40. LittleBigPlanet 2
If I’m being honest, I actually put more time into LittleBigPlanet 1, but the second game is definitely the more technically proficient of the two, and added a bunch of new features into the level creation. I didn’t really get into making maps (mostly because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to learning everything), but I played my fair share of them, and even the bad ones were still interesting, simply for the fact that they were user created. But the best maps consistently blew me away, and more often than not, were more enjoyable that the vanilla game. And it’s worth saying that collecting stickers and special items really made exploring the story mode levels more fun.
Motorstorm was probably the game I put the most time into around the PS3 launch, and that’s saying something considering I don’t really play racing games all that often. I’m not sure what it was, but something clicked with me in Motorstorm. The controls weren’t as tight as a Gran Turismo game, but the looseness felt right considering it was an off road game with dirt bikes and ATVs. The graphics were great (for a launch game), and the particle effects of the mud and weather really felt next-gen. The sequels never hit the same high mark for me, so Motorstorm being a launch game definitely had something to do with it’s success.
38. Dragon Age 2
I remember fans of the first Dragon Age being pissed after playing Dragon Age II, and for good reason. The combat was more real time, the customization was less in depth, and in general, the game was more approachable and less of a “hard core” RPG. But those differences didn’t make Dragon Age II a bad game, just one that varied from the original in several meaningful ways. I still really loved the story and the secondary characters in spite of the fact that the protagonist was pretty paint by numbers. It was a lot of fun to build a party not only of people who’s combat skills paired well with your own, but a party of people that you wanted to talk to and learn more about. There were several fun side missions as well, though traversing the same areas over and over got boring pretty quickly. Dragon Age and Dragon Age II were not made for the same gamer, but thankfully, I fit well into both demographics.
37. Resistance: Fall of Man
Another game greatly helped by coming out at the launch of the PS3, Resistance followed an alternate past where instead of WWII breaking out, aliens invaded Earth. Now that was a really cool idea, and while the story got extremely convoluted in the later games, the first kept it pretty simple. Kill aliens with WWII era guns and some really unique alien weapons created by the team behind the awesome weapons of the Ratchet and Clank universe. Resistance had a much darker tone than other Insomniac games, but it fit the world of the game and actually managed to illicit some genuine visceral reactions from me. The FPS mechanics didn’t revolutionize the genre, but the graphics and creativity both in weapons and story really did feel “next-gen.”
36. Assassin’s Creed II
Of all the Ezio focused Assassin’s Creed games, II was by far my favorite (and the only one I played to completion, having given up on Brotherhood halfway through and skipped Revelations entirely). It was far from perfect, with some of the same traversal and combat issues as AC I, but Ezio was a much more interesting character than Altair, and it was set in a world that was at least a little more familiar to the average player. I will openly say that I hated the combat, but moving around the world, climbing over buildings and chasing thieves was a blast. And being able to dual assassinate? Tasty.
35. Bioshock 2
Bioshock 2 got a lot of hate over the years (some of it from me), mostly for the fact that it wasn’t an Irrational Games or Ken Levine baby. But looking back at the game without the emotional attachment made me realize that Bioshock 2 was a pretty damn good game. It didn’t have the emotional impact of visiting Rapture for the first time, and the story of where Big Daddies come from just wasn’t as interesting as the twisting and turning plot of the original, but Bioshock 2 added two things that are worth commending: dual wielding and big sisters. First, dual wielding added a completely new level to the game; being able to fire a weapon and throw fire at an enemy was just flat out more fun than in the original. And the big sisters were a great solution to the problem that big daddies just couldn’t be as difficult anymore, considering you were playing one yourself. They were menacing, challenging in ways that big daddies never were, and most terrifying of all, you never knew for sure when one would come your way. And the multiplayer wasn’t half bad, either.
34. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
The first Uncharted game was the weakest of the three mostly for the fact that it simply doesn’t hold up as well as the other two. At the time, the graphics were stunning, but they just look dated now in a way that neither of the other games do. On the positive side, however, the gunplay, climbing, and puzzle solving will never get old. Uncharted was a just a blast to play. The story was engrossing but light hearted, the characters were funny but also had enough depth that you rooted for them and really cared what happened to them, and the places you visited were beautiful and complex. Uncharted is really the game that put Naughty Dog on the modern gaming map, and for good reason. While it’s the lowest ranked Naughty Dog game on this list, it’s still a must play for any PS3 owner.
33. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
I just played Into the Nexus a couple of moths ago, so it’s a little bit of a cheat to include this on the list since it’s so fresh in my mind, but I don’t care. I love Ratchet and Clank. I’ve bought every single R&C game that’s come out, going all the way back to the PS2 era. I even bought All4One and Full Frontal Assault (both not so great games). All this to say that I was totally pumped when they announce Into the Nexus, a short epilogue to the first two PS3 R&C games. It had the same great sense of humor, some cool new weapons, and several fun new, mostly open worlds to explore. I didn’t love the gravity changing Clank missions, but they were thankfully short and there were only a few of them. The arena mode in the game was also a tad lacking in challenge, though I liked that there were special rounds that required you to use a certain weapon or to kill enemies in a specific way. That definitely shook up the tedium of power leveling your weapons up. And before you ask, yes of course I got the platinum trophy.
32. Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2 was a less terrifying, more action-y version of the first game. It traded in some of the horror of being alone in a confined space for a more set piece experience, with lots of boss battles and more shooting. That was disappointing at the time, because without the horror aspects, Dead Space kind of just becomes a generic third person shooter. But the thing that saved Dead Space 2 was the story. Everything was a little more involved because the other characters actually mattered this time around and weren’t just fodder for the necromorphs. It didn’t hurt that the potential love interest, Ellie, was a slammin’ hottie. Nothing could replace that feeling of coming across a necromorph for the first time when you were all alone on an abandoned ship, so I’m glad that Visceral Games didn’t try to make the same game twice (though I do wish they hadn’t strayed so far from the path with the third game). And I’d recommend skipping the multiplayer on this one.
31. Mass Effect 3
I have some complicated feelings about Mass Effect 3. On the one hand, the story through most of the game was fantastic and offered some amazing set piece battles, the combat was far and away the best in the series, and the multiplayer was completely addictive and well supported by the developers. On the other hand, side missions were basically non-existent and the ending was one of the laziest and most convoluted in recent gaming memory. So how did it end up on the list with all of the issues that I clearly had with it? Two of the big positives well outweighed the negatives. The multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 was completely amazing. Seriously, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a multiplayer game. It wasn’t competitive, meaning you fought with the other players instead of against them, and it was basically just wave after wave of bad guys, but something about it got me totally addicted. I love ranking up my guys, trying out new weapons and powers, and the fact that the developers put out several free DLC packs with new characters and maps really gave the game mode longer legs. I haven’t played it in a couple months, but before that, I was putting a good couple of hours into it every week. The second thing that earned Mass Effect 3 a spot was the fact that for the majority of the game, I was totally digging the story. Plenty of the characters were given final interactions with Shepard, there were a bunch of big set piece battles that felt epic on a galactic scale, and a lot of the smaller choices you made in the previous games paid off in major ways. Comparatively, those choices didn’t really end up affecting the ending or the state of the universe as the credits rolled, but as cheesy as it sounds, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset at how unsatisfying the ending was, and the game deserves some of the hate that it gets for completely bailing out on that promise of “your choices mattering,” but the overall experience was just too good to be marred by the final hour of the game. Mass Effect 3’s biggest flaw is in it’s most important aspect, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great game. RIP Mordin.