Before and after: the games that changed during development

Most games usually require a lot of touch-up work during their development before they're ready for release. Usually it's nothing major. A haircut for the main character here, the occasional unintentionally offensive Arabic song removed there. Some games, though, go through more than mere cosmetic changes. The following collection of titles all changed drastically during their development cycles. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.

Splinter Cell Conviction

Sam Fisher’s gone through some midlife crisis-sized changes over the past couple of years. One minute he’s a tortured emo agent on the run, with as little respect for the law as for kempt facial hair. The next he’s a malicious murderer, who makes Jack Bauer look like Jack Osborne.

Above: From badly groomed to just plain bad

When we first saw Conviction in 2007 it had heavy influences from both the Bourne films and Assassin’s Creed. Two years on, though, the game looks more like traditional Cell fare… well, after ten cups of coffee and a couple shots of adrenaline. We'll see if ditching the shaggy-haired, radical design changes was the right decision when the game is released later this year.


Originally announced in 1995, the game went through several design teams over a ten year development period. It was continually crippled by technical problems, namely getting the game's ambitious portal system working. Technology finally caught up with the project’s lofty ambitions in 2005, when 3D realms borrowed id Software’s latest engine. The final direction the game adopted stayed true to the title’s original vision… more or less. The less being the part where Tommy was originally named Talon Brave and looked like a poor man’s Turok.

Above: Talon Brave - representing on behalf of First Nation since 1997 and Tommy – rocking leather since 2005


Thank the digital deities that the PS2 was an underpowered, horribly convoluted machine to develop for. Otherwise, one of our favourite games of all time, and definitely our most lovable lupus ever, would have looked something like this…

Instead of this…

Early video footage shows Okami as a much more realistic adventure, with a lifelike, depressingly plain Amaterasu in the main role. Developers Clover finally ditched this design in favour of the title’s final sumi-e art style. In part, believing the painted look could better convey the game’s theme of harmony with nature. The far drearier original look was mainly dropped, though, as the PS2 (mercifully) couldn’t handle the more technically demanding style. Three cheers for the weedy 128bit generation.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

Imagine you’re in charge of Rare during the N64 era. The Japanese giant has just realised Mario 64, and you’ve got to try and produce a platformer to match one of the greatest games of all time. What do you do?

Simple, you give the starring role to a saccharine sweet, nut-throwing squirrel, in a world so sickly sweet it makes the average Disney magical kingdom look grim like a diarrhea-smeared public toilet. Then you chuck all of that and make said squirrel a raging alcoholic/borderline sex pest/recreational drug user in a darkly comic South Park-style world.


  • hamsterdoom360 - January 21, 2010 7:10 a.m.

    That was the best Halo fanfic I've ever seen. (anyone else think the words you type in to post a comment sound like crappy band/domain names? "liable peevish" for instance)
  • gtojudge - July 12, 2009 6:57 a.m.

    Halo? third person? BLASPHEMY
  • Taxtm - June 19, 2009 7:34 a.m.

    I gotta say, I love Okami, but really, the realistic looking trailer didn't look bad at all! I liked it anyway
  • Logan2911 - June 18, 2009 9:47 p.m.

    I Hope Rare makes another game like Bad Fur Day. I loved it on the N64 & the xbox
  • rwells - June 17, 2009 2:51 a.m.

    anal blister
  • Curtis_Stone - June 17, 2009 2:36 a.m.

    I actually prefer the old Sam Fisher...The new one looks like a slightly aged version... Whereas the old one looked, well old... Showed his distraught and frustration...Showed REAL character...
  • ViolentLee - June 16, 2009 10:39 p.m.

    I'd almost add Kameo to the list, just because it went through 3 platforms: GameCube, Xbox, and 360. I have a working copy for regular Xbox. And yes, I think I'm cool.
  • voluptuouswhale - June 16, 2009 6:15 p.m.

    It's always fun to see games change as we do but some of them are really durastic Blam!s' spartan helmet was hilarious.
  • Vagrant - June 16, 2009 7:15 a.m.

    Wow, I'd never seen the original SotC thing. Looked like it could've been multiplayer, hah. Though I thought the old Splinter Cell: Conviction gameplay looked pretty good, I think the new version has some fantastic ideas. That said, I still don't hold much hope the overall game will be much good. Also, I quite like the environments and stuff in "realistic" Okami. Meh, I'm sure that change was for the best, anyway.
  • mertor3190 - June 16, 2009 6:23 a.m.

    I remember most of these. Good thing SoTC went on the way it went. The experience feels alot better alone.
  • deora2dude - June 16, 2009 6:04 a.m.

    that conker video was the funniest thing i have ever seen (zero puctuation and RVB aside) (captca city 17... ok then)
  • JamesT - June 16, 2009 4:11 a.m.

    It would be interesting to read more about the Resident Evil to Devil May Cry transformation. I'd love to know how you get from awesome horror series where you conserve ammo and have a fixed camera to an awesome hack and slash series where you keep enemies in the air with bullets.
  • IAMinFAMOUS - June 16, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    I'm beginning to sense that GR is slowly starting to become Halo haters. Why, GR? Why? After all the Halo Radars (the articles that got me into GR). Well, good article anyway.
  • jar-head - June 16, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    in starfox...i hoped that damn ball got lost in the blizzard...
  • Rodrigo90 - June 15, 2009 8:45 p.m.

    "...who makes Jack Bauer look like Jack Osborne." You gonna regret thath
  • WolfAeter - June 15, 2009 7:50 p.m.

    hell... lots of memories!!! but i don't remember that okami ad.
  • sixboxes - June 15, 2009 6:48 p.m.

    Prey seems out of place on this list. The changes were made mostly due to technology constraints, not style and design ideas. For the people calling attention to TF2 - I could be wrong, but I thought the concept from the very beginning was that stylized cartoon look. It's a departure from TF1, yes, but not what the column's about.
  • SaulFidgeonGuy - June 15, 2009 4:09 p.m.

    Nico looked pretty good, if it was online it would ave been amazing SOTC was brilliant but playing 4 player online to take down colossi would be awesome also glad they changed Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow was the only game i liked but Conviction is starting to look great
  • AntistaIsTheLight - June 15, 2009 3:10 p.m.

    Two words for the old Conviction model: Chuck Norris.
  • Quantum - June 15, 2009 2:40 p.m.

    How could you forget Team Fortress 2?

Showing 1-20 of 59 comments

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