This month marks one year of me owning a Playstation 3. What started out as a quest for an ‘easy’ Netflix device, ended in getting a PS3. Maybe it seems I am a bit late to the game, because the PS4 is, and was, already available of course. But for me this presented a great opportunity. Because the PS3 is almost at the end of its lifecycle, so it is easy to determine which games are actually worth it! And on top of that: most of these great games are cheap. So win-win. This post is about those games and working through the best possible PS3 games.
Metacritic is my friend. This list is my goto when buying a game. So thus far I own and played 9* games from the top 12 of the Metacritic all time high scorers list (so all, but GTA IV/V and Portal). And I own or played 9 other games of the top 100. There are about 1026 PS3 games total: so my attention was mostly with the top 1% of games.
* For some reason GTA doesn’t appeal to me, maybe because you’re so obviously the bad guy.
For me finishing a game means completing the story. I don’t (didn’t) care about records or getting trophies or finishing levels in different ways.
Games are for kids!
What business has a grown adult with
two three children playing video games? Yes, I understand that question. But this is not Candy Crush or Angry Birds. I have little interest in those types of games. The best PS3 games, and the games I’m interested in, tend to be entertainment experiences much like going to the movies or great TV shows are entertainment experiences. I’ll go a step further and say that videogames are pretty much the pinnacle of what humans can do at the crossroads of technique and entertainment (sorry about that sentence). I have a lot of respect for videogame designers. Some of these games take up to 7 years and hundreds of people to create. And it shows. Some of the worlds you enter are jawdropping in size, attention to detail and endless exploration opportunities. I never ceases to amaze me. How does this all fit on one little disc, who made this, how does this work?! Also it happens more than once that I rush some level and just stop to appreciate some crates or motif in the floor and I always think of that designer that cooked up that thing in a 3D modeller or Photoshop at some point and spent hours and hours working on it. Only for me to rush by it in 2 seconds. Videogames demand a lot of respect because of that (this respect grows when you watch documentaries on Youtube of how games are made. There are a lot. You should check them out!)
So what games did I play? I started of with Bioshock. This was a game that always stuck by me, because I once read a tweet and a blog post from someone whose opinion I respect. I took a mental note of this and years later it made picking the first game to play a no-brainer. This game has a very very distinctive look and feel which make it unique. Just like any great movie, where you see one still frame you will know the name of the movie. Or with a song, when you hear three bars. The same goes for Bioshock. It is very unique. Also the gameplay offers variety. You can shoot up a bunch of things and not care much about the story OR you could decide to go and immerse yourself in the (very religiously themed) story and try to figure it out and have a deeper experience (say wat?!).
More recently, I also played Bioshock: Infinite, which in its own right is a very distinctive game, but with a completely different style. Which speaks for the creator. Because even though the stories and worlds of the games are entirely unrelated. (Or are they?) he apparently managed to pull off this trick twice. Infinite is probably the most gorgeous colourful world you’ll ever wander into. And they put a lot of time and thought in it. It was pretty easy to rush trough the Infinite world. But for no apparent reason the last level was stupid hard. Also, all of the explanation of the very complex and ingenious story was done after the game. You couldn’t really figure it by yourself (or maybe I couldn’t). That was too bad. Because it is a very well thought out story that I wish to have been able to unravel during the game myself (not after). But nonetheless, the Bioshock series is up there and rightly so.
But of all the games I played, only 2 stood out explicitly. The second game I played, is one of those two: The Last of Us. This game is something else. The more games I play, the more this is confirmed. It is also a pretty hard game. But the gameplay is excellently done, and the graphics are the best you can squeeze out of a PS3. But what makes this game stand out is the story and the connection the two main characters build between them (and with you). It makes the game an incredibly immersive experience. You get attached, you think about the game and the choices you made the next day and it makes you want to play again. While at the same time you hate playing it, because the world you play in is so messed up and depressing (I hate clickers). At one point I found myself worried for one of the characters. Also after finishing it, it took a couple of days to process what had happened. Of all the games this one really shows what a videogame can do that movies or TV shows can’t. It takes involvement to the next level (which makes me pretty excited for what is to come with VR tech). The Last of Us is one of the few games that I would play again.
The other game that really stood out for me is Red Dead Redemption. I often think about John Marston. He just felt genuine and believable. I also played Uncharted 2 and 3 (from the same makers as Last of Us): and the lead character Nathan Drake comes close but I would pick John Marston any day. I liked him, the same way you like a movie character. And I miss hanging out with him. RDR is often called the GTA of the wild west. As far as the open world (sandbox) free roam experience goes, this is correct. But the atmosphere, the music, the characters, the dialogues (the best), the countless missions, and the horses really make it something else. It feels complete. I love this game. This is probably the game I will most likely replay and do missions I haven’t done yet. That’s saying something. (And boy, there are still so many missions to play, even after finishing the story).
Once I popped in Battlefield 3, I also finished COD: Modern Warfare, COD: Modern Warfare 2, COD: Black Ops right after one another. A good shooter is just a lot of fun, and there is no entry level. Just go. I understand why shooters are a popular genre. There is little (story) immersion, it is the essence of combat: kill or be killed. Most of the times, there is a story. But unlike RDR or LoU those stories are completely optional. But these games are so well designed that it makes it easy to play them and just have fun. And I know these games shine most in multiplayer which I didn’t play, just single player story mode. But I can see why these games are perfect for multiplayer. Story mode doesn’t really do them justice.
I also played Batman: Arkham Asylum. I feel ambiguous about this game. This game probably took me the longest in gross runtime (some months). I think I understand why it is rated so highly, it is very well done and there are a lot of ‘new’ ideas regarding gameplay, but it didn’t really excite me as much as RDR does. It started of fun, but got tedious toward the end. I just wanted to be done. I also have the Arkham City game waiting. But I am in no rush to play it.
I was handed ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Two (different) games from the same studio in one box. Highly regarded games and their fame preceded them (especially SotC). And maybe to a fault because I couldn’t get into neither of them… Maybe I’ll man up and “learn to play” one day. But so far these are the only games I started but didn’t finish. Maybe it was too Japanese for my taste. Or maybe they were just to hard and I’m not a hardcore gamer.
Game designers awards trophies for different achievements in a game. Such an achievement can be, finishing a game. But more likely it is something like: kill three people with one shot. Or finish this mission without being seen. Or kill 18 grizzly bears. Trophies are a way to get more out of a game, and experience a game in different ways (after or while finishing it). Some games offer a whole number of trophies (up to 50,60) ranked by gold, silver, bronze for difficulty levels. But per game there is always only one platinum trophy. This trophy is rewarded for getting every other trophy. Usually a rare feat. And also a guarantee that you really got everything out of a game. When I started out I didn’t care for trophies. This gradually changed. If I can pick up a trophy now, I will. Some games are notorious for being easy trophy games. I took advantage of that by getting my first platinum with Megamind (hey, I liked that movie!). By no means a top 100 game. But you can finish it in one sitting and have yourself a platinum trophy.
So what’s next?
So overall I think I used the PS3 more for games than Netflix ;). And when I had time to play games I had fun. There were also entire periods where I didn’t play, because of more important things (work/school). So I am not some kind of addicted gamehead. I do however enjoy spending my evenings, currently solving crimes on the streets of LA in 1947 (LA Noire) instead of watching TV. There are still of couple of games I have bought but not played yet. So I will play those before probably returning to RDR to get some more trophies. And looking at the Metacritic PS4 list there isn’t really a compelling reason to buy a PS4 (yet). I mean number 1 and 2 games are also available on the PS3! So I think I will enjoy my PS3 a bit more.