The Game That Never Was: Black 2

Posted on by Ryan Shoptaw

In 2006, Criterion Games and EA developed a first-person shooting game called Black. The game was heavily promoted with the game gracing the cover of the Official Playstation Magazine and the featured game on the demo that came with the magazine. After release, it got rave review with IGN giving the game an 8.7/10 and GameTrailers a 8.6/10. In 2013, IGN even listed it in the “Top 100 Shooters” by given it the 99 spot. With these kind of reviews and great sales, a sequel would probably be in the works. However, as we have found out that never happened. So that begs another question, why?

EA and Criterion had planned on a sequel before Black was ever released with some going back as far as April 2005, a whole 10 months before the first game was released. Many artists were hired to produce concept documents with many including sketches of the main protagonist of the first game Jack Kellar. One of the artist hired on said the team had several discussions involving how the story of Black 2 would be played out with one having Kellar continuing to look for Lennox. Another idea was to be completely separate from the first game by making it a co-op shooter’ and making it seem like a separate IP.

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According to a source for Unseen64, pre-production for Black 2 last several months after the release of Black and ended in May 2006. This was due to a disagreement between Criterion and EA over what direction should be taken hence why it never got past the pre-production phase. There are even allegations that this led Senior Designer Stuart Black to leave the company. The source stated..

“As I recall, Stuart Black left over a disagreement with the direction it should take” “…he wanted it be more closely tied to Black and they couldn’t reach an agreement over it”

In November 2006 EA CEO Warren Jenson reveled during a quarterly review that a sequel was in development. However, Jenson said that it would be a “next-generation version” indicating that it could very well have been a reboot while others believe it just meant it would have been for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 which released that year. After this, the game was never again mentioned and was absent from all future EA financial reports. It is believed the game would have been released in 2007 or Q1 2008.

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Despite never leaving pre-production, there was actually a trailer made. On August 5, 2013 former Criterion Creative Director Alex Ward discussed the game and said that he would never release the trailer. After pleas from Geoff Keighley, Ward decided to release a couple of screenshots from the trailer. The trailer was known as Target X and when Ward was asked why he would never uploaded the trailer he stated “by today’s standards, it probably wouldn’t hold up if truth be told. Times have sure changed”. The tweets were later deleted, but the photos were saved by others for archival preservation. Unsee64 did speak to a Criterion employee who worked on Target X and said

“We were experimenting with how lighting could come into play during gameplay. The trailer showed how different effects such as that could make combat more interesting and dynamic…”

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Stuart Black gave an ‘exclusive’ interview to Official Playstation Magazine #43-April 2010 (headlined Black 2 whacked!’ and talked of how even if he wanted to make Black 2 the way he wanted to, he couldn’t as key members of the original team behind Black had moved on and even IF the team could be reunited, he was’nt interested in making ‘that game again’.

He said he would of done a sequel ‘back then, but the world had moved on’.

 

In 2011 Stuart Black, along with many of the developers of Black, created a spiritual successor to Black known as Bodycount. The game was developed under the Codemasters brand and was released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.