15. 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.
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 not many of them...
Thatgamecompany's 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.
13. 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 you've 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 you'll be obsessing into many a late night for months. An absolute gem.
12. Wolfenstein: The New Order
From the moment it begins, Wolfenstein: The New Order screams with howling intensity and purpose. The series has never dabbled in subtlety, and that's no different here: you're still BJ Blazkowicz, you're still Nazi Hunter Supreme, and you're still ruthlessly efficient at your job. But what should be a mindless shooter suddenly finds itself examining the human cost of endless war and soul-crushing fascism, and thanks to the team at MachineGames, it's pretty good at doing both. You'll come for the dual-wielding MP-40s and old-school action, but you'll stay for the branching narrative and fleshed-out characters. Oh, and you'll shoot Nazis on the moon. Come on.
11. The Walking Dead
Here's 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, that's 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. You'll agonise over every choice and conversation, and in the end you'll never have entirely the right answer. There are no heroes here. Just those still left alive.
10. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
There are a lot of things to talk about when discussing the greatness of Street Fighter IV. There's the seamless blend of endlessly explorable, opened-ended depth and immediate, pick-up-and-play accessibility. There's the immaculate balance across a roster now comprising 39 fighters. There's 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. There's the subtle and powerful nuance of the Focus Attack/dash-cancel system.
But there's something much simpler at play in Street Fighter IV that isn't talked about half enough, and that's the fact that it's just immense fun, pure and simple. The fighting game of a generation, no two ways about it.
9. 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, it's 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 game's 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, it's the closest games have yet come to recreating the real world.
8. Red Dead Redemption
Is Red Dead a better game than GTA 5? It's a close call. While GTA's San Andreas is a more densely detailed world, there's 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 its rugged landscapes just make sense, and its' the perfect backdrop for John Marsden's tough tale of injustice and loss - a narrative that climaxes in one of the boldest, most memorable endings of any game, ever.
Ok, that's enough with the flowery descriptions: it's also super cool to be a Clint Eastwood-esque, outlaw badass. Shooting angry cowboys, lassoing criminals, and charging through the scrub on a horse - it's 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.
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 it's still unbettered opening sequence, it's 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? That's just showing off. And don't forget the 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 you'll find in gaming.
6. Uncharted 2
Uncharted 2 is the very definition of an adventure game. It's part Indiana Jones, part James Bond, part Lara Croft, and all utterly awesome. While U3 up's 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. It's all tied together with a fluid control scheme and jaw-dropping visuals, that still impress over 4 years after launch.
Turn to page 3 for our picks of the ultimate best PS3 games of all time