Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (found build of cancelled multi-platform Marvel beat 'em up action game; 2003)
An ad for the video game.
Date found: 31 Oct 2023
Found by: Hidden Palace
Daredevil (also known as Daredevil: The Man Without Fear in its last year of development as a nod to the Frank Miller comic of the same name) is a cancelled 2003 third-person beat 'em up action game based on the Marvel superhero comic book series of the same name that was developed by 5,000 Ft. and was to be published by Encore, Inc for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.
After a troubled development history, the game was cancelled before it was released.
The game's plot was an original story partly inspired by the comic book story Elektra Lives Again, as it would start off with claims that Daredevil's arch-enemy, The Kingpin, has been assassinated. His apparent assassination causes a war to erupt among the gangs of Hell's Kitchen as they compete for a turn in power of the city and leads to a resurrected Elektra being blamed for being The Kingpin's assassin.
Before Matt Murdock can suit up as Daredevil, his close friend and business partner, Foggy Nelson, is kidnapped. He soon then teams up with Elektra to rescue Foggy and try to stop the high rate of crimes that developed in Hell's Kitchen following The Kingpin's mysterious murder.
After Daredevil rescues Foggy, he realizes that The Kingpin, in actuality, was still alive and faked his death so he can put his rivals against one and another. Realizing the truth, Daredevil sets upon The Kingpin's penthouse to confront him and fights him in a brawl inside his office.
The game's development started when the small-team developer 5,000 Ft. wanting to make their own game after helping 3DO port their Army Men series to the PlayStation. They established a working relationship with the publishing group Encore, Inc., which purchased a few properties from Marvel to use in video games such as Captain America and Daredevil.
The game originally started life as a low-budget PlayStation 2 title that would have been a series of vignettes celebrating Daredevil's most important moments that won both Encore and Marvel's approval. But after 5,000 Ft.'s president Tim Page was contacted by a friend of his at Sony Pictures that 20th Century Fox and Regency Pictures were releasing the then-upcoming Daredevil film on February 14th, 2003, it was decided that the game's budget would become much bigger as well as coincide with the premiere of the film and the game would evolve to become an open-world action game that would also be released on the Xbox and PC.
As 5,000 Ft. was a third-party developer, they were required to meet with Sony and Microsoft's product evaluation boards. Sony demanded to add several things to the game, such as a beat 'em-up combat system and a grinding mechanic inspired by the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, while Microsoft had a laid-back approach, allowing the developers to do what they wanted. Both Sony and Marvel had several creative disagreements on what the game's direction should be, with Marvel wanting a game faithful to their property while Sony wanted a game with experimental gameplay mechanics.
Despite the tensions between Marvel and Sony, development of the game ran smoothly for the first few months until the introduction of new workers hired to create an engine from an external source like Criterion Software's RenderWare engine that powered several popular open-world games at the time. However, Encore didn't want to pay the fees to use the engine, so the engineering team decided to use the base of RenderWare's technology to create their own engine in the process, which proved to not work well with the "Shadow World" (which Daredevil uses to locate and sense fear into his enemies) and Billyclub mechanics that the developers worked to create.
The game was then reworked into being a linear third-person brawler after 5,000 Ft. decided to cut out the open world altogether. As the studio's internal strife continued (including drug abuse allegations), the developers missed their goal of February 2003 and the game's release date was delayed to Summer 2003. Despite the game being nearly finished, several of the staff at 5,000 Ft. chose to leave and Marvel refused to approve the game because they felt that 5,000 Ft. fell too much into Sony's ideas for the game.
For a while, no prototypes of the game were ever released to the public and it's unknown if any former workers at 5,000 Ft. (the company ceased operations in 2012) have a copy of this game.
On November 10th, 2020, YouTube video game preservationist PtoPOnline uploaded a video showing off a build of the game dated to July 2003.
On October 31st, 2023, a PS2 build of the game dating to March 22nd, 2004 was released by Hidden Palace user Casuallynoted, who obtained the prototype from an anonymous 5,000 Ft. developer, and was made playable by the user SolidSnake11.
- Archived 5,000 Ft.'s page on the game. Retrieved 06 Oct '17
- Unseen64's article on the game. Retrieved 01 Sept '17
- Kotaku's report on the game's troubled development. Retrieved 01 Sept '17
- Hidden Palace's article on the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear prototype. Retrieved 31 Oct '23