Before working on BioShock, Irrational (turned 2K Boston, turned Irrational again) started work on a co-op zombie-themed survival horror shooter years before Left 4 Dead called Division 9, but never completed it.

If you’ve played Left 4 Dead or Left 4 Dead 2, you know this: The zombie apocalypse is much more fun when shared with a friend. While this principle is elegantly demonstrated by L4D and CoD: WAW‘s “Nazi Zombies” mode, we might have seen it a whole lot earlier if Irrational Games had ever completed work on a little project called Division 9.

Irrational boss Ken Levine spoke with GameInformer about the canceled game, showing off a trailer (as seen above) and screenshots. The game would have put a hefty emphasis on scarce resources and base-building, requiring the survivors to make – and stock – their refuge point.

“The reason we were frustrated with zombie games at the time was they never had the sense that you got for Dawn of the Dead, because there was really only Resident Evil at that time,” said Levine. “That there was this group of survivors and they had to gather resources. They’d lock themselves up in the mall, and then be like ‘Oh, sh*t. We don’t have any food. We have to go out into the world and take these risks.’ And that was the game design, basically. You have a group of survivors, and these resources. You’d have to take on risks to get more supplies, ammo, and people. You sort of build up your group of survivors.”

Missions would have had an effect on the city, giving the game a rather ambitious scope: A mission to restore power to the city would provide lighting for further nighttime excursions, rescuing a doctor and bringing him back to your base would, well, let you have a doctor at your base to patch you up, so on and so forth.

It seems like a very interesting idea, and judging from the trailer, the game has a significantly slower pace than L4D, but it’s also a much more scary game. For all I love L4D2, there’s very little time where you aren’t at least splattering some zombies’ brains across the wall, but the above clip of Division 9 shows some rather long-seeming moments where you see neither rotting hide nor hair of a single undead. It’s a very tense atmosphere (probably belabored by the absolutely glacial pace at which you walk. Jeez Louise).

But alas, the game was lost in the move to Take-Two, which seems a shame. But we did get BioShock out of the deal, so… fair trade?

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