The lost PC games you'll never play

In developmentat Midway Studios – Newcastle last year, Necessary Force was an open-world cop thriller that made you do detective work: tapping up informants and roughing up drug dealers for information until you get enough evidence on someone to bring them in for questioning. Alternatively you could go Dirty Harry and use extreme violence to keep the streets safe, but incur the displeasure of your bosses and society.

Crime busting in Necessary Force wasn’t a sequence of missions, but conjured up by a dynamic world and the extent of what your investigations had uncovered. Lose a suspect and you wouldn’t restart a mission, but carry on policing.

The world would have reflected the ways you had conducted your enquiries: “The moral choices you made weren’t to influence a good/bad karma meter, but had a meaningful impact on the game,” said Creative Director Simon Woodroffe, “You could, for example, bust a major drug supplier in one area (seeming morally sound) causing the area to become a war zone as gangs battle for control – or you could’ve tortured him (seemingly morally unsound) and got the information without upsetting the power balance. Of course, there were consequences to morally dubious actions as well – nobody can become a psychotic killer without paying the price.”

“There are a bunch of brilliant TV shows with characters who were inspirations for the kind of character we wanted the player to be,” explains producer Joe Neate. “Vic Mackey [The Shield], Jimmy McNulty [The Wire]... We wanted to get a character, story and most importantly dialogue that stood up to the best we had seen.”

The game’s unnamed city wasn’t run of the mill either: rising water levels mean giant pumps have to work 24/7 to keep the city damp-free. This meant the city’s exclusive areas were on high ground, while slums on lower levels would be sodden and neglected.

The end
Midway Newcastle ran out of time to find a buyer for Necessary Force after parent company Midway went supremely wobbly financially. Seemingly very few publishers were in a position to invest in a new brand when the globe had been placed in the jaws of a world-wide recession. Given a chance, it could have been rather special.

Status: Taken down. Down to Chinatown.

Those left behind...

Other notable games cherished in realities other than our own...

Dragon Empires

The Codemasters MMO that, reports would have it, became somewhat of a money-gargling black hole would have been rather special if its back-end had been strong enough and its aspirations had been fulfilled. Remarkable graphics, a complex (yet apparently engaging) clan and trade system, cities to battle over, and big old dragons.

LOTR: The White Council

A modern open-world single-player RPG set in Middle-Earth must be the only game that the touch of Tolkien hasn’t yet reached – though it nearly got there with The White Council. With the machinations of AI elves and beasts adapted from The Sims technology, and many and varied quests for your hero it could have been an utter marvel. Sadly it was killed during its gestation in 2007.

Enemy in Sight

An authentic military sim in the works at Illusion Softworks before the studio was taken over by 2K, and reportedly canned because of the standing publishing deal with Atari. Although largely a tech demo when showed to the press it could have proved to be a worthy follow-up to the Hidden & Dangerous games. Its developers were also excited about the prospect of working TVs in people’s houses, providing the enduring quote, “Maybe it could be porno? Who knows?”

Imperial Commando

The sequel to the largely underrated Star Wars: Republic Commando was once mooted, but sadly never got further than a game concept and early design paintings. It would have told the tale of Scorch, Sev and co. after the Emperor sent out the magic order code that made the clones go mental and kill their Jedi leaders. Almost certainly the ‘good Star Wars game’ that got away.

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Apr 14, 2010