Project Eden, by Core Design

Project Eden is a 3rd person tactics shooter, developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive in October 2001.

Core Design was founded in 1988 and is probably best known for developing the first Tomb Raider. The beginning of the end for Core Design was parent company Eidos handing the IP to another developer, and the Core Design staff being in part absorbed by the now defunct Rebellion. If you poke around looking for information about Core Design, it’s easy to see what a big deal the loss of Tomb Raider meant to both fans and to the people working there.

They just took it and ran. It felt like a robbery, honestly. It felt like we’d been raided ourselves and the thing had been stolen.”

Gavin Rummery speaking to Richard Moss in an interview for Ars Technica

core-design.com now hosts a studio fan site 😊

Where are they now? A few Core Design employees created their own studio, Circle Studio. Circle Studio died a sad death after pivoting to DVD games when their debut title for the PS2, Without Warning, was not successful.

Producer Jeremy Heath-Smith quit games, and Adrian E. Smith is lecturing game design at Doncaster College. Andrew Watt is an art manager at Codemasters. Gavin Rummery, who was in charge of Project Eden’s concept and script, is co-founder and CTO of Legendary Games.

In terms of themes, Project Eden is a game that really earns its cyberpunk label. The setting is one of many megacities that, due to severe overpopulation, has grown up instead of out. The most affluent citizens live closer to the sunlight, and descending lower towards the surface finds people living in increasing levels of poverty. The player(s) (yes, this game has co-op multiplayer!!) control a police squad who have to delve down deep into the city in order to investigate a series of disappearances.

The game is set in the future in a city that has grown so huge that it is growing upward all the time. Everyone wants to live as near to the top as possible, so as you go down, conditions get worse and worse until you reach the slums and City Limits. Below that, the city is officially uninhabited, though in fact cults and criminals live there. No one much visits the lowest levels of the city except the Foundation Engineers, who go down to strengthen the bases of the buildings to allow more building to take place at the top.

The idea for the city came from Judge Dredd’s MegaCity-1 – I just thought if a city grew that big, the lower parts would become a kind of wasteland where no-one wanted to live, and that’s the basis of our world. The look was trying to get away from the Blade Runner “nighttime and neon” look, but if you go for a gritty look rather than a future of shiny silver walls and hover boots, that’s what people instantly think of. I guess it has ended up fairly Robocop though.

The gameplay concept of controlling a team came from old games like Hired Guns and Shadowlands – when we started the project, no-one was doing that kind of thing anymore, though there’s been a few recently.

Gavin Rummery, speaking in an interview with IGN

It ticks a lot of cyberpunk boxes - high tech, low class - and I’m excited to see if it manages to hit that final, sweet note with some punk rebellion against the system.

Pulls a 72 metascore on Metacritic. Praised for the story and setting, with many user reviews noting that this may be the only thing that sets the game apart from other generic 3rd person shooters of this era.

The potential was here but was squandered by inconsistency and poor execution in all facets of gameplay.

Jason Babler writing in Computer Gaming World

Games released around the same time: Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto III, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Burnout, and Halo: Combat Evolved.