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.]
Happy Anniversary, Silent Hill
Thanks for 15 years of tight corridors, locked doors, and endless fog.
Lords of Shadow 2 is Nearly Upon Us
Go ahead, revel in the next-gen and its succinct lack of titles to digest right now. The current generation still has some fight in it… or should I say bite?
MercurySteam’s imaginative and grandiose reconstruction of Castlevania lore is coming to a close next month. It’s bittersweet for me — though I crave a satisfying conclusion to the Lords of Shadow mythos, it means Mercury’s brief tenure on the franchise is at an end.
But it looks like they want to go out on a huge bang. The campaign, which pits Dracula’s fight against Satan in the (rustically) modern day, is promised to clock in near twenty-four hours. Gabriel’s armory has been expanded to include the life consuming Void Sword and the powerfully destructive Chaos Claws… as well as the ability to transform into a Smaug-caliber dragon. That’s right. You become that wickedly metal dragon up above.
All good things come to an end. And though Lords of Shadow still hasn’t jived with 2D purists in the fanbase (and probably never will), this sprawling, beautifully conceived reboot has definitely been a good thing. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 releases February 28th on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
MGS: Ground Zeroes Lands a Date
Today, I have the privilege of announcing that Metal Gear Solid V… is nowhere near coming out. Them’s the breaks.
But! That’s precisely where Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes comes in. Kojima Productions, knowing full well that MGSV is not even a little close over the horizon, decided to put together a playable prologue that both sets up the events of The Phantom Pain as well as indoctrinating players to Snake’s new brand of tactical espionage action.
Airdropping to both current and next-gen PlayStation and Microsoft consoles, Ground Zeroes releases March 18th, 2014. Fun bonus: PS consoles will be privy to exclusive content by way of the “Deja Vu” mission — in which you play as Classic Snake (lookit him) — while MS systems get a dosage of everybody’s favorite cyborg ninja (not named Gray Fox), Raiden, in the “Jamais Vu” bonus mission.
The Ground Zeroes precursor doesn’t feature a full blown retail price tag, but there is a generational pricing discrepancy: current-gen copies will run you $29.99 whereas the spiffy next-gen editions cost $39.99.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Deploys in the Spring
Konami has announced it expects Ground Zeroes, the playable precursor to Metal Gear Solid V, out by Spring 2014.
Kojima Productions has been pretty damn coy about Ground Zeroes, Hideo himself only offering up that it’s a prologue, and keeping quiet on how it’d be delivered to fans. Officially, the game is a separate, and smaller, installment being released ahead of MGS V.
Set nine years before The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes centers around a lone mission — a Cuban rescue operation. The title contains all of the new features found within the upcoming sequel, namely open-world action, but demonstrated in a environment meant to ease the transition between old Metal Gear and this new era.
"There will be a significant difference in what The Phantom Pain brings to the series,” said Kojima, “so we want to ease players into the new open world environment and its potential. As such, Ground Zeroes has been designed to introduce key elements, allowing them to fully benefit from all that the new game will offer.”
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes will release for the PS3 and Xbox 360 at $19.99. Next-gen versions, for the PS4 and Xbox One, come in at $29.99 (I guess 60-fps ain’t cheap).
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Slated for February 2014
First projected for this Winter, MercurySteam’s final act in their critically acclaimed ‘Vania saga, Lords of Shadow 2, will make its way to stores February 25th, 2014.
Following the trials of the holy warrior once known as Gabriel Belmont, now the accursed Dracul, the ultimate bastion of darkness, players will face hell’s best and worst in retaliation to Satan’s surgical strike on the mortal coil.
If the date push is too much to bare — and it truly is — Konami and MercurySteam will be dropping an updated HD version of MIrror of Fate onto Xbox Live and PSN this Halloween. Serving as a bridge between the first and second LoS titles, the 2.5D game also merges the combat and storytelling of the newer titles with the side-scrolling, exploratory gameplay that made the original Castlevania's widespread successes.
And if you’re still completely unitiated to the reboot legacy by February, the 25th also brings the Lords of Shadow Collection, gathering 2010’s original game along with its two DLC add-on’s as well as Mirror of Fate HD.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2's Trailer Will Indeed Melt Your Face
Konami’s now annual pre-E3 presser — all the cool kids are doing it these days — brought with it…Christ, how do I not fanboy all over this post? Basically, they dropped one of the greatest trailers I’ve ever glued my eyes to for Lords of Shadow 2.
Not just one of the “greatest video game trailers” I’ve seen. No, no, sir. I had more than shivers dancing up my spine; I had butterflies colliding into each other inside my stomach. The chord it strikes, the atmosphere it brings, the pained, melodic notes slowly swaying in the background…
It’s all so…oh, hell, man. Just watch it here. Once your mind is blown to shreds, you try to keep a coherent string of thoughts.
Billed as the absolute final chapter in the Lords of Shadow saga, which began with 2010’s jaw-dropping reboot and continued on in the much maligned but honestly underrated Mirror of Fate (3DS), Gabriel Belmont’s story looks to break a norm set by other monolithic video game franchises: it seems to actually have finality.
Konami and MercurySteam are aiming Lords of Shadow 2 for a Winter release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
MGS: The Legacy Collection Skipping 360; “MGS4 is Just Too Enormous”
Despite both Metal Gear Rising and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection making the jump to Xbox 360 without a hitch, Konami’s newest box set, Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, will release as a PS3 exclusive. The reason? The hefty inclusion of MGS4 and its landslide of data.
Series mastermind Hideo Kojima recently cleared up the matter, which is apparently an issue of storage. “I’m sorry to say an Xbox 360 version isn’t being released,” said Kojima. “Because an Xbox 360 version of MGS4 hasn’t gone on sale. To explain the situation, the amount of data in MGS4 is just too enormous.”
Sony’s lean on Blu-Ray media meant Kojima Productions could stuff as much content as they wanted back in 2008 when the closing chapter in Solid Snake’s saga dropped into stores. Porting the game to the Xbox 360’s DVD format, on the other hand, meant the developers would have to stretch their magnum opus across seven separate discs…Significantly more work than it was worth, unfortunately for Xbox fans.
And compromise in this situation would mean an incomplete package for collectors. “If we released a version on the Xbox 360 without MGS4, then it’s not The Legacy Collection,” said Hideo. Don’t give out hope completely, though, Microsoft loyal. Kojima hasn’t ruled out the next Xbox as a potential home for the collection…So call it a maybe before never rolls around.
Konami Confirms Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection for PS3
Fans of the engrossing, albeit extremely convoluted, Metal Gear Solid series lit up like one of Snake’s cancer sticks when the franchise’s creator Hideo Kojima took to Twitter and teased us with this mysterious box art. Featuring several incarnations of Snake both Naked and Solid — for the uninitiated, I apologize for your horrible confusion — the imagery hinted at the possibility of yet another gathering of the stealth-espionage games following 2011’s MGS HD Collection.
Today, Konami confirmed the artwork is for The Legacy Collection, a PlayStation 3 bound box set that groups together eight pivotal entries from the decades old franchise, slated for this June. Here’s the lineup:
- Metal Gear Solid
- Metal Gear Solid 2: HD Edition
- Metal Gear Solid 3: HD Edition
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Trophy Edition
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition
- Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions
The HD remaster of MGS3 is based on the Subsistence re-release of the game which included the MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, rounding out Legacy's roster to eight installments of warfare philosophy and crafty box disguises. The collection is a few PSP games short of a complete deck and Nintendo's ironclad license over The Twin Snakes means that lost gem has likely sunk with the Gamecube.
But as far as continuity goes the Solid saga is well represented, and if you’ve somehow managed to live and act like a gamer without having played a single title in this historic series, the Legacy Collection is a great way to nuke that problem.
You Called It, Internet - The Phantom Pain is Metal Gear Solid V
Before you do anything else, watch the eye popping, spine tingling, FOX engined debut of Metal Gear Solid V right here.
It was a poor kept secret that The Phantom Pain, a new title from complete unknowns, Moby Dick Studios, was somehow related to the next installment of Metal Gear Solid. The announcement of Ground Zeroes, an open-world continuation seemingly starring Big Boss, only served to cast confusion on matters, though, making certain no one but Hideo Kojima and company knew what the hell was going on (as per usual, that sly bastard).
That’s not to say there isn’t a huge cloud of “What the hell?” hovering above today’s news, but at least I can tell you this: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain debuted today and it looks crazy good. MGSV is slated for current gen consoles (yes, both the PS3 and Xbox 360 — the first time a title in the main series has launched simultaneously on different systems) and runs off of Kojima Productions’ newly created FOX Engine — a foundation capable of some…well, put plainly, really goddamn gorgeous visual effects.
After debuting the trailer and some gameplay at GDC, Hideo threw some vagueness in the form of answers our way, confirming that the game is definitely open-world, another first for the series, and that both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain make up the whole of Metal Gear Solid V. Ground Zeroes was described as a prologue to MGSV to begin with, but how fans experience it — whether digitally, a full retail release, or packaged with The Phantom Pain — is still frustratingly not known.
Also, a bit of a downer for fans (though we were warned this might happen): David Hayter won’t be reprising his role as Snake, a part the actor has voiced since 1998. And, you guessed it, his replacement is as of yet unnamed.
But we’ll end on a high note today, kids. Enjoy some Phantom Pain gameplay hereabouts. That should de-salt the wound nicely.