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.]
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.
How ghoulishly fitting we should receive a brand new Lords of Shadow 2 trailer on Halloween. 'Course, it’d be more fitting if that game were actually coming out today. Gabriel may be able to wait out centuries in his castle keep, but my lack of immortality means I get fidgety waiting in the drive-thru.
Brief as it is, we witness our man Gabriel curse the God he once devoted his life and work to. No longer a man, he prefers to be addressed as 'The Dragon,’ or Dracul, pledging to forever be a torn sticking out the Almighty’s side. So, yeah, the dude’s been making some serious life changes between the first and second game.
To my European comrades out there, let it be known that Lords of Shadow 2 has itself a Collector’s Edition heading to your side of the world. 'Dracula’s Tomb Premium Edition’ comes with, get this, Dracula’s tomb as a special case to house its goodies which include a hardcover art book, four badass little figurines (one of them being the mysterious, bearded Belmont seen in the trailers), and a steelbox case for your copy of the game.
Only 30,000 are being released, so get up on those pre-orders. No word from Konami if North America is receiving a similar tomb of badassery. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 releases Feb. 25th in the states and Feb, 28th in the UK.
Lords of Shadow 2 Movie Poster Contest
Here’s the deal: From October 14th to the 27th, Konami is holding an interestin’ contest for you artistes out there. MercurySteam’s new Castlevania stars pop culture’s most (in)famous vampire – the one, the only, the immortal – Dracula.
To honor his unholiness, as well as twenty-seven years of whip cracking, ghoul smacking action, just pick your favorite Dracula-centric movie poster (Dracula 2000 anyone? …Anyone?) and spoof it up Lords of Shadow style. Konami’s dishing out its own recreations over the next two weeks in case you’re in want for inspiration.
Kudos to Galaxy Next Door for turning me onto this. Went friggin’ nuts over this Salem’s Lot homage.