PlayStation’s restructuring of its subscription tiers for PlayStation Plus did seem almighty confusing at the time, but it’s actually pretty simple. Three tiers now exist for PS users to choose from: Essential, Extra and Premium. Essential gives you everything you had from an online subscription anyway, Extra adds new bonuses and up to 400 PS4 and PS5 titles from the streaming library, while Premium gives you a vast array of classic games from the PS3, PS2, PS1 and even the dear old PSP. Offering a mixture of streaming-only games and freshly polished remasters, the chance to delve back into the extensive PlayStation back catalogue is one of the service’s most enticing lures.
For those lucky enough to have a Premium membership, it might seem a tad overwhelming with regard to which games are worth plucking from the cloud and which have quite rightly been consigned to the history books. The PS3 era was a glorious time for console gaming, and players will rightly be looking for the best PS3 games on PlayStation Plus to ensure they’re getting access to some quality titles from their subscription. For $17.99/£13.49 a month, you’d definitely hope so.
The Best PS3 Games On PS Plus
15. Batman: Arkham Origins
Developer(s): WB Games Montreal Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
The ultimate in fantasy wish fulfilment (aside from the beatings, emotional torment and strained moral compass) surely has to be imagining that you’re Batman. Not the spandex-clad Batman of the 1960s made iconic by Adam West’s delightfully camp performance, but dark, moody Batman, the sort of Caped Crusader who can shatter elbows and send your teeth into another postcode by virtue of a well-timed combo input.
If that’s always been your dream then Warner Brothers’ fantastic Batman: Arkham series really is a must-play. Slightly confusingly, Arkham Origins isn’t the first game in the franchise, instead sitting somewhere in the middle and acting as a prequel to the first two entries.
Set eight years before the events of Arkham Asylum, Origins follows Bruce Wayne before he really nailed down the concept of restraint, introducing Batman to many of the villains and denizens of Gotham City who would all end up placing various thorns in his side as time went on. Being a hero isn’t easy, and Origins has you making enemies right out of the gate.
14. Mafia II
Developer(s): 2K Czech Publisher(s): 2K Games
For whatever reason, for better or for worse, the world just cannot shake its obsession with gangsters.
The cinematic boom for mob movies in the 80s and 90s was usually a little more light-handed when it came to giving a nuanced portrayal of American organised crime, but subtlety isn’t really something that 2K Czech’s gangster franchise knows how to do. Out go the nuances and revelations about toxic masculinity and generational trauma to be replaced by tailored continental menswear, semi-automatic weapons and people swearing in thick Italian-American accents.
Vito Scaletta’s tale of revenge, redemption and wanton criminality is undeniably visceral, though, and you can’t argue with what are admittedly intoxicating results. In fact, Mafia II might not be a particularly subtle affair, but it did hold the Guinness world record for the most profanity ever recorded in a video game. Imagine the poor sod who had to calculate that record and note down every time Vito swore.
13. Metro 2033 Redux
Developer(s): 4A Games Publisher(s): Deep Silver
If living in Moscow in the middle of winter sounds grim, it’s nothing compared to living there after the apocalypse and the last survivors are huddling in the metro eating ten-year-old beans and twitchily glancing at the ventilation system. Life in the Metro games is no radioactive picnic. The air is an irradiated poison, supplies are low, and mutant monsters called Dark Ones threaten to burst through the air vents and put you out of your misery.
The Metro games are very much the thinking person’s shooters, mature and grimy creations that rely on immersion and realism to elicit genuine thrills. Ammunition is usually at a premium, as are most resources, and there’s never a sense that you’re a superpowered demi-god or the hero of some great tale to be told by future generations. You’re just an ordinary Russian trying to survive however you can.
12. Heavy Rain
Developer(s): Quantic Dream Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Heavy Rain isn’t the sort of game you pick up and play for a few hours if you’re looking for a bit of cheery escapism after an arduous day down the mines or trying to rescue the world’s economy. Following four separate protagonists trying to unravel the mystery of the so-called origami killer who keeps murdering people every time there’s a sudden downpour, Heavy Rain is about as cheerful as a Soviet Christmas.
David Cage continues to be a polarising figure among the gaming fraternity, with some seeing his approach to his craft as myopic and melodramatic, but Heavy Rain was probably the apex for Cage’s very specific brand of story design. That said, most people just remember it for its hilariously comical chance sequence that becomes a neo-noir Benny Hill sketch when you deliberately press the wrong buttons during the QTEs. Investigating murders is fun, after all.
11. LittleBigPlanet 3
Developer(s): Sumo Digital Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
If playing Heavy Rain has you reaching for the Prozac, there’s no better curative to seek out than the willfully joyful LittleBigPlanet, a digital antidepressant of a game that actually seems intent on giving players a good time.
Targeted admittedly at a slightly younger audience, LBP 3 once again puts players in control of Sackboy as he navigates a series of eye-popping levels while Stephen Fry drops in occasionally to do some of his Harry Potter-esque voiceover.
A sort of creative sandbox puzzler, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a reminder that games (at least some of them) used to be about solving problems other than what’s the most efficient way to batter a zombie’s head in with a shovel or kick somebody off a rooftop. Games are supposed to be fun, and LittleBigPlanet is fun in all of the right ways.
10. Demon’s Souls
Developer(s): FromSoftware Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment (JP), Atlus USA (NA), Namco Bandai (PAL)
FromSoftware’s record for making incredibly challenging but utterly absorbing RPGs is pretty astonishing. Elden Ring is currently the peak of what the Japanese studio is capable of achieving with today’s hardware, but in 2009, Demon’s Souls was carving a similarly revolutionary path of its own and helping to lay down the blueprint for what would later be termed a ‘Soulslike’.
In fact, Demon’s Souls deserves a quite enormous amount of credit for what it helped to create. Much like an early Radiohead album, Demon’s Souls ran so that the more popular and infamous Dark Souls trilogy could truly soar. Let’s not for a moment mistake the game as something of a rickety dud that never took off.
Despite being one of the best PS3 games on PlayStation Plus right now, Devil May Cry 4 was notable for being the first DMC game to be released across multiple consoles and platforms, debuting not only on the PS3 but on the Xbox 360 and PC. Perhaps more notably, DMC 4 brought in a new protagonist with players taking on the role of established lead Dante and newcomer Nero as a demon hunter out to stop him.
The DMC games are all hilariously stupid, doling out the same tongue-in-cheek nonsense that Capcom has built an entire legacy on, and the fourth game in the franchise is no exception. Where DMC 4 is great, however, is in its beautiful combat mechanics, not to mention some very nice boss fights and the usual razzle-dazzle visual presentation.
Developer(s): Bethesda Game Studios Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks, 2K Games
Is there a game that’s been as mocked and scorned as much as it has been praised and idolised quite like Oblivion? Millennials and Gen-Zers love a bit of tongue-in-cheek ironic enjoyment, and Oblivion has become beloved because it’s so quirky and in spite of its many, many, many failings. Few games have the sort of devoted fanbase as Oblivion, its obsessive disciples faithfully recreating lines of NPC dialogue or spouting their favourite Imperial Guard catchphrases ad infinitum.
In fact, the more Oblivion screws up, the more we adore it. The fourth Elder Scrolls game has bugs everywhere, not to mention horrible voice acting, weird visuals, and even cut lines of dialogue left in the game by mistake. It’s clunky, it’s bizarre and it almost never does what it’s supposed to.
Yet all of this rickety programming only adds to the charm of a game that, underneath the screwups and rough edges, has absolute buckets of charm, incredible ambition and breathtaking scope. When it was released in 2006, Oblivion blew people away with its achievements. Nowadays, people continue to adore it for its flaws.
7. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Developer(s): Bluepoint Games (remaster), Naughty Dog (original) Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
It’s only a bit of a cheat putting on the entire original Uncharted trilogy on a list of the best PS3 games on PlayStation Plus, but how can you argue with such a phenomenal collection? More importantly, how can you choose between three of the best action-adventure games of their generation? It’s like picking a favourite child.
It’s almost impossible to choose between the first three adventures of Nathan Drake and his gang of merry treasure hunters, and anyone who gets their hands on The Nathan Drake Collection will be playing through Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception in one long weekend if they have any sense.
If you have to play just one of the three, however, the absolutely phenomenal Among Thieves has to take the cake, if only for its absolutely breathtaking opening sequence. That is how you start a game.
6. Hotline Miami
Developer(s): Dennaton Games Publisher(s): Devolver Digital
When did modern video game developers become so obsessed with the 80s? 80s-mania is truly at its peak now thanks to constant Terminator, Alien and RoboCop rehashes and cameos (many of which aren’t unwelcome), but 2012’s Hotline Miami was ahead of its time by, ironically, setting its action in late-80s Miami.
A violent and hugely surreal top-down shooter, Hotline Miami centres on a silent protagonist now named Jacket who keeps receiving answering machine messages instructing him to perform hits on the Russian mafia and take out various members of the criminal underworld, all while receiving strange visions by men wearing oversized animal masks.
It’s all very odd, certainly, but as far as evoking the heady thrill of the decade through nothing more than a pulsating soundtrack and two-bit graphical presentation, Hotline Miami simply can’t be beat.
5. Fallout: New Vegas
Developer(s): Obsidian Entertainment Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
It’s a rare thing indeed that a spin-off ends up becoming the best entry in a well-established franchise. Fallout 3 was an excellent game, but New Vegas, developed this time by Obsidian Entertainment, has connected with fans in a way that few expected but no one can possibly forget.
New Vegas’ real strength is that its focus isn’t on the wasteland or the apocalypse, or even on combat or the horror of the irradiated lands that were once the American West. Instead, Obsidian’s acclaimed tale of the Courier focused on being an exquisite RPG, emphasising player choice, immersion and writing to reach heights the franchise hasn’t reached before or since.
Developer(s): Insomniac Games Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has to be one of the best-looking games we have ever seen, a sort of ice cream sundae for the eyes that continues to blur the line between AAA games and the best that Pixar and Disney have to offer.
Rift Apart was built on the legacy of several fantastic Ratchet & Clank adventures, all of which have their own charms and innovations. A Crack in Time, first released for the PS3 in 2009, is easily one of the best outings featuring the famous Lombax and his tinpot robot buddy.
Ok, it wasn’t necessarily that innovative, but in terms of being a blast to play, A Crack in Time is easily up there with the very best of them and proves that sometimes a game just has to play to its strengths in order to be a success.
3. Red Dead Redemption
Developer(s): Rockstar San Diego et al. Publisher(s): Rockstar Games
Everything about Red Dead Redemption is brilliant. The graphics are brilliant. The characters are brilliant. The Dead Eye shooting mechanics are brilliant. It’s all just so brilliant. Red Dead 2 has, as we all expected, usurped its older brother in the acclaim stakes, pushing the franchise into territory that the first game simply couldn’t reach with the resources available at the time, but what an unbelievable accomplishment point Rockstar’s 2010 classic western was nonetheless.
Incredible, too, is Undead Nightmare, an expansion so good that it demanded inclusion on this list alongside the main game. Just when everyone was starting to get a little sick of blasting zombies back to hell as they became the favourite enemy of developers everywhere, Undead Nightmare injected new life (pun intended) into the format by combining all of Red Dead’s rootin’ tootin’ loveliness with a format in danger of going stale.
2. BioShock 2
Developer(s): 2K Marin Publisher(s): 2K Games
There are no bad BioShock games. 2K’s hugely influential immersive first-person trilogy pretty much defies categorisation, so incredibly important has it become and so unique was it when it smashed its way onto the scene in 2007.
Ken Levine’s prowess as a mature and nuanced storyteller paved the way for games to start really telling proper narratives with maturity and grace. If games are finally getting the critical mainstream credibility they deserve, the BioShock franchise must take a huge amount of the credit.
The danger from such a strong start was that 2K would get complacent and let things slip, but doubts were quickly extinguished when BioShock 2 arrived three years later. Infinite would reinvent much of the trilogy in terms of visuals and narrative, but BioShock 2 was faithful enough to be familiar but innovative enough to be considered a masterpiece in its own right.
1. God of War 3
Developer(s): Santa Monica Studio Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
In truth, there’s almost nothing to separate the third game from its esteemed relatives, suffice to say that it gives everything players had come to expect from Santa Monica’s blood-soaked franchise — and then some. God of War 3 is the conclusion to the Olympian storyline that finally sees Kratos exact his revenge against his father Zeus, an ending that feels as satisfying now as it did back in 2010. Unless you have an affinity for Ancient Greek deities, of course, in which case it’s probably best to go play LittleBigPlanet instead.
The 2018 reboot completely reinvented what God of War could be as a gaming property, but the original trilogy is comprised of some of the most influential games of their generation. For any self-respecting PlayStation fan, God of War 1, 2 and 3 are at the top of the must-play syllabus, with the third game probably the best PS3 Game on PlayStation Plus right now.
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