Now, it’s time for the top 10 finale of my list. If you missed the first part covering #25 to #11 here’s the link for you! For a little refresher, here are the disclaimers from the previous article:
It’s quickly becoming apparent just how incredible the PlayStation 3’s line-up really is as we move closer to the twilight of the seventh generation. Trying to equate and shrink almost eight years of games into one numbered list is admittedly doing the console an injustice. However, you’ll notice that the headline reads “gaming experiences,” not “games.” Simply put, this is so I can cheat. Trying to pick one game out of a franchise of greats is difficult and, rather than muddle a very short list with multiple worthy titles out of a series, I’d rather give an entire recommendation for the whole thing.
I want to make it clear that this list is entirely subjective, but I’ve decided to take said subjective opinions and measure them against each other in a meager attempt at objectivity. It would be easy to simply take my favourite twenty-five games of the console and compile the list as such, but I feel that’s a cop-out. It also isn’t exactly a reflection of the best the PS3 has to offer, either; you’d surely see more fighting games if it were my favourites, I assure you. As it is, I’m bound to miss some of your own favourites and I’m all ears on this front.
Rockstar Games is the king of the open world genre and Grand Theft Auto is their crown jewel. The fifth entry smashed every sales record imaginable, only to be matched by its critical reception. Everything is bigger and better this time around, but there’s enough that’s been changed to keep it fresh. Three characters give you narrative perspective from all angles while all new heists and robberies bring teamwork into the mission structures. Even the lauded gameplay has seen needed improvement across the board. It’s almost impossible to list everything a Grand Theft Auto experience contains and adds on, but know that it’s all done with usual style and swagger that only Rockstar can achieve. A revamped online mode is offered, but the reviews are mixed. Love it or leave it, the best way to play GTA5 is through its massive single-player and with it making the jump to next gen, even more will be able to experience this instant classic.
Other genre recommendations: Grand Theft Auto 4, Saints Row The Third, Sleeping Dogs
9: Dark Souls and Dark Souls II
The spiritual successor to the 2009 exclusive Demon’s Souls, 2012’s Dark Souls prepared us all to die once more. Many point to the Souls games’ appeal being its heightened difficulty and, although that applies at the onset, the genius in the design is that you learn through dying — forcing you to improve and interpret patterns is the essence of the design. Upgrades and new armor help, but the games can be finished at level 1; believe it or not, it’s all about your skill level. Offering a unique multiplayer component that can hold surprises around every corner, the gameplay loop is endless and addicting, as the myriad bosses are daunting and challenging. Developer From Software and the Souls games are perhaps the biggest surprise of last gen. Crippling initial difficulty and a hands-off approach are often recipes for failure, yet the opposite was attained and Souls has become a sought after and anticipated property.
Other genre recommendations: Demon’s Souls, Dead Space trilogy
8: Batman: The Arkham Trilogy
In 2009, developer Rocksteady did what most were beginning to think was impossible: translate a known superhero into a great game that captures their comic essence. Arkham Asylum took what the world loves about the Caped Crusader and translates it perfectly on-screen. Combat is fluid, making you feel powerful in any circumstance, but Batman is so much more and therein lies the difference here. Detective skills and an expanding utility belt full of gadgets open up Asylum for revelations around every corner. The world is chock full of some of Bruce Wayne’s most fearsome nemeses, but even the ones that aren’t there are alluded to in some way.
Then, in 2011, Arkham City was released, expanding on Asylum‘s enclosed approach and allowing for some city top traversal. Combat additions were abound in this sequel, as well as improved fluidity and even more of Batman’s enemies are caught up in the now city-wide Asylum. Of course, the Joker is involved somehow, but the story seems bigger than that, something the fleshed-out side quests don’t let you forget. Some of them are even open-ended, leaving possible storylines open for further sequels.
In 2013, Arkham Origins arrived, a prequel to everything we’ve already played through only this time, Warner Bros. Studios at the helm. Despite the lower scores, Origins is impressive when you realize the short development time the studio was given. In some ways, it’s the best in the series, be it from the variety of boss battles employed or the all-new crime scene breakdowns that take Batman’s detective skills to the next level. There are a few hitches, noticeably in combat, but the additions like a fully accessible Batcave make up for it.
Recommending one of these great games without the other just seems wrong and that’s why all three receive the nod here. Batman is everything we hoped he’d be and takes the gritty feel many loved from Nolan’s films, allowing us to make them our own. In anticipation for Arkham Knight in 2015, add this trilogy to your library.
Other genre recommendations: Darksiders 1 and 2
7: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Facing a near impossible task, franchise creator Hideo Kojima attempts to conclude the complicated and abundant plotlines of the previous entries into one tidy cardboard box. What’s even more amazing is that it succeeds — sort of.
MGS4 completes one of gaming’s most storied sagas and, while not perfect, touches on all the points the previous entries brought to light. If you are a new fan, it gives you the enviable chance to revisit this incredible series for the first time in a variety of different ways, so it is either a finale or a gateway to gaming greatness, all of which are reasons as to why it is one of the best on PlayStation 3. On its own, it offers excellent sneaking and tactical gameplay, introducing camouflage innovations not seen even now, and it still puts most to shame graphically, despite being released in the console’s infancy. Cinematically, it can’t be touched.
Up until recently, MGS4 offered an incredibly robust online experience on top of the single-player finale, but has since been cancelled with a recent patch that finally introduced trophy support to the game. Make no mistake, though — to truly enjoy the game and warrant its place here, you’ll have to play the rest of the franchise, but who wouldn’t want to do that?
Other genre recommendations: Metal Gear Solid Collection HD, Splinter Cell HD and Blacklist, Hitman trilogy
6: Bioshock Trilogy
With the recent closure of Irrational Games, who knows if we’ll ever see another game in the Bioshock universe. As a trilogy, they stand as the greatest narrative-driven worlds in their genre and easily cement their place in the top 10 games on the PlayStation 3.
Bioshock takes place in the the wonderfully realized underwater city of Rapture. Creating a mood and feel all its own, Rapture and its denizen will creep and freak you out at every corner. Iconic characters, such as the Little Sister, Big Daddy, and Andrew Ryan, remain high in the pantheon of memorable greats and intelligent gameplay keep you immersed in the main attraction.
A sequel was released three years later but under a different studio, 2K Marin. The results are mixed among fans, but the world and feeling remain as ominous as ever. New wrinkles to the tried and true are added, such as Big Sisters, and you tackling this adventure as the original Big Daddy. Many point to Bioshock 2 as the best playing of the three games and praise is heaped on the downloadable expansion, Minerva’s Den.
Once again manning the reins of development, Ken Levine and Irrational took over to guide the universe of Bioshock to its finale in 2013. Bioshock Infinite forgoes the city of Rapture for a world in the clouds, Columbia — or does it? Answers are never for certain and one thing’s for sure: it never stops testing your understanding of its themes. With addition of the two Burial at Sea DLCs, Bioshock as a trilogy is fully realized. We can only hope this isn’t the end of this wonderfully eerie series.
Other genre recommendations: Dead Space series, Metro Last Light, Wolfenstein The New Order
5: Red Dead Redemption
With the tale of John Marston, Rockstar Games topped their legendary Grand Theft Auto franchise. Red Dead Redemption truly takes the open world formula to new heights and captures the dusty essence of the Wild West in doing so. The expansive single-player is compelling, full of twists and surprises. The script is entertaining as much as the characters are endearing; add to that more things to do and collect than one cowboy can hope to accomplish and you have a game that will have you playing well into the triple digits hour-wise. Horses instead of cars, shoot-outs, smoky saloons, and shady characters banging spurs — everything you could want in a spaghetti western is here, captured with the charm that only Rockstar can deliver.
Rockstar even added a very solid multiplayer aspect to the game, then expanded on both the single-player and multiplayer with DLC standouts like the Undead Nightmare add-on. Red Dead Redemption is simply the best game Rockstar has ever created and it’s only a matter of time until we see a sequel.
Other genre recommendations: LA Noire, Watch_Dogs, Far Cry 3
4: Uncharted Trilogy
One new franchise has become the clear front runner and synonymous with the PlayStation 3. Born on the console, the first Uncharted seemingly came out of nowhere to blow us away with awesome visuals and its new age take on an Indiana Jones tale. Starring cool-as-the-Sahara-Desert hero Nathan Drake, he shoots, searches, swings, and jokes his way through any ancient mystery that confronts him. With a supporting cast just as strong, Uncharted‘s charm is evident and is the perfect gaming translation from a summer blockbuster movie.
Expectations grew with the somewhat surprising success of the initial game and in 2009, developer Naughty Dog released Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Improving on the original in every way and once again stopping our hearts with visuals not yet seen, this sequel remains the one of the best games of the last generation and the stand-out of the three. Furthering Drake’s exploits as he searches for the lost city of Shambhala, the globe is our oyster as the tale develops. Introducing multiplayer for the first time, this new mode was incredibly well-received, adding hours of enjoyment to the equation. Racking up nearly every game of the year award, Uncharted 2 is always in the conversation when gamers speak about last generation’s greats.
Late in 2011, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception released to much acclaim. Opting to take a more grounded approach in its story, as much as a lost treasure-seeking tale can anyway, Nathan Drake finds himself questioning exactly what he’s doing in his quest for the Pillars of Iram. Supporting favorites return and revelations abound, but the story doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor. Uncharted 3 remains an incredible game that continues and builds on the strengths the series is known for, as well as offering an even more expansive multiplayer option for fans.
Uncharted has quickly become one of the most well-known names in video games and with the fourth game already well into development, this juggernaut only looks to be gaining steam as we progress with the PlayStation 4.
Other genre recommendations: Spec Ops The Line, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag
3: Mass Effect trilogy
The ultimate space opera, Bioware has created a universe that rivals the greats of sci-fi. Mass Effect blends exceptional storytelling, memorable characters, and heart-pounding action meshed with traditional RPG elements. Although the first game took quite a while to make it over to the PlayStation’s shores, Sony gamers have to be thinking better late than never. The first is the most cemented in its RPG roots, accentuating pure exploration and inventory management, along with methodical combat. It also features arguably the best story of the three games with a great villain, Saren.
Mass Effect 2 switches gears and ramps up the action in its combat, fleshing out a more diverse role for our Shepard in whichever style of play we choose. Shedding some of the more cumbersome inventory elements, the sequel brings to life one of the more impressive sets of recruitable party members ever assembled. The dirty dozen approach brings about a diversity among the characters and everyone is sure to have their own favourites. Featuring one of the best DLCs of all time, Lair of the Shadow Broker, the story is expanded and all are must pick ups for fans wanting more
In 2012, Mass Effect 3 fell into our laps with much promise. Featuring the best combat seen yet, gameplay reached new heights. Under the almost impossible task of meshing all these optional story paths and character relationships, Bioware concluded admirably, even if they dropped the ball when it mattered the most. Mass Effect 3 should be remembered for the journey throughout, as opposed to the controversial way in how it ended. Introducing multiplayer for the first time, it was surprisingly well-done, choosing to take a more cooperative approach. The DLC add much to the overall experience.
Mass Effect is a vast universe and offers fascinating concepts that we can only envision may happen one day. Mixing genres is the rage in today’s gaming climate and few do it as well than what is found here.
Other genre recommendations: Dragon Age: Origins, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Alpha Protocol
2: God of War 3 and Ascension
Lately, it’s become fashionable to dismiss God of War and its importance to PlayStation. We won’t be having any of that on this list. It remains the second biggest exclusive under Sony’s gaming division umbrella and the third numbered installment in 2010 is undoubtedly the biggest action spectacle on PlayStation 3. Culminating Kratos’s quest for revenge, he and his new found Titan allies commence an all-out assault on the gods at Mount Olympus. Always known for their stellar opening sequences, GOW3 may be the one to top with the opening battle against Poseidon. From there, we’re hit with an onslaught of brilliant level design, non-stop visceral action, some of the best boss battles to ever grace the medium, and just all-around destruction porn the likes we’ve never seen.
While Ascension is not the game GOW3 is, it’s severely understated. The story is relatively unnecessary to the canon, but Ascension takes the undisputed title for most beautiful game on the console. What Sony Santa Monica has done with both — specifically Ascension — is nothing short of astounding on eight-year-old hardware. There are far too many moments to list, but the opening and final battles alone are full of “how did they do this?” moments that no other visuals can match. The nuanced changes to the combat were unfortunate, but for fans of the series, it’s a must-play and deserves the mention on the back of God of War 3. It even incorporated a multiplayer aspect. While somewhat confusing, it works surprisingly well when given the chance.
I think we can all admit that it’s time for change with Kratos and the entire spectrum of God of War as a franchise. Whether we take on a new pantheon of godsor assume the role of a different character entirely, God of War remains PlayStation’s best action franchise.
Other genre recommendations: Castlevania Lords of Shadow, Dante’s Inferno, Heavenly Sword
1: The Last of Us
Some may roll their eyes, but Naughty Dog’s game of the year in 2013 is the crown jewel of a stellar exclusive line-up and the perfect swansong for an entire generation of gaming. I believe The Last of Us will be used as a benchmark in years to come for its spot-on voice acting, which fully realizes the incredible presentation and characters on screen. A post-apocalyptic setting is nothing new, but the uncompromising theme of survival at all costs purveys everything about your lengthy journey across a forgotten America. Joel and Ellie’s dynamic takes center stage and, as their relationship grows, so will your attachment throughout one of the most powerful narratives put forth in the medium yet. Scrounging through the squalor for supplies and making every bullet count, all while staying out of sight in nearly insurmountable odds, sets the gameplay apart. There’s nothing pretty about surviving with only five bullets left.
Adding a multiplayer that entwines with the world’s story adds hours of gameplay to the experience and further highlights the style of gameplay TLOU puts forward. Unforgettable in so many ways, what makes The Last of Us truly special are the little moments in between the chaos. An audio and visual tour de force, you’ll ask yourself in the end, “It can’t all be for nothing, can it?”
The Last of Us has earned nearly every award possible and deserves to be reason #1 to own a PlayStation console. Game of the generation.
Well, there you have it — PlayStation Enthusiast’s 25 best gaming experiences of the PlayStation 3. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below and and a hardy cheers as we send the PS3 fondly into the sunset. Around this time next year, I’ll aim to make my final list, but I don’t foresee much change. Thank you for reading. Be sure to share and keep tuning into PSE.