PS3 Attitude’s Top 100 Developers – Part 8
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 seventy developers in our mammoth list, and today we’re revealing ten more. 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).
SCE San Diego Studio – United States of America
Sony’s San Diego Studio was founded in 2001, and is responsible for the annual sports series, NBA and MLB: The Show, the latter of which is widely regarded as being one of the best sports game series ever for its incredible graphics, fantastic mechanics and physics, and unsurpassed realism and atmosphere. It’s a great shame the series isn’t available outside of the US, but let’s hope that Sony rectifies this for MLB 11: The Show.
But that’s not all. The San Diego Studio has also worked on a number of other games in the last few years, including PSN classics Pain and High Velocity Bowling. Most recently, the team co-developed the PlayStation Move’s flagship title, Sports Champions, with Zindagi Games. If you’re yet to purchase the Move, be sure to pick this up with it; the motion control has a level of accuracy never before seen in a videogame, and there’s enough replay value and multiplayer action to keep you entertained for many, many hours.
SCE Santa Monica Studio – United States of America
Santa Monica Studio was established in 1999, and is the developer behind one of PlayStation’s biggest exclusive franchises: God of War. However, their initial release for the PlayStation 3 was actually Warhawk, the console’s first online multiplayer-only shooter, developed together with the now defunct Incognito Entertainment. The title was incredibly addictive, and showed just what was possible for a downloadable PSN game.
It wasn’t until November 2009 when PS3 users finally got a taste of God of War, in the form of the God of War Collection. The port was handled by Bluepoint Games, but reminded gamers of just how good Santa Monica’s PS2 GOW titles really were. The series culminated in the epic God of War III earlier this year, which blew gamers away with its graphics, combat, and sense of scale. We have no idea what their next PS3 project is, but whether it’s God of War related or not, we have no doubt that it will be incredible.
SCE Studio Liverpool – United Kingdom
Psygnosis was founded in 1984, and before Sony’s acquisition of the company, was most famous for publishing games such as Shadow of the Beast and Lemmings for the Commodore Amiga. The developer was purchased by Sony in 1993 (although its name didn’t change until 1999), in order to create games for the launch of the PlayStation. Psygnosis developed and published a number of titles in this period, including Colony Wars, G-Police, and WipEout.
Since then, Studio Liverpool has developed a total of eight full games in the WipEout series, across all four PlayStation consoles. The last of which, WipEout HD, was released on the PlayStation Network in September 2008, and was praised for its great sense of speed, incredible 1080p graphics, and fantastic sound effects. Similarly awesome was July 2009’s expansion, WipEout HD Fury, which showed other developers exactly how to do DLC well. It’s been over two years since WipEout HD, so let’s hope the next game in the series is on the way.
Sega – Japan
Sega is another of the biggest publishers and developers in the world today, and is also one of the oldest, with a seventy year history. Since the sad discontinuation of the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, the company has focused solely on software rather than hardware development, and in the last few years its many in-house development teams have released a number of games for the PlayStation 3, including Valkyria Chronicles and Yakuza 3, both of which are exclusive to the console.
Back in 2008, Sega Wow’s tactical role-playing game, Valkyria Chronicles, received near universal acclaim from critics, and the series has gained an ever-growing legion of loyal fans. Anyone who plays it immediately falls in love with the beautiful anime-style visuals and hybrid turn-based-strategy/third-person-shooter combat. The title has spawned two PSP sequels (the second of which releases in Japan in January), but we sincerely hope the series comes back to the PS3.
Sega’s CS1 Team (formerly Amusement Vision) has brought their PS2 series, Yakuza, (known as Ryū ga Gotoku in Japan) to the PS3 in the form of Yakuza 3. The series has been described as the ‘Japanese GTA’ by critics, and it’s not hard to see why. The revenge-filled story, arcade-style combat, and addictive minigames make for one of the most fun (not to mention surreal) experiences on PS3, and we look forward to the eventual release of Yakuza 4 (which has been out in Japan for months) next year, and the zombie-themed Yakuza: Of the End some time after that.
Silicon Studio – Japan
Silicon Studio was established in Japan in 2000, and strangely is not particularly famous for developing games, but rather creating the technology other developers use to develop games. However, that all changed with the retro-styled 3D Dot Games Heroes, which was released in Japan in November 2009, and North America and Europe in May 2010, exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
Having a game’s art style made up of nothing but coloured cubes is certainly a strange idea for a PS3 game (which perhaps explains its three different publishers for Japan, North America, and Europe), but if you ask us it was also genius. The title is a complete love letter to the Legend of Zelda and other 8-bit action-adventure games, but thankfully it’s an homage done right. The combat, puzzle, and role-playing elements came together to make one of the most addictive games of the year, and we look forward to seeing what this developer does next.
Slightly Mad Studios – United Kingdom
The London-based Slightly Mad Studios is almost definitely the youngest developer on this list, as it was only founded two years ago, in 2008. That’s not to say the team lacks experience; far from it in fact, as collectively the staff members have worked on over one hundred and fifty titles. So far, their only release in this new guise has been last year’s Need for Speed: Shift, but this game alone is enough reason to include Slightly Mad as one of our favourite developers.
Need for Speed is yet another franchise that seems to have lost its way over the last few iterations, but Shift’s focus on simulation-based racing proved to be a successful reboot of the series, due to its addictive gameplay, brilliant single player campaign, and great online multiplayer. We’re also very excited about Need for Speed: Shift 2, even if it is currently scheduled for release so soon after Criterion’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.
Sonic Team (part of Sega) – Japan
No prizes for guessing which series is developed by Sega’s Sonic Team. Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most recognisable characters in gaming, and the series’ original Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive titles are rightly regarded as 2D platforming classics (and are available on the PlayStation 3 as part of the awesome Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection/Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection). However, it’s fair to say that the franchise has lost its way in the last decade or so, particularly with the current console generation.
And that’s why we’re so excited about Sonic the Hedgehog 4, the first episode of which releases this week on the PSN. It’s no coincidence that this is the first numbered Sonic game since 1994’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (although the story is actually set just after Sonic and Knuckles). These new episodic games are being treated as a return to the roots of the franchise, so if they can capture just a fraction of the series’ former glory we’ll be very happy indeed.
Sony Online Entertainment – United States of America
Sony Online Entertainment was founded in 1995 and its studios have a rich history of developing mostly massively multiplayer online role-playing games, notably the EverQuest series on PC. The developer is currently working on three MMORPGs for the PlayStation 3; the family-friendly Free Realms (released for PC back in April 2009), the superhero epic DC Universe Online, and first-person-shooter The Agency.
All of these games were announced what feels like ages ago, but we’re sure they’ll be worth the wait when they eventually surface. After seeing the awesome DC Universe Online trailer that was shown at Comic-Con a couple of months ago, we’re very excited about this game, so it’s disappointing that it’s been delayed until 2011. To be honest, if just one of these three games could get an official release date we’d be all set!
Splash Damage – United Kingdom
Splash Damage is an independent British developer that was founded in 2001. The studio is most famous for developing PC games such as the acclaimed Enemy Territory series (although the team is not responsible for the disappointing PS3 port of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars) as well as Doom 3’s online multiplayer component. The developer’s first release for the PlayStation 3 will be the first-person-shooter, Brink, which in a word looks awesome.
Along with id’s Rage, Brink has the potential to revolutionise the FPS genre, due to its striking art style, ridiculously deep character customisation, the S.M.A.R.T. (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) free-running system, and a seamless blend between single player gameplay and online multiplayer. The title is expected to be released in spring 2011, and we should all be very excited.
Square Enix – Japan
Square Enix was established in 2003, after the merger of Square and Enix, and has developed and published a number of franchises on PlayStation consoles, including Final Fantasy, Front Mission, and Kingdom Hearts. Despite publishing many titles for the PlayStation 3 (thanks in part to the company’s acquisition of Eidos in 2009), Square Enix has to-date only developed one game for the console; but what a game it is.
The PS3 version of Final Fantasy XIII showed just what was possible from a third-party developer with a team that knows what they’re doing with the hardware, and for our money is one of the best games on the console. With over sixty hours of gameplay, not to mention beautiful visuals and incredible cutscenes, it’s no surprise that FFXIII took over four years to make. As you’d expect, we’re very much looking forward to Final Fantasy XIV’s arrival on PS3 next March, Final Fantasy Versus XIII some time after, and whatever Square Enix does beyond that.
Only two weeks 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.