At E3 2010, one of the more interesting titles we were shown was Activision’s True Crime: Hong Kong. While the first two installments of the True Crime series were fairly underwhelming, United Front Games reboot of the franchise looked to elevate the sandbox genre by mixing a Hollywood-style script with the fun of over the top Kung-Fu action. As development continued, however, Activision lost faith that the title would be able to compete in the marketplace and cancelled its release in February 2011. Possibly sensing an opportunity, Square Enix today announced that it has acquired the rights to True Crime: Hong Kong.There definitely were some warning signs that Activision was getting cold feet about the title when the company quietly announced that True Crime: Hong Kong would be delayed from its initial November 1, 2010, release date until an unknown date in 2011. Activision later claimed that the delay had been beneficial as the game’s mechanics had been greatly improved, but the company still failed to provide a new release date. In February 2011, Activision announced that it was canceling the title and pointedly asserted that the True Crime: Hong Kong just would not be good enough to justify its release.
Many fans of the Hong Kong undercover cop genre were disappointed by Activision’s decision, and the fate of the game was in question. United Front Games never indicated that it was giving up on True Crime: Hong Kong and the game’s website stayed online with no indication of cancellation. Of course, Activision could have simply overlooked pulling the website assets, but then about 45 days ago, I found this in my local Blockbuster:
While the box still had Activision listed as the publisher, the store was, indeed, taking pre-orders for the title. This combined with the fact that it would take some really lazy clerks to leave an outdated display up for over three months set off alarm bells that maybe True Crime: Hong Kong was not quite dead.
And as it turns out, publisher Square Enix will be bringing the game to the marketplace. Square Enix London Studios general manager Lee Singleton, who will oversee True Crime’s continued development, reportedly, “fell in love” with the “incredible new game engine, rich new story with deep and complex characters, and gameplay features which have simply never been seen at this level in an open world game.”
True Crime: Hong Kong was originally set to release for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, but Square Enix has not yet committed to these platforms nor a release date. Square Enix did confirm that it did not acquire the True Crime franchise, so expect this version to receive a new name in the near future.
Are you excited to see True Crime: Hong Kong avoid vaporware status? Are there any other titles you’d like to see Square Enix bring back from the dead?