PS3 Attitude’s Top 100 Developers – Part 5
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 forty developers in our mammoth list, and today we’re revealing another 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).
IO Interactive – Denmark
Let’s just say that currently IO Interactive don’t exactly have the strongest line-up of PlayStation 3 titles. The developer’s most recent title, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, while a marked improvement upon its predecessor, still fell way short of the best of the PS3’s third person shooters.
The cover and gunplay were not anything to get excited about, but the adult story and interesting YouTube-style visuals did at least show that the Copenhagen-based studio are still thinking outside the box. However, we won’t lie; IO’s inclusion on this list is based more on their track record than their recent releases.
It’s important to remember that this is the team that brought us the awesome stealth third person shooter series, Hitman, on PS2. Unfortunately, so far the closest the series has got to a PS3 release is the decent Mini Ninjas, which has been described by critics as ‘Hitman for kids’. Although it’s yet to be officially announced, it’s common knowledge that IO are currently working on Hitman 5, and we’re sure that when it does finally surface, it will be the team back to its best.
Kojima Productions (part of Konami) – Japan
Hideo Kojima’s team at Kojima Productions is without a doubt one of the most exciting developers working in Japan. The company is clearly most famous for the epic Metal Gear Solid series of stealth action games, but has also been successful with many other games on PlayStation consoles, such as Policenauts on PSone, and Zone of the Enders on PS2.
Nowadays, it is easy to forget how much of a revelation Metal Gear Solid was, when it was released back in 1997 on PSone. The game’s emphasis on stealth rather than all-out action was something gamers had never seen before, and they relished the challenge. A ridiculous amount of sequels and spinoffs later, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was released for PS3, which was seen as many to be the console’s first truly AAA-quality title, and helped to get the PS3 out of the rut it had been stuck in.
The future of MGS on PS3 also looks very strong with Metal Gear Solid: Rising, which replaces the series’ former tagline ‘Tactical Espionage Action’ with the somewhat more exciting ‘Lightning Bolt Action’. Anyone who’s seen the E3 trailer will know why we are looking forward to this game… even if we do have to play as Raiden.
Konami – Japan
Konami is one of the oldest videogame companies currently working in the industry. Founded in 1969, it wasn’t until 1973 that they started creating games, and five years after that that they released their first arcade machine. On PlayStation consoles, their in-house development teams are well-known for a whole range of popular series, including Castlevania, Contra, and Silent Hill. In the last decade though, one franchise in particular has dominated Konami’s line-up: Pro Evolution Soccer.
On PS2, PES was widely regarded as being the best football/soccer series on the market, beating the official FIFA games in both graphics and gameplay. However, the roles have been reversed on PS3, and it really feels like PES has been playing catch-up with FIFA this generation. That said, PES 2010 was by far the best PES in years, and we have no doubt that this year’s game will lessen the gap between the rival series even further.
Level-5 – Japan
Recently, the Japanese studio Level-5 has probably been most famous for developing the Professor Layton adventure puzzle games for the Nintendo DS. Nevertheless, the developer also has strong ties to Sony, and has developed a number of quality titles for PlayStation consoles, including the Dark Cloud series and Rogue Galaxy on PS2, and Jeanne d’Arc and upcoming The Little Battlers on PSP.
The company’s first release for PS3 however was the traditional RPG, White Knight Chronicles, in December 2008, although it didn’t make it outside of Japan until over a year later. Whilst the game has received mixed reviews from critics and gamers alike, we felt it definitely has enough positive elements to warrant a play from RPG fans, such as an extremely deep customisation system and an interesting online component.
Level-5’s next PS3 release will be White Knight Chronicles 2 (though it’s already out in Japan), which builds on what worked in the first game, and removes what didn’t. It even includes the first game on-disc in its entirety, which must be completed in order to play the sequel. Whilst this may put some gamers off, it at least shows how serious Level-5 is about this series, and we look forward to playing WKC2 when it is finally released over here.
LucasArts – United States of America – seanoc
To create cutting edge games using the latest technology; that’s LucasArts’ aim. Sadly it doesn’t reflect their PlayStation 3 contributions so far. If ‘uninspired’ best describes the responses to Fracture, then God only knows what adjective best fits Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes. Nevertheless, these games were always sideshows to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
With impressive sales of nearly seven million copies, The Force Unleashed is the best-selling Star Wars game of all time. It had a compelling story, interesting character developments and some impressive physics, but regrettably it also had major control issues; these gave the impression that the game had been too hastily released.
Why are they included on this list then? 1) The fan-pleasing remake of Monkey Island 2 rediscovered their glory days of the late 80s/early 90s when they pioneered the graphic adventure genre. 2) We’re hopeful for the future: The Force Unleashed II promises to build on the first game’s potential. Starkiller will be more powerful, have new abilities (the Jedi mind trick) and he will wield an ultra cool dual lightsaber – and they’ve apparently fixed the much maligned targeting system. It could become the Star Wars game we’ve been waiting for.
Media Molecule – United Kingdom
Announced at GDC in 2007, LittleBigPlanet was extremely important for Sony, and thankfully it was a huge critical and commercial success. In Sackboy, the PlayStation 3 finally had a mascot, and the game gave the console another title for its ever-growing library of must-own exclusives.
The ‘Play Create Share’ tagline emphasises the game’s focus on user-generated content; players were given a wealth of tools to create their own levels, the likes of which had never been seen before on a console. With over two million levels, and more being created every day, it’s still as enjoyable and revolutionary now as it was in 2008.
The game’s success prompted Sony to purchase Mm in March of this year, and LittleBigPlanet 2 was officially announced a few months later. However, not satisfied with simply letting users create their own levels, the sequel improves on the already very robust tool set, and promises to allow players to create their own games, whatever the genre.
MercurySteam – Spain
MercurySteam is another developer that has only been around for a few years, and so at the moment they have only released a couple of full retail games. There first on the PlayStation 3 was 2007’s Clive Barker’s Jericho, which had a mixed reception from critics and players. Despite a successfully scary atmosphere, the game unfortunately suffered from clumsy mechanics and sub-par AI.
However, much more exciting is MercurySteam’s upcoming reboot of the Castlevania series, and that’s not just because of Hideo Kojima’s involvement. From what we’ve seen, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow looks like it can compete with the best when it comes to action-adventures, due to its beautiful art style, epic gameplay, and class-leading voice acting by the likes of Robert Carlyle.
Monolith Productions – United States of America
The Kirkland, Washington-based company, Monolith Productions, was founded in 1994, and has a strong history of developing games for PC. Their first release on a PlayStation console was a port of their own No One Lives Forever on PS2, way back in 2002. Their next title for PlayStation gamers didn’t appear until six years later, with Condemned 2 on PS3.
However, their most popular franchise is definitely the survival-horror first-person-shooter series, F.E.A.R., which just in case you were wondering, stands for First Encounter Assault Recon. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was released for PS3 in February 2009, and is to be followed up by F.E.A.R 3 early next year. F.E.A.R. 2 brought us engaging gameplay, an incredibly chilling atmosphere, and one of the most disturbing endings to a videogame ever, and no doubt the sequel is set to be even creepier.
Namco Bandai Games – Japan
Namco has a history of over fifty years and was at the forefront of the Golden Age of gaming, creating one of the most iconic videogames ever, Pac-Man. In 2006 the company formed a partnership with Bandai, and became Namco Bandai Games, and since then has brought many of their biggest franchises to the PlayStation 3, including Ridge Racer, Soulcalibur, and Time Crisis.
In the last fifteen years, Namco’s most popular series has arguably been Tekken, which has appeared on PSone, PS2, PSP, and of course PS3. The first full game release of the fighting series on PS3, Tekken 6, was released last year, and featured fantastic graphics, hundreds of awesome moves, and incredible character customisation. For the next couple of years, Tekken fans are going to be even more spoilt by Namco, with the likes of Tekken X Street Fighter and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
Naughty Dog – United States of America
Following the popularity of the Crash Bandicoot series on PSone, Naughty Dog was purchased outright by Sony in 2001. The developer went on to see great success on PS2 with Jak and Daxter, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the full talent of the company was truly displayed.
It’s no secret that the PlayStation 3 had a painfully slow launch, with very few real must-have titles. However, that all changed with the release of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, which featured beautiful visuals, and mixed platforming and gunplay in a genuinely fun way. Finally, everyone could see exactly what Sony’s new console was capable of.
Naughty Dog wasn’t finished yet though, as the sequel, Among Thieves, somehow bettered Drake’s Fortune in every way. The game improved upon the original’s already-bar-setting visuals, and added competitive and co-operative online multiplayer. It all came together to make not only one of the best games on PS3, but one of the best games ever.
Fifty down, fifty to go! As always, be sure to check back every Monday, when we’ll be revealing the rest of our epic Top 100 Developers list.