A day removed from the announcement that Studio Liverpool is no more, gamers are still likely a bit peeved if not already holding their pitchforks ready to attack Sony for the seemingly unjust closure of a beloved and classic studio. While fans of Studio Liverpool and the studio’s flagship franchise Wipeout will likely have to go through the twelve steps of recovery after losing a loved one, some interesting tidbits have arisen out of Studio Cambridge.
It may still be too early for ex-Studio Liverpool employees to blow the whistle on what was being developed, though some very interesting minor details have already come to light, but a former staffer of Studio Cambridge has decided to reveal several projects and pitches the studio made which sadly never saw the light of day.
As you may recall several months ago we were greeted with a video released by another ex-Studio Cambridge staffer which showed several projects including The Getaway 3 and a mysterious 3rd person game set within space. Thanks to the blog of former Studio Cambridge Artist/Director Jason Wilson we finally have our first and presumably only details on that mysterious space game along with some rather intriguing concepts that Sony opted to pass on.
Untitled during development, the space game that caught our attention months ago was actually being developed as a core experience for the PlayStation Move. Sony’s motion controller has seen a few interesting games here and there, but it appears as if Studio Cambridge was trying to do something that perhaps catered towards core gamers more than released offerings such as Heroes on the Move or the ever dreadful Kung Fu Rider. Full details on the untitled sci-fi game weren't disclosed, but as per Jason’s post the game revolved around gamers using the Move’s 1:1 tracking to move an astronaut as he navigated environments and even moved asteroids.
Some new images of the game were posted via Jason, and while they’re taken from an early build they do look impressive conceptually. Perhaps the game would’ve suffered from repetition issues given its PS Move basis, but I think the concept would’ve still been worth wild for gamers to check out, especially if it went the digital route and had a smaller price tag associated with it.
The next noteworthy project revealed to once be active at Studio Cambridge is Zodiac Assassin, a third person action game starring a female assassin. Said to be aiming for a tone similar to Kill Bill, Zodiac Assassin featured a stylized look based on the art posted by Jason and it kind of reminded me of the Bethesda game WET, which came out a mere three years ago but has seemingly been forgotten by everyone.
Zodiac Assassin didn’t get too far on the development side of things as Jason comments that Sony favored Heavenly Sword from Ninja Theory, which as you may remember was another action game starring a strong female character kicking lots of ass. It’s hard to gauge whether or not we missed something special in Zodiac Assassin, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a project similar to that come out of Sony in the future as more games starring female protagonists is always a good thing.
Easily the most impressive project revealed to once be active at Studio Cambridge is One Life – a game that featured gamers assuming the role of a man and living his life from the day he’s born to his very last day on Earth. Devoid of any fantasy elements or action akin to something found in Heavy Rain, One Life revolved around making choices and then subsequently having to live and deal with what they chose to do.
One Life may sound like it was a rather lofty game, and it certainly was in some cases, but the game attempted to cover the vast amount of time of a person’s life by having each chapter be a virtual week and subsequently take place ten years after one another. So for example one chapter may feature the character at the age of 22 while the next would have them be 32 and perhaps a bit more rotund around the stomach. One example given by Jason of a particular scenario in the game involved the player going from a high-powered businessman to being homeless ten years later due to shoddy business decisions. So to say that One Life would be a bit out of the ordinary as a video game would be quite an understatement.
One Life was being aimed at casual audiences but the game still featured a rather deep layout of a large world filled with various sub-quests that could be completed by the player. The premise of One Life may sound like it would be a dull experience filled with scenarios involving the player picking up their laundry or things of that nature, but the team at Studio Cambridge were going to go for a wide range of potential gameplay scenarios ranging from the player having a job as a journalist or even a pop icon. One Life also wouldn't have been a photo-real simulator of life as the game was poised to have a stylized presentation (Studio Ghibli and Pixar were examples made by Jason) to not only bring some levity to it but also make the game easier to produce.
Ultimately One Life was shelved, not because Sony didn’t have faith in the project, but because certain questions were raised about the nature of the game such as the whole conclusion of gamers playing a character that dies at the end. That element along with the fact that Jason, who was heading up the team prototyping One Life, was tasked with leading the charge on Heavenly Sword 2 essentially put an end to One Life.
As odd as One Life may seem, the concept of the game really intrigues me as it’s cool to see a game released that isn’t traditional in a sense but pushes emotional elements to the forefront while still trying to hook gamers in by presenting things for them to do. The state of One Life at Sony and Studio Cambridge is probably completely dead and buried at this point, but I would love to see a developer approach a project with a similar nature to that of One Life as it could be captivating if pulled off properly.
Jason’s blog also includes look at an early prototype for what would become the EyePet along with a sci-fi game dubbed Revolution 4. It may be slightly sad to such cool concepts never become reality, but simply gaining some insight from a talented artist such as Jason is still nice – not only to see the wonderful art but to see the work and talent of Studio Cambridge.