If you were to look at the PlayStation Network a few years ago and compare it to its competitors, there wouldn't be very much to say. “It's free” was usually the best argument you could offer. With time, however, Sony's online gaming network has come into its own, adding in features and content that have helped to make it – if not exactly a match for the likes of Xbox Live – at least a worthy contender.
Easily one of the coolest features that PSN boasts is its growing library of downloadable PSOne games. Playable not just on the PS3 but also on the PSP, the selection has grown to include some of the original PlayStation's most prominent titles, including Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid. With even more awesome games already confirmed to be on the way, the future of PSN is looking great and we couldn't help but think of a few more games that would help to sweeten what’s already a great deal.
1. Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions
If there was one thing missing from Metal Gear Solid 4, it was virtual-reality missions. Sure, Metal Gear Online was fine (sort of), but the true fun of the game came from figuring out all the ways Hideo Kojima and company put in for you to mess with those dopey mercenaries. Does it get any better than distracting a guy with a Playboy so you can sneak up on him and do God knows what?
VR missions, which in previous games were short stealth levels built around messing with enemies, don’t seem to be coming to MGS4 any time soon, but it would sure be nice if they could find their way to PSN. Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, like the original MGS, is a bit dated nowadays, but if you're not the type to whine about old gameplay conventions, there's a lot to be had here, starting with some 300 stealth missions. When you've beaten those, you can unlock a slew of other features, including “mystery missions” that have you playing detective and, perhaps coolest of all, missions where you play as none other than ninja Gray Fox. If nothing else, it's another opportunity to hear someone yell, “SNAAAAKE” every time you screw up.
2-4. Colony Wars series
It's a basic tenet of science fiction that if spaceships are involved, something is going to explode. Videogames especially take this to heart, and the Colony Wars games are no exception. For their time, Colony Wars, Colony Wars: Vengeance and Colony Wars III: Red Sun all sported quality space-dogfight action rendered in lush graphics. We could recommend other space sims, and do, but Colony Wars stands out even today for its smooth controls and challenging missions. Where other franchises could bore gamers with generic, sweep-these-nav-points-and-come-home missions, Colony Wars offered deft challenges and action that could switch gears from breezy to intense at the drop of a hat.
5-7. Armored Core series
Robots are cool. Giant robots are even cooler, and when you throw guns and wanton destruction into the mix, you have us salivating like dogs at a barbecue. There were mech games before this, but few offered as much control over your tools of carnage as Armored Core did. Sitting around and tweaking your robot to perfection could get boring, but the result – a destructive experience personally tailored to your tastes – was worth it. There were three PSOne Armored Core games – Armored Core, AC: Master of Arena and AC: Project Phantasma – but to date there seem to be no plans to bring them to PSN.
8. Dino Crisis 2
Capcom recently dropped an awesome bomb by announcing a slew of classics for PSN. There are some big names, of course; Resident Evil 2 and 3 fulfilled the dreams of more than a few survival horror fans. Others were stoked to hear that Dino Crisis was on its way as well. Don't remember Dino Crisis? For shame. Just envision playing Resident Evil, but instead of slow, lumbering zombies, you have to deal with fast-as-shit dinosaurs chasing you down. Dino Crisis is a great addition to the PSN library, but why not bring Dino Crisis 2 along with it? We'll just try to forget about Dino Crisis 3.
9. Suikoden II
The PlayStation had a lot of great RPGs, so why not bring a few more to the party? The original Suikoden has long been available to PSN customers, but Suikoden II remains woefully absent from the ranks. Suikoden II took some hits due to its lack of gameplay evolution, but was still a critical success, and it remains a fan favorite thanks to its excellent story, great bad guys and huge, colorful cast of characters. So if you’ve wrapped up Suikoden and still have a hankering to recruit way more playable characters than you could ever need, join us in wishing for Suikoden II on PSN.
10-11. Final Fantasy VIII and IX
Speaking of PlayStation-era RPGs, Square Enix was kind enough to bestow upon us the glory of Final Fantasy VII, but where are VIII and IX? Neither VIII nor IX have ever achieved anything near the rabid devotion that VII enjoys, but both were still great games that some fans actually prefer over that particular sacred cow. Now, granted, VIII was plagued by some bizarre plot points, and IX still holds the award for the most effeminate villain of all time. But even with their flaws, they're still better than a lot of the RPGs coming out today. So please, Square Enix, milk the franchise some more. We swear we won't complain.
12. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Looking and playing almost nothing like the original Legacy of Kain, Soul Reaver took the franchise to new heights of action and narrative. Kain from the first game has transformed from a vengeful anti-hero to a full-blown, world-conquering prick. Accordingly, Soul Reaver follows the wraithlike Raziel who, tortured and exiled by Kain, spends the game fighting his way back to his former lord for, you guessed it, revenge. A stellar 3D action-adventure game in its day, Soul Reaver would be a fine addition to PSN.
13. Valkyrie Profile
Where most games build their story around saving the world, Valkyrie Profile has the player participating in its end. For the uninitiated, the game follows Lenneth, a valkyrie tasked by the Nordic god Odin with gathering warrior souls to participate in a war between the gods and basically help bring about the end of the world. In place of a more typical storyline, Valkyrie Profile focuses on the backstories of the souls that Lenneth collects, which for the most part are dramatic and well-realized. Throw in fast-paced, combo focused battles, and you have a gem of a game. An OK PSP port of Valkyrie Profile already exists, but that's no reason not to release it on PSN.
14-15. Fear Effect and Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
Boobs! It's funny how one word can catch your attention, isn't it? Fear Effect and its sequel took this idea to heart and built two full games around it. The games controls like a drunken version of the original Resident Evil, but make up for this fact with a quality cyberpunk story centered around Chinese mythology, nice cel-shaded visuals and more cleavage then a Hooters convention. Every time it frustrates you, boobs just seem to show up. Get shot by a guard? No worries, you'll probably be rewarded with an FMV depicting heroine Hana in a same-sex grope session. Oh, the joys of political incorrectness.
16. Legend of Dragoon
One of Sony's earliest attempts at making a homegrown RPG, Legend of Dragoon received some mixed reviews from the videogame press at the time of its release, but its fans know it was yet another role-playing gem lost in the shadow of Final Fantasy. For its time, Legend of Dragoon had fantastic graphics, a solid combat system and a story that many either loved or tossed to the curb as pure, generic tripe. Whatever your take on it, there are surely less deserving games already on PSN.