PS3 Attitude’s Top 100 Developers – Part 10
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 last ten weeks we’ve been revealing our one hundred favourite developers, and we think you’ll agree we’ve included some incredibly talented teams. We’ve now revealed ninety developers in our mammoth list, and today we’re revealing the final ten!
Ubisoft Montreal – Canada
Ubisoft’s Montreal division was established in 1997, and is one of the biggest developers in the industry, with a whopping 1800 employees, which, unlike most studios, allows them to work on multiple projects at once. Its various teams have released far too many games on the PlayStation 3 to list here (including Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel, Far Cry 2 and upcoming Far Cry 3), but they are most famous for the Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed series.
The 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the game, as it had incredible visuals and was brilliantly fun to play. This year’s Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands felt like a bit of a back-step in comparison, but it was still definitely worth a play. As for the future of the series, we know that the Prince of Persia Trilogy is coming exclusively to PS3 later this year, but after that, we don’t know what form the Prince will take.
Upon its release in 2007, Assassin’s Creed divided many opinions, as it was a fantastically atmospheric open-world adventure, but it was also repetitious and oddly restrictive. However, Assassin’s Creed II successfully silenced the naysayers, and presented players with a truly memorable gaming experience that retained the good points of the first game and took out the bad. We can’t wait to return to Ezio’s world in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood next month, especially as it includes an incredibly addictive and unique online multiplayer component for the first time.
Ubisoft Paris – France
Ubisoft Paris has developed a number of games for various PlayStation platforms, including XIII and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter for the PlayStation 2. However, their spot on this list is largely due to their upcoming PlayStation 3 release (their first for the console), Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. As the title suggests, the game propels the Ghost Recon series into the future.
However, the game is only set about ten years from now, so don’t expect ray guns and hover cars. The weapons and equipment are based on what experts believe will be possible in the near future, such as the ‘optical camouflage’ that gives the player the appearance of invisibility. With games such as Modern Warfare and Medal of Honor set in the present day, Future Soldier has the potential to be a unique take on the tried and tested shooter genre, when it releases next year.
Ubisoft Reflections – United Kingdom
The Newcastle-based Reflections Interactive was founded in 1984, and was purchased by Ubisoft in 2006 to become Ubisoft Reflections. Before the PlayStation, the studio was most famous for the side-scrolling platformer, Shadow of the Beast, but since 1995 the team has created a number of games for PlayStation consoles, including Destruction Derby, Stuntman, and the Driver series.
In 1999, the original Driver was unanimously praised, and is even seen as a precursor to the three-dimensional Grand Theft Auto games. Unfortunately, subsequent games in the series have never managed to come close to the original game’s quality. However, that might all be about to change with the team’s first PS3 release, Driver: San Francisco. It has an interesting (if not downright weird) premise, in that the entire game takes place inside Tanner’s head whilst he’s a coma. Coverage of the game so far has been positive, so this may be one to watch out for next year.
Ubisoft Romania – Romania
Ubisoft Romania is based in Bucharest, and was founded in 1992 to become Ubisoft’s first development team located outside of its native France. The studio divide their time between both PC and console development, and is most famous on the PlayStation 3 for the Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X series of arcade-style flight combat games.
Whilst H.A.W.X isn’t for everyone, due to its steep learning curve and slightly strange controls, the gameplay is actually pretty unique for the PS3, and therefore gives an experience no other game can. The satellite mapping of real-world locations, as well as the real-life fighter planes, gives a great sense of realism, and shooting down enemy planes is extremely satisfying.
United Front Games – Canada
United Front Games was founded in Vancouver as recently as 2007, so they have currently only released one game; PlayStation 3-exclusive, ModNation Racers. The title took LittleBigPlanet’s tagline ‘Play. Create. Share’ and applied it to kart racers, to make one of the most fun games on the console. The racing itself was enjoyable, but, like its inspiration before it, the title’s genius was in its emphasis on user-generated content.
Whilst nowhere near as in-depth as LBP’s creation tools, ModNation still offers a huge amount of options for users to create their own tracks, characters and vehicles, giving the title a limitless amount of content. United Front is currently working on True Crime: Hong Kong, the third game in the series, and the first since 2005. Unusually for open-world crime games, the series has you play as a police officer, so the PS2 games (developed by the now defunct Luxoflux) were a refreshing change of pace, and we’re confident that United Front can give this series the reboot it deserves.
Valve Corporation – United States of America
In terms of story and atmosphere, there’s not a developer on the planet that is more talented than Valve. The Half-Life games are one of the greatest videogame series ever, due to their great graphics, superb sound, and class-leading physics. The Orange Box (which unbelievably includes Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal) was ported and released for PlayStation 3 in December 2007. We won’t go into the controversy surrounding the PS3 version here; just know that it’s still well worth experiencing if you haven’t done so already.
The standout of the collection is widely regarded as being Portal, a genuinely unique take on a first-person-shooter. That’s why we were so excited at E3 2010, when President of Valve, Gabe Newell (who had previously slated Sony’s latest console), announced that not only is Portal 2 coming to the PS3, but it will also be the best console version. This new friendly relationship between Valve and Sony bodes extremely well for the developer’s future releases for the PS3, so we look forward to Portal 2 next year, and whatever Valve does beyond that.
Vigil Games – United States of America – Echo307
Vigil Games is very new to the video game development scene, but they’re already making a name for themselves. Owned and operated by THQ, Vigil’s first release was the early 2010 hit, Darksiders, which was right up our alley. In the end, Darksiders alone was more than enough of a reason to keep Vigil in consideration for our top developers, as it successfully combined elements of several classic games all in to one kick ass package.
The God of War themed combat paired with the dungeon-style exploration similar to that of Zelda really had us hooked. Throw in a very lengthy 15-20 hour campaign, a portal gun and a handful of epic boss fights, and you’ve got a combination that’s almost impossible to fail. Granted, Darksiders wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and we respect that, but for us it was so good that we’re very much looking forward to Darksiders 2.
Visceral Games – United States of America – Echo307
Visceral Games – which was formerly known as EA Redwood Shores – has a pretty lengthy history in game development, yet they’re one of those studios that took a while to create a big hit title. They started with a couple of James Bond games back in the PlayStation 2 days, then moved on to cultivate a handful of The Godfather titles. They also created the decent God of War clone, Dante’s Inferno, for PS3 earlier this year.
While none of those games became a rousing success, Visceral receives instant credibility for creating the Dead Space franchise. Dead Space is hands down one of the greatest and creepiest horror games to ever hit the PlayStation 3 (or any console for that matter). Walking down those long, dark and linear corridors, wondering what would pop out and how badly it wanted to kill us, still gives us the occasional nightmare. What’s worse is the fear is not over yet.
Dead Space 2 is already well on its way and it looks to be every bit of the scare-fest that its predecessor was. Creepiness and nightmares aside, Dead Space was a phenomenal game from top to bottom, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel – or anything else Visceral creates going forward… well, apart from Dead Space: Ignition.
Volition, Inc. – United States of America
Volition was established in 1996 in Champaign, Illinois. The studio started life by developing the two FreeSpace games for PC, and were purchased by THQ in 2000. Since then, the studio has developed almost all of their games for PlayStation consoles, including the Summoner series, Red Faction series and The Punisher on PS2. Their first release for PS3 was 2008’s Saints Row 2, an over-the-top take on an open-world sandbox game, which was seen to many as a nice diversion from the overall seriousness of rival game, Grand Theft Auto IV.
This was followed by Red Faction: Guerrilla in mid-2009, the first third-person-shooter of the series, which is still great fun now and has the best destruction we’ve ever seen in a videogame. Both of these titles are getting sequels next year, in the form of Saints Row 3 and Red Faction: Armageddon, as well as the tie-in PSN games, Saints Row: Drive-By and Red Faction: Battlegrounds, so we certainly don’t envy Volition’s workload at the moment.
Zipper Interactive – United States of America – Echo307
Zipper Interactive was formed back in 1995 by two guys with the same dream; to create great videogames. Currently owned by Sony, they’ve developed titles for both the PC and multiple PlayStation consoles. If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of Zipper’s role in the dominance of the PlayStation platform, but what you might not know is that they’re also the brains behind classic hit titles such as MechWarrior 3 and Crimson Skies.
While neither of those games graced a PlayStation console, we still have to tip our hats to them and give credit where it’s due. From there, Zipper went on to develop what we all know them best for – the SOCOM series. With the launch of the original SOCOM game on the PS2, Zipper was one of the first studios to successfully create an online military shooter for a game console.
Lucky for them, it only got better from there. SOCOM 2 is still considered to be one of the best online shooters of all time. While their most recent and first PS3 game, MAG, pushed online shooters to new heights with its 256 player limit, what we know Zipper best for is SOCOM, and it’s a franchise they’re thankfully returning to with SOCOM 4, which launches next year with full PlayStation Move support.
So that’s it – you now know all one hundred of our favourite developers!
But wait, there’s more…
Be sure to check back next Monday for a very special final article, when we’ll be looking back on the last ten weeks, with contributions from many of the developers we’ve cited in our list. Exciting times!