Sony's best and brightest
When it launched back in 2006, the PS3 was downright unappealing. Expensive, ugly, difficult for developers to work with - Sony's machine was essentially ugly duckling of the 7th console generation. As that analogy implies, Sony stepped-up and evolved its third PlayStation into something that today sits comfortably in the hearts of players. Much of this is due to the fantastic games that poured onto the system (and continue to do so), be they exclusives or multiplatform titles.
What follows is our list of the best games that found a home on the PS3. These are the experiences that entertained us the most during the console's event-filled, yet ultimately satisfying, lifespan. And while we're currently basking in the glory of PS4, the inclusion of several, very recent releases in this top 50 show that PS3 still has the ability to amaze.
And hey, you can definitely pick up a PS3 bargain or two if you know where to look.
50. Yakuza 3
Looking to truly celebrate Japanese gaming? Look no further than Yakuza 3. Instead of falling back on over-exaggerated anime cliches, or attempting to ape western gaming tropes, Yakuza 3 tells a wonderful, heartwarming--sometimes funny, sometimes tragic--story that universally resonates with players across the world, while still retaining an authentic, very Japanese feel.
While its combat is solid (if unspectacular), its mini-games are not as polished as the likes of GTA, and its world is nowhere near as open as Saints Row, Yakuza 3 is far greater than the sum of its parts. Its an adventure you invest in to the bitter end. And if you dont crack a smile when youre smoking a cigarette with the man who just tried to kill you, or you dont shed one, tiny tear when one of the main characters sacrifices his life for yours, then you should check your pulse because you may be dead.
49. Minecraft: PS3 Edition
Minecraft is one of the most popular PC games in the world, but it works surprisingly well on PS3. Although the options are cut back (there are no mods on console, sadly, and youre limited to a set number of blocks), you still get a decent world-building experience with pad in hand. The concept is simple enough to understand: craft materials, build a base, expand etc, and thats at the heart of Minecrafts beauty.
The fact that you can share the world-building with buddies (in split-screen and online), only enhances things further, and some of the challenge options give purpose to your continual stuff creation. Theres a full tutorial mode in the console port too, which helps immensely.
48. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
Tools of Destruction was a barnstorming PS3 debut, but its A Crack in Times smart overhaul of the series already uber-polished formula that really represents the franchises crowning achievement.
Mixing the traditional, gloriously anarchic platform shooting with some marvellously tricksy new temporal puzzling, A Crack in Time feels fresh from the off. But the brave relocation to a freely explorable, open, galactic hub then gives one of gamings most vibrant and fun worlds the proverbial shot in the arm with a burst-firing, Cthulhu-powered rocket launcher. More rounded, more exciting, and altogether more real than any other Ratchet & Clank game, its the defining moment for one of the PlayStations defining sagas.
47. NBA 2K14
Theres little doubt that NBA 2K has become the best US sports sim of the PS3 generation. While series like Madden and NHL have largely stagnated, and NBA Live has lost the plot completely, NBA 2K continues to go from strength to strength. While 11 is arguably the break-out game, its 14 that offers the most complete experience. And, you know, its the newest so all the rosters are up to date...
While being the newest is a big factor in choosing 14 for this Best of list, the gameplay tweaks also make it superior. Not only is defending much improved over previous games, but the new animations are a joy to behold. Combine all that with the always excellent on-court presentation and wealth of game modes, and its easy to see why 2K14 is so far ahead of the competition.
46. South Park: The Stick of Truth
This game is basically like playing a series of the TV show. The attention to detail is so slavish, and the humour so perfectly pitched, that there really is nothing to distinguish game from TV episode, barring the occasional load screen or dropped frame. As a work of licensing, The Stick of Truth is without equal on PS3, and you have to admire the creators for having the balls to translate South Parks near-to-the-knuckle funnies into a medium thats largely terrified of offending anyone.
Its a cracking game too. If all South Parks characters were swapped for goblins and lizard-men, and its jokes substituted for soundbites about arrows in knees, it would stand up as a top-drawer fantasy RPG. Perhaps not an RPG that sits in the 50 best PS3 games of all time list (the humour and authenticity is a big reason for its placement here), but damn close to it
45. Metro: Last Light
Metro 2033 was a startling statement of intent; a dark, claustrophobic tour through a unique spin on the post-apocalyptic setting which demanded intelligent, puristic play of its gruelling survival simulation on pain of a swift and brutal death. It was however, rather unpolished on the actual gameplay front. Last Light takes that darkly intellectual intent and runs it right through a game which now really, really works.
Everything about Last Light is better. The stealth mechanics are now truly viable, finally delivering on the first games promise of free-form, sandbox gameplay and improvisational survival. Should you choose to go shooting, thats better now too, fire-fights remaining taught, tactical bouts of equipment management, but never punishing the player through unfair odds. Theres really nothing else like the Metro concept, and Last Light is where youll find it at its best.
44. God of War 3
Aaaaaaaaaargh! Kratos is so, goddam angry. Hes furious. This third (and perhaps final) God of War game sees our bald hero at his most livid. Perhaps thats why its so entertaining: there is a shit-load of killing in here. True the combat lacks the nuance of Castlevania, DMC, and Bayonetta, and Kratos is about as likeable as an anal wart, but theres something intensely satisfying about shedding so much claret. Where else can you rip off a gods head with your bare hands?
Its a visual showcase for PS3, and still looks damn good today. The moonlight still glints pleasingly off Kratos shiny, often-blood-smeared head as he kills off an entire pantheon of gods. In all, its another decent exclusive for PS3s roster.
If youre a fan of Metroidvania games with a Mexcian twist, and you like your games to be presented in art inspired by folklore, then you sir (or madam) are in luck. Guacamelee! has you covered like an oversized poncho. Its a classic tale of man finds magical luchador mask, man uses said mask to swap between the Worlds of the Living and Dead, man saves El Presidentes daughter from an equally stereotyped villain.
But theres more to this game than lazy xenophobia and cheap Mexican gags. Its actually genuinely funny, and the combat and platforming blend perfectly to create a very rounded, very entertaining experience. Plus, its name is a pun on guacamole, one of the tastiest substances known to man, so--perhaps for that reason alone--it deserves a place in this list.
42. Darksiders 2
This is an oft-underrated gem of a game, offering an expansive adventure full of spectacle, puzzles to solve and meaty combat. While it may not be the most imaginative in terms of level design, the moves and tools at your disposal mean you have to use your brain as well as your reflexes to progress through the enjoyable areas.
It also looks rather lovely too, offering large areas to gallop about in and enclosed caves and stone buildings to explore. And of course, you get to play as Death, which is awesome. Okami HD may be as close as well get to a Zelda game on PS3, but Darksiders 2 is pretty close. Just much, much more grown-up.
41. Saints Row: The Third
Divisive game, Saints Row. On the one hand, people love it because the humour is so over-the-top and outlandish. Being able to mess around quite so liberally in an open world is a thing of beauty. On the other hand, its a bit childish, and not a great action game. When making this list, we let our inner child (the one that still laughs at fart jokes) put Saints Row: The Third at 41. He has a lot to answer for.
Still, where else can you beat random people to death with a bat shaped like a massive cock? Or call excessive airstrikes onto your enemies in the middle of a densely packed urban area? GTA 5 may have all the well-written scripts, the incredible worlds, and the well-rounded characters, but Saints Row has a gun that fires fucking octopuses.
40. inFamous 2
Sometimes you just want to murder someone by zapping them with lightning from your hands. For those times in your life, inFamous 2 exists. There are other times, too. Times when you want to fling cars at people, free-run up buildings, and play as a character with less personality than a damp sponge. For these times, too, inFamous 2 exists.
What were trying to get at here is that inFamous 2 is all about options. Not the rather binary good vs evil options in the story, but the choice to approach missions as you want and to explore the games rather nice, futuristic New Orleans. Yet another winning PS3 exclusive.
39. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Marvel vs Capcom 2 seemed like the end of the line for the series. Probably because it pushed the tag team formula to its logical conclusion and to the limits of technological possibility, even with 2D sprites. PS3 made a 3D-rendered MvC not only possible, but actual. And the result is so good, you can literally make convincing comic book scenes out of its still-frames.
The fan-service is impeccable, with a barnstorming roster of characters and more squeal-inducing background cameos than ever. But its beauty is more than skin-deep. The launchers, aerial combo system and team-up moves make for devastating attacks in the hands of an experienced player. But the inexperienced will love UMvC3 too, because simply pressing a button makes incredible things happen on your TV screen.
38. Valkyria Chronicles
One for hardcore strategists, and people with a passion for all things Japanese, Valkyria Chronicles is that rarest of beast: a genuine, third-party PlayStation exclusive. It does a fine job of blending RPG mechanics with a deep, satisfying strategy system, wrapping both up in a suitably off-centre plot.
What impresses most, though, is the creativity of the world. Its a fantasy reimagining of World War 2 Europe, as er, seen through the eyes of Japanese developers. Conceptually, its a mess, but it holds together as one of the most original worlds on PlayStation. Thanks, Sega.
37. Rayman Legends
Charm and craft are greatly under-rated in games. Badassery, visual fidelity, viscerality and pseudo-cinematic storytelling get all the attention. But thats all the more reason we need games like Rayman Legends. After largely sitting out the mascot war for a generation after becoming gamings favourite platform-game whipping boy, Raymans return is an absolutely glorious spectacle.
Not so much a return to form, as the achievement of a new level of quality rarely reached by any platformer, Rayman Legends spiralling imagination ekes vast, thrilling, often hilarious spectacle out of its drumskin-tight core controls. One of the most beautiful, witty, and loveably whimsical platformers ever made, its also one of the most creatively varied and gleefully well-meaning games youll ever play.
36. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
It shouldnt have worked. It shouldnt have even been attempted. It should have been a dumbed-down, lite-RPG cyberpunk shooter with a recognisable name stapled on. But miraculously, Eidos Montreals Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the real thing, a layered, complex, entirely player-driven action-RPG with freedom, creative thinking and choice at the core of its every element.
Effectively whatever game you want it to be, its even more impressive that DE:HR manages to offer so much customisation of experience while also being so coherent. Its dense story of conspiracy and philosophical tension--both global and personal--will drag you along whatever you choose your characters stance to be, and the cohesive, lived-in nature of its world-building is second to none.
35. Burnout Paradise
When Burnout Paradise came out, multiplatform games were always better on Xbox 360. Not so this. Criterion always made PS2 sing and PS3s Burnout Paradise still looks sensational. It revised the Burnout formula too, combining an open world city and surrounding countryside to race around. But the wealth of enjoyable things to do make this better than the recent Need For Speed: Most Wanted--Burnout's more popular stable-mate.
Its in the little things, like trying to handbrake-turn your car into a parking space (for which it grades you), or trying to leap down the side of a mountain and land without totalling your car. DLC patches even fixed the few annoyances in the original releases structure, meaning this truly is a Burnout-themed paradise. Great soundtrack, too.
34. LittleBigPlanet 2
With the possible exception of Minecraft, no other console game nurtures the imaginations and creativity of its players like LittleBigPlanet 2. The first games user-content creation tools were a revolution in player freedom, and the sequel not only refines these options, but expands them to allow you--yes, you--to create not only fresh levels, but whole new stories, worlds and even games. And the stuff the community has created is unbelievable.
No, LittleBigPlanet 2 doesnt have as sophisticated a platforming system as the Marios and Raymans of this world (its still heaps of fun, regardless), but to judge the game on these terms is as short-sighted as dismissing War and Peace because you dont like the font its printed in. Simply put, this is one of the most important, relevant, and entertaining games on any PlayStation.
33. Far Cry 3
Yes, Far Cry 3 is a great shooter, set on a wonderfully-realised island archipelago. However, the thing that most impresses about the game is the quality of its cast, both in terms of personality and acting. Its unusual to meet so many memorable characters in a game, let alone a first-person shooter. Yet Vaas, Buck, and Citra--to name three--are some of the most memorable antagonists in games.
Damn good job, really, as protagonist Jason Brody is something of a douche. Still, its not really about Brody its about exploring the islands, meeting their quirky inhabitants, and shooting a whole load of dudes and animals in the face.
32. Gran Turismo 6
Polyphony Digital made a rod for its own back when they made Gran Turismo, as the weight of expectation grew with every earth-shattering release until it was time to hit PS3. GT5 did not live up to expectations. But GT6 absolutely does. It is clearly GT5 with all of the problems addressed (not all necessarily fixed) as opposed to a brand new game, but the tweaks and additions have made this not only worthy of the name, but also pushed the console to its limits.
Not only does it run at (mostly) 60fps, it also supports 1080p, which means this is keeping up with games like Forza 5 on the next-generation Xbox One. Theres very little to choose between the visuals, which is a credit to Yamauchi and his team. But GT6 also offers a stupidly large number of tracks, wet-weather racing and day/night racing with real-time transitions. The content list is vast, the quality is consistently high and the driving is the best ever.
31. Resistance 3
The Resistance series went from decent launch game to disappointing sequel to FPS masterpiece over the course of the PS3s lifespan. Its a shame then, that Resistance 3--the FPS masterpiece from the first sentence--signalled the end of the series. Theres something so utterly right about R3. Its the way the alternate-reality '50s setting combines with the mad, yet satisfying, alien weaponry, and mixes in with the heart-warming story of a father protecting his family that makes this game a stand-out.
Each stage is well pitched too--there are few, if any, weak moments--and the combat is slicker than a gull plucked from the gulf of Mexico. Every time you think youve got it nailed, the story throws another situation or problem at you, forcing you to adapt and explore the games versatility even further. Which youll gladly do to bring Joe Capellis sad, hopeful tale to its thrilling conclusion.
30. Fallout 3
Theres something warm and satisfying about settling into a deep, tactical, story-rich RPG. Even one thats set in a grim, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Fallout 3 is one of the most involving, well-realised RPGs of all time, and its depth means you can play for 50 hours and still only really scratch the surface. The DC wasteland, while initially depressing, soon reveals all kinds of humorous quirks and bizarre little pockets that fuel your lust for exploration, and the soundtracks mix of DJ comment and '50s tunes stave off loneliness.
Not only that, but the combat is pretty accomplished too. Not quite a shooter, not quite a turn-based strategy system, the VATS mechanic neatly blends the two together, and throws in plenty of messy kill animations to boot. World, action, and plot all feed into a sensible player progression system too, making this a well-rounded RPG.
29. DiRT 2
DiRT 2 is the finest blend of real-world driving simulation and arcade fun available on PS3. The handling model is sublime, offering quick, reactive steering while allowing you to drift into handbrake turns and tame a snarling rally car on tarmac and dirt. Graphically, it has to be seen to be believed, especially when you slow down the instant replay feature to a crawl and watch light bouncing off rippling pools of water.
The festival atmosphere, sensational soundtrack and general feeling of involvement makes this an ever-welcoming racer that plainly only exists to make sure you have a good time. And while it shouldnt make that big a difference, its mainly the sunshine atmosphere that makes this superior to Dirt 3. If you long for longer rally stages, go for that instead, but for everything else, stick with Dirt 2.
The blueprint for how to turn an old-school kick in the ass into one of the freshest, most exciting games of modern times. Reworking and revitalising the immersive sim format of his work on classics such as System Shock and Deus Ex, with a healthy chunk of Thief thrown in to boot, Harvey Smith created one of the most intelligent, puristic, yet utterly free do anything simulators in years.
All at once a hardcore stealth game, first-person brawler, and even, if you want it to be, an FPS of sorts, Dishonored is a premium example of what can be achieved when you create powerful, game-changing systems and trust the player to invent with them. As will attest anyone whos ever fired a crossbow bolt from the rafters, stopping time, teleported down to choke a second victim, and then disappeared before the first one has even hit the ground.
27. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Can a neat and innovative control mechanic make a game, in and of itself? No. But when its tied to something deeper, when that gameplay idea has been designed with specific, emotional purpose rather than existing in isolation, then you can be on to something special. In Brothers, you control both characters simultaneously--one analogue stick each--in a single-player co-op set-up. That makes for some interesting puzzling, but when the game starts to expand its themes of mutual reliance and teamwork, it becomes something much more powerful.
While its gameplay is never overly taxing, challenge really isnt the point. Brothers puzzles, or rather the physical means by which theyre solved, are an ambient storytelling technique, each interaction and piece of supportive co-operation telling more about the characters, their relationship, and their evolving journey than any amount of dialogue-heavy cutscenes could. Inspired, economical, interactive narrative.
26. Diablo 3
On the surface, Diablo 3 seems a simple game. Its isometric, top-down dungeon crawling with a heavy emphasis on bagging loot and shooting / slashing waves of enemy mobs. Theres little in the way of puzzle solving, combat variety, or interesting enemies. Ha--its almost too simple! you say to yourself as you chew through the first hour. Ha--it really is too simple! you mumble to yourself, 8 hours later, having not eaten or slept.
Yes, Diablo 3 is pure gaming. Its all about grabbing as much virtual shiny-shit as possible, and tinkering with your abilities until your thumbs fall off. The co-op mode means you can share your questing with friends (always a bonus), but solo-play is just as much baffling, inexplicably uncomplicated, fun.
25. Borderlands 2
You like first-person shooters, right? You like beating an area and then finding a massive great chest full of loot? Like that loot to be even bigger guns? Then this is the game for you. Borderlands 2 is a massive and massively enjoyable shooter that can be played solo or in co-op with up to three other players as you smash up smaller grunts and gargantuan bosses alike.
But it can also be played in two-player split-screen, which makes for over 100 hours of local-play fun. The visuals combine cel-shading with detailed textures giving the game a unique and attractive aesthetic, and its wicked sense of humour is as funny as it is dark. Which is very. Be warned, it may leave you saying things like Im the conductor of the poop train!, but if thats something that sounds acceptable to you, then get right on this.
Braid was one of the first games to really show the experimental, creative potential of downloadable gaming, and it remains one of the finest works delivered by the medium to date. Intricate, ingenious, and infuriating in all the right ways, Braids unique temporal puzzling alone would be worth the price of admission. But theres much more going on here than just that.
Awash with the ambient beauty of its musical score and ethereal visual tribute to 8-bit gaming, Braids adult, narrative subtext, should you choose to explore it, will send you reeling by the end of the game.
23. Dragon Age Origins
Is Skyrim too casual for you? Does its universal appeal, its lush world, and its real-time combat offend your D20-shaped eyes? If so, you probably worship at the altar of Dragon Age: Origins. This is hours of pure fantasy RPG, woven together by a story so full of lore-speak and busty elves, youd expect Tolkien to use that resurrection potion stashed in his coffin to come back to life with the sole purpose of suing BioWares ass off.
Sadly, too many are deterred by Origins basic visuals and tough, turn-based combat to really invest the hours in this finely crafted game. Get to grips with it and the characters really come to life, the combat system becomes an art, and the sexy scenes between man and dwarf well, no, theyre always a bit weird.
22. Battlefield 4
Whats the best Battlefield game on PS3? Well, one school of thought considers Bad Company 2s multiplayer to the be purest, thanks to its genre-leading destruction and well-balanced classes. Others think its Battlefield 1943, thanks to the superb maps and low, low price. History, though, will probably judge Battlefield 4 as the finest experience because it combines the strengths of all the other great BF games into a single package. And--whisper it--the single player is pretty good too.
Yes, this is the same Battlefield 4 that launched with more terrifying bugs than a rainforest, but the end result--now that it works--is an unrivalled team-shooter that pushes PS3s tired hardware to its limits.
21. FIFA 12
Why not FIFA 13? Or 14? Well, that iteration in the long-running sports series changed a few fundamentals--like game speed and defensive AI--and the result felt like change for changes sake. in terms of the slickest gameplay and best-presented footie action, FIFA 12 is where its at. Multiplayer, whether online or local, is exemplary and bridges the gap between generations of gamers.
The official FIFA license gives unparalleled authenticity and the player likenesses are as good as were likely to see on current-gen. Add in the Ultimate Team management mode and youre sorted for months and months of rewarding solo play. And, being out of date in terms of the real-world season, youll be able to find it cheap too. Perfect.
20. COD4: Modern Warfare
Whatever you think of CODs current state, theres no denying that Modern Warfare was a watershed moment for games. Not only did it revive the tired FPS genre, and transform Call of Duty from ok shooter into OMG shooter, it set a benchmark for multiplayer gaming and provided an incredible, 8 hour rollercoaster of a story that few have matched since. The ghillie suit stage, the opening scenes on the tanker, that ending Modern Warfare is stuffed full of memorable moments.
And guess what--it has aged really well. While subsequent Call of Duty games have attempted to build on Modern Warfare, making the action ever more bombastic, this stands as an exercise in stripped back, streamlined entertainment. Theres no fluff here, just 8 hours of smooth FPS action that still outclasses all its imitators.
19. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Old Snake may have a creaky back and snarl even more than he used to, but hes still got it where it counts. MGS4 is still a technical showcase for PS4, just as MGS2 was for PS2 before it. But, crucially, it uses the advancements in technology to better its gameplay. The camouflage suit, in particular, is not only fun to use but useful in the tense stealth situations you find yourself in.
You could criticise Kojima and his team for making the storyline too complex and movie-like (especially in terms of the length of its cut-scenes), but the cast of characters and bosses are all memorable and theres no denying the drama at the games conclusion. However, had one scene in particular ended the other way, this would likely be even higher up this list. Still essential gaming if you own a PS3.
18. Dead Space 2
Few games offer the same sickening dilemma as Dead Space 2. While you want to play the game to explore the beautifully broken Sprawl, you also constantly live in fear that something nightmarish is watching your every move. DS2 strikes a neat balance between the originals constant scares, and a more robust combat system. The horrors are just as real, but now Isaac is more capable of fighting back.
While this does diminish the helplessness you feel, Dead Space 2 is more of a rounded game as a result. Plus, the Necromorphs in this sequel are true abominations: they set the gold standard for video game monsters, and deliver some trouser-ruining scares.
17. Dark Souls
Forget the obvious talk of Dark Souls difficulty. The truly initiated know that the challenge is only the smallest part of the game, acting as a conduit to its peerlessly satisfying interactions and immense depth. Dark Souls world spoon-feeds you nothing, and delivers a swift and bloody death for irresponsible play, but it does so from a place of pure benevolence.
No matter how insurmountable the odds may look, Dark Souls flawless combat, staggering freedom, and deceptively ingenious level design ensure that there is always a way. Far from the punishing task-master many believe it to be, its a game that both believes in and trusts its player. It wants you to do well, and it rewards you gloriously when you do. And it always, always gives you the tools you need to do so. You just have to find and understand them for yourself.
No dialogue, no overt plot, no combat, no way to die. Yet has any game ever provided a more complete experience, filled with so many agonised, terrifying lows and such jubilant, exhilarating moments of joy? Well, yeah, but no many of them...
Thatgamecompanys Journey is a masterpiece of abstract storytelling, emotion through gameplay, and exquisitely beautiful world-building. Its freeform exploration and platform-puzzling are captivating in themselves, but every single element of Journey, from visuals, to sound design, to the very feel of control, is precisely designed to evoke deep and affecting meaning every step of the way. And as for its anonymous co-operative multiplayer, you simply will never have felt so attached to another player in a video game. Not ever.
15. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
One of the most economically brilliant games on the PS3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown delivers enough thrilling, edge-of-the-seat action, cerebrally satisfying gameplay, and engrossing emotional involvement to rival any AAA epic. All without a single moment of real-time action. Its turn-based squad-shooting is immediately accessible, even to a total strategy noob, yet holds fathoms of depth once youve navigated its friendly-as-a-hug learning curve.
Despite superficially playing like a board game, its skirmishes and ground wars unfold in spectacular fashion, creating the kind of emergent set-pieces and skin-of-the-teeth stand-offs that youll remember as real-time, Hollywood blockbusters. It takes 20 minutes to pick up, but youll be obsessing into many a late night for months. An absolute gem.
14. BioShock Infinite
Ken Levine and his (now sadly disbanded) team at Irrational Games spent five years creating the true sequel to BioShock, while 2K Marin made the numbered BioShock 2. Clearly they didnt waste a single second of that time. The artistic direction and flair is consistent everywhere you look, perfectly realising a city suspended in the clouds better than anyone could ever have expected.
While the drip-feed of narrative exposition is intriguing enough, nothing can prepare you for the mind-blowing final reveal, which should not be spoiled here. So while the shooting itself may be a tad too functional to carry the game in its own right, and there are certainly peaks and troughs in the experience, you come away from BioShock Infinite feeling like youve just experienced something incredibly special.
13. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Pirates. Thats what the Assassins Creed series needed to revive its fortunes after a number of increasingly lacklustre spin-offs and sequels that followed Assassins Creed 2. While AC2 remains one of the finest sequels ever made, Black Flag is a far more complete game. Why? Aside from the fact it looks stunning, AC4 is stuffed with interesting things to do, and provides you with a likeable character to do them with. Edward Kenway is just the kind of rogue the series needed to fill Ezio Auditores boots.
Yes, there are problems: an over-reliance on tailing missions and a story that fades out instead of finishing with a bang. However, the world you can explore, and the wealth of distractions more than makes up for it. Plus, it has a load of catchy sea shanties, which earns it another big thumbs up.
12. The Walking Dead
Heres an interesting thing. Zombies are one of the most used--overused, in fact--tools in horror gaming, but very rarely are they actually scary. Lumbering, meaty target-practice, thats what they usually are. The Walking Dead, however, gets back to the root of what makes zombies, and good horror in general, affecting: Real, slow-burning, emotionally powerful human drama.
With some of the best writing and acting in games, not to mention the most painful, almost impossible moral decisions, The Walking Dead drops you into a nightmare situation and forces you to try to make not the best of it, but the least-worst. Youll agonise over every choice and conversation, and in the end youll never have entirely the right answer. There are no heroes here. Just those still left alive.
11. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
There are a lot of things to talk about when discussing the greatness of Street Fighter IV. Theres the seamless blend of endlessly explorable, opened-ended depth and immediate, pick-up-and-play accessibility. Theres the immaculate balance across a roster now comprising 39 fighters. Theres the wonderful sense of humour in the games combat animations and character design, the latter tied beautifully into each world warriors play-style and flow. Theres the subtle and powerful nuance of the Focus Attack/dash-cancel system.
But theres something much simpler at play in Street Fighter IV that isnt talked about half enough, and thats the fact that its just immense fun, pure and simple. The fighting game of a generation, no two ways about it.
10. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
When it launched, Skyrim was a bit of a technical mess on PS3. Excessive load times, caching problems, massive slow-down, and a total lack of DLC strategy blighted the game throughout 2012. Some problems have never been resolved since. However, such is the scope and majesty of this game that--despite all its problems--it still merits a top 10 placing. Had it been largely bug-free, Skyrim may well have made the top 3.
In terms of scale and ambition, theres no other game like Skyrim. Its world is vast yet detailed, violent yet beautiful. Inside that incredible playing-space is a deep, deep RPG system that essentially lets you build your own 200+ hour story, mixing vast world-changing quests with smaller, more personal tales. The skill and crafting systems are simple to understand, yet complex enough to withstand months of scrutiny, and there are 1000s of pages of lore to digest if thats your thing. This isnt just a great game: its a wonderful, unparalleled experience, inside which you can lose yourself for weeks at a time.
9. Tomb Raider
Lara Croft is becoming the Doctor Who of video games, changing her face so frequently, nobodys surprised when it happens any more. But her most recent regeneration in Tomb Raider is the one she should stick with. On the one hand, the grim, macabre plot controversially charts Laras evolution from innocent academic to ruthless killer, but on the other it provides sufficient basis for a varied and captivating thrillride of an adventure game--and one that looks absolutely stunning on PS3.
The game allows you to revisit areas with the classic now I have new moves/equipment template, which means its a joy to keep playing and try to reach that magic 100% completion rating. Multiplayers not bad, either. Games of such a consistently high quality dont come around too often, so make sure you play it. Just watch out for the branches in the river. Lets just say they leave a mark.
8. GTA 5
Probably the biggest evolution Grand Theft Auto has enjoyed since it went 3D, GTA 5 takes the essence of what has always made the series great, dismantles it, and rebuilds it with a new, fresh, altogether more thoughtful, and entirely reinvigorated structure. The three-protagonist set-up does far, far more than simply mix up the characterisation, building sophisticated dramatic irony as three separate storylines twist and conflict, all under control of the player. Even better, its now finally possible to play GTA any way you want to, and have it make sense. Between naive nice-guy Franklin, aggressive family-man Michael and benevolent psychopath Trevor, suddenly all play-styles are catered for without breaking the integrity of the games stunningly realised world.
As for that world... never has an open video game setting been so expansive, so richly varied, so cohesive, and so utterly, vibrantly reactive. It takes days--weeks, maybe--of immersion to truly realise its nuances, but for now, just know that in terms of form, feel and function, its the closest games have yet come to recreating the real world.
7. Red Dead Redemption
Is Red Dead a better game than GTA 5? Its a close call. While GTAs San Andreas is a more densely detailed world, theres a certain beauty to the concept and story of Red Dead that just tips it for us. Few other games create such a glorious sense of time and place. All your actions and interactions within this games rugged landscapes just make sense, and its the perfect backdrop for John Marsdens tough tale of injustice and loss--a narrative that climaxes in one of the boldest, most memorable endings of any game, ever.
Ok, thats enough with the flowery descriptions: its also super cool to be a Clint Eastwood-esque, outlaw badass. Shooting angry Mexicans, lassoing criminals, and charging through the scrub on a horse--its like an interactive Sergio Leone movie. The set-pieces are ripped straight out of the finest classic Westerns, and the understated soundtrack perfectly mirrors the on-screen action. Red Dead is the complete package.
6. Batman: Arkham City
How do you make the best superhero game of all time () better? You add a whole lot more of it, and and drop all of that into one of the best-realised open-world cities ever seen in a game. Smartly choosing fidelity, personality and meaningful design over sheer scale for scales sake, Rocksteadys quarantined chunk of Gotham is one of the most striking, affecting and most entirely purposeful environments seen in an entire generation. Letting the empowering yet perfectly balanced mechanics of the first game really fly, literally and figuratively, Arkham Citys structure is an equally grand victory in both gameplay and aesthetic terms.
But just as importantly, it never dominates or detracts from what made Arkham Asylum great. The same mix of intelligent, creative sandbox stealth and taxing, thrilling, almost musical combat still underpins everything, and is even better than it ever was before. That Arkham City also plays host to a Batman story dark, dramatic and entirely epic enough to stand up in any medium is just the icing on the utility cake.
Valve fulfilled the less is more axiom flawlessly in Portal, proving that all you need is one good idea, explored to its full potential, to create a classic. Genuinely bewildering in its newness upon first play, Portal takes a wrecking ball to all your previous notions of physics, forcing you to learn whole new ways of interpreting the world. Then, gradually, through a series of perfectly paced tasks, it allows you to master your new perspective along a brilliant, terrifying, hilarious and touching journey of rebellion and empowerment.
Any single element of Portal, from its core gameplay conceit, to its clinical, yet characterful visual design, to its brilliantly pitched, laugh-out-loud, disarmingly affecting script, would be the standout part of any other game. But Portal has all of them, all seamlessly melded in that dense, complex, immaculate way that Valve consistently makes look utterly effortless. A startling experience, not even bettered by its own stellar sequel.
It took a while for PS3 to get BioShock, but good Lord, was it worth the wait. The first truly defining, AAA game of the last generation, it set standards of gameplay depth, world-building, atmosphere and narrative ambition that many other developers spent the following seven years desperately trying to match. From its still unbettered opening sequence, its clear that BioShock is different to anything that came before it.
The complete, cohesive creation of a world like Rapture is a vast achievement in itself, but to ensure that the compulsive, ever-escalating RPG-shooter action only ever feeds further into the believability and immersion of that world? Thats just showing off. And dont forget the games powerful soundtrack in this equation, which blends stirring strings with perfectly chosen vintage recordings, to create a soundscape in which coherent, moving tone is king. Presenting a setting and story like no other, and filling them with action as thoughtful as it is exhilarating, BioShock is as unique and completely realised a vision as youll find in gaming.
3. Mass Effect 2
While Mass Effect 3 is technically more polished, theres something about this sequel that makes it the superior game. Its just got more magic. Everything in Mass Effect 2 is a delight to experience, and the game runs players through a real range of emotions as they play out the story. The game kicks off with a ballsy start, essentially killing off Shepard and ripping the Normandy to pieces. The remainder is about rebuilding and redemption, as you cobble together a loveable crew of misfits to tackle a heroic suicide mission.
The overarching story provides the pace and structure, while the more personal stories onboard the Normandy (Mk2) pull you in different emotional directions. Do you side with Miranda or Jack? The Geth or the Quarians? Can you save your crew from the Collectors? Who, if anyone, will you sacrifice in the suicide mission? While many games give players choices, few offer the same level of involvement with the plot, thereby adding immense weight to the decisions you make. It all adds up to a wonderful, self-contained story, that truly conveys the highs and lows of being the hero. Its almost a secondary concern that the RPG / shooter gameplay is slick and pleasing to tinker with, or that the game looks amazing and offers incredible scale...
2. Uncharted 2
Uncharted 2 is the very definition of an adventure game. Its part Indiana Jones, part James Bond, part Lara Croft, and all utterly awesome. While U3 ups the ante in terms of set-pieces, this second game strikes the best balance between action, puzzles, platforming and witty quips. The story itself is a classic tale of betrayal, violence and love rivalry, and each member of the cast fits perfectly into the drama.
Crucially, though, every aspect of the game is pure fun. Whether youre zip-lining over roof-tops in the mountain village, dodging tank fire, or solving a tricky, statue-based puzzle, theres never a dull moment. The sheer variety of interactions and set-pieces, combined with all the hopping from stunning location to stunning location, ensure that Uncharted 2 never grows stale or samey. Even the under-used multiplayer mode, played only by a tiny percentage of Uncharted 2 owners, packs entertainment value into every encounter. Its all tied together with a fluid control scheme and jaw-dropping visuals, that still impress over 4 years after launch.
1. The Last of Us
It feels fitting that the PS3s best game arrived towards the end of its life. Arguably a culmination of everything that AAA gaming grew to be over the course of the last generation, its a masterpiece of affecting, mature storytelling and ingenious, gameplay-driven narrative; one that uses the graphical power of a fully-mastered console as much for emotional resonance as for visual impact. Dropping the player into a beautifully realised, nuanced, all-too believable nightmare world, The Last of Us provides the tools to survive, but wisely never the means to launch a truly empowered fight back. Every encounter and achievement in the game matters, not because of prescribed spectacle or contrived, cartoon heroism, but because of the need for the the player to bring their own instincts and wits to the table.
And thats just the start of how The Last of Us builds empathy during every step of its harrowing journey through the emotional wringer. Its a perfect game, from a first-party Sony developer at the peak of its ability (so far), and something that no owner of a PlayStation 3 has any right to miss. Truly, the full-stop at the end of the generation.
What are your choices?
There you have it: the 50 best games to ever grace PS3. Who knows, maybe we'll add another couple of games before the console officially retires. For now, though, let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Tell us about your favourite PlayStation games, and what they mean to you.