Back On The Streets: True Crime Hong Kong

He is committing a... TRUE CRIME!

Back in February we brought you the sad news that True Crime: Hong Kong would not be released. Despite apparently being pretty much finished, Activision canned the project. United Front Games’ open world action-them-up was put into a locked cupboard because Activision believed it wasn’t competitive with other games in the genre. Which is to say, they thought it was poop. And this came after almost a six months’ delay to add polish. Polish that Acti CEO Eric Hirshberg rather confusingly explained in November last year had “paid off”. However, clearly not enough. But now, release the party poppers, Gamasutra reports that Square Enix have announced they’ve acquired the game and plan to release is.

Activision’s position on the game was muddled to say the least. In November last year CVG reported (somewhat in gobbledegook) his saying, “The additional development time invested in this game has really paid off, for gameplay mechanic the make the fighting and shooting as sophisticated as the driving, which is something that’s very hard to achieve in the open-world genre.” And then a few months later they ditched it for good.

True Crime: Hong Kong was intended to be a complete reboot of the True Crime series, the first two from Luxoflux (Streets Of LA and New York City) both getting very mediocre scores. In fact, a third game by Luxoflux had started development but was also canned after NYC performed so weakly. Clearly Activision believed in the IP enough to see the accurate city representation handed to another team, and then baulked on it yet again.

Square will be releasing the game, but without the name. The acquisition from Acti gets them the code, but not the IP. As Square’s Lee Singleton told Gamasutra, “It’s too early to say what the name will be,” but promises the process will be “pretty straightforward”.

But why did Square pick it up when Acti clearly didn’t want to touch it?

“When we first saw and got our hands on the game we fell in love with it,” Singleton goes on to explain. “It’s one of those games where you don’t want to put the controller down.”

Controller indeed. The game was originally slated for a PC release, along with 360 and PS3, and since it was pretty much done (and all such games are developed on PC in the first place, along with Square’s established support for PC) it seems reasonable to assume this will stay the same.

United Front, the team who are more famous for having worked alongside other teams on games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Just Cause 2 than their own Sony exclusive, ModNation Racers, are still working on the game say Square. This involves rehiring everyone they previously had to let go in February, and pushing to finish it all off completely. Square Enix’s London group say they are willing to give the game the time it needs to be fully realised, and as such aren’t willing to talk release dates yet.

And what about Mr Hirshberg? Gamasutra spoke to him too, and he told them,

“Our team has worked very hard to find a solution where everybody wins. Square Enix gets the benefit of the tremendous investment we’ve made in the game thus far. UFG gets to stay together and complete their vision. And gamers get to play a great game. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Here’s the original trailer from May last year:


  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    Bizarre! But good. I seem to remember liking the New York one.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      They improved? Because the LA one was terrible. Turns out real cities arent the best place to race along in a sports car. Suburbs are really boring too.
      Also, bizzare bizzare story. Start off as a cop game, and soon I was shooting flaming skulls and fightng wizards. Just seemed not to fit with the title: True Crime. Damn those ancient chinese criminal mages.

  2. Daniel Rivas says:

    Was this the one that originally had a female protagonist?

  3. Schadenfreude says:

    Didn’t Activision do the same thing with Brutal Legend? I’m assuming this time they aren’t gonna sue SquEnix to block the release. Be amusing if they did of course.

  4. Srekel says:

    “United Front … famous for having worked …on Just Cause 2 ”

    Did they? I don’t remember that name at all and I was at Avalanche for all but the last five months of JC2 development or so. Did they do some of the outsourcing perhaps?

    • Khann says:

      Well that was a bit silly. You completely butchered the quote, removing the part that answers your question exactly.

    • Srekel says:

      Hmm. Re-reading it, I’m not sure what you are referring to? It says they worked alongside the JC2 team, which I personally don’t remember. Or is there something wrong with my reading comprehension skill?

    • Manburger says:

      Props to you if you worked on Just Cause 2 in any capacity! That game is off the chain!
      Why is Khann so rude. :(

      Anyway, this is good news, especially considering people who were let go got rehired to finish the game! Hopefully the bullet-time shootdoding and melee-stylings are enough to differ it from other GTAlikes.

    • Srekel says:

      Thanks :) I’m pretty freaking proud of having worked on it. :)

    • skurmedel says:

      The engine is amazing, but I’ve already told another Avalanchee that :D

  5. Iskariot says:

    An open world action game in Hongkong.
    If they can keep it up, I’m buying.
    But first I need to know a little bit more about the gameplay.
    Is it perhaps comparable to GTA4 (which I loved)
    Does it have cover mechanics?
    Can you upgrade/mod your weapons?
    Can you upgrade your skills?
    Are there sidequests, things to do in the city?
    Does the open world feel alive, or is it dead decor like in Mafia 2?
    That kind of stuff.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Looks a lot like an open world Stranglehold to me. Which is good.

    • acidlacedpenguin says:

      If the game involves any of the following phrases: “I’m looking for some sailors”, “Can you tell me how to get to Wanchai?”, or “What can you tell me about the four Wudu?” then I’m sold instantly. . . no matter how bad it likely will be.

  6. thegooseking says:

    Square Enix seems like the new new EA: the major publisher it’s ok to love (now that EA has gone back to being old EA and not ok to love).

    I read an interview with Squenix US’s CEO a couple of weeks ago and it made me really optimistic.

  7. povu says:

    Square Enix likes games with a gold shine, that’s probably why they picked this up. ;)

  8. Tams80 says:

    I’ll buy it. Then again, I do have an obsession with the Far East/Orient.

  9. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Oh yes, Hong-Kong-action-police-drama: The Game, I’m interested.

    Considering the last true crime games had some interesting systems in regard to random events, being a cop and all (never played them however), colour me curious,

  10. Hensler says:

    I liked the first two True Crime games, but I played them on console, not PC. It was the closest an open-world city game of this type has gotten to having a good combat system.

  11. Daiv says:

    Weird. I didn’t know it was possible for a publisher to not… You know… Publish.

    Normally the quality of “product” is considered to have so little importance they will release a shrink wrapped turd in a box.

    How bad does it have to be to fail that last hurdle? I thought the main criterion for release is “probably won’t give players herpes”.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Publishers are generally all about the amount of money they can make from something (certainly the ones with shareholders are). If they thought it would cost them more money to publish something than they would make back in sales it’s likely they’d can that title.

  12. Brynden says:

    i remember seeing a gameplay video of this it was quite good the mechanics seemed really nice
    and on another note
    Activision have a BIG L on their foreheads

    • Hematite says:

      That’s so you can tell they’re LOLograms, and not real people.