An Focal investigates: Delayed Video Games that got released

By Mike Finnerty Nov 22, 2019

It finally happened.

Shenmue got a sequel.

After the 2001 sequel ended on a cliffhanger, fans were waiting on pins and needles for any news about a sequel.

Sony’s 2015 E3 conference will live long in the memory of any gamer if the reactions are anything to go by.

Over four years later, Shenmue 3 is available to buy, and the reactions have been somewhat mixed.

The opening line of Polygon’s review states “When playing a game like Shenmue 3, a sequel that has almost two decades of expectations, hype, and pressure riding on its shoulders, it’s rare for the end result to be exactly what one would expect.”

Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto once said “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad” and some games took that statement to heart.

An Focal takes a look at the most famously delayed video game sequels of all time – and if they were worth the wait.

Duke Nukem Forever (2011) 

You knew this was going to make an appearance.

It spent 15 bloody years in development and all it had to show for it was the fact you could draw on a whiteboard.

Image result for duke nukem forever whiteboard
2011 summed up in a single screenshot

There was never a universe where Duke Nukem Forever was ever going to live up to the hype, especially considering how the first-person shooter genre, and indeed the video game artform, changed in the 15 years it spent in the oven.

In the mid-90s, Duke Nukem was the cutting edge of video games, it’s frantic, fun and politically incorrect stylings were a revelation.

In 2011, it was a rock star enlisting a rapper for a guest verse to add a sense of hipness.

Halo changed the first-person shooter genre for better and for worse when it launched in 2001, with the concepts of regenerating health and only being able to carry two weapons at a time undermining the very concept of a Duke Nukem game could be.

Duke was a man out of time.

This could have worked to the game’s advantage, but that would imply the game developers had a modicum of self-awareness and respect for their audience.

By the time Duke Nukem Forever hit shops, it was laughably outdated, and the graphics seemed to come from 2001 as well.

The game has its fans and sold well, but it wasn’t the game-changer fans and critics hoped for.

Worth the wait? No.

Image result for duke nukem forever

Crackdown 3 (2019) 

The original Crackdown was a hit on the Xbox 360 in 2007.

It was the closest we ever got to a Robocop or a Judge Dredd game.

The 2010 sequel took a bit of momentum out of the franchise by being boring, but when Crackdown 3 was announced at E3 2014, hopes were high the irreverent franchise would be the hit the Xbox One needed after kneecapping itself at launch.

A lovely pre-rendered trailer showed off bleeding-edge destruction technology, powered by cloud servers, in what promised to be a breakthrough for the action genre, and a mouth-watering prospect for gamers looking for Red Faction or Mercenaries style destruction on new console technology.

Image result for crackdown 3 destruction

Then we waited.

Waited some more.

PS4 started outselling Xbox One 2:1.

Terry Crews was enlisted.

Crackdown 3 is released in February 2019, and looks like a PS2 game.

Bloody hell Microsoft, can you do anything right this console generation?

Worth the wait? No

The Last Guardian (2016)

Team Ico are the Studio Ghibli of video games.

And that isn’t just a lazy comparison because both happen to be Japanese producers of heartstring-tugging, profound art.

They take their time with their product, and the results are, more often then not, beautiful and unforgettable experiences.

The Last Guardian was announced at E3 2009 by Team Ico, still riding high off the success of Shadow Of The Colossus and Ico.

Image result for absolute unit shadow of the colossus
Or to give it it’s proper title..

It didn’t arrive until December 2016.

The Last Guardian didn’t set the world on fire, but it was a perfectly serviceable adventure game, with all of Team Ico’s trappings that makes their games the equivalent of a warm hug.

Worth the wait? Yes

Doom (2016)

Announced way back in 2008 as the first-person military shooter genre was about to become the hottest trend in gaming, this back-to-basics no-frills shooter turned out to be arguably the best FPS of the generation.

The initial pitch had the game set on Earth and seeing the player team up with AI-controlled characters.

In other words, not Doom at all.

The game was retooled extensively during production, with the majority of what we see today being produced from 2011 onwards.

The 8 years were worth the wait, as Doom 2016 is an absolute joy to play.

Endlessly replayable, fiendishly addictive combat, drum-tight level design and the momentum of rocket-powered rollerskates, Doom is the one game on this list where the delays were worth the wait.

Worth the wait? Yes

Image result for doom 2016
Hell yeah

L.A Noire (2011)

It took 7 years to make, was a hit, but it took down their studio.

L.A. Noire’s production history is endlessly fascinating and rivals the development hell of famous movies or albums, but the bottom line is the game was a victim of its own ambition.

Much has been written about Team Bondi director Brendan McNamara losing the run of himself, but the brief version is a game director finds himself out of his depth, plans a wildly ambitious game that has to get scaled back, and takes out his frustrations on the staff.

If the game was actually memorable apart from its facial capture technology, it could have been worth it.

Image result for la noire doubt

What we got was essentially was LA Confidential: The Game.

The fallout from the controversial development and accusations of not crediting over 100 workers who worked on the game were factors in the studio shutting down shortly after the games release.

Worth the wait? No

Team Fortress 2 (2007)

Announced in 1999, released in 2007, it’s fair to say Team Fortress 2 was worth the wait.

It did, however, add the plague of microtransactions to shooters, and Valve make so much money off people buying hats for their characters they’re not going to give us Half-Life 3 anytime soon.

Image result for team fortress 2Worth the wait? Yes and no



By Mike Finnerty

Arts and Online Editor with An Focal. Galwayman keeping the DVD and Blu-Ray market alive by himself. Would watch Stop Making Sense on a continuous loop if he could.

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