10. Fallout 3
Fallout 3’s importance in the last console generation can’t be overstated. It was almost universally hailed and it really put open world RPGs on the map in a way that Oblivion didn’t manage. And boy did I love me some Fallout 3. There were an almost infinite amount of things to do, the main story was actually interesting, the combat was deep, and the DLC was fantastic and brought new life to the game after its release. Playing on PS3, the graphics look very dated nowadays, but the scope of the world is impressive regardless of the visual fidelity or exactly how many of the buildings you’re able to enter. Fallout 3 is one of the few games on this list that I revisit every couple of years, and I don’t see that going away any time soon.
9. The Unfinished Swan
The Unfinished Swan is probably the dark horse on this list. I’d imagine it’s definitely the game that no one saw coming, but that’s really only because most people haven’t played it. I can’t say enough about the story; it’s adult and whimsical at the same time. It deals with loss in a way that few games manage, all while maintaining interesting mechanics and a beautiful (if simple) world. For the beginning part of the game, you’re just throwing globs of paint to solve traversal puzzles, and at the time, I didn’t see how the developers could keep that interesting for more than thirty minutes. They sure proved me wrong. They found plenty of ways to switch things up while still keeping to the core mechanics. I don’t want to spoil anything for people that haven’t played it, but you’ll constantly be surprised by the new things that get thrown at you. As a puzzle game, it’s not terribly difficult. There were only one or two instances of me being stumped, and then only for a few minutes. But it’s the story and the visuals that keep you going, and they’re definitely worth your time.
8. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time
A Crack in Time is the best Ratchet and Clank game ever, period. It brought the series’ exploration to a whole new level, the humor was at full steam, the Clank levels were challenging and interesting, and the story was surprisingly deep for being in such a light-hearted game. I loved being able to fly to little miniature worlds to collect gold bolts or resources, and the puzzles and feel of said worlds were different enough that it didn’t get monotonous. But really the stand-out sequences for me were the Clank levels. Clank’s small portions of the games have always been more puzzle based, and these felt like they could have been a stand alone game. Basically, you had to solve pressure plate puzzles using copies of Clank. So, you’d do some platforming, to get to a switch, then a clone of you would follow that exact same path while you went on to the next one, etc. If it sounds confusing, it definitely was at first. But those puzzles quickly became the moments I looked forward to the most in the game. Also, special note to the trophy for getting 10,000 points in the “My Blaster Runs Hot” mini-game for being the most difficult bronze trophy I’ve ever gotten.
7. The Walking Dead: Season One
As with my “Best Games of 2012” list, the biggest thing that kept The Walking Dead from ranking higher were the technical issues. The story ranks as one of the best of all time in video games, and the voice acting really made that happen. But when the game locked up mid-sentence or when a cutscene refused to load, it kind of took you out of the world of the game. And for The Walking Dead, the world and the characters were everything. Let’s be honest, The Walking Dead was barely even an adventure game. Sure, you solved a few puzzles and collected a few items, but mostly you were just talking to people and making life or death decisions. Now that’s not a knock against the game, but when a game offers so relatively little in the gameplay department, every hitch is a big one. But those big character moments really elevated what is otherwise a mostly average adventure game into something much more important to the player, and really to the gaming industry as a whole. The Walking Dead was proof that video games could offer Hollywood level stories, and I hope to see that trend continue. It’s also worth mentioning that The Walking Dead is one of the few games that my Fiance will watch me play, so that counts for something.
6. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
As great as Uncharted 3 was, Uncharted 2 earns my nod as the best game in the series because it was one of those games that you showed to your friends and they came away knowing they needed to get a PS3. Everything about the game was firing on all cylinders. It had a fantastic central character, the writing was full of twists, surprises, and betrayals, the shooting was solid, and there was never a dull moment. And Chloe Frazer being easy on the eyes didn’t hurt, either. There were so many standout sequences, it’s really hard to name a favorite, but I’d probably say mine was climbing up the train before it fell off of the cliff. In traditional Uncharted form, the late game enemies were more annoying than fun to fight and the final boss was a disappointment, but the highs in Uncharted 2 were so damn high that it erased any negative memories from the rest of the game.
5. Portal 2
I’m actually replaying through Portal 2 on PC with commentary right now (shameless plug for my YouTube channel – link at the bottom of the page), so my memories on this one are fresh, and damn it I love the crap out of Portal 2. The first game was great in that it set up a very unique way of solving puzzles, and managed to switch up the mechanics a few times, but Portal 2 really took that to the next level. In a lot of ways, Portal 2 was like a more polished version of the first game, but only in the best ways. GLaDOS returned in a big way, but there was still a fantastic new villain. The graphics felt the same, but they were all of a much higher quality. You still spent a lot of time in puzzle rooms, but the difficulty was ramped up and the game really took off once you were outside of the grey boxes. Highlight of the game was the sequence with JK Simmons providing narration. Portal 2 was freaking hilarious. I should admit that I never played the co-op story, but I only ever heard good things about it. But really, the single player was completely enough to earn Portal 2 a spot this high up on the list.
In my “Best Games of 2012” post, I listed a story that really defined why Journey was my favorite game that year, so if you’re interested, check that out, because I won’t rehash it here. I’ll just say that Journey was a gaming experience like I’ve never had before, and even if another game down the line uses multiplayer in a similar way with a story as deep and silent as this one, nothing could ever measure up to the experience I had with Journey. It absolutely must be played in one sitting, so be sure that you have a few hours to spare before starting.
3. The Last of Us
The Last of Us was my favorite game from 2013 (check that post out if you haven’t already), so it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that it ended up this high on my overall list. I did have a weird experience playing The Last of Us, though. I started out on Hard mode, because that’s how I’ve played all of Naughty Dog’s games, and I got around halfway through the game before realizing that I wasn’t having very much fun with the combat. It was rare that I’d make it through an encounter on the first try, and even if I did, I usually had to retry because I’d end up with so little health/supplies. Something about the stealth mechanic just wasn’t working for me, and I found myself not really wanting to keep playing. The story just wasn’t enough to keep me interested through the combat, I guess. So I took a few weeks off from the game, and came back to it after deciding to knock down the difficulty to normal. After that, it was relatively smooth sailing. I maybe died once or twice through the rest of the game, and I was almost always full on supplies. That obviously wasn’t ideal either from a challenge standpoint, but I at least was able to see the story through to the conclusion. And it was totally worth it. The Last of Us had maybe the best overall story in a video game that I’ve ever experienced. And for game of the year consideration, the little hitches in my experience couldn’t knock it out of the title spot, but those problems have more importance when talking about the best PS3 games of all time. I just couldn’t in good conscience give it to a game that I had reservations about. I’m sure for a lot of you readers, The Last of Us was the superlative gaming experience on PS3. It had great story, gameplay, characters, acting, and the ending left you thinking for days. I wouldn’t disagree with any of those points, but for me, two other games defined this console generation more than Last of Us. As a side note, if you haven’t played the Left Behind DLC yet, you should. I may have enjoyed the story in that even more than the regular game.
2. Mass Effect 2
And this is where a lot of you will disagree with me (if you haven’t a million times already). How could a game with bugs aplenty and combat that doesn’t hold up beat a game like The Last of Us? Well, let me tell you. It all comes down to choice. In The Last of Us, you’re moving down a completely linear path and experiencing the story as Naughty Dog wanted you to. And I’m not taking anything away from that approach, it’s certainly worked well for them up until this point. But the Mass Effect series gave you choice, over big decisions and small, and that hasn’t been something you see much in story based games. You got to choose what questions to ask, who to kill, even who on your team got to live and die (all of my guys survived the suicide mission because I’m a completionist like that). There were several different love interests to choose from, but Miranda was the only real choice. I mean, DAYUM. And I hear your next question too. Mass Effect 1 and 3 had the same choice options, why is Mass Effect 2 so much better? Well, that answer gets a little more complicated. Compared to Mass Effect 1, the RPG elements were tuned down. There was less customization, yes, but the more streamlined and less deliberate combat was far superior. Overheating your weapon in Mass Effect 1 was super annoying, so the addition of universal clips in Mass Effect 2 was a welcome one. And then compared to Mass Effect 3 (which refined the combat even further), Mass Effect 2 offered actual, legitimate side missions. Most of the side missions in Mass Effect 3 consisted of you running by someone, eavesdropping on their conversation, and then picking up a random object for them after scanning a planet. Rinse and repeat. In Mass Effect 2, the loyalty side missions were the highlight of the game. You got to know so much more about the characters, and they often used game mechanics in interesting ways, like the Kasumi loyalty mission where you didn’t even fire a weapon until near the end. So really, the three Mass Effect games were all great in their own ways (as seen by all three of them being on this list), but Mass Effect 2 was (mostly) the best of both worlds. The combat was solid, the characters were great, and the decisions actually mattered. Now if they just took the dodge rolling from Mass Effect 3 and put it in Mass Effect 2, you’d have a near perfect game.
When I decided to make this list, I really had no idea what games would make up my top 10. I had some ideas, of course, but not even all of them ended up coming true (Bioshock Infinite being a perfect example). But when I initially sat down to do some thinking, the first game that came to my head as the best PS3 game ever was Bioshock, and really from there, no game was able to overtake it. I’ve been open about my dislike for horror games, not because they’re bad, but because they make me feel like a wuss, but Bioshock had just the right amount off horror that it scared me, but I never felt like I couldn’t keep playing. It was more creepy than scary, though the moment where you get the shotgun for the first time and the lights go off and you’re bum-rushed by splicers whenever you turn around still gives me nightmares. It’s really small moments like that one that make Bioshock my favorite PS3 game. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve played it, but I could still walk you through most set pieces in the game. Few things were as fun as perfectly setting up a trap for a Big Daddy so that you were able to kill him without him even getting a shot off (thank you proximity mines and gas canisters). I’d hack every camera, turret, and circus of values machine just for the fun of it. I wanted to find every Gene Tonic not just because they were great, but I wanted to explore every nook and cranny of Rapture. I found every audio diary not just for the PSN trophy, but because I wanted more out of the lore of the city and its people. Bioshock was a game with great depth; depth not just in its mechanics or combat, but in its history, its characters, and its story. I usually pride myself on seeing big twists coming in games or movies, but I totally did not see the Fontaine/Atlus twist, not just because the story set it up so well, but because I was so invested in the game that there wasn’t even a spare moment for me to be analytical. And maybe most telling, if I were able to reset my memory and experience any game over again for the first time, it would be Bioshock. To be able to fight a Big Daddy for the first time, or having to make the decision to kill or rescue a Little Sister as she wimpers in the corner for the first time, or seeing Andrew Ryan in the flesh and not just over the radio for the first time, or even that first moment of swimming up to that light house all over again, no other gaming experience could match that. And that’s why Bioshock isn’t just my favorite PS3 game of all time, it’s quite possibly my favorite video game of all time.
And that’s the list! All 50 of my favorite PS3 games in one place, and boy was that a lot of fun to put together. But I’m sure that no one out there will agree 100% with me, so be sure to give me your list in the comments!
And if you love video games as much as I do, be sure to check out my YouTube channel!