When the Sony PlayStation 3 first arrived on store shelves, people complained (much as they did with the PlayStation Vita) that it “had no games.” What a difference a few years make.
The Xbox 360 has an incredible array of titles (both from the big guns and indies), but the PlayStation 3 has far more memorable exclusives. Don’t get me wrong, Forza and Halo are amazing, but games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots tug my heartstrings, and will linger in my memories forever.
“Long live play,” the recent Sony campaign cheers; Sony’s exclusives have let me create my own world, and my own stories.
The Last of Us
After Jak and Daxter, Sony-owned studio NaughtyDog underwent a philosophical overhaul that saw all of its titles have a real-world tie-in. The games in the Uncharted series, for example, are based on historical fact or religious stories – The Last of Us took that one extra step. NaughtyDog took a real-world disease that affects creatures around the globe (the Cordyceps fungus), and transferred it to humans. The result was an apocalyptic title that blended action and survival-horror.
Martial law, corrupt military, the fear of our own kind — we immersed ourselves into the experience. Artists created replicas of the game’s relics, wrote fan fictions, and created incredible fan art. We questioned the morals of Joel’s decisions, and grew attached to Ellie. Little details like notes to loved ones, and graffiti reading “they did not suffer,” where children once clearly resided added a human touch. Uncharted 2 garnered the most awards of any PS3 game, but The Last of Us may very well surpass that. The Last of Us may be the masterpiece of this console generation.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The Uncharted series’ second installment is by far the most captivating and game in the franchise. From the first cinematic to the last, you’re taken on an emotional rollercoaster that sees you laughing at Drake’s smart ass remarks and then sitting on the edge of your seat due to high-tension moments. From epic battles on moving trains to endless firefights throughout Tibet, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a massive improvement over the original.
Much like the first Uncharted, the second installment has another crazy twist, but it works well within the scope of the story. Uncharted 2 environments are absolutely astonishing and varied: They include everything from rain forests to ice caves (complete with Yetis!) to the unbelievable beautiful Shangri La. The first installment has some change in environments, but nothing nearly as impressive as this.
Uncharted 2 will go down in history as one of the greatest action-adventure games of all time.
Until Heavy Rain, most people were unfamiliar with QuanticDream, or its first interactive-story title: Indigo Prophecy. Many gamers overlooked Indigo Prophecy, but the players who did pick it up were treated to a breathtaking experience. Indigo represents David Cage’s first attempt at an interactive story, and there are some obvious flaws. The graphics are weak, the voice acting sub-par, and controls wonky. However, its dark, mature storyline is one that isn’t easily forgotten once experienced. Five years later, Cage gave us Heavy Rain.
Heavy Rain is by far one of the most adult (and I don’t mean porn, kids) and dark stories ever told in a video game. You start off in the traps of the mundane (brushing your teeth and taking a shower), but the story quickly picks up from there, taking you for a ride through the lives of four different individuals as you try and find the infamous Origami Killer. The voice acting isn’t the greatest in the world, but the characters are real. I find myself quite frequently identifying with Norman Jayden, the FBI agent with an addiction.
Heavy Rain has several different endings dependent on which choices you make during the story. This gives the adventure title extremely high replay value, and keeps you thinking about its layers many moons after completion.
To quote Yahtzee of Zero Puncuation, “first of all, you have to buy the game to figure out what the hell twing-twang even is.” I probably played Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword demo a hundred times after school at the Sony store in downtown San Francisco before I bought my PS3 and finally played it to completion. The graphics are extremely impressive, especially for a launch title, and the controls fluid. Switching between the three weapon styles is simple, and makes the combat resemble a violent dance. You can compare the gameplay to God of War, but for a more accurate description, it’s more akin to Platinum Games’ Bayonetta.
Nariko’s story is well written; it has the feel of a Greek myth sprinkled with a bit of Dante’s Inferno. Nariko’s father is captured, and she’s given the sword to fight her way and rescue him. However, the sword has a downside: It drains the wielders life the more that it’s used. The story itself is a tragic one, but also rewarding. You fight for the truth, and you get the truth…and that’s all what matters in the end.
If you haven’t played Journey yet, I recommend doing so as soon as possible. Developer Thatgamecompany is famous for making simple games with aesthetically pleasing, emotion-stirring features. Journey easily topped their previous works, Flow and Flower. Journey unfolds without words, and its synopsis can only be guessed as you watch the cutscenes. Your character treks through a seemingly never-ending desert toward the top of the mountain with a large, gleaming light. As you travel, you encounter the remnants of a once thriving civilization.
Journey is slick. It’s a single-player game, but it’s also a multiplayer game. But it’s not a traditional multiplayer. If someone online is on the same point of the journey as you, Journey merges your games. You cannot see this person’s PSN handle, and you cannot reach out by text or voice — you can only communicate by in-game singing. The other person is not required to advance, either. If you choose to quicken or slow your pace disregarding the other person, neither of you are affected. This makes for a very emotional experience.
“[The plan was] to create a game where people felt they are connected with each other, to show the positive side of humanity in them,” director Jenova Chen said. In a test group of twenty-five, three were noted to have cried upon completion of the short, yet powerful adventure game.
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
If you were a youngin’ when the PS2 was in it’s prime, you may have played the Ratchet and Clank series, because it was the only game at your local game store that was rated-E and looked cool. They are fun, quirky, and damned adorable action games. So when Sony announced a Playstation 3 installment, I was bursting with excitement.
Tools of Destruction is great, a mixture of nostalgia and fresh excitement. The series is one easily enjoyed by all age groups with no embarrassment attached (you know most of you can’t admit you love Pokemon at this stage in your life). The gameplay is similar to the Dreamcast’s Sonic: Adventure 2. You have your set of levels to complete, enemies to fight, and puzzles to solve. You also skate along the rails of the park, use vehicles, and beat up bad guys using various power ups. Tools of Destruction has many engaging elements.
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction made me feel 12 again without needing to whip out my PS2.
My 2012 game of the year was Square Enix and United Front Games’ Sleeping Dogs. The crime drama has one of the best stories since Uncharted 2, an excellent voice cast with deep characters, and incredible combat. Sleeping Dogs was an honest surprise; with all the hands-on I got pre-release, and trailers I had seen, the only thing I could expect was a linear storyline with fun combat. Within minutes of starting my game, I knew I had been completely mislead — and I was damn happy about that.
Hong Kong is quite the city, and Sleeping Dogs does a fine job of capturing that. From markets to strip clubs to hole-in-the-wall restaurants to ship docks, the game has a ton of environments to explore. Side quests that include decision making — depending on what you did you either developed your police skills, or Triad skills, changing the way you play, and what combat skills you acquire. It’s gameplay is very similar to Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto. Some points you’re shooting, other times you’re using over-the-top combat, and stealing cars (or if you’re a nice person, taking cabs). Sleeping Dogs mixes sandbox and action gameplay for hours of fun.
At first, I was skeptical about ThatGameCompany’s game about…plants. But after thoroughly enjoying Flow, I knew the chance of disappointment would be quite low. Here’s how it plays: With each little petal you pick, you make music, and add color to the world. Yes, the SixAxis controls are frustrating, but the visuals and music make up for that.
The message is simple: Flowers and luscious colors are beauty to our eyes, and relaxing music is beauty to our ears. Flower, a simple title, combines both of those elements, resulting in a a game that shouldn’t be missed. I wouldn’t mind additional levels (it’s a bit short), as playing it is stress-relieving and therapeutic.
Infamous is an open-world experience that has a structure similar to Fable, in that gamers have the full choice to be a hero or bastard — and face the consequences of either decision. Fable is about a young fantasy hero trying to figure out his past, the truth about his family, and making the right (or wrong) decisions along the way. Infamous is similar, but you are chosen to save a modern city.
The story follows an ordinary bike messenger named Cole MacGrath who gets wrapped up in drama, and gains special powers that he needs to use to save Empire City. It has a great superhero feel, which is highlighted by comic book-style cutscenes.
Infamous won several awards including best script, and best acting. Each character is well-casted, and submerges you into the story. If you’re looking for a sandbox title that isn’t quite like the others, Infamous may be the game for you.
Although online-only, this free-to-play, PS3 exclusive fighting game added a lot to the franchise. Tekken Revolution is completely free, no strings attached. Namco added a skill point system to Revolution, and customization options that goes beyond the ridiculous costumes. You’re able to level your power (strength), endurance (health), and vigor (luck). Boosting vigor increased the chances of a critical hit when using either a Super or Critical Art.
With the Tekken 6 servers on the Playstation 3 being such a hit-and-miss, Revolution helped prove that Namco was listening, and that they still are listening. Giving a free-to-play game with a required online-connectivity to fans helps Namco research character usage and player habits, which will hopefully translate into the Tekken franchise continuing to be one of the most balanced fighting game franchises.
When I first heard the title, “LittleBigPlanet,” all I could think was, “what the hell is this game even about?” Picking it up, knowing nothing, I stared into the eyes of the sack creature, and decided, why the hell not? Several hours of staring at my television wide-eyed and drooling, I realized that LittleBigPlanet is Sony’s big fat middle finger to Mario saying, “yeah, we can make platformers, too.”
LittleBigPlanet is an amazing title for all ages. MediaMolecule did a phenomenal job of pulling you into its world and letting your imagination run wild. What I most enjoyed about LBP is the replay value of not only the game in its entirety, but even each level. Levels require stickers to unlock other parts; these stickers are found in each and every level, and are used in them to unlock different areas and items.
LittleBigPlanet 2 didn’t contain the same magic as the first, especially in the audio department—the first title has one of the greatest soundtracks known to mankind. LittleBigPlanet’s Game of the Year Edition, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Metal Gear Solid levels, will never leave my shelf.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
I can’t even begin to count the amount of people I know who bought their PS3 consoles for this one title. Selling over five million copies in its release year, MGS4 was Konami’s flagship title.
Without giving away too much of the story, as it is long, confusing, and intense, Snake is sent off to the Middle East, where it is believed Liquid Ocelot is hiding. Due to being a clone, Snake’s aging has significantly accelerated, leaving him with less than a year to live. Roy Campbell asks him to do one last mission before he passes, and that is to terminate Liquid Ocelot.
Gameplay elements such as the “Psyche Meter” makes Snake feel more real. Awful smells, being too hot or too cold, and being stressed deteriorates his psyche, which is visible in gameplay. You start to age quicker, and your vision get blurry and your aim gets shaky. Which like any human, is fixed by eating, smoking, and/or reading a pr0n mag.
The game is filled to the brim with challenges, amazing cutscenes, and an ending that leaves you with closure, and comfort.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Simply put, Brotherhood is the best game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It has a fantastic multiplayer mode, new gameplay elements, and a Desmond Miles that actually grew a pair. Out of all the Assassin’s games, Brotherhood had the most captivating story. Maintaining a good balance between Desmond and Ezio gameplay, writers Corey May and Jeffrey Yohalem kept us thoroughly interested in both characters and their fates.
Brotherhood has the most enjoyable environments, too. AC3 is far too large for what the game tries to accomplish, and Revelations doesn’t quite have the same magic Brotherhood possesses. The different buildings you could climb in and call your own are intricate. And although the Brotherhood mechanic carried over into Revelations with additional gameplay elements, the freshness of it in Brotherhood made it unique, and special.
Hipster statement of the day: I played Fat Princess on its initial release day. My friend Jonny called me up and told me about the game’s greatness, and how I better “download it right fucking now, and play multiplayer with him.” Needless to say, that wasn’t the only time Jonny and I spent hours playing this comical, violent title.
To explain Fat Princess to those who have not played: Take Monty Python, mix it with some Rapunzel, and top it off with Team Fortress 2. Sounds like a weird combination, but trust me, it’s apt. Your princess, who lives in a land where cake grew everywhere, is captured by an opposing kingdom, and it’s up to you and your team to get her back. There is a catch, however; the opposing team is feeding her cake so she’s even harder to bring back!
You can play with up to thirty-two players online, and switch between the six classes: Villager, worker, priest, ranger, mage and warrior. Each class has its role in helping you succeed in protecting the kingdom, and getting the princess back. If Fat Princess sounds like your thing, and you want to take it on the go, don’t worry, Fat Princess: Fistfull of Cake is available on the PSN network for PSP (and hopefully soon for PS Vita).