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Underrated: Avalanche Studios has Just Cause to demand your respect

on 18 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.

Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Renegade Ops)

Avalanche Studios started off with a real bang in the video game industry in 2006 when it released Just Cause--an explosive open-world action-adventure game. The game was received fairly well by critics and went on to sell over a million copies. The main issue that held Just Cause back was the abundance of glitches, which was attributed to a “rushed” release. Just Cause may have had its issues, but it was a brilliant introduction to Avalanche Studios for gamers. With Just Cause, Avalanche established itself as a developer that was unafraid to take chances and deliver a unique, over-the-top experience.

In addition, Just Cause's game world was approximately 390 square miles, which is quite large in scale compared to other open-world games. In fact, Grand Theft Auto IV had a map that was only about 6 square miles. Just Cause was a great starting point for the franchise and set up Just Cause 2 to be even more ridiculous. With Just Cause 2, Avalanche Studios worked to perfect the same explosive formula of the original game. Well, OK, they may not have perfected the formula, but they improved on it in just about every way. The explosions exploded bigger, the missions were crazier, and the already massive game world was even a bit larger at approximately 400 square miles.

If you have played either one of the Just Cause games, you already know the story is not one of the strong points. Narrative tends to take a backseat in games like this, with blockbuster action sequences being the central focus, but is this an issue? PSU's own Steven Williamson didn't think so, giving Just Cause 2 an 8.5 out of 10.

Both of the Just Cause games were met with a fair amount of success in terms of sales and review scores. Compared to many other developers, Avalanche Studios has done fairly well--but do they have the respect of the gaming community? Not as much as they should. Just Cause is like every 007 and action film rolled up into one bombastic package. There is no other game that encourages the player to do things like drive a speedboat ashore and up a hill, careening into an enemy helicopter before pulling your parachute, whipping out your rocket launcher, and decimating an enemy patrol boat before coming to the ground with a smooth landing.

Avalanche Studios found a way to differentiate itself from the rest of its big-name competitors. In doing so, it was able to carve out a piece of the open-world market for itself--a feat that is worthy of respect all on its own. With the next generation of gaming just around the corner, Avalanche Studios is definitely a name to follow. If you haven't played any games by Avalanche, what are you waiting for?

Check out our Just Cause 2 game gallery for news, screenshots, and more.


Next week, we will talk about another developer that we believe is considered underrated. If you missed out on last week's installment of Underrated, check it out right here. 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 be sure to come back for next week's installment!