2004.
At the time, Konami were supposed to publish the game, but they dropped it as soon as they realised there was a controversy surrounding the title.
Some of the team at Atomic claim that soldiers who actually fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah asked them to make the game. Maybe in 20 or 30 years we can think about Six Days in Fallujah getting a release.
NBA Live 13
The NBA Live series enjoyed 16 years of annual releases before EA decided to put the franchise to rest in 2011.
However, two years later, the brand was back and promising to be bigger than ever – except it was then cancelled mere weeks ahead of the proposed release date.
EA boss Andrew Wilson made the frank admission that the game wasn’t good enough to be released in time ready enough to hit its scheduled release date. Unfortunately, NBA Live 14 wasn’t much better, releasing to an absolute bashing from critics everywhere.
Prey 2 was to be (funnily enough) a sequel to Prey. It was originally unveiled in 2011 as an FPS that followed amnesiac U.S. Marshall Killian Samuels on his journey to become a kickass intergalactic bounty hunter.
Despite Bethesda’s claims that Prey 2 was nothing more than a demo when it was cancelled, Human Head maintain that a lot of the project’s major elements were nicely in place.
The project languished in development hell for a few years before being officially cancelled in 2014, with Bethesda citing a ‘lack of quality’.
As you might know, the project was re-announced at E3 2016. It’s just called ‘Prey’ now, and Dishonored developer Arkane Studios has taken over control of the title, which is now being billed as a ‘reboot’.
Star Fox 2
Star Fox 2 was, as you might expect, the planned sequel to the groundbreaking Star Fox for the SNES.
Unlike other games on this list which were relatively close to being done, Star Fox 2 was actually completely finished – In fact, if you’re willing to do a bit of digging, you can download yourself a ROM and try it out.
You might wonder why a finished game that was a sequel to a successful first outing was canned to begin with. A programmer who worked on the title puts it down to Shigeru Miyamoto himself, and the impending arrival of the Nintendo 64.
Apparently, Miyamoto wanted something of a clean break in 3D gaming between the SNES and N64 – perhaps to maximise the impact of the N64’s technology – at any rate, we eventually got a fantastic new 3D Star Fox title in the form of Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars).
Thrill Kill manages to go one further than Star Fox 2: Not only was the game completed, but the damn thing was ready to ship – So close.
If you’ve never heard of it, Thrill Kill was a four player beat ’em up for the PlayStation that acted as a controversially gory combination of Manhunt and Mortal Kombat.
When Thrill Kill began development, it was owned by Virgin Interactive. That company was then purchased by EA in 1998, who decided they didn’t want to harm their image by publishing such a ‘senselessly violent game’.
To be fair, heavy references to BDSM, dismemberment, and moves like ‘bitch slap’ and ‘swallow this’ might have been a bit much for a lot of people – if you’re curious, you can easily download a ROM these days.
True Fantasy Live Online
True Fantasy Live Online was an MMORPG which was in development by Level-5 for the Xbox, and was intended to take advantage of the fledgling Xbox Live service to provide a true online experience on a home console.
After a troubled development cycle that lasted almost two years, the game was cancelled on June 2, 2004 – by this time, Level-5 President Akihiro Hino revealed that ‘the world of TFLO was already complete’, but it was too late.
Unfortunately, TFLO simply didn’t meet Microsoft’s standards. Throw in reports of strained relationships between the developer and publisher, and a number of overly ambitious features meant that the project got the chop.
Star Wars Battlefront III
Few things in gaming sting more than the loss of Star Wars Battlefront III. Sure, we got a new Battlefront game from DICE in 2015 and it was okay, but it was a reboot – not the sequel everybody wanted.
Development duties were in the hands of Free Radical Design, with their co-founder Steve Ellis claiming that Battlefront III was ‘pretty much done’ in 2008. He alleged that the game was scrapped because LucasArts couldn’t commit to properly marketing it.
However, employees from LucasArts who were involved with the project suggested that the problem was with Free Radical – apparently they regularly missed deadlines and couldn’t devote the resources that such a project needed. Take a look at some footage below.
As with many cancelled games, we may never know the full truth. Still, a ‘true’ Battlefront III exists out there in the form of an awesome fan project.
While we can’t say for certain how many of these projects would actually have been worth playing, it’s clear that they’ll all go down in history as enigmatic gems – any one of these could be the greatest game you’ve never played – Well, any besides Six Days In Fallujah.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.