Konami says that Metal Gear Solid 4 is "on the eve of entering bug-checking phase" and that the developer is still committed to the game's Q2 release date.
"The next few months are going to be hell," assistant producer Ryan Payton said in the latest Kojima Productions podcast, confirming that it's the "big push". "Yeah, and we're committed to this quarter-two release date, or release timeframe."
"We're committed. Mr Kojima of all people is committed to it because he really hates to disappoint people, and I know that he is embarrassed by what happened with the 2007 slip into 2008, because we even put it in our trailer with Raiden slashing away '2008' and when you go that far you put a seal on it and then he has to delay it - that really hurt."
Payton expects the game to see a "simultaneous worldwide release" - albeit not exactly the same day - and dismisses any specific dates from retailers. "Any date that you're seeing is just speculation," he says. Apparently as recently as last Sunday they were "going back and forward with marketing" about when to do the release.
Asked about the specifics of current development, Payton said that it is possible to play the game from start to finish, although certain elements such as the opening cinematic aren't finished yet.
Indeed, the way Kojima Productions works means that they may continue adding small features throughout testing. "We could be adding stuff two weeks before gold submission," he said, which is apparently what happened on MGS3. But, he explained, "For the majority of the team, this is the end."
But is it the end for Hideo Kojima? Who knows. What we do know is that we were quite impressed with the playable demo at Tokyo Game Show last September and that we'll be bringing you more impressions very soon.
For more on MGS4, which sees an ageing Snake sleuthing his way around a city between warring PMCs, check out our Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gamepage.