PS3 Attitude’s Top 100 Developers – Part 4
Believe it or not, the PlayStation 3 was released nearly four years ago, and since then the console has been graced with hundreds of great titles. Therefore, we at PS3 Attitude thought we’d take some time to pay tribute to the people who create the games that make our mundane lives just that little bit more entertaining: the developers.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be revealing our one hundred favourite developers, and believe us when we say that there are some incredibly talented teams included. We’ve now revealed the first thirty developers in our mammoth list, and today we’re revealing the next ten.
Please note that the list is in alphabetical order, so don’t worry if it looks like we’ve missed off your favourite developer, because the chances are that it will appear in a future article (or has already been featured in a previous article).
Game Republic – Japan
Game Republic has been with the PlayStation 3 since the beginning, and therefore more than deserves its place on this list. Genji: Days of the Blade was a launch title for the console, and was followed up a year later by the unique action-adventure of Folklore, which was praised for its vibrant art style, unusual battle system, and even an interesting use of the SIXAXIS motion control.
The team has also created a number of decent little-known titles for the PlayStation Network, such as Dark Mist and Toy Home. However, it’s their next game that we’ve got our eyes on. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom certainly has the potential to be great, and looks to have a lot in common with Ico and The Last Guardian, but whether Game Republic’s title can match the atmosphere of these two games remains to be seen – we’ll find out in November.
Gearbox Software – United States of America – Echo307
Gearbox Software is another one of the developers on our list that haven’t been around for very long. Founded in 1999, they currently reside in Plano, Texas. Gearbox is mostly known for the Brothers in Arms series, and they also had a hand in developing some of the lesser-known Half Life games and expansions.
On PS3, they’re most famous for Borderlands, one of our favourite games of last year. There are so many shooters on the market these days that the genre is getting a little stale. Gearbox figured out how to fix this problem: inject a few RPG components into the game and follow it up with a loot n’ grab system that will keep gamers busy for days. Where most FPSs have failed to keep players around without competitive multiplayer, Gearbox succeeded with Borderlands.
Therefore, we couldn’t help but be ecstatic when we heard that they’re also the crew that’s finally going to bring the Duke Nukem franchise out of hiatus, starting with the much-delayed Duke Nukem Forever. Not only is this classic series going to see the light of day again, but it’s going to get there with a top-notch developer at its back.
Guerrilla Games had what some would consider a bit of a rough start. They’re the developer behind both the Killzone franchise and Shellshock: Nam 67. When these two games first launched in 2007, they were both met with mixed reviews, especially the latter.
However, any doubts we had about Guerrilla evolving into a powerhouse developer were immediately pushed aside in 2009 when Killzone 2 hit the gaming market. Even eighteen months after launch, it remains one of the top graphical dynamos in the PlayStation 3 line-up. The best part is that the game plays just as good as it looks. It’s one of the few FPS titles out there that actually has a feel it can call its own. Both the single player and the multiplayer are wonderful examples of how to create a proper shooter.
Guerrilla is now looking to push the envelope even further with Killzone 3, which will be coming to us in early 2011 and based on what we’ve seen, it should have no problem upping the ante over its predecessor. It again sports amazing visuals and awesome gameplay, but this time it’s also coming in 3D and with PlayStation Move support. In a world where bland developers and boring shooters are becoming a mainstay, Guerrilla and Killzone continue to break the mould.
Harmonix Music Systems – United States of America – Danny_D
Say hello to the force behind the music video game revolution. Harmonix Music Systems (but please, just call them Harmonix) was founded in 1995 with the simple premise of bringing the joy of performing music to those that never thought they could.
It wasn’t easy for Harmonix to find their stride. The first five years were very rough, after a handful of mostly lukewarm results in the PC and arcade scene, the founders travelled to Japan to sell their games. Instead of a sale, they found a new perspective on the music genre and a brand new partner in Sony Computer Entertainment.
Frequency and Amplitude on the PlayStation 2 were critical successes but commercial flops, cult followings aside. They were approached by Konami to create the Karaoke Revolution franchise, which gave Harmonix their first taste of commercial success. EyeToy: AntiGrav was a departure from music games and their first game that was a critical flop but a commercial success. The future looked bleak.
Enter the Guitar Hero franchise where the gaming world finally ‘got’ what Harmonix was up to all this time. After a number of GH games, a new level of immersion came to fruition with the Rock Band franchise and the rest, as they say, is history in the making. There is simply no other team more dedicated to music and video games on the planet.
Hello Games – United Kingdom – Nixemus
Hello Games was founded by four friends who decided to make their own titles after working at big companies such as Sumo Digital, Criterion and EA. They recently released their first game, Joe Danger, to critical acclaim. The road wasn’t easy though – with a team of only four people, funds were hard to come by. However, after speaking to several corporate publishers, they decided they’d probably be better off on their own.
Joe Danger broke even on the first day after releasing exclusively on the PlayStation Network, and has since sold over 500,000 copies. Featuring simple yet fun gameplay with colourful, cartoonish graphics, it’s no wonder why it’s so popular, and a wonder why the corporate publishers wanted to change anything in the first place.
Hothead Games – Canada
Hothead Games was only founded in 2006, and is one of the leading developers of downloadable titles. The two episodes of the mini RPG, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, may be a bit of an acquired taste, but they managed to do what most other games fail at, and were genuinely funny. This is something that was expanded upon in their next major release, DeathSpank.
As the title (which is also the main character’s name) suggests, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the charming visuals and hilarious quests come together to create one of the PSN’s most entertaining games. As somewhat of a surprise, a sequel, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue comes out in just a couple of weeks’ time, and looks to improve upon the original in every way.
The team at Hothead were also responsible for porting the incredible Braid to PlayStation 3, which if you ask us, every gamer owes it to themselves to play. Also on the way is the platformer, Swarm, which is expected to release early next year. It admittedly looks a little rough around the edges at the moment, but there’s no doubt that Hothead know what they’re doing with this game.
Housemarque – Finland – seanoc
In 1995, two small developers, Terramarque and Bloodhouse, merged to form Housemarque. Their first title was Super Stardust on the Amiga 1200, a sequel to Bloodhouse’s Asteroids clone, Stardust. After spending much of the 21st Century in relative obscurity, the Finnish developers are having a renaissance on the PlayStation Store.
In 2007, Housemarque released Super Stardust HD, a perfect reboot of their signature game. Its top-down view and plain design belies some impressive visuals. At a stunning 60fps with 1080p resolution, your screen gets consumed by incredible lighting and particle effects, asteroids and aliens. It also has an adrenaline pumping soundtrack to compliment the hardcore gameplay; it’s a true test of your stamina and mental agility. Super Stardust HD is a complete sensory overload, and it was even one of the first games to get trophy and 3D support.
Other Housemarque Projects? Dead Nation is on the way. It takes Super Stardust’s sweat-inducing gameplay and adapts it to a post-apocalyptic, zombie setting – not very original though. More exciting is Outland, a platforming adventure with the polarity mechanics of Ikaruga. Details are sparse at this stage, but it’s looking beautiful.
id Software – United States of America
Although they are yet to release a full retail game on PlayStation 3, the amount of praise for the upcoming Rage, not to mention the developer’s impressive history, is more than enough reason to include id Software on our list. The team are widely regarded as the forefathers of the FPS genre, after creating such titles as Wolfenstein 3D (which was re-released last year on the PSN), and the Quake and Doom series.
Rage was one of the standouts of this year’s E3 in June, and won many sites’ ‘Best of Show’ awards, due to its incredible presentation, intriguing story, and unique gameplay through its fusion of first person shooting and dune buggy racing. The game is truly looking fantastic and we can’t wait to play it next year. Now if only id would announce Doom 4 for PS3…
Infinity Ward/Treyarch – United States of America – Echo307
We chose to put Infinity Ward and Treyarch in the same boat because… well let’s face it; they both make games in the same series. Infinity Ward is definitely the more prestigious of the two, as they’re responsible for creating the Call of Duty franchise we all know and love. Treyarch might have a longer history than Infinity Ward, due to developing so many different games over the years, but none of them have reached the success that can compare to their counterparts at IW.
Whether you like Call of Duty games or not, you have to respect the developer that has created the highest selling PlayStation 3 game of all time, and that would be Infinity Ward. Modern Warfare 2 remains the most played game on the PlayStation Network today and if you’ve been sucked into its addictive world, it’s easy to understand why. Before their near-demise, IW created maybe the deepest multiplayer component ever seen in console games.
While Treyarch has yet to win any best-seller awards, the work they’ve done on Call of Duty: Black Ops alone seems like reason enough to add them to this list. We loved our Modern Warfare 2 but based on what we’ve seen from Black Ops, it looks like Treyarch has set out to best it in just about every possible way. Our initial impressions tell us that they could well succeed.
Insomniac Games – United States of America – Nixemus
Founded in 1994, Insomniac Games has a heritage that spreads through the whole PlayStation family. They started on the original PlayStation with the first three Spyro the Dragon games. Even back then, the developer’s humour, design, and penchant for hidden areas and achievements were all present, and would prove popular later on.
Ratchet & Clank was Insomniac’s first foray into the PlayStation 2 market, which resulted in six sequels, three of them on the PS3. Here, the crazy weapons, outlandish characters, and alien planets were a change of pace for Insomniac, and the popularity of Ratchet and Clank has only grown ever since. They didn’t stop there though – with the launch of the PS3 also came the launch of a new franchise: Resistance.
Resistance is essentially a WW2 shooter with a twist: aliens have invaded, causing the Earth to unite against them. The franchise has also proven popular, with Resistance 3 having been announced at this year’s Gamescom, as well as a new Ratchet & Clank game featuring co-operative gameplay. We can safely say that Insomniac is doing pretty well for itself, and we also can’t wait to see what becomes of their recent partnership with EA.
And that’s your lot for another week! As always, be sure to check back every Monday, when we’ll be revealing the rest of our epic Top 100 Developers list.