Its not often that a game developer releases their unfinished or cancelled titles for consumers, especially for free. But that’s exactly what Volition did in regards to a cancelled PSP title for the Saints Row franchise, “Saints Row: Undercover“.
The title was originally revealed on their official Twitch stream, and via a YouTube teaser above about a week ago. Volition have since released the disk image of a playable prototype of Saints Row: Undercover for play on the PPSSPP emulator. The link to the ISO and a couple mirrors are listed below:
The prototype is lacking tonnes of polish and is full of bugs, as one would expect, but is fully playable on the PPSSPP emulator. There have been attempts to run the game on modded PSP systems, but currently it seems to be unplayable for the time being. More than likely the PSP needs to have the same firmware that the development kit would’ve run.
According to the YouTube teaser, the codename for the game was “Saints Row 2 PSP” so perhaps this was to be a port of Saints Row 2 to the PSP, similar to the Grand Theft Auto Stories spinoffs for PSP. Video Producer Alexander Meji said that it was supposed to be a direct port of Saints Row 2 on the PSP, but at some point the old team at THQ who was in charge of the handheld port realized “We can’t actually do this”. Another alternate tagline before settling on ‘Undercover’ was ‘The Fall’ before cancelling the project in 2009.
According to Volition developers, Saints Row: Undercover has a fairly developed plot that they hadn’t seen before, as well as tutorial missions, limited player customization, and an open world to explore.
Although not explicitly stated in the teaser, Volition contacted someone involved with Saints Row: Undercover who asked them not to share the prototype due to lack of polish. After much deliberation and talking with the few team members who remained from than, Volition decided to share the prototype with fans, even going so far as to link the original design documents and a walkthrough. Fellow TechRaptor Andrew Stretch provided me with some screenshots of the prototype that you can view in the gallery above.
Its not every day that you get to see cancelled prototypes of games this far into development, especially for super popular franchises like Saints Row. Kudos to Volition for sharing a really interesting bit of their franchise history despite the rough nature of the material.