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

Resident Evil 4

It took over four years to get Leon’s grizzly quest out the undead door. Now stack that up to most other games in this article, and that doesn’t seem half bad. But then you consider that Resi 4 used to look like this…

Above: Ah, the Fog and Hook Man versions of our beloved survival horror. How we don't miss them 

Well kiss my decomposing grits.

Fugly, with the series' stagnating fixed camera angles very much in check, the project looked a long way off the game that would come to redefine the genre. Thank director Shinji Mikami, his team and sweet zombie Jesus, then that the title eventually morphed into the behind-the-shoulder murdering action fest we all love and cherish through closed fingers.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

If nothing else S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s developer GSC Game World has some big brass balls. Where some developers can’t stand the shame of being stuck in development hell, preferring instead to cower in the shadows hoping the Men in Black will flashy thingie all memories of their game from your mind, GSC embraced it.

Not only did it release hundreds of screenshots of the game in 2003 (four years before the game would ship, and already two years into its development cycle) it even invited fans to is office in Kiev to play the game.

Above: With giant mechs the game would be sitting on a MetaCritic 93 

Though the final version was scaled down from the initial plans of a hugely ambitious open world game, it remains a decent, quirky shooter. It even spawned a prequel in 2008, with Clear Sky, which the developer only started work on in nineteen-dickety-two <joke>. Probably.

Kameo: Elements of Power

Aka the last game Rare made that actually felt like a Rare game. First developed on the Gamecube, the project switched to the Xbox when Mircosoft bought the British developer. Considering the game looked like the below at the time, though, the game went on indefinite hold until late 2004. Presumably for an Oprah-style makeover… minus the hooting crowd of stereotypes.

Above: Hey good looking

Thankfully the game rose like a Phoenix (yup, we’ve actually used that phrase) from the ashes of all the plastic surgery just in time for the 360’s launch. And instead of sporting horribly scars and leftover bits of cellulite, it was actually stuffed full of charming ideas, beautiful HD graphics and memorable bosses. Shame the same couldn’t be said for Perfect Dark Zero. Seriously, that should have been taken out back to meet Old Yeller.

Any other games you can think of that got stuck in development hell that survived and evolved into decent titles? Hit us up in the comments section below. 

June 2, 2010


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

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  • 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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