Games that got stuck in development hell, but amazingly didn’t suck

Unlike our beloved Duke, not all games wither and die when they get stuck in development limbo. While the majority of titles that undergo drastic changes or lengthy delays end up performing oral acts on donkey’s groins, some survive the pre-release purgatory smelling of roses. Well, more ‘gameplay that’s not shit’ than roses, really. So without furthing rambling, here’s a bunch of games that survived development hell and lived to be damn decent titles.

Alan Wake

Forget about the Steven King wannabe getting lost in the woods and chopped to bits by an imaginary axe murderer; his game was almost lost to the abyss of development hell. Developer Remedy originally started work on the game as early as 2001, with first footage of Wake shown at 2005’s E3. Back then, the now moody, tightly scripted thriller had more in common with GTA. And the town of Bright Falls was originally designed to be an open-world sandbox.

Above: Screw your kidnapped wife, Wake. Just focus on getting released

But despite the game’s constant delays, which saw a planned PC version fall by the wayside, old Al eventually stumbled out of the woods in a surprisingly decent, brilliantly tense survival horror. With the sandbox genre so horribly oversaturated, we say it’s a good thing the developers were given the time to hone their vision for the game. As a result, we’ve got a pretty unique title. Albeit one that wasn’t quite worth a nine year wait. Oh, and, Remedy? Next time you get stuck in development hell, lose the bloody chore of a wife character, eh?


Woah, bear with us. 2006’s forgotten Native American, portal-jumping FPS wasn’t half bad. Especially considering it was once a shitty looking shooter based on an unstable Unreal engine, starring someone called Talon Brave. Hugely ambitious when it was first announced in 1995, it was the game’s lofty technical goals that ultimately cast it out like a leper in the development wilderness for over a decade. 3D Realms just had to wait for the tech to catch up. When it did, the results were bloody decent. Even if playing the game for more than five minutes at a time made you want to upchuck your cookies. Stupid shitting motion sickness.

Above: Don't worry, we've all had many a fantasy about Prey's doors

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Sam Fisher, you despicable Commie-loving hippie. Back in 2007, our hard-ass sneaky agent was supporting a look more akin to a beardy Ashton Kutcher than someone you associate with stabbing spleens in the dark. Thankfully, Ubisoft Montreal put the kibosh on the original vision for the game, which saw the unkempt Fisher stealthing his ways through Assassin’s Creed-style crowds.

Above: If there's one thing Tom can't abide, it's an unkempt haircut

A quick hair cut and a miraculous anti aging cream later and our boy was back on track. Taking names and not so much kicking ass, as… eh, smashing people’s faces against pianos and bathroom sinks. Streamlined, cinematic and brutal, the version of Conviction we eventually got is far better than any game (that’s essentially undergone a complete redesign half way through development) has a right to be.


  • cindylei96 - June 3, 2010 3:34 p.m.

    Who cares!!! My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He- is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at an age gap dating site[_www. A G E R O M A N C E com_]---a nice and free place for Younger- Women and Older Men, or Older Women and Younger Men, to interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or- tell your friends
  • chriszewski - June 3, 2010 9:42 a.m.

    What about Dark Sector? Six years in development with a setting and engine overhaul and still managed a 73 on Metacritic.
  • philipshaw - June 3, 2010 1:54 a.m.

    Interesting article and clearly Resi 4 turned out to be amazing because of the amount of time it spent in development hell
  • Ninja-KiLLR - June 3, 2010 1:37 a.m.

    if you do another one i GT5 might make the list... if its released by then
  • Spybreak8 - June 3, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    Forgot to say no Kameo 2, noooooo! I loved the first one. lol ReCaptcha:about misogyny
  • Spybreak8 - June 3, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    So these are games that didn't suck, SC:C?! I'd also question Alan Wake, it just doesn't feel like a game that's been in development for that long.
  • GoodGuyWithACrappyJob - June 3, 2010 12:30 a.m.

    Occasionally, being grinded does not result in a loss.
  • TyeTheCzar - June 2, 2010 11:41 p.m.

    You forgot Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Eternal Darkness, and TF2.
  • Metroidhunter32 - June 2, 2010 10:23 p.m.

    Eternal Darkness? I found it fairly bland, but most reviewers disagree with me, so I was expecting to see it here.
  • shadowarrior99 - June 2, 2010 5:58 p.m.

    prey's doors were awesome... when do i get to see prey 2's doors?
  • jumpmav11 - June 2, 2010 5:45 p.m.

    @Octoboy I don't think GR's taking applications right now, homie! TF2 should definitely be on this list, and I did not know Kameo looked like that before. These are some of the few examples of how development hell changes things for the better, but for every Alan Wake (it was good), there's also a Too Human
  • Darkhawk - June 2, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    Prey was better than Halo. Better gameplay mechanics, better story, better scripted events, more inventive weapons. Sure, Halo multiplayer trumps all FPS's, but Prey was a better game. reC: beryls Moscow
  • ventanger - June 2, 2010 3:42 p.m.

    I agree, TF2 deserves a spot. Back in the day (yes, the day, you know the one) TF2 was basically what Duke Nukem Forever is today. Early screens looked more like a multiplayer Call of Duty than the cartoony panic-fest it is today.
  • Conman93 - June 2, 2010 2:58 p.m.

    Why do I get the feeling epic mickey will be added to this list..
  • lovinmyps3 - June 2, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    Pretty cool. I was still a bit disapointed with Splinter Cell though, but Resi 4, of course, was amazing!
  • sveini22 - June 2, 2010 1:59 p.m.

    "Above: Don't worry, we've all had many a fantasy about Prey's doors" Hahaha i almost died. That was just hilarious :D
  • Gahmah - June 2, 2010 1:33 p.m.

    Dark Sector! YOU CAN GET IT USED FOR 10 CENTS ON AMAZON at time of posting. Trying to think of other good delayed games but nothing's coming to mind.
  • guillotinedream - June 2, 2010 1:27 p.m.

    @holyhandgrenade yeah and the original concept was more realistic. it was like counterstrike with classes. one class actually had a top down view of the map and acted as a commander
  • TheHolyHandGrenade - June 2, 2010 1:10 p.m.

    @guillotinedream didn't team fortress 2 take 9 years or something. Right now im playing the game to death on my PS3

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