1. Battlefront 3, a War on Two Fronts
Perhaps a Star Wars: Battlefront game that actually plays like a Battlefront game wouldn't work in this modern day and age. Apparently we'll never know, as while the Battlefront name now lives on through Electronic Arts and Battlefield developers DICE, the latest game in the series has little in common with the cult classics.
The original Battlefront games primarily came courtesy of now-defunct developer Pandemic. Under its direction the first, big two were more about being a small cog in a very large machine. A war of attrition played out between both sides -- rebels vs. imperials, clones vs. droids -- with a wide variety of playable classes, super stylish space combat, and soft lighting that only the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox could offer.
What we got in the series reboot was much more like Battlefield with blasters.
The original Battlefront 3 looked a great deal more like its source material. Footage, screenshots, and even some assets for the game leaked around the time that its developer, Free Radical Design, began to fall apart. You see it's a sad reality of cancelled games that we often only learn anything about them when their guiding studios take a financial nosedive.
It's an even greater shame because Free Radical seemed to be onto something fans of the series had been salivating over for ages: surface-to-space combat.
This was the holy grail of Battlefront features. That is, the ability to take on rebel scum with jackboots on the ground, only to jump into a TIE fighter and seamlessly take the fight to the final frontier. One portable Battlefront spinoff had allowed for this vapors-inducing fan service before. On the low-grade hardware of a PSP, however, this came with the caveats of load times, smaller player counts, and actually having to own a PSP.
Free Radical, it seemed, had cracked the code. Not only that, but they were apparently so far along in development that you can play the prototype right now. Albeit in the most roundabout way possible.
That, or they had jiggered some kind of elaborate ruse to bamboozle the equally doomed LucasArts. Either way the promise was tantalizing to say the least. Even moreso now, when the Battlefront reboot features no space combat to speak of.
Here's hoping that EA will one day allow us to live out our Star Wars fantasies on an interplanetary scale.
2. Silent Hills, the Unplayable Teaser
It's basically easy to live with the cancelation of most games. Sure, they may look amazing in screenshots, video, and the minds of overworked creative directors. Ultimately, however, we can lock their potential joy deep inside a place within our minds reserved for hypotheticals. Like the hope of a good Fantastic Four movie that isn't The Incredibles.
Silent Hills was different. This ever-horrifying mindfuck was as gorgeous as its proposed creative team. Acclaimed fantasy and horror director Guillermo del Toro was to team up with perennial crazy person Hideo Kojima on a rejuvenation of the Silent Hill franchise, slightly awkwardly titled Silent Hills. Most people, however, know the project only by its demo-cum-teaser P.T. "Most people" because we're willing to bet on average, that most who downloaded the mysterious and free application on PlayStation 4 never finished it.
Not just because it was horrifying (though it was), but because actually progressing through the single, looping, and ever-changing level was maddeningly confusing. It was the sort of thing that could drive you as crazy as the guy who wrote Metal Gear Solid 2. Here at least the often frustrating lunacy felt intentional -- P.T. was meant to string players along towards the ultimate reveal, without actually making it obvious that it was all a giant ad for the next Silent Hill game.
And then what happened at Konami happened at Konami. The potential game's publisher -- as well as owner of Silent Hill, Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid, and apparently Kojima's soul for the past 30 years -- imploded on the game's end. It's not hard to blame them on that front, given that they've made about six worthwhile games this millennium. It was more how the often shady company handled its self-destruction that raised some eyebrows.
Case in point: No sooner was Silent Hills axed than P.T. was removed from the PlayStation Store, thus eroding any foothold future interested parties might have towards experiencing this unsettling piece of history. Not only that, but even those who downloaded, and subsequently deleted, P.T. are now likewise unable to get their scare on.
And so what really grinds the gears of many about Silent Hills is that we actually got a taste of the greatness it could have offered. We'll just never get the full product. Some, in fact, will never even get to lick the sweet, creative sweat from Kojima and del Toro's collective brows.
Well, at least until they both make something else just as nutty.