Sony had some big shoes to fill following the success of the PlayStation 2. Though the console wasn’t a technical marvel by 2006 when the PlayStation 3 launched, its extensive library of successful titles really drove the continued popularity of the second generation PlayStation. As difficult as it was, Sony’s third console did find its own success in new and returning intellectual properties.
The following fifteen titles showcase the best PS3 games around. They take us from the depths of space to the peaks of Olympus, through adventures of treasure seeking and deception to the scandals of the Wild West. It’s an eclectic mix of titles, all with one very distinct thing in common – they represent the best of Sony’s third gaming console.
The Best PS3 Games
15. Dead Space
Developer: Visceral Games Publisher: Electronic Arts
In space, nobody can hear you get torn apart by the horrifying, mutated, re-animated corpses of the crew of the USG Ishimura. As the voiceless systems engineer, Isaac Clarke, players are introduced to a 26th-century universe of space travel, planet cracking, and intergalactic colonization.
All of that is fascinating and serves as a great backdrop for Dead Space, but it only takes about 10 minutes into exploring the Ishimura, a planet-cracking mining ship, to realize something terrifying will overshadow all of it.
The necromorph are a unique entity that aren’t easily killed by conventional means. Sure, you can unload a clip into them and eventually drop them, but to avoid their very grotesque and deadly features, you’ll need to dismember them limb by limb. Dead Space’s combat is the best of survival horror, forcing players to land perfectly aimed shots all while shaking with fear as a once-human monstrosity scurries toward them.
Dead Space is a masterful display of sound design as the Ishimura comes to life with the fiends of space inhabiting every nook and cranny.
Valve intrigued players with the simple yet still complex concept of the original Portal. As a test subject named Chell equipped with the experimental Portal Gun, players must pass a series of logic and physics tests at the behest of the supercomputer GLaDOS.
Portal 2 expands upon that concept with more complex puzzles that Chell once again must tackle in the single-player campaign. While the original Portal had only a one-player mode, Valve took the necessary step to add a multiplayer component to Portal 2. The result is a game that surpasses the ingenuity of its predecessor with a heaping of content added with the 2-player experience.
There’s no denying that the campaign is a worthy successor of Portal, with GLaDOS returning and a new robot, Wheatley, adding to Chell’s predicament. It’s the multiplayer, however, that shines. Cooperation and communication are the only ways to succeed in each level, which can either lead to feelings of accomplishment or chaotic hilarity. There is no in-between.
Developer: Rocksteady Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
After stopping The Joker’s antics in Arkham Asylum, Batman embarks on one of his longest nights in Gotham – or should we say Arkham City. With the asylum in shambles and villains running free, Gotham’s finest opt to wall off an entire portion of the city, creating the titular location for arguably Batman’s best action-adventure.
Arkham City is proof that sometimes bigger is better. As The Dark Knight, players square off against his worst enemies, the Clown Prince of Crime among them. Featuring a bigger roster of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals than Arkham Asylum, Arkham City is a robust title with plenty of content. From The Riddler’s trophies to Joker Teeth, there are 400 collectibles to find in between pummeling henchmen.
Despite the more open environment of Arkham City, Batman is still a master of stealth and keeper of some of the coolest gadgets. Sonic Batarangs, electrical charges, smoke pellets, explosive gels, and Batclaws are just a few of the tools the Caped Crusader has at his disposal, each one serving a unique purpose in his quest to do what he does best – beat up bad guys and save the people of Gotham.
12. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Developer: Kojima Productions Publisher: Konami
After Snake Eater amazed Metal Gear Solid fans, Guns of the Patriots was left with some pretty big shoes to fill. Much like with Snake Eater, early previews of the fourth Metal Gear Solid confused fans. Who was the Burt Reynolds-looking character being introduced and how did he fit into the narrative? Were we continuing the saga of Big Boss, or was it time for Solid Snake to return to the spotlight?
The answer we got was a depressing one and continued to show fans that there was no happy-go-lucky ending in store for Kojima’s beloved series. Old Snake was designed with many of the tropes we expect from aging, battle-hardened warriors. Except, unlike The Expendables where it’s worked in for laughs, it’s incredibly tragic and saddening. Watching Snake become a decrepit, broken old man is like watching a legend wither away into nothing.
Guns of the Patriots was pretty bonkers, even compared to Snake Eater, but it was a solid Metal Gear game. The plot takes some twists and turns that fit right into Kojima’s zany storytelling, but the game is a fitting conclusion to the Metal Gear Solid saga with some of the most memorable moments the series has seen.
There are, what, 400 Assassin’s Creed games out there? Yet somehow the second in the series, which released in 2009 and fixed many of the issues of its predecessor, remains not only the best in the series, but one of the best games on the PS3. Ubisoft had many opportunities to recreate the awe and wonder of Assassin’s Creed II, but it hasn’t quite hit the mark yet.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze, ancestor of the series’ original protagonist, Desmond Miles, has remained an icon of the Assassin’s guild. Ever since Assassin’s Creed II, his name has popped up frequently, especially among fan murmuring with every subsequent new release. The stars aligned for Assassin’s Creed II, which was the perfect mix of action, parkour, exploration, and story. Even with more recent titles that deviated from the series’ core format, the second game remains at the top.
The expansive world and bounty of side quests made it difficult not to fall in love with Ezio’s adventure, which felt like the first real introduction to the skills of the Assassin’s. Set during the Renaissance, the cast was rounded off with historic faces like Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli, which added just another fun quirk to an already great game.
10. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
With each new adventure, Nathan Drake faces worse odds and bigger setpieces. While Uncharted 3 and the final game in the sage, A Thief’s End, did well to stay true to this model, Among Thieves remains Drake’s most harrowing – and best – adventure yet.
Uncharted 2 returns Nathan Drake to his life of adventuring, joined by father figure Victor “Sully” Sullivan and a cast of colorful characters. He’s since moved on from the fortune of Sir Francis Drake and the lost city of El Dorado and is instead seeking the fabled Cintamani Stone. It wouldn’t be a Nathan Drake adventure, however, if he didn’t run into trouble. A whole mess of trouble.
While Among Thieves is far from the most technically impressive of the series, there are so many incredible moments that it’s arguably the most memorable entry in the series. Naughty Dog tried, but it never could match the thrill of the train segment (though it came close with the sinking ship in Uncharted 3).
Uncharted 2 was the perfect mix of action, drama, and adventure, earning it a spot as one of the PS3’s best games.
The Persona series has had its ups and downs, but the PS3 release of Persona 5 (also released to the PS4) is one of the best entries. It also happens to be one of those must-play titles to grace the console during its nine-year lifespan. How do we know this? It’s been three years since the game released and the protagonist, Joker, is still finding work. Most recently as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The Shin Megami and Persona series are off-the-wall role-playing games, and Persona 5 is really no different in that sense. It’s an attractive title with a fun art style that makes it feel like you’re playing through a vibrant, living manga. Text bubbles and audio cues pop onto the screen during exploration, creating a sort of welcomed mayhem that helps bring the world to life.
You’ll spend plenty of time meandering through high school as Joker, which breaks up the insane, screen-cluttering, turn-based combat. Persona 5 is definitely not a game for everyone. Role-playing elements can get pretty deep and the combat can be a chaotic mess of pop-ups, but that all feels right at home in the Persona series and can be pretty easy to get used to.
When you’re not dealing with the trials and tribulations of high school life, you’re battling demons and other baddies in surprisingly fast-paced combat that continues to improve upon a 24-year-old series.
8. Dark Souls II
Developer: FromSoftware Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Pegged as one of the most difficult video game series’ ever to be developed, so many people will not get to experience the underlying fun of Dark Souls before being scared away by it. Sure, it’s a challenging series that requires plenty of patience and timing, but that level of meticulous gameplay adds to the overall entertainment.
Technically the third entry in the series started by Demon Souls, Dark Souls slightly improves upon the model from its predecessor. Mechanically, it is very much so the same, though it is visually more impressive. Multiplayer elements include a co-operative mode where players can be summoned into another game or a PvP, competitive mode.
Though Dark Souls II improved upon the fluidity of combat, there is a lot about Dark Souls that helps it shine as a PS3 classic. Better level design and a more substantial story drive the need to press on through the taxing combat, which requires the restraint to not “run-and-gun” throughout each level.
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The God of War original trilogy ends with this PS3 release, pitting Kratos against the Gods of Olympus one last time. The result is a proper follow-up to the PS2 entries, complete with improved graphics, gameplay, and setpieces.
God of War III expands the scope of the series’ mythology, once again pitting the God of War against Titans, Gods, and mythical creatures pulled straight from Grecian mythology. SIE Santa Monica is not shy with the series’ staple gore and violence, ensuring that the Spartan warrior is coated in a thick layer of his enemy’s blood by the game’s final act.
God of War III is the conclusion to Kratos’ story that he deserves and has been fighting for. While we could cut, pound, and rip through Kratos’ foe forever, the game was a monumental experience that, once played, is impossible to forget. From stunning visuals to incredible boss battles, God of War III delivers an ending befitting the Ghost of Sparta.
6. Mass Effect 2
Developer: BioWare Publisher: Electronic Arts
Before players started to find reasons to turn against BioWare and Electronic Arts, the developer/publisher combo was churning out video game masterpieces like Mass Effect 2. Space drama has never been so exciting in the follow-up to Commander Shepard’s unforgettable introduction.
For Mass Effect 2, BioWare took a glance at the complaints players had about the original and tweaked the formula a little to make it less clunky and more accessible. Those that played through the original Mass Effect were able to continue the story of their version of Shepard through imported saved games.
The narrative of the Mass Effect series stayed strong throughout the end of the sequel, leading into the slightly underwhelming conclusion to the trilogy. Mass Effect 2 was filled with plenty of drama and action that helped propel Shepard’s story forward. The return of a Morality meter let players mold Shepard into an intergalactic hero or a cold-hearted renegade, which lent to drastic changes in character interaction and arc conclusions.
Mass Effect 2 is satisfying all around, from smoother gameplay to a deeper story, making it an undeniable worthhy entry on this best of PS3 list.
Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
From the opening moments to the game’s unexpected conclusion, The Last of Us is Neil Druckmann at his absolute best. There are admittedly some viable critiques about the gameplay, but The Last of Us is narrative perfection, headlined by two very different characters voiced by two very talented artists.
When Joel begrudgingly takes on the task of ferrying Ellie, a young girl found to be immune to the mutated Cordyceps strain, to a rebel militia in search of a cure, it opens the door for a survival horror game that’s driven by drama and not scares. Their path blocked by a horde of infected and merciless bandits, the duo faces impossible odds that help bring them closer together.
The Last of Us frequently switches pace from slow-paced horror game to action-packed shootouts, creating a blend of the two genres that helps portray the horrors of the post-apocalyptic world. There are so many unforgettable moments in this best PS3 game, but there’s no forgetting that heartbreaking opening segment.
Developer: Irrational Games Publisher: 2K Games
In the depths of the ocean sits a city intended to break free from the chains of the surface world. First constructed in the 1940s, the underwater city of Rapture was to be a utopia where people could live without the lingering oppressive rule of government.
By the time the protagonist of BioShock finds his way down to the since-decimated city, the vision of creator Andrew Ryan has deteriorated into a horrifying version of itself. When scientists came across ADAM, a DNA-altering genetic material produced by sea slugs, it doomed Rapture and Ryan’s utopia was lost.
From the proverbial ashes of Rapture’s downfall rises your ability to play through a game as masterful as BioShock. We could go on and on about how impressive the water physics were when it first released, but they’re slightly less impressive by today’s standards. Instead, our focus needs to be on the gameplay and the story, which deliver a satisfying experience no matter how many years later you’re playing it.
BioShock is a survival horror, role-playing, action-adventure hybrid that sprinkles in some science fiction and human drama for an incredible experience. From your descent to the dystopian city to the narrative’s big twist, BioShock is the epitome of the near-perfect video game.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
There’s a clause in the gaming industry that if an Elder Scrolls game can be placed on a “best of…” list, it must be on said list. Joking aside, Skyrim earns its place, much like how Oblivion would have had Skyrim not existed.
The expansive world of Skyrim, filled with dragons and all sorts of monstrosities and bandits, is one that people don’t get tired of exploring. We know this because, as of the writing of this list, there have been three DLC add-ons and three different versions of the game released, including a VR adaptation that came out six years after the game’s original release.
You can’t go far on a gaming Reddit board without seeing your first Skyrim reference and you can bet all the little jokes and memes that stemmed from the massive title will outlive even the next generation of gaming. All of the accolades the game has received came despite the many technical issues it faced, from erased save games to the general bugs expected from a Bethesda title. If that isn’t a testament to how good the core game is, there may be no convincing you.
Though Skyrim is definitely a game best played on PC, that doesn’t diminish the fact that it remains one of the best PS3 games ever to release.
2. Red Dead Redemption
Developer: Rockstar San Diego Publisher: Rockstar Games
Rockstar could have simply slapped a Wild West skin over Grand Theft Auto and called it a day, but the ambitious developer decided to put some hard work into Red Dead Redemption. While there are parallels in gameplay between the two series, John Marston’s journey through the Old West is so much more than a Grand Theft Auto clone.
Due to the game’s setting, it has different pacing that may appeal to an audience more focused on story than random killing sprees. That’s not to say it isn’t still fun to ride into town on horseback and clear out as many people as possible, but it’s not a core part of the overall experience.
Red Dead Redemption has a little more heart than the Grand Theft Auto series and utilizes the story’s more dramatic aspects better, making it easier to sympathize with a protagonist that may not be the most moral man on Earth. Exploring the open prairies and snowy mountains of Western United States and Mexico lend for some genuinely stunning settings for horse races, shoot outs, and, if you sprang for the Undead Nightmare DLC (which you should), zombie slaying.
Developer: Rockstar North Publisher: Rockstar Games
After “wowing” audiences with Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar returned to the Grand Theft Auto series. While the attempt at setting the series in New York City worked for Grand Theft Auto IV, the development team decided to return to the West Coast for the more familiar backdrops of San Andreas and Los Santos.
Grand Theft Auto V is a technical marvel that clearly pushed the PS3 (and Xbox 360) to its limits. The beautifully rendered and expansive open world is available to players from the get-go, allowing them to explore the inner city streets and the empty countryside at their leisure.
Unique to the series is the shifting narrative, which puts three very different protagonists in the spotlight. Playing through each storyline means flipping between characters on the fly. At the height of some of the game’s more exciting missions, switching between characters with the press of a button breaks up the gameplay, especially since each character has different stats and abilities.
When you’re not engaged in the most in-depth Grand Theft Auto story to date, you can go on murderous killing sprees or load up Grand Theft Auto Online, where you’re sure to be gunned down within minutes of dropping in.