This is the first of two 3D Realms-related projects we'll encounter on this list. Prey featured an awesome portal mechanic and clever gravity puzzles. If it had come out in the late 1990s, as it would have under a normal development schedule, it would have taken the game industry by storm. Instead it came out in the mid-2000s, after Portal had already debuted. As a result, Prey is nothing more than a mediocre shooter with a few interesting mechanics added.
This ambitious sci-fi title spent a decade in development and cost millions. Even when it finally released, it wasn't ready; publisher Take-Two pushed it out the door, bugs and all. It turns out that's not such a good strategy—by all accounts it was completely unplayable, and it received scathing reviews. To the developers' credit, they secured the rights from the publisher, released the game for free online, and put a considerable amount of effort into patching it.
Like a Star Trek MMO, a cops-and-robbers MMO seems like a no-lose proposition, especially with the involvement of staff who worked on Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown. How could you screw that up?
Well, despite a half-decade of work, they managed. After a rocky launch—during which the game's publicists tried to embargo reviews for a week after the release date—the game crashed and burned. It was shut down before its first year was over, bought by a different company, and relaunched on a free-to-play basis. APB survives as APB: Reloaded, but it shows none of its original promise.
You knew this was coming. After a completely ridiculous development period—complete with constant delays, absurd amounts of money, and numerous engine changes—the Duke returned, only to find that so much has changed. DNF isn't unplayable, but its long load times make it a chore, the gameplay is outdated, and the Duke's tongue-in-cheek sexism isn't quite as amusing as it used to be. Once again, 3D Realms had started something it couldn't finish properly.
Date: June 28, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*