Welcome to the second installment of our best platform exclusives feature. The first time around, we decided to pick our 10 favorite Xbox 360 games. This time, we’re on the PlayStation 3.
Now, there are still some stellar looking PlayStation 3 games to come, so this list is valid only for the Spring of 2013. Keep that in mind as you see the games we selected.
Furthermore, these are our favorites. We sat down and thought of the PlayStation 3 games that earned our love, our free time and a permanent place in our gaming library.
It’s worth noting that Ron and I had a hard time compiling 10 undeniably great games for the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3, though, was much easier. It seems all of Microsoft’s best exclusives were temporary. Some of their most wonderful games started on the system and then jumped to other platforms. Sony, on the other hand, kept so many great games that it was easy to pick our favorites.
Without further ado, here we go.
3D Dot Game Heroes
Sure, call it a Zelda copycat. That’s totally fine. In fact, Silicon Studios, the developers behind the game, were clearly paying homage (or ripping off, depending upon your perspective) to the Zelda franchise with almost every mechanic in the game.
But that’s all good. 3D Dot Game Heroes boasts a wonderful aesthetic and a supremely fun set of features. It’s a game made for fans of games. This product practically serves as a history book for all the best adventure game mechanics used through the early ages of game creation.
For lovers of retro games, this thing is a slam dunk. While it might not have done that well in Japan, in sold more than 150,000 copies here in the States. Sure, not the type of numbers that mega blockbuster games need to survive, but it was enough to justify Atlus bringing it beyond Japan. In fact, it was several time greater than what they expected the game to sell.
3D Dot Game Heroes will always stand as one of my favorite homages to the way games used to be. It’s not a perfect ride, but it’ll definitely put a massive grin on any classic gamer’s face.
A true sleeper hit. Demon’s Souls came out of nowhere, tore through the critics’ circles with universal praise, went toe-to-toe with the biggest budgeted AAA games during the 2009 game awards season, and emerged with a handful of GotY awards.
Demon’s Souls is a brutal video game, the kind that realizes rewards are better cherished when they are earned through adversity. This is a hard video game, where one misplaced step or one mistimed swing can mean instant death, loss of all your progress, and a quick trip back to square one.
In a world where AAA games are becoming easier and easier, Demon’s Souls was a breath of fresh air reminding us all that simply being handed a victory is no fun. The haunting atmosphere surrounding this game doesn’t hurt its image either.
It also started a trend towards more asynchronous multiplayer in video games. Co-op and competitive gaming had been the only mainstay concepts of online gaming, but Demon’s Souls had players passively interacting with each other. Since then, more and more games have been copying its ideas.
My sole Western developed exclusive comes from Sucker Punch, the genius team behind the PlayStation 2 era Sly Cooper games. Fans were left high and dry for years, wondering if the thieving raccoon would make a PlayStation 3 appearance, and while it eventually would through a different developer, all was forgiven with the exceptional work put into the inFamous series.
With very few exceptions, I am not a fan of the open-city sandbox genre. I often find their mechanics too shallow and repetitive to back a 20-30 hour experience, but the inFamous series is one of the few which is able to find a good balance between interaction with a grand scale city and having the combat to back it up.
Most importantly is a unique way of travel. Driving and running is simply not enough. inFamous allows for easy and speedy travel through the use of grinding along power lines or gliding through electric propulsion.
Overall, it is the best open-world exclusive experience the platform offers, and ranks among the upper tier of game within the genre. A few of the game’s “moral choice” moments raise a few questions about the storytelling ability, but as a playground of action, very few match the quality of Sucker Punch’s first trip into a tired genre.
Man, what can I say about Journey that hasn’t already been said a million times over by critics and gamers around the world? This masterpiece from thatgamecompany proved to be one of the best games of this generation, and it really only takes a few hours to experience.
Stunning visuals, a superb art direction, a Grammy nominated soundtrack, a mystifying storyline and a nearly anonymous multiplayer system that adds to the haunting experience. Journey remains unlike anything we’ve ever played, and its got a home on the PlayStation 3.
I suppose that’s one of the things that I’ve loved most about Sony’s current system. Aside from the PC platform, the PlayStation 3 almost became synonymous with indie gaming. Journey is only one of several wonderful indie games that call the PS3 home. It also stands, in my humble opinion, as the cream of the crop.
Journey could stand as the sole proof that games are art in any argument. It’s beautiful. If you’ve never played it, pony up the scratch and give it a go.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Metal Gear Solid 4 was released after a massive three year hype machine led many gamers to believe that this was the final entry in the fabled series. Kojima threatened to retire…again. Snake was old and was seen putting a gun in his mouth on several occasions. All questions and answers from Metal Gear Solid 2 were going to be put to rest.
Did it deliver the impossible?
Depends on who you ask really. Metal Gear Solid 4 was released to critical acclaim around the net, but fan reaction wasn’t as universal. Many pointed to extended cutscenes, including an epic one hour dialogue after the credits, and cheesy subplots as a weakness for the games.
However, I always gave Metal Gear Solid 4 the benefit of the doubt. Wrapping up the stupidly complex tale from Kojima’s warped mind is a task not many games could have handled gracefully, but somehow it pulled it off. It was a daring story to tell and didn’t fall into modern day conventions, boldly sticking to its guns where other series would have mainstreamed themselves.
Nostalgia also ran through this game’s veins with ten years of references to favored memories. A return to Shadow Moses, a showdown between Metal Gear Ray and Metal Gear Rex, Revolver Ocelot’s fate finally sealed, and that awesome Snake Eater theme song playing while going fisticuffs during the game’s final confrontation.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a blast to play, but wasn’t the perfect title to wrap up the game with. The again though, it doesn’t really have to be. All that hype was a big lie, Kojima is not retiring from the series, two more Metal Gear games have been made since, and both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain are due out within the next year.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
As long as Ratchet & Clank games remain exclusive to the PlayStation line, I will pretty much always own a PlayStation console. It’s that simple.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is the best (and last proper) game in the franchise, as far as I’m concerned. Insomniac was able to release the fantastic space mechanics that have always been an obvious goal for this series. The ability to navigate galaxies and land on planets without a single loading screen is absolutely awesome.
A Crack in Time also stands as the first Ratchet title were Clank’s sections are just as fun as Ratchet’s. Insomniac created this really interesting puzzle game collection that depends entirely upon A Crack in Time’s unique time bending mechanics. Moving multiple phases of Clank through an environment to solve a complicated puzzle is a blast.
Plus, the visuals. This is pretty much a Pixar movie turned into a game. I love this series so much, I just wish Insomniac would get back to making proper games for it.
Yet another treasure from Japan, this one represents the smaller side of the country’s video game industry. Tokyo Jungle was made by a small team of developers within Sony, given a small budget, and was told to create something unique in line with the other indie PSN success stories in the West.
The result was just that. Tokyo Jungle is a small time arcade style game where gamers take animals and survive the harsh environments of an urban jungle. No scripted action scenes or big budget effects, this is a pure “video game” from top to bottom that gets by on its gameplay alone.
What makes it unique is that progress can only be made through practice and trial and error. Not unlike Demon’s Souls, it takes time and practice to learn the game’s deeper intricacies. Once you do though, cruising through the game is a blast because you feel like you’ve earned it.
Tokyo Jungle’s story mode also matches the subtle plots of Journey and The Unfinished Swan in wondering what would really happen if humans simply up and vanished. Most people point to the silliness of a pomeranian taking down a tiger as what they think of when this game is mentioned, but that is only skin deep. There is more to this tale than meets the eye.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, so far, stands as my favorite game in the franchise. The pacing, the narrative, the characters and the gameplay were all top-notch, and I think that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception missed those marks ever so slightly.
Plus, I’m a big sucker for games with really awesome snow environments, and Uncharted 2 has one of the best in the history of the medium.
There’s nothing quite like the witty banter that Naughty Dog creates for Sully and Nathan Drake. The duo share this sort of relationship that one only expects to find in the best action and adventure flicks that we all grew up on. Naughty Dog’s ability to channel that kind of passion and humor into the characters in these games is probably why I love them most.
Plus, Uncharted 2 was one of the first titles that blew me away in terms of graphics for the PlayStation 3. I’m specifically thinking of the helicopter battle in the city. Man, that was stunning.
One area the Xbox 360 was never able to quite match the PlayStation 3 with was a strong showing of exclusives from Japan. It probably has something to do with the console’s country of origin, and the promise of more is the only thing that keeps the PlayStation 4 on my radar.
For the PlayStation 3, no game better channeled the heyday of Japanese classics better than Valkyria Chronicles. Everything about this game, from the cheerful retelling of a wartime story to the lush and beautiful visuals to the solid strategy battle system, reminds of the best JRPGs when they were at the peak of their quality.
SEGA even tapped classic JRPG composer Hitoshi Sakimoto to score the game, and his music only adds to the nostalgia through memories of his classic compositions like Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story.
Other strategy games have come along and even surpassed Valkyria Chronicles in the depth and quality of their gameplay, but this extra added layer of emotion will keep its memory fresh for years to come after all of its competition have been forgotten.
Yakuza 4 was a game that I was more than a year late to playing. In fact, it was the first Yakuza title I’d ever even tried. I’ve since gone back and hit earlier games in the series, but this will always be the one that pushed me into giving it a whirl.
The truth of the matter is that I didn’t even buy it because of the action and storyline it promises. Instead, I picked up Yakuza 4 because I missed Japan. The setting for the game is so much like the cities I’ve visited that seeing it in motion online made me feel all nostalgic for the limited time I was in Japan.
But when I picked it up? Yep, it was awesome. This PlayStation 3 exclusive from Sega is a collection of mini-games, hilarious characters, terrible dialogue and an oily thick storyline. Not everything it does is perfect. In fact, most of what it does is just average. But, since Yakuza 4 dips its fingers into just about every gaming mechanic you can imagine (from locker hunting to playing golf), it’s a glorious mishmash of fun.
This is still one of my favorite games on the PlayStation 3, and it’s one that will stay in my collection from now until forever.
Honorable Mentions: LittleBigPlanet, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Heavy Rain, Resistance, Killzone 2, inFamous 2 and Katamari Forever.