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Underrated: the unsung heroes of a console generation

on 1 May 2013

In the gaming world, there is a lot of talk from gamers about game studios being “overrated.” Fans and haters of different critically acclaimed studios battle it out on forums all across the internet in a never ending flame war over which studio is overrated or why another studio isn't.

What about the other guys though? The game developers that bring us great titles, but don't necessarily get the appreciation or attention they deserve. There are some that bring up how underrated a developer may be, but for every one of those, there are thousands of gamers saying a developer is overrated. Well, in these “Underrated: “ articles, we are going to take the time to name developers that could be considered underrated and tell you why they deserve your time.

LightBox Interactive (Starhawk)

LightBox Interactive was founded by former team members of Incognito Entertainment in 2009. Taking what they learned from their past successes at their old studio with Warhawk, LightBox Interactive began working on Starhawk. Released exclusively on PlayStation 3 in 2012, Starhawk provided gamers with stronger competitive multiplayer than Warhawk, plus a single player campaign.

The single player campaign has its issues, as it essentially serves as a tutorial for the multiplayer. Lasting only a few hours at most, there is much left to be desired in terms of single player campaigns. Though, if you look at the single player campaign purely as a tutorial for the multiplayer and not as narrative, it is quite effective. Many multiplayer only games suffer because they do not effectively teach their player base the game mechanics and, because of this, the multiplayer falls into chaos. Starhawk informs its player base of all the basics of its multiplayer through this short optional campaign, and you really feel the impact this makes on gamer’s ability to know what’s going on when playing online.

If you do however look at the single player campaign as a narrative, LightBox Interactive still delivered with an absolutely stellar multiplayer component and the multiplayer more than makes up for the lackluster story mode. Starhawk could be considered to have the greatest aerial combat in a multiplayer game this generation with mid-air mecha transformation and barrel rolls galore. If you have never played Starhawk and you thought you knew what it meant to have a “truly epic dogfight” in a video game, think again! No, actually pick up a controller and play Starhawk.

Amazing dogfights aside, LightBox charted some new territory in multiplayer shooter games with Starhawk. The addition of base building added a new level of strategy that had yet to be seen. Not only could you build your own bases, (walls, turrets, and all) which drop down from space, but you could also use them as weapons to crush your opponents.

LightBox Interactive met with some success with Starhawk. Reviews were mostly positive, and we here at PSU gave it a well-deserved 8.5 out of 10. Despite its moderate success among critics, and interesting new game mechanics, Starhawk met with disappointingly low sales figures. LightBox Interactive still fly's (pun intended) below the radar for the average gamer, and it shouldn't.

Next week, we will talk about another developer that we believe is considered underrated.  Do you think this studio could be considered underrated? What studios do you think are underrated? Let us know in the comments section below and most of all, be sure to come back for next weeks installment.