Silicon Knights’ Too Human never lacked for ambition. It drew from the third-person shooter and action genres, involved a complex loot system and multiple classes, told a sprawling science-fiction story rooted in Norse mythology, and was contained within a whopping four CD-ROM discs. Simply put, the game wanted to go big in every way. So big, it was supposed to start a trilogy. All that ambition came at a cost, though: the game, first unveiled at E3 1999 for the original PlayStation, didn’t come out until 2008 as an Xbox 360 exclusive.
And the game we got after nine years of development wasn’t exactly stellar. For one thing, combat was limited to the right thumbstick, which severely limited its complexity. For another, Silicon Knights removed all penalties for failure. If you died, you just stood right back up again, without losing anything. That made for a game both simplistic and unchallenging. Perhaps if the graphics or story had been amazing, Too Human could have redeemed itself. It didn’t.
Silicon Knights chose to blame the whole thing on the makers of the Unreal Engine, Epic Games. They sued Epic for intentionally withholding the engine for years, alleging they did so to give Epic’s own Gears of War franchise a leg up.
The lawsuit, too, spent years in development, and it, too, went poorly for Silicon Knights on release. At the end of it all, the judge actually ruled that Silicon Knights was the one in violation of the contract, and ordered a complete recall and destruction of the game. You couldn’t play Too Human today if you wanted to.