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Before Irrational Games became 2K Boston (and went back again) and made BioShock, they came across the idea of gunning down zombie hordes long before it was fashionable. Originating as a supernatural SWAT game, Division 9 adapted into a fight for survival in an undead apocalypse. Irrational studio head Ken Levine has this to say on the matter:
Why were zombies a logical place to go with SWAT 4’s style of gameplay?
Well, the real problem is we didn’t know where to go with SWAT. We were huge fans of SWAT 3 and weren’t really looking to rewrite the rules. That said, we knew we had to do something different. Hence Zombie SWAT! SWAT 4 was great at providing environments that told a story, which we took further in BioShock.
How would this have played out in Division 9?
We’ve always believed this was gaming’s unique way of telling stories (along with the custom story the user creates in their playthrough). The world of a zombie apocalypse isn’t that different from Rapture or the Von Braun... it’s a world about what used to be.
Who, or what, was the Division 9?
That’s a name I pulled out of my butt because I thought it sounded cool. It’s kind of weird that so many “9” games and movies have hit since. Of course, that’s the way the world goes, but I’ll say the new adaptation of the 1982 musical “Nine” definitely stole the entire thing from us. Bastards!
Now publishers have seen the success of Left 4 Dead are they kicking themselves?
Well, we actually ended up finding a buyer for it, but that happened at the same time we got an offer to sell the company. So we went with selling the company, primarily because I look really good in Take-Two mankinis.
Ken’s Take-Two mankini saw the end of Division 9, having it join Irrational’s other never-released game The Lost in a Boston dumpster behind their studio. If you’re interested in the way they worked back then, check out Irrational’s new website and podcast by the way. (They asked us to say that. But it is pretty brilliant.)
Status: Shotgun to the head
There’s a frisson of legal tension between 3D Realms and 2K Games currently, so the true fate of Mr. Duke Nukem cannot be told. But the cold hard fact is that as of right now the wheels have fallen off the Duke Nukem Forever project good and proper. So, with the aid of developer leaks in the wake of the lay-offs at 3D Realms, here’s what we could have been playing. Remember though: nobody steals our Duke and lives.
1) The game was to open in Duke’s Las Vegas casino – the Lady Killer. Here he was to have sex with twins while playing his own game, before being part of a talk show that would be interrupted by a vast Alien Mothership hovering over the Vegas skyline. Someone then had to pay for knocking Duke off his stride.
2) A boss battle would have taken place against an Alien Queen in a boxing ring within a vast arena known as the Duke Dome.
3) At different points in the game Duke would be able to shrink himself – capering through giant kitchens in a fast food joint and taking out the giant (normal-sized) foes that stood in his way.
4) You weren’t only going to get to play as Duke. You could also play as a sexy lady called Bombshell, who at one point saves Duke from certain peril through the medium of lapdancing. One can only guess at the amount of research money developers spent in getting this scene right.
5) Bombshell would be able to shrink herself too, and would spend several missions bombing around in a remote-controlled car.
6) Familiar creatures to shoot would have included Pig Cops on flying machines, bullet-fodder Enforcers, Octobrains and topless women trapped in alien goo. Stamping on stuff would be a frequent occurrence.
7) One boss was to face a humiliation move that would have involved a pipebomb being stuck up its butt. Duke’s potential witticisms for the occasion included: “This is about to impact your colon”, “Montezuma’s revenge”, and “Colonize this motherf---er”.
8) As the Duke slaughtered babe-stealing alien bastards, he’d earn Ego Points. In post-DN3D games Ego had been the Duke-speak term for health, so Duke’s self-regard was generally both high and easily dented by bullets.
9) Chucked pipe bombs had a really cool red smoke trail effect as they flew through the air.
10) The whole thing was going to be a bit sexist.
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