The best games on PlayStation 3
How do you choose a highlight list of games for a console that’s been going strong for nine years and counting? It’s a toughie, but Team VG247 steps up to the plate.
Many of the games on this list are also available on other platforms, but what we’ve tried to do is curate a selection which, if catapulted into space, would give extraterrestrials a pretty good idea of what gaming on the PlayStation 3 is about.
If you had a PS3, an uncapped credit card and the entire back catalogue of the generation to look through, this is what we’d suggest you’d pop in your shopping cart. In alphabetical order:
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed is one of the most important properties of the PS3 generation, and it’s worthwhile checking out all six games unavailable on PS4 – Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.
Choosing just one isn’t hard, though; Brotherhood is the best of the bunch. Where Assassin’s Creed was an experiment an Assassin’s Creed 2 a refinement, Brotherhood is where Ubisoft really nailed it. The very next entry kicked off a feature glut problem that persists to this day, Assassin’s Creed 3 missed multiple marks, and Rogue is all about sailing.
No, Brotherhood is where it’s at for stabbing, sneaking and assembling a crack troop of assassins to help you do your dirty work. Rome is a pleasure to explore and renovate, the multiplayer was surprisingly good fun, and even the connected features – sadly now retired – were modest and value-adding instead of – well, you know.
Batman: Arkham City
Oh, this one was contentious. There are four Arkham games now, and opinions are very clearly divided on which of the three on last-gen consoles is the best. Although each has their champions, the final debate came down to Origins versus City, with the more traditionally open-world freedom of City winning out over Rocksteady’s more tightly focused Arkham debut.
For anybody unfamiliar with Batman: Arkham City, it has a pretty impressive feature list: brutal Bat-combat, fluid Bat-navigation, a plethora of Bat-activities, very puzzling (non-Bat) Riddler challenges, far too little Catwoman, and much more. It’s like Asylum, but bigger and with the dials turned up.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield is such a massive multiplatform property that it’s easy to forget there was a time it was PC only. After acquiring developer and franchise, EA took its time bringing the core series to console, and the Bad Company series was something of an experiment in marring DICE’s simulation tendencies with the more cinematic and accessible expectations of the console market.
Although Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 have both embraced consoles, its the similarly multiplatform Bad Company 2 that has so far proved most successful in providing an experience beloved by both Master Race and Console Commando fans. The first Bad Company made waves as a multiplayer squad shooter just as the genre was blowing up, but Bad Company 2 made so many improvements on the formula that it carved out a significant slice of attention in the wake of Modern Warfare 2. That’s a hell of a recommendation.
Bayonetta came about because Platinum Games really wanted to see Hideki Kamiya make another game in the genre he invented with Devil May Cry, usually called stylish action. The result is demanding, combo-based combat that requires perfect timing and a degree of both finesse and panache to capture those elusive S ratings.
The world of Bayonetta is strange and beautiful, populated by witches, demons and angels. The ludicrous set-pieces would be laughable in any other setting, but in the increasingly over the top context it all seems fittingly dramatic. The way Bayonetta stalks in her high heels across platforms formed by exploding masonry, never pausing as she shifts into acrobatic flips and contortionist poses, or denudes herself of her hair to summon enormous beasts and instruments of torture, is something to behold indeed.
Each of the three games in this series excellent in and of itself, but there’s no debate which is the best. The original BioShock captured imaginations with its gloriously realised underwater city, and satisfied a need for creative shooter combat that we had almost convinced ourselves we no longer had.
It’s the sting in the story’s tail that has gone down in history, although a footnote will be devoted to a sudden passion for the works of Ayn Rand among aspiring intellectual gamers. The statute of limitations on spoilers has probably lifted, but on the off chance that you have not had your mind lovingly blown by Ken Levine, we’ll leave you that joy. And that mental image.
The last racer from Bizarre Creations, taking the terrific chops behind the Xbox exclusive Project Gotham Racing series multi-platform. What a high note to farewell a genre on, though.
Blur sold very badly, possibly due to genre saturation and late-generation disinterest in new IP. It lacked much of the customisation and compulsive collecting that drives interest in many modern racers, which didn’t help – but the actual racing action, and especially the multiplayer, were an absolute blast. Sometimes you have to ask yourself: am I in this for the game play, or the gamification or my unpaid labour?
Honourable mentions: Name-dropped later on with Burnout Paradise, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Split/Second are also terrific arcade-style racers.
Oh how our resident Borderlands fan struggled with making the call on this one. On the one hand, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a sheer joy to play, with genuinely interesting new mechanics, vastly improved character-centric storytelling, and a much more cohesive, colourful world. On the other, Borderlands 2 is the one everyone actually plays.
And it is great! The basic Borderlands formula is an absolute winner. Four player co-op is a good time. The various classes allow for dozens of differing builds which only get more interesting in combination with your buddies. The random loot system throws up some amazing twists that will have you re-purposing your character on the regular, exploring new tactics and approaches. The Badass system makes multiple playthroughs more and more rewarding. It’s a great game, alone or with others, and a wonderful introduction to shooters or RPGs, depending on which side of the divide you’re coming from.
Can you believe there hasn’t been a proper Burnout game since 2008? And Burnout Paradise was so good – and well ahead of its time with open-world gameplay, on the fly multiplayer, troll-friendly Mugshots feature, persistent player identities and much more.
And of course there was that solid gold Burnout heart: high-adrenaline racing and spectacular crashes. EA put Criterion to work on the Need for Speed series after Paradise, probably because it felt it only needed one racing property in its catalogue. It was probably right to do so, but we can’t help but wish it had picked the other IP.
Honourable mentions: Already name-dropped in the Blur entry, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is another excellent Criterion racer. Black Rock’s Split/Second is also brilliant.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
If you had to pick just one title to represent a series that dominated a generation, it would have to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Released just as the multiplayer shooter was blowing up, it was the game that established Call of Duty as the juggernaut it is today, breaking entertainment launch records and setting us up for the series’ regular 30 million annual sales.
Since then, every Call of Duty has been the multiplayer event of the year, and has come to represent the modern shooter. More recent entries have remained high quality but haven’t quite captured our hearts the way Modern Warfare 2 did; the bombastic and spectacular nonsense of the campaign; the not-yet-overloaded multiplayer suite; the classically tight Infinity Ward action.
Honourable Mention: Treyarch’s first Black Ops is a close second.
The gross promotional art for Catherine belies a game that is much smarter and on-point than you might have expected. A puzzle game with no real comparatives – although the tense atmosphere puts us in mind of Kurushi – it’s easy to learn but soon presents a daunting difficulty curve that will nag and nag at score attacks fans hoping for perfect performances.
Despite the quality of the puzzle gameplay, which takes place inside protagonist Vincent’s dreams, it’s the wrapper that intrigues. A sort of life or dating sim, with players using Vincent’s mobile phone as a primary means of interaction, it tells the story of a character who should be familiar – and perhaps relatable – to all of us: a young man who can’t quite seem to “grow up”, where growing up means commitment and responsibility.
Oh, there’s nothing quite like Demon’s Souls. Dark Souls and Bloodborne are excellent successors, and perhaps improve on the formula in many ways, but Demon’s Souls is the only PS3 exclusive in the family and has several traits all of its own – as well as originating the messaging, invasion and ghosts systems the franchise is now famous for.
Demon’s Souls feels quite different to its successors thanks to its hub world lay out and the mysterious character and world tendency systems. You will feel at home – and yet it never does to get too comfortable, of course.
None of the three Dead Space games are bad; you’ll have a pretty decent scary space romp whichever you pick up. That said, the original is definitely the most unique of the three, having less in common with other games, so it’s our pick for the must-have of the series.
Dead Space has so much going for it. Its alien necromorph enemies are terrifying, and its creative combat – involving improvised weapons and dismemberment – manages to be satisfying while never tipping over into atmosphere-breaking badassitude. The tense zero gravity and vacuum sections play on more mundane human fears. The stripped back, embedded display – as opposed to an HUD – is a delightful little touch. Accompany Isaac into the abyss; we’re not saying you won’t regret it, though.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
A respectful and thoughtful attempt to follow on from one of the most lauded games of all time, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is remarkably successful. It must be said that the The Director’s Cut edition is the only way to go, as it addresses many of the oversights of the original.
There’s little to say about why Human Revolution shines that couldn’t also be applied to the original Deus Ex, which is testament to its achievements. Flexible character builds demanding hard choices and rewarding skilful execution. A well-crafted future setting which highlights and expands on present day conundrums and trends. Systemic sandbox combat and infiltration allowing for amazing emergent situations. Ideal.
Dishonored follows in the footsteps of Looking Glass, Ion Storm and other members of the great systemic first-person adventure movements of the late 90’s, which also gave us BioShock. The unique core mechanic is an instant teleport which is interesting enough to make a game on its own, but combined with a toolbox of lethal and non-lethal powers it offers a near infinite set of possibilities – as evidenced by the continued discovery of new speedruns and techniques, nearly three years after launch.
Arkane’s thoughtfully constructed “whalepunk” world is as dark as it is beautiful, making exploration as much a pleasure as finding new and exciting ways to challenge yourself completing its many tightly-designed missions.
Dragon Age: Origins
We put Inquisition on the PS4 list, so we thought we’d choose another Dragon Age game to fill the last-generation slot. Of the two older games Dragon Age: Origins is the superior; its slightly daunting old-school RPG stylings are worth swallowing to avoid the flaws consequent to Dragon Age 2’s hasty development.
Origins offers players multiple playable prologues, dependent on their race and class, and seeds the many hour journey through its dramatic narrative with dozens of consequential choices. Like its successors it rewards multiple playthroughs to expose its admirable variation, and with any luck you’ll want to come back anyway, turning up the difficulty and experimenting with its unequalled combat micromanagement.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Can you believe Skyrim came out in 2011? That’s years ago, and yet it’s something we return to again and again, as if it only came out yesterday. With this latest entry in The Elder Scrolls series Bethesda has stripped out a number of systems, making it easy as pie to get into. This only serves to highlight the core strengths of the series, though – huge, fascinating open worlds and freeform experiences.
We had to choose between Skyrim and Oblivion, which was difficult; Oblivion cops a lot of flack, but much of it boils down to not being Morrowind, its sainted precursor. That said, Skyrim is still the superior product, drawing on lessons learned and recreating some of Oblivion’s finest ideas – as well as introducing new ones.
Oh, we had quite the argument about this one, behind the scenes. There seems to be a real split between those who liked Fallout 3 and can take or leave Fallout: New Vegas, and those in the opposite camp. In the end, Bethesda’s own effort won out, mainly because “New Vegas is great until you actually get to New Vegas”, whereas Fallout 3 maintains a solid interest curve throughout its main quest progression.
Really though, it’s hard to argue with either of them. Marrying the free-roaming first person formula of The Elder Scrolls with Interplay’s post-apocalyptic setting is a dream come true, allowing for tremendous adventures. The time-pausing VATS system is a lovely nod to Fallout’s turn-based combat, and it’s definitely a game where you feel the impact of RPG statistics.
Far Cry 3
Another huge debate broke out for this one, because Far Cry 2 is a genuine classic. But a lot of what we loved about Far Cry 2 – the sandbox combat and infiltration, the animals, the systemic combinations of the two – carried over to Far Cry 3, and the parts we didn’t – respawning checkpoints, respawning checkpoints and respawning checkpoints – did not.
Far Cry 3 is one of a number of games from the Ubisoft school of open world design, packed with activities and collectibles which are more excessive than anybody on a schedule really needs. But roaming the islands to make your own fun never gets old, and the main campaign – a consciously bonkers affair which didn’t quite nail its attempts at satire – is highly compelling, largely thanks to a charismatic villain.
It’s FIFA. It’s the latest and best FIFA on the PlayStation 3. If you have a PlayStation 3 and you want to play FIFA, you should get this. Don’t get PES. PES is all very well and good. But it’s not FIFA. FIFA is FIFA.
I am quite tempted just to copy past the word FIFA a few hundred times to end this entry, but on the off chance some of you don’t know about FIFA, it’s a very full-featured football (soccer) sim with a lively and highly competitive multiplayer community in addition to long-lasting single-player modes. The lure of the fantasy football-like Ultimate Team mode should not be under-estimated; it eats lives.
Not thatgamecompany’s first game nor its best one, but the one that cemented the fledgling indie’s reputation during its incubation at Sony Santa Monica. Flower is a somewhat meditative and very definitely beautiful experience which delights the eye and mind alike.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not play as a flower in Flower. You play as the wind whipping through the fields, your intangible presence ever more visible thanks to a growing collection of petals. It’s not all pretty grasslands, either; progressing through each environmental puzzle pushes you further along an understated narrative journey through some very dark places indeed.
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
When this name was read out in the halls of Casa de VG247 Matt made a reverent sound. “Oh, yeah,” he said, in hushed tones. And that was that: the EIC had spoken.
You can barely move for near-future shooters nowadays, but Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is one of the few to put a really satisfying tactical spin on the formula rather than just throwing robots at you and checking out for the day. Commanding a squad of Ghosts through an admirably varied range of mission objectives is super badass. The original was also excellent, but the sequel made good use of the then-new PlayStation 3 tech and streamlined AI control wonderfully.
Honourable mentions:If you want more Tom Clancy action check out Rainbow Six: Vegas, although it never established as fervent a player base on PlayStation as Xbox.
God of War 3
God of War kicked off on the PS2, and it shows. Series fans still swear by Kratos’s hyper-violent adventures, but the intervening years have brought us so many variations of cinematic, combat-driven 3D action adventure that it’s easy to overlook one of the earliest and best names in this particular game.
If you’re happy to park those preconceptions, though, God of War still delivers the goods. It’s big, stupid, spectacular action, with delightful boss fights and fluid action. God of War: Ascension is the most recent one but we’ve not chosen God of War 3 out of forgetfulness; the prequel was an unanticipated addition to a series which had reached a natural ending.
Yes, here’s GTA 5, again: a game so stand-out that it’s one of the few we feel comfortable calling it a standout across multiple generations of hardware.
Is it really okay to put GTA 5 on every single best-of platform list? Well, look at it this way, it didn’t come out on 3DS, Vita, Wii U or mobile, so that’s several lists it won’t be on. You can assume we’ll stick it everywhere else.
Gran Turismo 6
Oh! Did you know? Sony has a first-party racer. There was a time when it was the most realistic and also most beautiful racer series that has ever been. It generally wins back this title from competitors for about six months before losing it again, because Gran Turismo games release at a dignified pace. Usually we know one’s coming because Polyphony staff are spotted wandering around race tracks around the world, taking pictures of tyre stacks from 17 different angles and cheerfully discussing their activities while Sony PR staff blot their tears with crumpled reveal startegy plans and NDAs.
Of all the Gran Turismo games there are, Gran Turismo 6 this is the best one. Play it a lot and you could become a professional race driver in the real world. This is an actual thing that has happened, multiple times, because it’s just that good. We’re not kidding.
Honourable mentions: In the more serious, less arcade-y racing realm, DiRT is a definite contender.
One of the small pleasures of being a native English speaker working in games media is meeting with any of the native French speakers of Quantic Dream and getting them to say “Heavy Rain”. It’s delicious. It makes you feel younger, tinglier, more alive.
Also, as games that “hardcore gamers” consistently rage out about, this one’s a beauty. Multiple protagonists, a branching storyline, a twist ending just incredulous enough to be credited with several apoplexies, and enough weird and confronting content to fill in your David Cage fan checklist. Who cares if it’s mostly quick time events; you’re here for the unfolding serial killer story.
Honourable mentions: Quantic Dream’s next effort, Beyond: Two Souls, is significantly better-looking so check that out if last-gen graphics impress you. Otherwise you can skip it; it’s a bit of a mess.
Ico and the Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Yes, this is a pair of PS2 remasters but of every HD re-release coughed up by Sony so far this is the best one. Heck, we wouldn’t necessarily say no if it turned up again for PS4. Both of these games are absolute treasures which everyone should own, and the remastered versions are a little easier on the eyes than the PS2 originals – plus you can use a wireless controller, which is not to be sneezed at.
You can pick these two games up at retail in a double pack but they’re available individually on the PlayStation Store. Go for Shadow of the Colossus; it’s less clunky than the older ICO, and there’s nothing else like it anywhere.
Sony was so pleased with this PlayStation-exclusive property that it eventually brought Sucker Punch in-house as a first-party studio. InFamous doesn’t get enough credit; as open world action games go it’s a winner, focusing on a flexible combat sandbox rather than a sweeping narrative arc, and set in cities just the right size for its pedestrian traversal systems in the absence of cars.
The conceit of the property is moral choices, and a binary powers system tied to these choices – not unique but a lot of fun for all that. Infamous 2 is a lot better than the first one, although the story’s not as pleasing.
Honourable mentions: Stand alone expansion Festival of Blood is also pretty decent, but not essential. Prototype was held up as a sort of rival to InFamous and has many fans.
Deservedly one of the most celebrated games of the last generation, Journey is a masterpiece. A simple and not especially long game of exploration and puzzle solving, it leverages a gorgeous, stripped-back aesthetic and simply wonderful music to tell a simple story that is nevertheless very touching.
There are a couple of things that can make Journey extra special. One is the drop-in, drop-out anonymous multiplayer, in which players are connected with random strangers and may journey together – or not! – at their discretion. The other is the “chirp” button – apart from jumping and running, chirping is the player’s only method of interaction with the game world; it becomes a method of communication with co-op partners, of play and of celebration when the feelings that game invokes are too much to contain.
The Last of Us
Naughty Dog repeatedly proved itself the master of the famously difficult PlayStation 3, wringing ever more performance and beauty from its bizarre architecture. But The Last of Us isn’t just one of the most impressive technical feats on the console – it’s one of its best games.
To call The Last of Us a stealth-heavy third-person adventure with survival elements is to fail to highlight the game’s enormous strength: protagonists Joel and Ellie. Naughty Dog’s superb writing and animation teams outdid themselves creating a pair of believable and more importantly loveable characters, so that the player is drawn along not by the excitement of the set-pieces but the pleasure of their company and concern for their wellbeing. The high-tension setting and plot are just the excuse.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is more than just a whimsically cute platformer; it’s a surprisingly powerful game creation tool which has given rise to everything from pinball machines to real time strategy campaigns.
Whether you enjoy fiddling around with the editor or just pushing through the many and varied puzzle platforming challenges in your quest to collect ’em all, you’ll never encounter a movement that isn’t super slick and deeply charming though this whole franchise. LittleBigPlanet 2, the last to be developed by Media Molecule, is the best of the lot, but it’s worth noting that most content is cross-title as well as cross-platform, so the whole series is worth checking out once you’ve been hooked.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect is simply terrific. It takes some time to get a handle on its unusual gunplay, and the mechanical RPG side of things has been toned down much more than is usual for BioWare, but all the rest of the studio’s trademarks – fascinating characters, impactful role-playing and compelling romance (!!) is present and accounted for. Plus: you’re in space. Everyone loves space.
Mass Effect 2 is our pick of the series if you have to have just one; the original is still experimental enough to be something of a chore (those inventory screens!) and the third game falls on its arse a bit narratively. Mass Effect 2 has a great team of characters and a pretty great series of escalating crises to encounter, and manages to feel satisfyingly whole despite its difficult position as middle child.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
A PlayStation 3 exclusive, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was perhaps the most technically impressive game ever made at the time of its release, which helped us forgive some of its more unfortunate early-gen foibles (astoundingly long mandatory installs, dreadful P2P multiplayer client downloads).
This is not the first Metal Gear Solid game you should play. It is, in many ways, a perfect example of the spirit of the series, in that it’s completely bonkers while still packing in fascinating, unique highly-polished gameplay – but it’s a poor introduction. Come back to it when you’ve already been bitten by the Snake for best results, and you may join the crowd who hail it as a masterpiece. Dat microwave corridor.
Not a perfect game, no – and not even a universally appealing one. We have no qualms in recommending it, though: Mirror’s Edge is unique, and very special.
A first-person parkour game with very little combat, Mirror’s Edge is the kind of game built for speed-running. The creativity of its players means new routes and techniques are forever popping up on YouTube, shaving precious microseconds off records. But even if you’re not into that kind of score-attack competitiveness, it’s worth mastering the unusual gameplay just for the sheer pleasure of a skilled run.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
A delightfully old school affair; the cutesy visuals belie its depth. Combining the compulsive collection antics of Pokémon with the tactical combat of more traditional JRPGs, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best the genre has to offer.
The world and story of Ni No Kuni is deeply affective; you will probably have feelings as our troubled young hero battles through a fantasy world in his escape from an all-too-realistic scenario.
The original Portal is a classic and everyone should play it. As soon as you’ve finished, though, crack right on with the sequel, which further explores the compelling world of Aperture Science.
Although the puzzles of Portal 2 are perhaps a little too streamlined for the elite, they’re nevertheless more satisfying to execute, and the pleasure of utilising Aperture’s various sci-fi gadgets should not be under-stated. It may be Chell and GLaDOS’s story that draws you in, but make sure you try the co-op mode, too – without voice comms, if possible, more maximum hilarity.
Choosing between the two Rayman games – Origins and Legends – is a mug’s game, and we’ve very arbitrarily gone with Rayman: Origins for our PlayStation 3 list because it is not available on the PS4.
Both games are ridiculous joyful, mechanically challenging, endlessly creative and beautifully fluid platformers. The gorgeous cartoon style never grates or gets cheesy, and the warm-hearted fun never feels childish. Great fun alone, better with friends.
Red Dead Redemption
Simply one of the best open-world games of all time, Red Dead Redemption is a masterpiece with a string of awards to its name. Despite a troubled development history, the free-roaming adventure retains all the best qualities of a Rockstar title but offers a great deal more than just “Grand Theft Equus”.
Red Dead Redemption has great action and a cracking story – the bold and strangely-paced final missions and epilogue are especially memorable – but perhaps its greatest strength is the compelling American west experience it presents. Riding the desert as the sun sets, stumbling across strange little landmarks and watching the wildlife stir, is one of great adventures the generation offers. Unmissable.
Rock Band 3
Ah, rhythm action music games: a genre forever tarnished by release spam and money-grubbing tactics. This is a great shame, because very few local multiplayer experiences ever felt as good as nailing one of your favourite songs with a group of friends.
We’ve picked Rock Band over Guitar Hero because Harmonix worked hard to keep content flowing without beggaring its fans; because it was the first to go for the full band experience; and because it was more interested in letting you craft your own story than in packing in celebrity appearances. Rock band 3 is the pinnacle of the series, although you shouldn’t bother tracking down the Pro controllers and Keytar, hey.
Honourable mention: Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock is probably the high point of the rival rhythm action series.
Saints Row: The Third
Not unproblematic and rather too in love with being edgy, Saints Row: The Third is nevertheless excellent. Often copping an unfair rap as a GTA clone, Saints Row has a unique approach to modern day open world gaming, and an irreverent flavour that presented a refreshing break from the grim, po-faced narrative of GTA 4, which otherwise dominated the genre for most of the generation.
Saints Row 4 is also pretty good, but also completely and utterly bonkers and somewhat reliant on your investment in the property if you’re to fully appreciate it. Saints Row: The Third is much more self-contained. Highlights: the way it adapts without a blink to any permutation of the inclusive customisation options; the incredible race to the final mission to the strains of Bonnie Tyler’s I Need A Hero; co-op play.
Honourable mention: Sleeping Dogs is another excellent open-world title with a charm of its own.
After the glory years of the PS2 era skating games absolutely fell over and died, helped along by Activision’s sequel-happy approach to Tony Hawk, which eventually included a plastic peripheral, of all things. But before it rolled over with its legs in the air, the genre gave us Skate 2. And what a treasure it is.
The best of a three game series (although there’s not much to choose between them), Skate 2 is feature rich and very meaty; even just tooling around in free mode can keep you occupied for hours at a time. The series is, of course known for its hilarious bugs, but that is genuinely part of the charm and not as egregious as GIFsets would have you believe.
Spec Ops: The Line
We were surprised to see Spec Ops resurrected after ten years of silence, but nowhere near as surprised as we were when we got our hands on Yager’s masterpiece. Here was a game doing that which military shooters usually claim to aspire too, while failing miserably: telling a nuances and emotive story about, yes, the horrors of war.
It’s a narrative-driven experience you absolutely must sit down and play end-to-end as soon as possible. Forget about the rubbish multiplayer; Yager hates it and so does everyone else.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The last generation felt unpleasantly light on stealth games, perhaps because so many of them were stealth-optional rather than purely focused. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is, happily, still all about silent and deadly. Oh, you can go in guns blazing if you like (or have to), but the post-mission ratings and rewards – as well as general design approach – make it clear that there is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to go about these things.
The Splinter Cell series has definitely had its ups and down and old school fans are still a little disgruntled by the consessions Blacklist makes to modern gaming, but for the rest of us it’s the best the series has to offer on the PlayStation 3.
Rebooting a franchise as treasured as Tomb Raider is difficult enough, but doing it again (this was at least the third go) is even harder. Not everything Crystal Dynamics packed in succeeded – the rest of the cast are pretty clearly included to justify the supremely unnecessary multiplayer, for example – and your mileage may vary on Lara’s frequent horrific injuries. But otherwise: yes.
The open world is gorgeous and unlocks in an almost Castlevania-like sequence to reveal delightful secrets to true explorers. The environments and set-pieces are remarkably varied. The crafting upgrade system supports a sandboxy and compelling combat suite. The tombs are suitably awe-inspiring, and although none of the puzzles quite have that old school beat-yourself-in-the-head-with-the-controller difficulty, they’re not the rubbishy pull-lever-get-prize nonsense many other games offer. Best of all, Lara Croft is a gosh darned hero, almost certainly madly in love with her best friend, and by the end of the game a certified badass.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Ask anybody what the best fighter on PlayStation 3 was and they’ll probably say Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 4. Nah; you can play those on anything, can’t you, because there’s always another one along. Whereas Marvel vs Capcom games are rare occurrences to be appreciated for the treasures they are – and quickly, before the licenses lapse.
Thanks to its highly recognisable characters, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is as good a button-mashing party game as it is a highly-technical tournament fighter. What other games let you pair up Phoenix Wright and Deadpool against Frank West and Strider Hiryu?
Honourable mention: There were so many good fighters during the PS3 era that fans have loads to choose from. We recommend the unnumbered Mortal Kombat reboot and Street Fighter 4. For traditional 2D fighting, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is marvellous. In the indie realm, Skullgirls is excellent and Divekick offers an unusual, stripped down versus experience.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune showed off Naughty Dog’s cinematic action potential. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was a tumbling action epic on the blockbuster scale. But Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – ah! What a gem. This was the game where Naughty Dog made the PlayStation 3 hardware sing, with its glorious rooftops stretching to the horizon and glistening ice caves.
The game itself is rad; tighter shooting action and better set-pieces than the first, and a terrific romping story complete with (fully empowered) femme fatale, double crossing, a heist and even an honest to goodness train wreck. The multiplayer wasn’t bad, either.
The Unfinished Swan
An exploration of first-person shooting without all the helicopters and shouting Americans, The Unfinished Swan is a visually unique adventure in which players use paint to reveal the hidden environments around them, solving puzzles and piecing together an understated narrative as they do so.
Deservingly celebrated, The Unfinished Swan is one of the products of Sony’s indie incubation scheme. Developer Giant Sparrow is yet to reveal its sophomore project, and can you blame it? What an act to follow.
Valkyria Chronicles was too beautiful to live, an honest-to-goodness JSRPG – Japanese strategy RPG, that is – set in an alternate universe World War II, its delicate cel-shaded anime beauty hinted at its terrific heart.
By ditching grid-based maps, Valkyria Chronicles opens a wealth of tactical options. Despite its intense strategic focus it’s a very active style of game, and a few AI issues aside, it only keeps giving as you push yourself into its escalating challenges. Nobody bought it, unfortunately. Two sequels were released – on PSP.
Last generation we had to endure a tiresome movement from major Japanese publishers to make games that appeal to western gamers. Since marketing departments are usually the source of these ideas we ended up with some pretty rough releases (I’m looking at you, Resident Evil). Vanquish was not one of these.
Vanquish is a Platinum Games action game which passes itself off as a shooter – but it’s really all about movement. Fast-paced, challenging, in-your-face, constant movement. A generation of western shooter fans may struggle to adapt; you certainly won’t be wandering through levels as AI does all the work for you here. Perhaps one of the best shooters ever.
The Walking Dead
Telltale seized on some terrific opportunities with The Walking Dead – the enormous TV audience, the proliferation of tablets – to take its user-friendly episodic adventure mainstream. But to say that is to ignore the wonderful writing the developer brought to the table. It’s all very well to make Mr and Mrs Bloggs of Blogg Street, Blogsville enjoy your fancy interactive entertainment product; it’s quite another to have hardened gamers sobbing quietly over the fate of a small band of harried survivors.
Both seasons of The Walking Dead are excellent, and are pefectly playable as standalone games. For the full experience, though, you’ll want to run through the whole thing in order.
The last home console Wipeout release was a triumph. Although Wipeout HD does recycle content from older releases it’s not just an HD overhaul for the furturistic racer; it containes plenty of new material worth any fan’s while. For everyone else it’s an excellent place to jump on.
Wipeout doesn’t have the weight it did in the mid-1990’s, when its electronica soundtrack and neon visuals embodied a zeitgeist (an early prototype turned up in Hackers, which tells you everything you need to know). But even without that context, or nostalgia for it, the original and best hover racing game is still among the best racers you will ever play.