In case you were wondering, The Red Herb is at SXSW!
If you’re in Austin, visit me at the Glitch Gaming Apparel booth right next to the Dota 2 stage.
Screens Gems is Putting The Last of Us on the Silver Screen
Another property is making the jump from the interactive medium to the passive viewing magic of the big screen. Screen Gems, the production studio responsible for the eight-hundred Resident Evil films released since 2002, has signed on to distribute a feature film based on Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.
Ghost House Pictures, the studio behind horror hound movies like Drag Me to Hell and last year’s superb Evil Dead remake, is set to produce, automatically attaching famed director/producer Sam Raimi to the project. Wisely, the game’s co-director and scribe, Neil Druckmann, has been tapped to write the movie’s screenplay as well as warm up a producer’s chair. Bruce Straley, the other co-director on the game, and Naughty Dog co-presidents Christophe Balestra and Evan Wells join in on the fun in producing roles.
"Since our game released last June, we’ve talked with many companies about making a film," said Evan Wells, "but we couldn’t have found better partners who share our creative vision and high standards. We look forward to collaborating with Sam, his team, and Screen Gems, to make a movie that will thrill fans of The Last of Us and general audiences worldwide.”
Seeing as how Sony owns Screen Gems, they were destined to handle the rights to the PlayStation 3 exclusive. Ghost House is an inspired choice to tackle the material, though their track record is spotty (more than half their ventures are B-movie horror flicks; before Evil Dead, the American Grudge films were their only totem poles… very unfortunately).
But having a veteran such as Raimi on the project, especially given his keenness toward video games — this was the man originally meant to bring World of Warcraft to theaters — and allowing Neil Druckmann and company to lord over the material are classy ass moves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still nervous. The Last of Us may be an extremely cinematic game, but what the game gets right, which is a lot, might come off wrong translated to film. It’d also go a long way in my book if the studio that cursed us with five Resident Evil mistreatments wasn’t anywhere in spitting distance of The Last of Us, but that’s just me (obviously it’s just me since those films are the most financially successful game adaptations in history… very unfortunately).
Still, if even a modicum of The Last of Us' powerful, affecting narrative — one that touches on loss, humanity, and hope juxtaposed against constant hopelessness — endures the transition, I think I'll be happy. Pretty excited to see how this one plays out.
Watch Dogs Launches Around the World May 27th
The gaming public is all too familiar with delays, but it sure as hell notices when the belated title is as high profile a game as Watch Dogs is.
Originally meant to run out of the gates alongside next-gen consoles — while still dishing out current-gen counterparts — Watch Dogs slipped out of its November 2013 slot and into… well, seemingly oblivion. In the months following, Ubisoft uttered apologies while responding to date inquiries with a firm “when it’s ready.”
Can’t fault the publisher, though. Watch Dogs made a big damn splash when it was announced and all eyes have been glued since. With that much attention, and the hype train that came barreling in after its reveal, a mountain of expectation rests upon this untested IP.
Delayed for quality assurance, we’re now closer to experiencing Aiden Pearce’s technologically charged quest for good old fashioned revenge. Watch Dogs, releasing on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, is dated globally for May 27th. [Sorry Wii U people, no firm date for your hardware. Don’t hack the messenger.]
Absolutely gorgeous artwork for Batman: Arkham Knight.
Rocksteady Ends Their Batman Trilogy in the Next-Gen Arkham Knight
All good things come to an end, and Rocksteady’s expert tenure on the Batman: Arkham franchise, going back to 2009, has been more than good. It’s been brilliant. If it wasn’t enough that their portrayal of The Dark Knight and his gothic kingdom is one of the best outside of the comics he was forged from — even rivaling the character’s film appearances — Rocksteady went ahead and set the bar for the entire superhero game genre higher than Everest.
Batman: Arkham Knight, being developed specifically for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, serves as the final act in Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy (2013’s Arkham Origins was handled by another studio, but you knew that, you keen reader you). “This is the natural end for the story,” said the game’s director, Sefton Hill. “We really want to go out in style.”
Revealed in this month’s Game Informer, you’ll notice a greater emphasis on the Caped Crusader’s favorite means of ground transportation, the Batmobile, seen only in cutscenes in previous titles. Now you’re finally licensed to drive the beast yourself. Gotham’s open world is being greatly expanded to accommodate this unarguably kickass new feature.
What’s a hero without his villains? One full year has passed since the arm-breaking spree Bats went on in Arkham City. Batman once goes on the hunt for a rogue’s gallery featuring Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Penguin, and the Scarecrow. If this is the final chapter, one has to wonder which of these madmen might be taking a last bow.
Batman: Arkham Knight releases October 14th, 2014.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2010’s imaginative, and successful, reboot came out this Tuesday and critics are raving that Dracula… kind of sucks.
Awash in a bloodbath of mediocre scores, one anonymous MercurySteam developer has come forward with some decently scathing remarks hurled at the studio’s troubled management in the hopes of explaining why Dracula’s latest bites (all right, all right, no more puns).
Lobbying their complaints through a user on a Meristation forum, the unnamed employee confessed that he went through his own personal “Hell” during the sequel’s development, fitted with hot coals of “shameful wages” and “everyday bullying.” And who oversaw this pit of torment?
“If there’s someone to blame here, that’s Enric Álvarez,” co-founder and owner of MercurySteam. “He is the person who has led a broken development based on his personal criteria, completely overlooking programmers, designers and artists.”
The employee goes on to lambaste Alvarez, stating that the studio director’s ego inflated after the first Lords of Shadow's success, to the point where he wouldn't greet lowly team members he'd pass by in the hall. A general mistrust of his own workers was intimated, as “most of the development team often found out features of the game through press news, rather than from the studio’s head.”
The employee also claims the studio’s internal structure was “archaic,” citing MercurySteam’s flawed engine as a key example. “Access for the new programmers to the source code to update or refurbish the engine is denied, so things are still done in a 10-year-old fashion.”
New hires supposedly knew even more than the bosses that hired them on, leading to a fractured, almost chaotic dynamic behind-the-scenes. “This structure only leads to a slow, messy and absurd development process, with the end result of Lords of Shadow 2 being a perfect example of what happens due to that.”
Despite his damning comments, the unnamed employee made sure not to disparage his fellow team members, saying that he hasn’t seen such passion and talent in a group, though their potential is forever marred at MercurySteam under the current regime. “If all those guys who are not allowed to be promoted due to our Jurassic studio leads had the chance to set the course of the company, our future would be so bright,” he said.
That future, unfortunately, may be in trouble. 35 employees were laid off after Lords of Shadow 2 went gold, according to this source, and more firings are on the table, especially given Konami’s alleged dissatisfaction over the final product.
“The vast majority of this team is aware that the game we’ve done is a real piece of shit that has nothing to do with the first one’s quality and production values… Nobody is surprised by the low reviews we’ve got.”
[My two cents on the issue follow beneath the break.]
Watch From Dreams - The Making of The Last of Us: Left Behind
DLC add-on’s are typically just that: add-on’s; an addendum that, honestly, isn’t a crucial component to the main experience, but serves as an extra caveat for fans hungering for more.
Left Behind is a groundbreaking triumph in that regard by serving as a completely necessary expansion to the core themes of loss, love, and survival prevalent in The Last of Us. It manages to be heartwarming one moment, and heart-wrenching the next, matching the ebb and flow of emotion found in the original campaign, while helping us find out who Ellie was and who she became.
If you haven’t played Left Behind, you’ll want to detour around the massive, capital-S Spoilers in this short doc. Otherwise, enjoy the insights and inspirations Naughty Dog put forth into the best piece of DLC this generation.