Eight Days, a PlayStation 3 exclusive cancelled in 2008, would have been "jaw-dropping", according to one developer who worked on the game.
Richard Bunn, who left Sony earlier this year to co-found Crazy Horses developer Nice Touch Games, told Eurogamer some of Eight Days' unannounced features "would have definitely impressed" had it made it out the door.
Eight Days was a third-person action game in development at Sony Computer Entertainment's London studio.
It was first shown at E3 in 2006 as one of the hot prospects on PS3 for the future. Its unveiling was handled by a suitably juicy trailer that showed plenty of driving action with exploding gas tanks in a desert-style location.
But in mid-2008 Eight Days, alongside fellow SCE London-developed PS3 exclusive The Getaway, was cancelled.
Some thought it was canned because of a lack of online multiplayer, but Bunn told Eurogamer Eight Days was misunderstood in this regard.
"It was going to have online co-op," Bunn said. "The entire concept behind the game was based around buddy gameplay. Imagine Uncharted, where you have two Nathan Drakes, and you can cover swap between each other and chuck ammo between each other. That was pretty much the game.
"We fully intended to have online co-op support. No multiplayer, but online co-op. We definitely didn't have any plans to do multiplayer modes."
Bunn worked on Eight Days for six months, and Nice Touch Games co-founder David Green built the tools that powered it.
"The game was looking spectacular," Bunn continued. "A lot of what was shown off publicly had a bit of a mixed review. But what was going on in-house at the time was looking quite spectacular.
"I designed a new opening level for them. My goal there was to make the opening level every bit as good as something you would see in God of War. We had that fully playable in prototype form and it was jaw dropping. It was exceedingly good. All of the other level designers on the team were doing great work.
"It's just what had been shown publicly was a bit hit and miss. And then the amount of work that needed to go into finishing the game was phenomenal. But it had some great features in there."
Bunn went into some detail on Eight Days' gameplay – destined never to make it to gold master.
"It had directed moments, which were big cinematic scenes similar to God of War," he said. "It had driving sections. It had duck and cover style gameplay. It was pretty spectacular. Some of the stuff that was never shown publicly would definitely have impressed if it had ever made it out into the public."
When Sony ceased production of Eight Days and The Getaway, it said it took the decision because "it was deemed that with the incredibly strong list of exclusive first party titles coming up both this year and in the near future, resource should be reallocated to enhance those projects closer to completion".
"It had been in pre-production for a long time and had soaked up a lot of money," Bunn said. "You have to think back as well, this was when the PS3 was in its infancy and was considered overpriced and it wasn't doing as well as Sony had hoped.
"Eight Days had already cost a fair amount of money. They'd done their maths and said, 'it's going to cost this much to finish the project,' which I'd rather not disclose. It was quite a bit. It was about another year's worth of development, so you can probably work out roughly for a big game how much that might have come to. And then they basically said, projecting forward what the PS3 user base is going to be a year from now, you're going to have to be way above the trend on user tie-in to make a profit.
"At the time tie-in for a very good game was about ten per cent of the user base. They said we needed to be two or three times above that to be able to make a profit. It's not the sort of thing that ever happens.
"And plus, Uncharted had just come out. So, they already had a third-person action game in the stable. At that point they decided they were going to re-purpose the Sony Soho studio as being an EyeToy, motion gaming studio and move away from doing games like The Getaway and Eight Days, at that location.
"It was a crying shame for a lot of people," Bunn recalled. "There were a lot of people who had worked on it a lot longer than I had. So it wasn't a huge blow for me personally. Some people had put several years into it. It was really sad to see those guys have lots of work go."
It seems Eight Days was farther along the development line than The Getaway, which at one point was headed up by L.A. Noire chief Brendan McNamara. "They were just building a tech demo," Bunn revealed.
He also noted that both cancellations occurred shortly after Phil Harrison was replaced as Sony Worldwide Studios boss by Shuhei Yoshida.
"He [Harrison] left and Shuhei Yoshida came on board as head of worldwide development," Bunn said.
"He did the rounds basically doing a big shake-up. He saw where the successes had been at the London studio and where the big failures had been and decided we should be the casual, social studio. So games like Singstar and EyePet. Actually there's quite a lot in development at that studio along those lines that could turn out to be very nice."
When Eight Days was cancelled, the development team was told by Sony management that it was simply "on hold". But the game appears dead.
"It was a bit of a sore point for a while," Bunn said. "If there was any talk of resurrecting it or reusing any of the technology from it, it was just like, we're all a bit sad about it, let's not do anything with Eight Days for the time being."
Will it ever release?
"I don't know the current status of it. It would be lovely to see that game resurrected in one form or another because it had a lot of potential."
Eight Days was due to be released on PlayStation 3.