The Half-Life 3 effect: Where are these games?
Half-Life 3 has gone wanted by gamers since the year 2007, after completing what was probably one of the best two sets of episodic DLC when DLC wasn't even popular yet. Seven years later, and the game has become more of a punch-line for many gamers. Though that certainly didn't stop fans from speculating and actively seeking out answers about a potential sequel for one of their beloved games.
And Valve certainly are no angels in the matter either. Continually trolling and teasing their fans. In a recent interview with Jason Sussman from Bungie, he told us his wife, who works at Valve, brought home a Half-Life 3 shirt. To his amazement, he asked whether he was allowed to talk about it, at which point she told him it was just a joke. A cruel joke indeed.
But Valve isn't the only studio on the block keeping a sequel away from fans for one of their most beloved franchises. It looks as though other major studios, including Nintendo and Sony, have games that they perhaps once promised and never delivered on, or outright fail to support. Are they trying to emulate Valve's mysticism, and perhaps wait long enough until hype is at an all time high, or are these games and franchises shelved indefinitely?
Sony - The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian was an intriguing title, first shown off at E3 2009, and developed by the same studio that brought us fantastic titles like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. The biggest problem with The Last Guardian is that since its first showing, the game actually did continue to make headlines, and hold press events, comforting gamers with the notion that the game was never fully canceled.
What's more, Sony held a press event in early 2011 for The Last Guardian, showing off a small playable portion of the game. By then, Designer Fumito Ueda, stated that he planned the game's launch for a late 2011 release, and even hoped to include the game's demo in the then upcoming HD releases of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Sadly, that never happened.
What made matters worse, at least in the eyes of devoted fans, was Ueda's departure from Sony in December of 2011, though he did state he would stay committed to the title through a freelance position. The coffin seemed to be nailed shut when IGN stated, just days prior to E3, that Sony cancelled the game, though that was soon refuted by Sony's Scott Rohde. The fact that Sony was quick to refute that information excited fans for Sony's Press Conference, hoping to finally reveal The Last Guardian's state and hopeful shift to Sony's new PlayStation 4 console.
Nintendo - Metroid
If there is one thing Nintendo seems to be very good at, it's continually revitalizing and re-imagining their classic franchises. Mario has seen his great share of adventures throughout every Nintendo console, and The Legend of Zelda games continually task players to embark on epic quests from consoles to handhelds. However, one franchise has been sadly absent for quite some time now.
There used to be a time when a new Metroid game was inevitable. Sure, there might have been a big gap between Super Metroid, which came out in 1994 and Metroid Prime, which finally saw the return of Samus in 2002, but after that, the Metroid games just kept coming in.
Metroid Prime revitalized the series and re-imagined it as a First Person Shooter / Platformer hybrid. It was genius and made Metroid relevant in a time where platformers weren't at their peak of populary on consoles. Through 2007, gamers were treated to two more Prime games with the third reaching Nintendo's Wii console, two great Gameboy Advance games, and two DS games. There was no stopping the series. Until Team Ninja took over.
Metroid series designer, Yoshio Sakamoto, wanted to make a 3D Metroid title, but not in first person, like the Prime series. Since his team didn't have knowledge of creating 3D games, he sought out Team Ninja, a developer known for Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden titles. What ended up was a title that had decent gameplay, but ruined the lore and character of Samus for a majority of Metroid fans, and essentially killed off the franchise for fans since 2010.
Since then, we have heard next to nothing regarding a new Metroid title, though most recently at E3 2014, Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi stated:
So it has been a while since we released the last one and we're having discussions internally about what we can do next. So at this point we have two different types of Metroid games. We have the Prime style of Metroid game and we have the more traditional style of Metroid game. We feel that we do need to take care of both of these styles of play. And the hope is that at some point in the near future we'll be able to share something about them.
It's been 2009 since the last good Metroid game, and 2004 since the last 2D Metroid game. Will Nintendo come through? We can only hope.
F-Zero does get an honorable mention though.
Ubisoft - Beyond Good & Evil 2
The original Beyond Good & Evil was one of those titles that was critically acclaimed, but saw little commercial success. It's non-traditional gameplay, mixing stealth, combat and photography, was refreshing in a year that included games like Devil May Cry 2, Dynasty Warriors 4 and Enter the Matrix. That year was 2003.
Fast forward to 2008, when Ubisoft first unveiled their very short teaser trailer, showcasing both Pey'j and Jade, two characters from the first game. The game was being made, and fans of the first could rest easy knowing that the planned trilogy was finally going to have its second entry.
A year later, a clip leaked showing a very brief glimpse of gameplay which Ubisoft never intended. However, the leak was a breath of fresh air for those craving more information on the game. However, things were looking bleak after that.
Since then Michael Ancel, the man behind BG&E2, took on other titles, most notably developing the UBIArt Framework for Ubisoft and releasing Rayman Origins in 2011 and Rayman Legends in 2013.
Ubisoft claims that the game isn't cancelled, much like Sony claims with The Last Guardian, but like that title, it hasn't been seen in years to support that fact.
SEGA - Shenmue 3
Shenmue 3 is the console's Half-Life 3. It's the elusive title that continually makes headlines, keeping gamer's hopes alive that the conclusion to the trilogy will finally come out. The two Shenmue titles, directed by Yu Suzuki, most notably known for titles like Virtua Fighter series and Outrun, are known for their open ended gameplay, great combat, and also extremely cheesy English voice overs.
However, Shenmue 2 ends on a cliffhanger, leaving players on the edge of their seats and waiting patiently for 12 years for SEGA or Yu Suzuki to somehow make the conclusion to the story.
Over the years, fans have been teased with various information that prompted hope for the final title. In 2005, it was rumored that Shenmue 3 would make its way to the upcoming consoles, and would be a compilation of the first two titles, along with the concluding chapters to the saga. False.
Simon Jeffery, the former President of Sega of America, stated back in 2010 that there were no plans for Shenmue 3 at the time, but that it was one of the most requested titles by fans.
To fuel the fire, in 2010, SEGA's Mike Hayes, stated "While at present we have no plans for the franchise, the Shenmue legacy ignites a lot of passion among fans. Never say never." Yu Suzuki himself continued this trend of reigniting hope in the eyes of gamers by discussing his gameplay concepts would work in a potential Shenmue 3, and even went on to say in 2011, that if the budget was right, SEGA would let him make it.
Even in 2014, the demand for Shenmue 3 has not withered, when a poll showed that 49% of gamers wanted Shenmue 3 to be announced for the Xbox One, beating games like Red Dead Redemption, Fallout and even Elder Scrolls.
So what's the status of Shenmue 3 now? Yu Suzuki hopes to use the magic of crowdfunding to help raise the funds needed to create the final game, but again, nothing has been finalized.
The real question is, if these games ever surface, especially ones we've been waiting nearly 10 years for, will they still be relevant, or will the hype completely disappear. The Last Guardian would have been a gem among other titles if it was released between 2009 and 2011.