Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.
Sports fans have their favorite teams and so do gamers. This week, we’re looking at the developers we love (and love to hate).
John “Dubya” Whitehouse
Such a hard questions to answer. There are many devs out there who deserve our respect, for one reason or another. But to pick a favorite is almost impossible.
There are those that can create such an incredible single player experience with rich stories, likeable characters and visuals that will blow you away. There are those that take the multiplayer to new heights and set the bar for future games. Then, there are those that can combine the two to create something special.
When it comes to the single player experience, few do it much better than Rockstar. You could say that all of the GTA games since GTA3 have pretty much been the same, but I found them to be highly entertaining, with a real knack for getting the humour just right. But they have also proven that they can take the whole GTA mentality and create games that shine way brighter. Take Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire, on the outside they both seem GTA clones, but scratch the surface and you will find much, much more.
Then there are devs who keep pushing the boundaries of multiplayer. Dice, Media Molecule, Bungie; they all bring something to the table. When many are content with just dishing out the same old MP experience, they try to come up with something new and refreshing.
As for a favourite? Well, I guess I would have to go with Naughty Dog. Sure, they may not have broken any ground when it comes to their most recent offerings, but they did create a franchise that has kept me enthralled over the last 4 years. With Uncharted, they made a game that was as much fun to watch as it was to play. They created characters that, while a little over the top, were interesting and easy to love. Then, with Uncharted 2, they did what every developer should do (but seldom does), take all of the best bits of the first game and improve them. They created a multiplayer experience that may not have been in the same league as CoD, but was executed really well and built up a large loyal following, something that no one thought they would pull off.
Drew “Frustrated Fury” Leachman
I have to say, I was never a BioWare fan until I played Mass Effect. Now, I will buy anything that has the BioWare logo on it. They have really became the go-to company for quality RPG’s. They’re not only amazing game developers, but amazing story tellers.
I will always go back to my boys at Capcom. I love pretty much everything they do with the exception of how they handle DLC and post-release support for their games, but man, do they make some awesome games.
I may not be in the majority, but I have always loved Grasshopper Entertainment’s games. Suda51 has some insane stuff, but it’s always been something different, and I think that’s what really matters when it comes to games. I can honestly say none of his games have been matched, even if people say they’re too crazy to match.
I have always been a big fan of Atlus. They make the quality JRPG’s nowadays. You can tell they really put their heart and soul into getting their games right as well as leaving them with the Japanese feel. The translations for the Persona and other Megaten games have always been top notch. I hate to say it, but SquareEnix has been dethroned as far as JRPG kings go.
Michael “Red Pen of Doom” Futter
When I thought about this as a kid, the answer was simple. It was Capcom all the way. Mega Man, Bionic Commando, Duck Tales and even Little Nemo: The Dream Master were games that were frequent visitors to my NES. Unfortunately, something happened along the way and Capcom seems to have lost the magic that made them great back in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras.
Today, I’m a sucker for anything that Bioware is involved in. Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of all time (edging out the original Metal Gear Solid, which I have played at least 20 times). Their brand of storytelling works for me, and the way they approach iterative refinement of their formula shows a desire to continue innovating.
Another development house that has my undying devotion is Naughty Dog. Uncharted and Uncharted 2 are amazing examples of how developers have learned to create living worlds that act on the protagonist (and thereby the player) rather than the other way around. I can’t wait to see what they have cooked up for Uncharted 3’s single player experience.
One last studio that has my attention lately is Sucker Punch. inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2 were two of the best open-world games that I have had the pleasure of playing. They represent my only two platinum trophies and I have some theories on where the series will go with the inevitable sequel.
Before I wrap up, I want to call out one studio that I avoid like the plague. When I sent this week’s question around, the joke that popped up was my unapologetic response to anything that Obsidian is involved in. I’ve never forgiven them for their shameful work on Knights of the Old Republic II. I regularly joke that Obsidian is where good franchises go to die. I look forward to the day when they get one right (even Dungeon Siege III featured broken multiplayer). Be assured, that I’m willing to give them another try if that ever happens.
That’s all for this edition of the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Join us next week as we grab onto another bucking bronco of controversy and beat it into submission.
Got questions or comments? Drop ’em in the comment section below or hit us up via email. Suggestions for Reviewer Rodeo topics that you want our opinions on? Hit Mike up at email@example.com.