True Crime: Hong Kong was playable from start to finish and "virtually complete" in terms of content before Activision canned it, the developer behind the game told CVG.
We flew over to United Front Games' Vancouver studio to see the title shortly before Christmas. We were informed by staff that it was nearing Alpha stage - and left satisfied that it was on task to be a polished end product, with some genuinely unique gameplay systems.
Exec producer Stephen Van Der Mescht told us at the time he felt the game stood apart from rival sandbox games - and he should know; he worked on Scarface, Hulk and Prototype.
"I think it comes back to the three points we emphasised today," he told us in December, "starting from a context standpoint of the character that you play.
"I think it's extremely important in an open-world game to know who you are and what you're doing. I think putting the undercover cop element in there introduces a complete fresh take - being caught between these two worlds, feeling that tension... I think it's going to feel completely different."
The second of True Crime's 'three pillars' was Hong Kong itself, Van Der Mescht explained. "This is the first open-world game set in Hong-Kong and just being able to take people to a new place, a new interesting culture... most open-world games have been set in Europe or America - that's primarily what people are used to.
"The music, the people, the stories, the city... it all comes together for me in an interesting way. That coupled with the fact that Hong Kong is so diverse from an architectural perspective... if you look at the neighbourhoods that we have in the game, they're so extremely different from each other that the gameplay variety is insane."
The final 'pillar' was to be True Crime's on-foot action mechanics - in our opinion its most promising feature set.
"The free-running system that we have, crashing through alleyways and pedestrians... it's going to feel extremely different. But probably the biggest thing from my perspective is... what we wanted to accomplish was make stepping out of the car and being on foot feel as good - that those mechanics were as good as a lot of linear games.
"Obviously there are tons of amazing open-world games out there and I'm respectful of all of them, but I think that the piece that we're going to bring which people aren't going to have experienced before is that martial arts hand-to-hand feel - the fluidity of our gameplay systems.
"We hope to make people say, 'holy shit, I haven't experience this before'," the producer said.