Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top 30 PS3 games

30. Puppeteer (buy it here)

puppeteer ps3
Platformers that aren't from Nintendo or indies are in short supply these days, which is why it was so nice to see Puppeteer come virtually out of nowhere. The player controls a boy named Kutaro, who has the misfortune of being turned into a puppet and uh, having his head cut off soon after. Kutaro spends the game finding new heads to use, and everything plays out as a wondrous puppet show, complete with curtains, stage and an audience. Though the platforming itself is solid, the real draw here is the art design, which is endlessly creative and a joy to look at for the duration of the game. It's also one of the only games for the system to make a real case for 3D, as the puppet show motif is perfectly suited for the limitations of those goofy movie theater sunglasses.

29. Killzone 2 (buy it here)

killzone 2
Nothing could have lived up to that infamous (and extremely fradulent) E3 trailer, but what ended up in the package of Killzone 2 was still worth celebrating. Remember, the original Killzone on PS2 was a soggy mess that was too ambitious for the hardware. But KZ2 had the benefit of being on arguably the most powerful system of the generation, which gave Guerilla Games the headroom for some stunning animation and impressive setpieces. Though the story itself wasn't super compelling, for the most part the campaign was a blast, and the multiplayer still holds a special place in the heart of many fans.

28. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (buy it here)

You would be correct in guessing that this is not a great game. Hell, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand might not technically be a good game. At heart, it's a bog-standard third-person Gears of War-style shooter with your typical firefights, upgrades and setpieces. But it's important to note that this game is all about 50 Cent on a vendetta to retrieve the jewel-encrusted skull that is rightfully his. And equally important is the "curse button," which lets you hurl insults at people by clicking in the right stick. This extends your combo meter, along with the pleasure of hearing 50 Cent tell a thug he's "gonna kill your whole fucking generation!" Part of the joy of this game, which is best played in co-op with a friend, is making your way through the game and unlocking new curse button dialogue. And isn't that what video games are all about?

27. 3D Dot Game Heroes (buy it here)

3d dot game heroes
Playstation fans don't really have a Zelda-like series to call their own (outside of maybe Darksiders), and they most certainly didn't have the benefit of a legacy of 8-bit action RPGs. From Software recognized the potential of filling that niche, and what we got was 3D Dot Game Heroes. The Dark Souls developer basically made another Legend of Zelda, albeit with 3D pixels commonly known as "voxels." While the animation was just as stiff as an NES games, the 3D look and neat depth of field tricks gave it a look all its own. And you know, it probably helped that it played like a Zelda game. 

26. Civilization Revolution (buy it here)

civilization revolution
Some might call it "Civ for Babies," but Civilization Revolution is actually a pretty elegant solution for playing the series on a console. Everything is streamlined, from the movement to the building to character interaction. It doesn't feel dumbed down, rather carefully pruned to ensure the best parts of Civ games remained intact. Like any good entry in the franchise, it's easy to lose hours of sleep to that familiar mantra, "just one more turn." CivRev might not be as complex as its PC counterparts, but rest assured: Gandhi is still a dick.


25. Heavy Rain (buy it here)

heavy rain
Cinematic adventure games have come a ways since the days of "Press X to Jason," but that doesn't mean Heavy Rain doesn't deserve credit for pushing the subgenre forward. The mystery of the Origami Killer is legitimately intriguing, making Heavy Rain the equivalent of a video game page-turner. By today's standards the dialogue is a little hammy, but that doesn't mean it's not playable in 2015. In fact, it's probably a selling point

24. Shadows of the Damned (buy it here)

shadows of the damned
Though it sort of got lost when EA's marketing team sent it out to die with little fanfare, Shadows of the Damned is much more than its generic name implies. A team effort between former Capcom mastermind Shinji Mikami and No More Heroes lunatic Suda 51, SotD plays like Resident Evil 4 in a Tim Burton nightmare. Having a solid gameplay foundation makes it that much more enjoyable to ride along with Garcia Fucking Hotspur (yes, that's his real name) and his demon/gun sidekick, Johnson. It's goofy and more than a little immature, but at least it's not Resident Evil 6.

23. Infamous 2 (buy it here)

infamous 2
There really should be more open world superhero games, but the corporations that own Superman and Thor are more than content to keep their capes confined to crappy free-to-play mobile titles. Thankfully we've got Infamous and its sequel, a pair of great games that do a fine job of making you feel like an entirely different kind of thunder god. Choosing between the first and second game is really a matter of preference, but the improved depth of the city gives part 2. Plus it has an ending where Zeke finally dies.

22. BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma Extend (buy it here)

The title makes one thing clear: This is indeed a relatively obscure Japanese series that has seen plenty of iterations. But the franchise has stuck around so long because at its core, it's a great fighting game. With dazzling 2D graphics and an array of fantastical characters, it stands out among the Street Fighters and Mortal Kombats that dominate the current fighting game scene. Blazblue games have always been a little dense, with combo-heavy systems that are somewhat comparable to the Marvel Vs. Capcom games. Even so, it's still easy to hop in with friends and mess around.

21. LittleBigPlanet 2 (buy it here)

Of all Sony's new IP in the PS3 era, LittleBigPlanet might be the most innovative. Making and sharing your own levels just wasn't a thing on consoles before LBP, much less in the form of an adorable handcrafted world narrated by Stephen Fry. Years before Mario Maker, LBP gave fans access to thousands upon thousands of hours worth of user-created content. Series veterans weren't too happy with the third installment of the series, which featured some game-breaking bugs and the inability to carry over a substantial amount of DLC from the previous entry. For now, LBP2 seems to be where the community is, at least until LittleBigGalaxy.


20. Yakuza 4 (buy it here)

yakuza 4
Diehard Sega acolytes have been clamoring for another Shenmue sequel for years, but in that time another series has been chugging along that some believe is a fine substitute. Though admittedly more of a brawler, Yakuza 4 does feature a smattering of Shenmuian minigames like fishing and pachinko. The story and characters are a bit more robust than Shenmue too, with over six hours of cutscenes spread across its formidable length. Okay, so the Yakuza games aren't really that much like Shenmue, but they're still a unique little slice of Japanese gaming that we don't see too often in the West these days. You could probably start anywhere in the series (3 is on PS3 as well, and 5 came out at the end of 2015), but many fans agree that Yakuza 4 is probably the strongest entry on the system.

19. Tomb Raider (buy it here)

tomb raider 2013
The "cinematic gameplay" of the Uncharted series influenced scores of games, but that's not always a bad thing. The setpiece-driven nature of blockbuster-style video games can and has been used as a solid skeleton for multiple titles. In the case of Tomb Raider, the Nathan Drake-ish antics are used more as connective tissue between more open levels and environments. It's probably as close to Uncharted 4 as PlayStation fans will get until, well, Uncharted 4. 

18. God of War 3 (buy it here)

god of war 3
The God of War series has always hung its hat on spectacle, and this time around it's 35-gallon cowboy hat filled with blood and cow intestines. Storywise, it's important because it finally closes the loop on Kratos' path of destruction leading all the way up to his ultimate revenge on his betrayer, Zeus. But really, you're just here to see terrible things happen, in quick and gory succession, to everyone but you. It does kind of peak early with the Poseidon fight, but the rest of God of War III is still a damned good character action game. 

17.  Virtua Fighter 5 (buy it here)

virtua fighter 5
Street Fighter is more iconic and Tekken is more accessible, but it's hard to match Virtua Fighter's special brand of precise and satisfying gameplay that relies a little less on button mashing. In the fifth (and if we're being honest, probably last) entry in the series, the roster has grown to a point where pretty much any playstyle is catered to. If you don't feel like tracking down a physical copy, you can always grab the superior VF5: Final Showdown on the cheap through the PlayStation Network. Showdown has a more complete suite of features and is altogether better than vanilla VF5, but taking that into consideration for the ranking would be cheating, and we couldn't possibly do that.

16. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time (buy it here)

ratchet and clank
Much like superhero games, the once-thriving market for family-friendly platformers has all but dried up outside of Nintendo. One of the few franchises to carry the torch over into the new generation is Ratchet and Clank, which saw several entries on PS3. The vibrant, colorful worlds of R+C always looked great, but here they look even better. Though Tools of Destruction and the downloadable Quest for Booty are by no means bad games, the consensus has landed on A Crack in Time as the best mix of the series wonderful level and weapon designs on the console. Play long enough and you might eventually forget that they're making a movie out of the franchise for some reason.


15. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (buy it here)

call of duty black ops 2
Advanced Warfare was fun and Call of Duty 4 was groundbreaking, but there can only be one zenith of the franchise. Though it had a couple bumps here and there, the upward trajectory of the series peaks with BLOPS II, which has equally memorable campaign and multiplayer suites. The story mode in particular experiments with branching paths and alternate endings, the first and so far only CoD to be so bold. The multiplayer managed to hit that crucial sweet spot between tight gameplay and satisfying progression. These games might blur together for some, but taken on its own, it's hard to deny that BLOPS II isn't a highlight of the generation.

14. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition (buy it here)

diablo 3
For all intents and purposes, Diablo shouldn't work on a console. The series has been made for PC since day one, no question. And yet, with the Ultimate Evil Edition of Diablo III, Blizzard somehow managed to turn those addictive and endless clicks into addictive and endless button mashing. What's more, after the impeccable console tradition you still get to play Diablo III with the fantastic Reaper of Souls expansion, all from the comfort of your couch. Same-screen co-op is also a great addition for those playing on TVs, at least before blood is shed over who gets the best loot. 

13. MLB: The Show (buy it here)

mlb the show
Major League Baseball has kind of a funny history with games. For the longest time, no matter which developer had an exclusive contract, the console makers had a special exception. Meaning that folks like Nintendo can and have created their own official MLB games like the classic Ken Griffey Jr. series. Though the other two big-leaguers have squandered this opportunity as of late, Sony has been constantly putting out what many consider to be the best baseball series of all time. Granted, the MLB 2K series dropped off a couple years ago and made Sony's franchise the only game in town, but that doesn't mean The Show is worth any less to sports fans.

12. Vanquish (buy it here)

For a game that features a guy in a mech suit rocket boosting everywhere while shooting tons of robots, Vanquish went relatively underplayed. It happens all too often to PlatinumGames; not only are they the mad geniuses behind Bayonetta, but several key members of the staff worked on cult classics like Okami and Viewtiful Joe. That special brand of polished but idiosyncratic gaming is all over Vanquish, which has a special move in which you toss a lit cigarette over your shoulder to throw off heat-seeking robots. This is pure, uncut video games, something that's become less and less common in the age of Uncharted.

11. Sleeping Dogs (buy it here)

sleeping dogs game
As open-world games became more prevelant in the PS3/360 generation, they became cluttered with more and more Stuff. So many GTA wannabes thought that the best idea to outdo the big competish was to plant a bunch of flags down and create a ton of climbable towers everywhere. But Sleeping Dogs keeps it simple. It creates a place -- in this case, a beautiful rendition of Hong Kong -- and sets its own tone. This is a world where hand-to-hand combat is plentiful, and dropping a car's engine on someone's head is common. This is a world where you can jump out of your car and onto the back of another car with the push of a button. This is a world where you can walk into a nightclub and your character's head will start nodding ever so slightly with the music. It's like a lot of open-world games you've probably already played, but in a way, unlike any other.


10. South Park: The Stick of Truth (buy it here)

south park stick of truth
No one expected this game to be any good. Pretty much every South Park game up to the Stick of Truth had been, speaking in technical terms, complete dogshit. But Matt Stone and Trey Parker were smart to choose Obsidian, the developers behind Fallout: New Vegas, to see through their vision of a South Park game that didn't completely suck. But TSoT doesn't just not suck, it's in fact a tight Paper Mario-style RPG with a lot of creativity and very little filler. Best of all is the presentation, which is a shockingly accurate facsimile of the cartoon. This might be the only game where "it's like playing the TV show" isn't an exaggeration.

9. Dead Space 2 (buy it here)

dead space 2
If Dead Space 1 was like the movie Alien, then Dead Space 2 is basically Aliens. Though the sequel still has plenty of the wretched body horror of the original, DS2 has a bigger focus on action and variety in gameplay sequences. The zero gravity sequences in particular are a blast, almost the opposite of getting your eyeball stabbed with a giant needle. It's probably a matter of preference as to whether you like the first or second game better, but hopefully we can all agree to ignore Dead Space 3. 

8. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (buy it here)

ni no kuni
This is a Studio Ghibli video game. If you know what those words mean, you should probably play Ni No Kuni if you haven't already. For those unfamiliar with the movie studio, Ghibli is known for creating the most fantastical, wondrous and heartwarming animated films to ever come out of Japan. They collaborated with Level 5 to make Ni No Kuni, which plays a bit like your typical Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy with a few tweaks. If a beautiful JRPG with charming characters and a stellar soundtrack doesn't sound like your thing, NNK probably isn't for you. But you should at least try out Spirited Away.

7. Batman: Arkham Asylum (buy it here)

batman arkham asylum
Arkham City might have better graphics, more refined combat and a host of other upgrades, but there's something about Arkham Asylum that was never matched in sequels. It might have to do with the setting itself; the grounds of Arkham made for such a compelling but logical labyrinth. Every area you come across is meaningful, designed with the idea that you're actually going to see it, as opposed to briefly glide over it like you might in City. That sort of close-quarters Metroid-like progression is still mostly unique to Asylum, which makes it essential for fans of the series.

6. XCOM: Enemy Within (buy it here)

xcom enemy within
Nobody was sure that a new XCOM could work. Hell, the original XCOM team had a hard time coming up with decent sequels. But Firaxis not only pulled it off, but managed to make a turn-based strategy RPG resemble a horror game. The locales and encounters are only occasionally spooky, but the real terror here lies in the consequences of making a wrong move. Building up your squad and watching them grow over a dozen missions, only to have them killed (permanently) is nothing short of terrifying. Those who have played the game might not admit it, but squealing aloud when your leader is ambushed is not terribly uncommon. Only a game this great can be as stressful as buying a house.



5. Valkyria Chronicles (buy it here)

valkyria chronicles
Since its release on Steam, over half a million players have learned of the greatness that PS3 diehards have known for a long time. Set in an alternate version of the mid-20th century, Valkyria Chronicles loosely follows the World War battles between the totally-not-Allied nations and the definitely-not-Axis powers. Though it's another strategy RPG, it's unlike XCOM in that there aren't any rigid grids to follow, allowing for increased freedom in combat. All of this is tied together with some of the best graphics on the system; it's not cel shaded, but the faded framing and careful placement of cross-stitching give it a hand-drawn look. Play it on PS3 or play it on Steam -- just play it. 

4. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (buy it here)

Though MGSV came out years later, MGS4 is the real swan song for our hero Snake. It shows everywhere from the bombastic cutscenes to the labyrinthine plots to the longwinded lectures about war, love and nanomachines. Everything here is pure Metal Gear, distilled down to its most essential parts. Even if you're not into director Hideo Kojima's trademark storytelling style, the finely-tuned stealth gameplay reaffirms why the series has always been at the top of the genre. You probably know whether you want to play a Metal Gear game or not, but if you're new to this scene, well... bless you. And buckle up.

3. Uncharted 2 (buy it here)

uncharted 2
Uncharted 2 was so good that it's not that impressive in 2015. Since its release, so many games have cribbed from every facet of UC2 that going back is like replaying a dozen other games from a dozen other developers. You can't really blame anyone for ripping off the setpiece driven action or the snarky dialogue or the seamless gameplay-to-cutscene transitions. Uncharted 2 was the first of a new type of game, the blockbuster action title. While it's true that many have tried to replicate its success (including Naughty Dog themselves with Uncharted 3), none have managed to capture that magic of sliding down that collapsing building, or jumping between those trucks in the epic car chase. Even if you've played other games like it, UC2 is well worth playing, if only to pay your respects. 

2. The Last of Us (buy it here)

last of us
For those who played through The Last of Us, that image should make you cringe on the inside. Getting torn apart by a clicker (one of the game's brutal post-apocalyptic fungus zombies) only takes a couple seconds, but over the course of the game you spend hours dreading that moment. While the game is the right kind of stressful when it comes to combat (whether with zombies or humans), the story is what sets The Last of Us apart from the rest of the pack. The basic plot -- a man takes a girl across the country in the apocalypse -- is pretty simple, but it's the way that these characters interact, and how they change (and maybe don't change) throughout the course of the game that will stick with you. TLOU even makes you ponder the ethical and moral implications of your trademark Video Game Man murdering tons of people before hitting you with one of the biggest gut-punch endings in any game. It's also available on PS4, but the PS3 will emotionally cripple you just fine.

1. Demon's Souls (buy it here)

demons souls
If someone asks you what Demons' Souls is, you can say any number of things. It's an action RPG. It's a hardcore medieval survival game. It's a horror game with swords. It's a Japanese torture device designed to wring the determination and will out of anyone foolish enough to play it. All of those are viable answers. But most of all, Demons' Souls is a video game. When people first played it all that time ago, it rekindled something they hadn't felt since they were kids. Yes, it's on a new console in 3D, but it has that same kind of harsh but fair difficulty that is rarely seen in the handholdy movie-like games (like you know, Uncharted 2). Demon's Souls isn't for everyone; in fact, it's one of the least-accessible games on this list. But if you stick with it and play by the rules, it's as rewarding as they come. And that's what we play games for.

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