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 Feb 11, 2005 - 11:09 AM - by Michael
* Ion Austin shuts down

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft has word on the end of an era:

The closure of Ion Storm Austin finally brings the Ion Storm name to an end after nearly 10 chequered years of history which produced a number of forgettable titles, at least one very good one and a few that polarised opinion.

The studio's main Dallas office was originally setup in 1996 by Doom alumni John Romero and Tom Hall with fellow developer Todd Porter. Based in a lavish Dallas penthouse, the soon-Eidos-bought Ion Storm's hype-drenched PC FPS Daikatana eventually emerged in 2000 to pitiless critics who, despite a number of redeeming features, took the opportunity to really lay into it.

Other titles released by the Dallas office included the warmly received but quickly forgotten Anachronox and real-time strategy effort Dominion, released prior to Daikatana, widely panned and characterised in the ensuing mess of developmental walkouts and reorganisation as a title brought in by Todd Porter to help fulfil the dev's multi-game obligation to Eidos. Porter's other pet project, Doppelganger, was later put on indefinite hold.

However, 2000 also saw Ion Storm's Austin studio emerge and release Deus Ex, which brought first-person shooter and RPG elements together in a manner never before seen and remains one of the best PC games ever made. The game was the pet project of development veteran Warren Spector, who had joined Ion Storm in 97.

While the Dallas office fell into disarray, Eidos subsequently picked up the rights to the Thief series in the aftermath of Looking Glass's sad closure and set Spector to work on this with his Austin studio. Ion Storm Austin subsequently released Deus Ex: Invisible War last year, which polarised opinion among the Deus Ex faithful, and the well-received Thief: Deadly Shadows - both titles appearing on PC and Xbox.
Sad to see them go, but most of the employees have found employment elsewhere - we may see some new items from Harvey Smith at Midway, for instance.

Still, it's a damn shame we'll never see the Anachronox storyline completed.

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