Gone But Not Forgotten.
You’re in a pub with a bunch of geeks, it’s late evening and you’re all on your second pint. Chances are that sooner or later when you’ve finished talking about the latest movies or whether or not X-Factor is indeed the coming of the second anti-christ, you can guarantee somebody will bring up the subject of awesome things you remember when you was younger â€“ be it Thundercats, Dino Riders or just how awesome the Amiga 500 was when the shit video adapter wasn’t falling out. But what about those old video games that you loved so much which weren’t fortunate enough to stay alive?
Started: Homeworld (1999)
Last sighting: Homeworld 2 (2003)
Ah Homeworld. Never had a space RTS actually bothered before to confuse you with proper 3D space and never before had you been bummed by some opponent attacking you not from in front, or behind â€“ but from above. This stylish RTS pushed all the right buttons and left you with strategic gameplay and some genuinely pretty space battles. Admittedly the vapour trails from the smaller ships did make everything look like a plate of spaghetti when you zoomed far enough away but we didn’t mind.
Homeworld 2 (we’ll ignore the expansion Cataclysm) came around a few years later and made everything look even shinier and the space battles became even more epic. Fighters zoomed about pew pewing everything, frigates slowly got into line and fired everything from torpedoes to ion blasts at other frigates and the god-awfully expensive destroyers would turn to their sides like old fashioned tall ships in order to send volleys of hot plasma at their distant foes. Fun in a basket. Or space.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Relic Entertainment who originally developed Homeworld has been busy with their Dawn of War and Company of Heroes licences, however THQ â€“ the owners of Relic, have recently reacquired the Homeworld franchise. So Homeworld 3 at some point in the future is a definite possibility.
Started: Syndicate (1993)
Last sighting: Syndicate Wars (1996)
Quite possibly the first game that let you run around slaughtering civilians with a minigun. You think No Russian from Modern Warfare 2 was harsh (well it was a bit – Ed)? Well imagine having drug-addled cyborgs under your command laying waste to an entire city block with a gauss launcher and then mowing down the survivers with laser rifle (okay, it’s not still as harsh). This tactical squad game was infamous for the amount of collateral damage that would often be inflicted on the general populace as a result of you completing your mission.
The sequel, Syndicate Wars, was even bloodier with a 3D city, darker setting and even more firepower. You could now set up entire perimeters of razor wire and then shepherd your foes (and everyone else) right into it with the discreet use of a nuclear grenade or two.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Apparently confirmed! Although Ex-Bullfrog head honcho Peter Molyneux wittered on in 2006 how Syndicate is the one game he’d like to work on again – as an online game no less – it’s been confirmed that Starbreeze Studios are confirmed as working on a Syndicate title for EA. Get in. Here’s hoping it’s not cow fudge.
Started: Heretic (1994)
Last sighting: Heretic 2 (1998)
Often seen as Doom‘s geekier cousin. Heretic and Hexen were all about spells and swords instead of chainsaws and BFGs. Hexen took this even further by actually allowing character classes like the Fighter or the Mage, while its sequel was most fondly remembered for having a cube item which when thrown at an enemy, would make chains appear from the walls and impale them Hellraiser style. We won’t talk about Heretic 2 as it was relatively gash, but it would be nice to see this fantasy FPS given some love and released with the current gen systems.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ No word on the horizon whatsoever. Raven still own the rights to Hexen and Heretic and they’re going strong at the moment. So there’s a reasonably good chance we may see a reboot or sequel at some point. When? God knows.
Started: Carmageddon (1997)
Last sighting: Carmageddon TDR 2000 (2000)
Driving, fun and gore all combined in a way that was so silly and awesome that not even Grand Theft Auto‘s driving sections have really managed to surpass it. This was the game where driving over the old frail grandmother struggling to cross the road was not frowned upon but positively encouraged. Of course the game was also fun because it allowed multiple ways to drive through the course, relatively free-roaming gameplay,some utterly stupid jumps and ensuing blood and chaos that left you with a daft smile on your face afterwards.
Carmageddon 2 was even better with proper 3D pedestrians to break into bits and more smashable everything. As for the third instalment â€“ TDR 2000 â€“ well, it was shit. But that’s no reason to not want an update. Imagine the driving sections out of Dead Rising combined with the crazy stunts of Motor Storm: Pacific Rift in a city setting and you may be on to something.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Carmageddon 4 was originally planned for a 2005 release but was put on hold indefinitely and originally seemed to be vapourware, but recently there has been confirmation that Carmageddon 4 has been brought back from the brink of death and is being worked on by a Russian development house called Targem. Only thing is, it’s been rebranded as “Armageddon Riders” So technically not Carmageddon. Pfft.
Started: Crusader – No Remorse (1995)
Last sighting: Crusader – No Regret (1996)
If you never played this. You. Missed. Out.
Isometric gameplay (ahhhh, classic!) and a soldier with lots of guns…and lots and lots of awesome gory death animations when you shoot the poor feckers with whatever strange bloody gun you were carrying. I’m not joking, the guns here would freeze, chops bits off, chop people in half, melt, mutilate and generally mess up their day in many ways. Asides from that the game was genuinely entertaining and kept you wanting to play. Update with modern graphics and even multiplayer squad gameplay? Oh hell yes please.
Trivia: This game has links in it that appear to show it shares the same universe as not only Wing Commander but also System Shock. Worrying.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Well a third title called ‘No Mercy‘ was planned but never released and originally it was intended to have five games in the series. No sign otherwise though sadly.
Battlezone (90s reboot series)
Started: Battlezone (1998)
Last sighting: Battlezone 2: Combat Commander (1999)
Completely ignoring the actual vector arcade game of the 1980s, I’m talking here about the Activision (Actingthecuntivision, Dij. It’s PEOWW law – Ed) reimagining of the series back in the late ’90s. Now these games were good on many levels. Not only did you get all the fun of driving around in tanks and mechs, but it was essentially an RTS that you ran around in with an FPS viewpoint. If you wanted, you could just hide in a building and go to an overhead viewpoint and place buildings, factories and defence posts â€“ but likewise, you could get out there, take over any vehicle you wanted and personally go and smack the enemies face in.
If you got blown out of your vehicle, you had a sniper rifle for blasting enemies that were driving tanks etc – rendering their vehicle empty and free for you to yoink yourself. Nothing like being stuck miles behind enemy lines, waiting for a tank to leave its formation then shooting its owner and making a high speed escape with most of the enemy battalion following you all the way back to your base. The sequel added even more vehicles and upgrades and gave what at the time was a major overhaul to the graphics and gameplay â€“ they also changed the enemy from the pesky commies to some rather unpleasant aliens. I can only imagine what they could do with this now ten years later.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Unlikely. Pandemic/Acti(ngthecunti)vision released a statement as recent as 2008 stating that they felt there was no scope for making a third title for various reasons (Pandemic are fucked now as well – Ed). Fans did start a Battlezone 3 project but so far it appears to be just in a vague ‘planning’ stage.
Started: Descent – Freespace: The Great War (1998)
Last sighting â€“ Freespace 2 (1999)
I know, I know, technically Freespace is part of the Descent universe so technically, Descent should be the first on the list â€“ but just no. Freespace is a completely different animal.
Very much a classic space sim like the good old Wing Commander and X-Wing series. Freespace was all about piloting fighter and bomber spaceships through random space scenarios and generally blowing the crap out of everything that wasn’t human. But Freespace took the concept beyond what had been seen before. First and foremost â€“ it made everything BIG. No â€œcapital classâ€ ships that looked about three inches long on your screen. The capital class ships and cruisers in this game dwarfed the screen and lent the game a feeling of epicness that was further enriched by an actually compelling (if not entirely original..) storyline that made you feel like your actions actually counted for something.
That being said though, Freespace 2 managed to keep the essence of the original intact and in a rare move, actually improve upon the original game. The graphics and feel of the ships got better, the missions felt more urgent and the capital ships grew in size again like a fat kid eating too much cake. A fat kid that shot lasers at other fat kids for your entertainment that is.
Likelyhood of seeing it again? â€“ Not great at the moment. The game is still well and truly alive at the moment thanks to the various community mods, but the actual license for the Freespace title was among those put up for sale by Interplay in 2005 when they went under and so far, nobody has bothered buying it. Derek Smart, the creator of the much maligned Battlecruiser 3000AD has mentioned an interest however â€“ but from his previous attempts, it’s probably for the best if he leaves it the feck alone.
Started: Utopia – The Creation of a Nation (1991)
Last sighting: Fragile Allegiance (1996)
Bit of an obscure one this. Imagine a kind of mish mash of Civilisation and Command and Conquer but on asteroids and you’re…well, probably not that close. But building stuff on asteroids and mining the fuck out of them was what this was all about. Not as simple as that though, oh no. You also had to try to spread through space taking over as many other asteroids as possible while running a decent mining operation, keeping your colonies happy and also keeping a good fleet of spaceships whizzing around to stop impending fleets that would come knocking at any moment. Being able to buy blueprints for bigger and better buildings and ships was also a nice touch as was being able to build multiple long range missile silos to hurl at your pesky enemies…or your own asteroid when you decided you was bored. Just me? Humph (nope – I also added engines to my asteroids also. It was a cheap win but still fun – Ed).
Likelyhood of seeing it again? Highly unlikely unless the license gets sold off soon. Gremlin who were responsible for first publishing and then developing the series got bought out by Infogames in 1999. Their development house got shut down and demolished shortly after though and currently Infogames have been selling a lot of their properties and are making huge losses each year. They’re currently circling the toilet as we speak. So what happens to the Fragile Allegiance license is anyone’s guess.