Exploring a different path in an established gaming franchise has always been a welcome part in the history of video games. Command and Conquer Renegade, Warhammer 40 000 Space Marine and Mortal Kombat Special Forces Shaolin Monks are just a few examples of exploring an alternate route in an existing library of titles, something that Blizzard attempted to do with Starcraft Ghost.
But of course, that experiment just became another game that never will be.
What was it about?
Taking place four years after the first game, with the Arcturus Mengsk uprising having successfully reformed Earth and it’s colonies into the tyrannical Terran Dominion, Starcraft Ghost would have put players in the combat boots of Nova, a Ghost agent with elite combat and espionage skills, as well as several pyschic powers, who serves the empire.
After a certain little revelation, revolving around black ops special forces, mind control and experimental tampering of other Ghost agents makes itself known to Nova, she sets out on her own, abandoning Mengsk and his empire, and joining one of several rebel alliances in the process.
How would it have played?
Designed primarily as a third person action game, players would have to use stealth and darkness to navigate through levels, and would have a selection of gadgets such as a cloaking device and thermal goggles to help do so. Certain enemies could counter this however, such as the olfactory senses of the Zerg, or the John Edwards abilities of the process.
When it came down to combat however, Blizzard wanted things to be a little bit more…complex. Besides having an arsenal of weapons such as rifles, grenades, shotguns and flamethrowers, Nova could use a complicated hand to hand combat system to take down foes quietly .
Failing to do so however, would put Nova in game over risk mode, as she had to then evade enemy personnel and creatures for a set time. Besides access to several psionic powers, Nova would have also been able to pilot several small vehicles, from cars through to the iconic siege tank, although larger vehicles would only play a support role.
Multiplayer would have also played a large role in the game, with team-based matches incorporating traditional death-matches and flag-capturing events, while other modes such as Invasion and King of the Hill would have also been present.
What went wrong?
Nihilistic Software began work on the game back in 2001 already, aiming for a 2003 release date on the Xbox, PS2 and Nintendo Gamecube consoles at the time. Delay after delay resulted in Nihilistic scrapping the game, with Swingin’ Ape Studios taking over from them, which resulted in the Gamecube version being dropped due to a lack of online play functionality.
After a re-announcement at E3 2005, the game was delayed yet again, with Blizzard deciding to call it quits and put the project on indefinite hiatus in March 2006, much to the chagrin of many a patient fanboy.
This wasn’t the end of Nova however, as she showed up again in a novel that was released shortly after, as well as a mission in Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Heart of the Swarm releases later this year, and will also include more Nova.
While Blizzard Co-Founder Frank Pearce has remarked in the past that Ghost was never “technically cancelled”, knowing how the company would only release a game that they were satisfied with, means that Ghost may never be, especially when other staff members such as Rob Pardo, lead developer, reckons that the developer is too “stubborn” to continue any effort to revive the project.
Still, it’s rather sad that this mash-up of Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell never materialised, although it probably would not have lived up to the high standards that Blizzard set on itself, requiring it be painfully sacrificed in the end.
Last Updated: April 23, 2012