When most video games are canceled during development, they disappear, consigned to back rooms and never spoken of again. That same fate almost befell the unreleased Saints Row: Undercover — a planned PSP version of the open-world gangster game — until earlier this month, when a newer staff member at Saints Row developer Volition dug a development kit containing an early version of the game out of a cupboard. And now, in a surprising move for the studio, you can download and play the unfinished game.
Play the unfinished game on PSP or emulator
Josh Stinson, the Volition video editor who found the PSP development kit containing the unreleased game, says that he first faced some resistance in trying to show it to the world. "It was canceled," he said on one of the studio's own "Inside Volition" videos. "If something's canceled, it probably means nobody wants to show it to anybody." But over time, he and other staffers wore their colleagues down, convincing them that the buggy, messy, and often broken code would still be interesting for those fans who wanted to see behind the curtain. "Developers here have this view that everything needs to be final, polished, pretty, shiny" says Mike Watson, community manager at the studio. "When the real meat and potatoes is the stuff that isn't, the stuff that's buggy, early sketches, concept art. If framed in the right way, as an unreleased project, that stuff is really interesting."
To play Saints Row: Undercover, you'll need to download its .ISO file and then, as there's no worry about "pirating" an unreleased game offered free by its creators, use your emulator of choice. Playing the game now offers an interesting window into the development process — showing how far studios regularly go in making games only to can them before they're complete — but don't expect the unfinished game to actually be any good. Watson says that Undercover was canceled with good reason, as after multiple reviews, it wasn't living up to "what a Saints Row game could and should be."