I was late to the PS3 – and once I came on board I really only used the system as a Bluray player for about a year straight before I finally dove into the gaming aspects of the gaming machine. Once I did, I ended up spending more time on the PS3 than any of my other systems. I was burnt out on the 360’s ad-laden dashboards and pay-walls, so slowly, the simple elegance of the PS3 UI won me over. I found myself using the system more and more as my 360 began to collect dust. I still used my Wii, but the lack of HD Netflix content, or any media capabilities to speak of, kept it relegated to being a pure game console, something I increasingly found myself having less and less time to devote towards. Media capabilities were the Trojan horse within which Sony delivered their games into my living room.
Beyond all the video crap though, the games here were really good and like Nintendo, Sony kept supporting their platform with AAA content long after the initial excitement and sheen had worn off the machine. The 360 began to peter out and die a quiet death without any notable exclusives late in its cycle, so Sony stepped in to provide me with the big shiny distractions I slowly started to crave. I have to say, that when all is said and done, the PS3 eventually ended up being my favorite, go-to console of the 7th generation, just barely squeezing the Wii out of my top spot.
So, without any further blather -
Here are my top 10 PS3 Games:
Little Big Planet was Sony’s attempt at creating a first party mascot-based platformer, and Media Molecule hit it right out of the park for them the first time they strolled up to bat. Sack Boy has become a bit of an icon and the series lives on strongly in the hearts and minds of gamers to this day.
Filled to the brim with a wonderful sense of creativity LBP took standardized and rock solid platformer mechanics (albeit a bit floaty in the jumps!), but allowed you to use them in a giant, modifiable toy box. The sequel Little Big Planet 2 built on everything the first game did and is all around the better, more fully realized package. Both games are fantastic and fun as hell to play – and even after all these years I still feel like there are a multitude of options and game modes that I haven’t scratched the surface of in either game. Little Big Planet 1 & 2 provide you great value for the money, packed with so much content your head will spin. It is also one of the most engaging and fun games to play with your kids or friends in mutliplayer, it’s quick and easy to pick it up and get into something unique within just a few minutes.
THATGAMECOMPANY – I’ll follow you anywhere at this point. You manage to create exceedingly unique experiences, especially in this contemporary, creatively bankrupt gaming day and age. You manage to take simple ideas and imbue them with a classical beauty, existential commentary and a graceful interactivity, thereby allowing those simple starting ideas to flourish beyond the confines of their inherent simplicity.
Flow, Flower and Journey – all three are games that make me sit back and think, they also relax and engage me in equal measure, they unfold emotion and response in me unlike any other games out there do. These games are ubiquitous and based somewhat on subtle player projection; we provide our own contexts, we bring our own ghosts along with us and import them into the structure you’ve provided us. You allow us a base archetype and then we find ourselves existing with our own thoughts within your manufactured world(s). Your games are gorgeous and easy for anyone to pick up and play, yet they contain considerable depth if the player expends the time and brain-power to discover it.
I can’t really rank any of these games above each other, suffice it to say the collection of all three games out in physical format stands as one of the must play collections of any generation – something so unlike everything else you’re playing that you will always remember the experiences as vividly or as murkily as you first did. These games will keep you thinking and guessing and trying to unravel the puzzles they posit for years to come.
The Unfinished Swan was made by a very small, first-time studio calling itself Giant Sparrow. The Unfinished Swan is a fascinating and utterly original game, utilizing the mechanics of a FPS but inverting the concepts of of the genre in regards to standardized modes of spatial orientation and aesthetic design. The world is literally a void, a blank white ‘nothing’ when you start playing. By throwing paint around you add definition to this world you’re lost in, slowly defining corners, walls, stairs, etc. It’s a discombobulating experience the first time you give it a go. But therein lies the game’s beauty as well, because not only is this a clever aesthetic choice, but it very smartly works as a narrative tool as well.
You play as a young boy who recently lost his Mother, throughout her life she painted yet never actually finished any of the paintings. The one painting her young son (you – the player) was able to keep after her death is the eponymous ‘Unfinished Swan’ and one night the boy wakes to find the swan has escaped from the painting and ran off into… into this blank slate of a world.
So, to put it plainly: a young boy who is trying to process the pain of losing his only parent is literally thrust into an environment that he cannot imagine – everything is lost, everything exists in a state of undefined chaos, so he must rebuild his world with a messy inconsistency that perfectly approximates the imagination of a young child. You’re chasing this avatar (the unfinished swan) that represents your dead mother through the void, searching for some meaning, some coherence and… it’s staggering. This game is beautiful and sincere and that’s a rarity which should be celebrated.
The aesthetics change up throughout the course of the game, so it’s not white on black for the duration, the mechanics even expand beyond the basic ‘throw a ball of paint’ – but at its heart the game remains true to the basic premise of discovery via the confused emotional assessment of a damaged and innocent psyche. The Unfinished Swan is truly a brilliant game, both in its playable execution and in its narrative inventiveness which profoundly utilizes metaphor in a way games are rarely ever brave (or smart) enough to do.
Holy shit. I died more playing this game (before I even beat the first demon!) then I have combined all generation playing every other game I’ve played. The rumors are all true, Demon’s Souls is tough as hell and for some reason, addictive as anything you’re likely to find outside of a baggie containing a fine white powder.
I didn’t understand a goddamned thing about this game when I started playing it – nothing was explained and you were just let loose into the world to die and die and die. But jeebus – those combat controls were so intuitive, so fun and so satisfying to use that they kept me coming back for more, inching slowly forward through the world, figuring out a tiny bit more with each unsuccessful attempt, learning where not to go, who not to fight, figuring out the correct path through the level. In this sense Demon’s Souls is an absolute anomaly – in this day and age of regenerative health, linear level-design and intellectually demeaning, hand-holding tutorials, it felt like I was suddenly playing an NES game again. I was confused as to what to do and had to figure out all by my damn self while under constant attack by enemies far stronger than myself. You really had to pay attention and stay on your toes at all times or face sudden and excruciating death. You were forced to dig deep into the combat system, block, parry and strike – it was all so satisfyingly tactile and direct. Demon’s Souls is the most fun I’ve had being frustratingly pwned this entire generation.
Yeah, I kind of cheated in order to get both of these games in on this list – but honestly they are both totally worthy. Ever since ’95 I’ve come to associate the PlayStation brand with some of the best RPGs of each respective generation and PS3, while not as prolific in the RPG department as the PS1/2, still managed to have some really great jewels buried in the catalog.
Valkyria Chronicles is a hybrid of a RTS and a turn-based RPG. It has a super attractive cel-shaded art style and was a lot of fun to play through; the strategy elements were done really well and all of the battles were engaging, while some of the later missions were extremely challenging. All in all it’s the best game Sega has made in a loooooooong time. Definitely worth a buy if you like strategy games and RPGs, there’s really nothing else out there quite like it, so it is a refreshing experience.
Ni No Kuni takes the cel-shaded aesthetic and brings it up to the level of perfection – seriously there will never be another cel-shaded game for any of the 7th generation consoles that ever tops the look of NNK.
Developed by Lvel-5 and Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni is worth playing for the visual spectacle it provides alone – thankfully there is a very addictive and solid RPG present as well. Sure, the party AI is a bit… dumb, but overall the battle system is enjoyable and the game has some truly difficult boss battles that betray the childlike spirit present throughout most of the game. At its’ core, Ni No Kuni tells a great little story filled to the brim with that usual Studio Ghibli charm and endearment.
People talk about the story-telling in MGS4 as though it is a high-water mark for the video game medium… I respectfully disagree (or disrespectfully, fuck you!) because, personally, the story elements are my least favorite part of the game. After the credits rolled on MGS4 I still had no fucking clue as to what the hell happened or who was who, what was what, etc.
The entire Metal Gear timeline and canon makes zero sense to me. I get parts here and there, and every now and then one of the games may bring up something interesting or pose a substantial and provocative though, but overall it comes off like a crazy Japanese soap opera to me, trying to make profound commentaries about the nature of jingoistic nationalism, nuclear proliferation and the nature of war itself – while making poop jokes. Some people may love it and find some real gravitas within – but not me. After a 15-20 minute cut-scene of over-the-top melodrama my eyes glaze over and I simply stop caring what anyone is saying. “Oh wow, kick ass ninja flip thing! Oh shit now they’re going to talk for half an hour…sigh…”
I just enjoy playing, not watching the damn thing because it plays GREAT. It also looks great – to this day it is still an incredibly impressive display of the PS3’s power.
Buy it, look at it installing… look at it installing… look at it installing… watch a twenty minute codec call… – play it. Seriously though, for all its quirks it is an amazing game that everyone should experience.
From Suckerpunch, the studio who created the original Sly Cooper trilogy, Infamous was a clear successor born from all the ideas and design elements they had been slowly perfecting throughout that incredibly charming series. Other than the Arkham Batman games, Infamous was without a doubt the best superhero game series of the 7th generation. I tend to prefer the original game over the sequel ever so slightly because I enjoyed the story more (The second game seemed to undo and completely disregard the ending from the first game, no?) and the jumping and parkour mechanics felt a bit more solid and precise – but overall both games were very well done.
Some of the side-missions became a bit repetitive, I’ll grant you that, but gaining powers and gliding around the city, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, dropping hundreds of feet onto the street below – all of those things made these games immensely playable. Both the main games and the vampire-themed stand-alone DLC game provided a good time even if you paid no attention to any goals or attempted to propel the story forward at all; just mucking about in the city and feeling like a badass was tons of fun in and of itself. I still haven’t bought a PS4 yet, but as soon as Infamous Second Son hits I certainly will, that’s how in love with this series I am. The really interesting thing is that if these games hadn’t been given to me for free via PS+ I probably never would have played them, so thanks, Sony for introducing me to one of my favorite new franchises.
When Tomb Raider devolved into crappy, annually churned-out sequel territory (the recent reboot-which I still haven’t played-has seemingly changed this though!) Uncharted was there to provide gamers with the Indian Jones game that Tomb Raider has always attempted to be. Adventure, exploration and knock you down spectacle all played out with a super-likable and smart-ass Indy stand-in at the center of it all. The Uncharted games all provide excellent stories, fantastic characters and some truly great dialog which manages to sell the relationships between those characters, thus drawing the player more and more into the game world. Plus – they were just fun. Shooty shooty, climby climby fun.
After about the 7,000th time you grab onto a ledge you expect part of it to crumble away and for it to become a QTE of regaining your grip/footing, so they do have moments where the brilliance gets buried in tropes – but damn if all the stuff in-between those bits isn’t just incredible as both a visual spectacle and exciting from a traditional gameplay standpoint.
The Uncharted series has come the closest to making an action/adventure movie playable as any game I can imagine. Uncharted 2 is surely the highlight of the trilogy, but each game has its moments that truly transcend the banality and repetition of the linear level design and push the games into rarefied territory where they exist as a pure experience that sweep you up into the moment like few games are ever able. All three Uncharted games are made with much care given to the finer details; a multitude of small touches here and there in the animations, the environmental effects, etc. all add up to creating a living, breathing and believable game world which is an absolute joy to spend time within – combine that into the full trifecta with those awesome stories/characters and jaw-dropping graphics and, yep, you have one of the best series of the entire generation.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favorite games of all time, so an HD re-release is, by default, one of my favorite PS3 games of all time. I vividly remember playing the game during its original release on the PS2 and thinking “god, I wish this frame-rate was better” – it was a hugely ambitious game that performed some real miracles on the underpowered hardware that it was designed for, but ultimately was sometimes distractingly crippled by the confines of the PS2. So simply porting it over to the PS3 took the few things which dissatisfied me, all technical, mind you, and fixed them up. On the PS3 the game is presented without distraction and unfettered by technical restraints. What we get then is an experience truly like no other that came before it and has not been topped since.
The brazen ambiguity – the quiet, existential contemplation this game creates and maintains is a one of a kind experience that every gamer worth their salt should indulge in. It’s convoluted, abstract and obliquely confounding at times, but those things are instrumental in crafting the overall unique feel of the game. The controls are complex, yet I love them. Honest. People always ALWAYS complain about the controls being bad in this game, but aside from some camera issues I think the player controls are perfectly solid and reveal themselves to be quite intuitive as you learn to play the game. The other thing which I think drives people away from the game is the fact that it is never made clear that you can level up your character’s attributes. Time and time again I speak to people who never made it past the second or third Colossi because they grew frustrated of always ‘falling off’, i.e. their grip meters would run down and the couldn’t stay ‘on board’ the beast long enough to slay it. If I ask them if they ever leveled up their grip meters, they tell me they had no idea they could do such a thing. Well shit, kill some lizard with the shiny tails and eat some fruit – both your health meter and grip meter will thank you.
Speaking of – the leveling system in the game is great, because you can, ostensibly – at the very start of the game – go about exploring the world, hunting fruit and lizards and level your character greatly before you fight more than one Colossus. That is indicative of the design philosophy behind the overall game too – a freedom and an openness to the world that encourages experimentation. Sure, you have to go about defeating the Colossi in a specific order, but you can truly work at your own pace when doing so. There is a vast world for you to wander through, and while bereft of much to do, it is rich in its serene mystery and character perks if you choose to indulge in them.
The beautiful and dynamic music score creates an immersion that is exhilarating when fighting on of the gargantuan Colossi – it makes the epic battles seem all the more grand. The true emotional crux of the game though, lies in the very ambiguity that frustrates so many players – the fact that you’re given almost no back story as to what the hell the Colossi are doing stomping around the world – and the fact that they hardly seem aggressive towards you until you begin attacking them – the premise here is a progenitor to something like Bioshock, where the entire narrative structure is a comment on how and why we follow traditional narratives in games and mindlessly kill what is in our way in order to progress through the game. The subtle, minimalistic and expressionistic meta-tale told through Shadow of the Colossus is without a doubt one of the most subconsciously jarring and emotional story experiences I’ve ever had in a video game.
Of course, for all the subtlety and apparent meandering of the narrative’s structure, eventually the story flowers and things become less oblique and a delicious twist is revealed which brings things to “the point”, but I won’t spoil it (or try to describe its emotional import for me personally) here. Just play it. In the name of all that is holy in the world of video games, for all the apparent worth that the medium is capable of theoretically achieving, just play this oddly beautiful monster of a game.
It truly is one of a kind and it potently haunts my gaming psyche still, after all these years since I first played it. Shadow of the Colossus stands alone as a game unlike any other and if you give it fair due, I think it will tattoo your memories as intensely as it has mine. An all-time classic given a second chance and made even better in the process.
…before we go on, let me just say that in addition to being my number one favorite game on the PlayStation 3, the following title also stands as MY FAVORITE GAME OF THE ENTIRE GENERATION.
Right when I assumed all the genre and medium defining experiences that the seventh generation had to offer were long past their due date, in came Naughty Dog with a game that impressed me so much, that to this day, just thinking about it as I write these words, I’m overtaken with a sincere passion to revisit it and pop it into my PS3 to start playing it all over again.
The Last of Us is my absolute, without question, choice for the best game of the seventh generation. For now that’s all I have to say – I’m going to break this out into a new post, explaining how and why I feel this way. I think this game deserves its own space and a more in-depth assessment than the other games on this list. Thank you for reading.