I was flicking through the August 2000 issue of DC-UK when I spotted a news article about a game I'd previously never heard of: MOUT 2025. MOUT stands for Military Operations in Urban Terrain, and the title intrigued me. I did a little bit of research into the game and discovered that MOUT was a military shooter with an extensive single player campaign and an 8-player online death match mode, and was being developed by Ripcord and Zombie. Putting two and two together (and coming up with four, rather than the usual five), I discovered that MOUT 2025 was the work-in-progress title for what was to later become Shrapnel: Urban Warfare. It seems that at some point along the line, the Dreamcast-planned Spec Ops 3 became MOUT...which then became Shrapnel...which was then cancelled, never to see the light of day. During my investigating I also discovered that Zombie Studios trademarked the MOUT 2025 title (you can view the application here) in 2000 but that's as far as it went - all development was switched to the new title at some point after August 2000 and the rest is history.
In the near future, terrorists are threatening some of the biggest cities in the US. As part of the M.O.U.T. special tactics unit, it's your job to take them out. Ripcord's Shrapnel was running on a PC at the E3 show, but a version is on its way to the Dreamcast. The game essentially has two modes of play: a single-player, mission-based mode and an online, "every man for himself" battle for up to eight players.
A very small section of one of the game's levels, in a nighttime setting, was playable at the E3 show. This urban area was cluttered with trash cans, elevators, and alleys. In terms of weapons, there wasn't much variety. Perhaps because the game was presented in a limited setting, the only weapons that were readily available were a straight machine gun and a short-range rocket launcher. Also, the only real power-up was an ammo recharge. According to a Ripcord representative, however, several new weapons and power-ups will be added to the finished product. In fact, according to the rep, most of the munitions in Shrapnel are based on real-life, experimental military artillery.
Naturally, being a traditional FPS, the game controlled extremely well on the PC platform it was running on at the show. Ripcord could not confirm the use of the Dreamcast mouse, but a combination of the keyboard and controller may be used. Shrapnel from Ripcord will be available for the Dreamcast in November 2000.
- Gamespot Preview of Shrapnel, August 2000
IGN videos showing very early test footage of the game (see below), but nothing really detailing the reasons for the cancellation or indeed how complete the game was at the point the plug was pulled. The screens available online do hint at a fairly good-looking game featuring some impressive futuristic city-based environments and colourful graphics, and it is a much better-looking title than Spec Ops II ever was. I guess we'll now never know how well Shrapnel could have turned out as it seems to be another Dreamcast title lost to the mists of time.
Naturally, if you know more about the fate of Shrapnel please let us know in the comments section.