By insanejedi 0 Comments
So with the release of Duke Nukem: Forever I thought about all those dinosaur games that we made fun of in the past that we thought would never come out, and unless I'm mistaken, Duke Nukem is the last of those dinosaurs. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at games that were announced almost 10 years before they we're out and see how it all worked out in the end. This doesn't count stuff like Starcraft 2 or Half Life 2 where the time between sequels is almost a decade, but games that we're actually announced 10 years before they we're finished.
#1 Max Payne
It's hard to imagine that Max Payne is 10 years old, but this game of the year contender looked like it was never coming out. Development started in 1996 where Remedy wanted a 3rd person action game with a hard boiled cop. Using their own game engine they started to release screenshots and video of their own game at E3 in 1998. To get a perspective what it looks like here's a video.
And to get a better perspective, the best looking game at that time from Gamespot's 1998 award was...
So you can kinda see the appeal of Max Payne back then, especially since shooters in a realistic setting we're bound to weird people who like the first Rainbow 6 game. It was more of the graphics that attracted people to Max Payne and the burning question was, when it came out if it would actually look that good. 5 years later and we got the finished product, it's kinda notable that the people working on this game was also 3dRelms, the people who worked on Duke Nukem: Forever for most of the time, so in retrospect it's no wonder why the game took this long to come out. Well was it worth it? We must ask the one reviewer who rules them all... Greg Kasavin!
Max Payne was a rounding critical and sales success. Scoring high 90's on most of the big name sites and contended in many game of the year awards, and why? Personally I think it's because it delivered on all the promises that it set out to do. It wanted to be a crime drama, it wanted to be a Hong Kong action movie, and it delivered it in a way that games haven't seen or executed before. It made the simple act of going into a room to shoot guys more enjoyable than any other game that came before it and it made it look cool in the process of diving in slow motion to take down 2 or 3 guys at once. But I think the execution and context of that action really made Max Payne work with it's one trick pony without causing it to become boring. It artistically created a dark, slummy tone for New York City in both it's amazing graphics at the time and also it's comic book presentation, and the audiowork in both Max's dialog and music we're just perfect for the setting. Max Payne was the video gaming equivalent of a page turner, each moment was interesting and the next page revealed more of what you wanted to know about the story and dialog of the game.
#2 Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
The story of Stalker is actually a lot more weirder than you would expect. It was once a completely different game than what we see today. And I mean completely different...
Yeah, that 2001 trailer looks like some bizzaro world version of the STALKER we know today. Unfortunately the development process is a bit muddled up as to how it went on, and I think thats attributed to the fact that the developer GSC is Ukrainian. It's hard to tell when exactly they decided to make this sorta Serious Sam looking shooter into a realistic and gritty recreation of Chernobyl. What we can tell though is around 2003 they decided to take to the direction of recreating Chernobyl and showed off the games engine at E3 around this time.
Shortly after that they decided to change it's name from Stalker: Oblivion Lost to the Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl that we now know today. The feelings about Stalker during E3 were pretty hyped. Like Max Payne the main attraction was the graphical engine and the possibilities and the promises they made of what you could do in the world. The prospect that this is a living breathing world where you could kill birds and rats around you was amazing at the time. For actually a while there in 2003 the forums were ablaze with Stalker vs Half Life 2 discussions on which will be better. The developers also seem very dedicated seeing as the trailer depicted real life video of the notorious power plant and what they've created, and continued to put out screenshots of real life vs the game.
Everything sorta went silent till 2005 and 2006 where the parent publisher THQ wanted to see this game released around those 2 years, until they found out that the only reasonable time it would be released is around 2007. So 2007 rolled along and what did we get?
Possibly the best technically broken game since Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. STALKER is a really hit and miss game for a lot of people, but it's not because it's gameplay concepts and execution is flawed, some aspects of it we're too deep or too daft for a lot of people to have patience with, and as a fan of this game I have to say that I agree in respects, but if your willing to go with it, the result is a really atmospheric and immersive game that makes you really feel like you are in this world. The quests, the environment, the monsters, the hideously horrifying underground bases, the anomalies all just make this world retain your suspension of disbelief and make you feel like your part of this living breathing world. Unfortunately like most eastern European games that suspension of disbelief is broken by many technical issues. it's not uncommon when the game was released that it crashed frequently or would do weird things in game like NPC's would block your way, or delete quests randomly. Thankfully most of those problems are fixed today if you wanted to give the game a shot, but there are still some things that are technically buggy so look out. But I think for a lot of people STALKER delivered on it's promises and has a strange cult fanbase including Stalker LARPing groups and such.
And you know what? I can't exactly say I blame them for it.
More to come: Prey, Too Human, and finally Duke Nukem Forever