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Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 interview

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 Dracula KonamiPlay speaks with Konami producer Dave Cox about the imminent return of Dracula and why the team decided to launch on PS3 rather than PS4…

Do you think we’re starting to see the limit of what PS3 is capable of?
We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t constantly pushing. Given the sheer size of the game, and the new elements such as the open-world city, level of detail and inhabitants I do feel we are squeezing the pops of the current gen, though. It has been a challenge to squeeze our vision in, but the new Mercury engine is finely tuned so we have managed it without compromise – but only just!

What influenced the decision to stay on PS3 rather than migrate to next-gen? Any chance we’ll see a ‘super-HD’ version on PS4 down the line, as so many other games seem to be doing?
Quite simply, it was a story that started on PS3, so logically should end on it. We knew from the start the tale we wanted to tell and how we wanted to do it. As soon as we finished the first Lords of Shadow, we knew immediately what we would add and enhance in the sequel – the camera, a more open world, etc – and there was no reason for us to think it wasn’t possible on the current gen. Just because a new format comes out, doesn’t meant that everyone immediately buys the new one and abandons the old. We had a huge audience for the first game, and that audience is still there – and ready for the next instalment. As far as HD versions, we are walking away from it after CVLoS2, but know nothing of any such plans.

How do you go about empowering players with all of Dracula’s abilities without making the game too easy?
By taking them all away! The Dracula you control has been stranded in present day and stripped of all his abilities. While still more powerful than mortal man, he nevertheless is not the all-powerful creature we meet in the game’s prelude. We did this deliberately, as the player gets an idea of the potential a fully-powered vampire has access to, and can work out which skills to prioritise as they look to rebuild his abilities.

Based on the demo, tutorials seem well-handled but are you worried about having to teach even returning players a whole new moveset?
Not really. We have worked hard to make sure control is instinctive and evolves in an intuitive manner. The new additions are introduced early on, and then taken away. As such, as players choose which attacks they wish to focus on, so they can work out their uses and advantages in an organic fashion. The basic structure of control remains similar to what has gone before, but the nuances are easily discovered.

Lords Of Shadow was a huge game, much longer than many expected. How can we expect the sequel to stack up in terms of size/length?
If anything it is bigger – proving we are truly gluttons for punishment! The city is a huge area to explore and invites revisits. We loved the fact that we created a Castlevania that shocked people with its epic scale, and it was always part of our plan to go bigger and better with the second.

Dracula in Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2Are you surprised how well MercurySteam’s take on the legendary franchise has been received, especially following previous attempts at Castlevania in 3D?
No, if I am honest. We knew how good these guys were. It was their skill that brought a vision for a new Castlevania to life and got it green-lit in the first place. There were fans of the old-style games who were initially unconvinced of what we were trying to do, but overall we were always confident in how Lords of Shadow would be received. It is respectful to the series’ heritage but moves it forward. Nothing can stay the same forever, and we have helped set up a fantastic series for a new generation. We are glad people appreciate that, though.

What is it that you think makes these games work so well where others failed (so stupendously) in recreating that Castlevania magic in 3D?
By not being to tightly tied to the past. Previous 2D Castlevanias are tightly produced and only imply of their scale within a wider world. They take place in castles, obviously, but we wanted to show the effect these evil creatures have on a wider world. There have been external elements in past 2D games, but quite small scale so we wanted to make the trip to the castle as important as the actual castle stage. We could finally show the world ravaged by these horrible creatures, and the extent of their chaos.

What new possibilities has setting the game (or portions of it) in the modern day allowed you in terms of gameplay mechanics?
It allows us to show the eternity of evil. The new city is tainted by Dracula’s castle and despite the modern trappings it can still be a dark and danger-filled environment. Things lurk in the shadows, but the contrast against a place where neon lights glow is as eerie as any torch-lit corridor.

What’s the general feeling internally about closing this Castlevania chapter with LOS2? Would MercurySteam like to work on more Castlevania games, or branch out into different areas? We’d love to see what the team could do with the enhanced power of PS4…
We’re ready to move on. We’ve told our story. We know what we want to do next, and we are happy with our contribution to the Castlevania legacy.

Thirsty for more? Then check out the huge Lords Of Shadow 2 cover feature in Play issue 239, packed with hands-on impressions and even more interview content. The issue is on sale now from all shops that sell that sort of thing, as well as online and digitally. It’s even cheaper if you subscribe – join the Play community today!

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