10 Hardest PS3 Games of All Time

The Hardest PS3 games - Metal Gear Rising
The Hardest PS3 games - Metal Gear Rising

The PS3 era mostly shook off the tough arcade roots that influenced gaming in the years prior by including more advanced accessibility features compared to earlier games on previous consoles. Implementations such as fairer checkpoints, frequent autosaving, regenerating health and other tweaks to the difficulty have allowed players to customise their gaming experience to their preferred taste.

However, this doesn’t mean that all of the games became easier to complete, as many titles on the PS3 catered to those looking for a traditional challenge. So much so that it even saw the beginning of a new genre called Soulslike with its now infamous old-school difficulty that developers are still exploring to this day. There are plenty of ferocious games on PlayStation 3 that will give you a tough time to get through, and a cathartic dopamine rush if you stick with it till the end.

If that sounds up your alley and you’re itching for a new retro challenge (yes, the PS3 is unfortunately pretty much retro now) to conquer, then these are the top 10 hardest PS3 games you should check out.


10. Tokyo Jungle

Tokyo Jungle
Tokyo Jungle

Developer(s): Japan Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment

This forgotten survival game has players taking control of various animals in a bid to repopulate and survive as a species. Humanity is extinct, and in its wake comes a bizarre turf war, as you lead gangs of Pomeranians or cats to become the apex predators of Tokyo. As strange and unique as it sounds, Tokyo Jungle is unforgiving at times, and the core gameplay loop has you playing until death.

You’ll no doubt be restarting a lot, as you’ll be micromanaging your health, hunger, and stamina to stay alive. The hunger bar depletes rapidly and requires you to hunt frequently, which is easier said than done, especially if you’re playing as the herbivores. They have a much tougher time than the carnivores, as they can’t fend off predators as easily and will only munch on plants that are sprinkled around certain areas, some of which are guarded by more powerful foes.

The real challenge is the timer mechanic that comes into play when you spawn in. Every moment spent in the game causes you to age, so you’ll need to reproduce ASAP to keep the population of your chosen animal healthy. The difficulty is that predators are scattered across the whole map, meaning you’ll often run into enemies that will chomp you to bits or polluted environments that tick away at your health the longer you stay in the location. Pomeranians really do have it rough.

Unlocking some of the later animals can become a bit of a grind (there are around 50 of them, after all), and doing so means you need to get through the hordes of ravenous animals every time you start. Despite this, Tokyo Jungle does have charm, and if you’re looking for a quirky challenge, then this game might be the one to check out.


9. Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3

Developer(s): Rockstar Games
Publisher(s): Rockstar Games

Max Payne 3 is a fluid and badass third-person shooter that makes you feel like a booze-addled John Wick. The game retains the franchise’s iconic slow-motion dive mechanic that allows players to pop off heads in stylistically bloody action. It’s also brutally hard at times, with many enemies flanking you, spraying you from cover, and overwhelming you with numbers. Even on medium difficulty, it can feel like hard mode as many encounters require you to have eyes in the back of your head, on your ears, and even maybe two more on your forehead, making it seem like the odds are insurmountable.

Accuracy above all else is the most important mechanic for surviving Max Payne 3’s action-oriented levels. The problem is achieving that pixel-perfect aim on controller may feel a little sluggish for some, and it can be the difference between life and death. Lighting reflexes are required to keep Max on his toes, as any hesitation delivers a quick end. Enemies are relentless, and if they are left with a little breathing room, they will find an angle to take you out.

Not to mention the trophies. Max Payne 3 is one of the hardest PS3 games to platinum, as you have to beat the game 5 (five) times with each subsequent difficulty as well as complete various challenges that will test your mettle as a player.

Health doesn’t regen unless you’re on the verge of death either, and you’ll be relying on your limited painkillers (the game’s health currency) to keep you shooting till all the enemies are dead, or you are. However, if you die enough times during tough encounters, Max Payne 3 will give you additional painkillers. The number of extra painkillers can increase pretty generously, turning death into practice runs until you finally have enough to gobble down and power through. This is how Rockstar balances the brutal experience, and it does help players make it to the end, even if they’ve popped their final pill many times to get there.


8. Killzone 2

Killzone 2
Killzone 2

Developer(s): Guerrilla Games
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment

This immersive first-person shooter puts you in the shoes of Sev, a war veteran of the Legion special forces unit sent to invade Helghan and put a stop to the Helghast war machine that threatens the ISA. Taking on such a risky mission in Killzone 2 will, of course, not be as easy as simply asking the bald scoundrels to go away. Enemies come in plentiful numbers and a variety of fascistic flavours, all with the equipment to take you out.

For the most part, cover can be blown off, meaning staying in one spot is rarely a good option. This is especially effective with the fantastic enemy AI, which uses different tactics to take you out. The same can’t be said for your allies, as enemies will mostly ignore them if they can get a shot at you, and the support your teammates provide is as if they’re afraid to show you up.

There is very weak aim assist on controller, making aiming feel tense when shooting at targets further away. In situations like these, getting those lucky shots to take out high-priority targets can be the turning point for a difficult encounter. However, the PS3 itself can even work against you, as frequent frame drops occur throughout, making it easy for enemies to give you a one-way ticket to the previous checkpoint.

Fortunately, there are several difficulties to mess around with to customise your experience, so if you want to enjoy one of the best FPS games on PlayStation 3 without smashing your controller, then playing on easy might be the best option.


7. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM Enemy Unknown
XCOM Enemy Unknown

Developer(s): Firaxis Games
Publisher(s): 2k Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game where you lead a squad of marines to smite alien invaders. You can name, upgrade, train, and maybe even grow attached to them until they get pulverised permanently by alien scum. Yeah, permadeath is a thing for everyone you deploy, so getting to grips with XCOM’s tactics and playing with extreme caution is the best chance for your marines to come home — and even then sometimes luck isn’t on your side.

Every decision has unforeseen consequences, and it can quickly spiral out of control as you battle to keep your squad alive, resources plentiful, and the dreaded game over timer mechanic at bay. Simply put, the game will end if enough countries stop supporting the XCOM project, which always adds tension to the playthrough. Each marine will also need a timeout after deployment, as if you use the same squad too much, they gain some negative traits that can bring the whole operation down. Like killing each other or themselves in a panicked frenzy if things get out of hand. Fun stuff.

Think save scumming might help? While you can reload a previous save if a mission goes south, having too many save files will cause some grievous load times in between missions. Not to mention that sometimes you have yourself backed into a corner, knowing that no matter what you do, there’s no stopping that last country from cutting off support for XCOM.

It can take some serious skill and thinking ahead to overcome this challenging game, and while there are plenty of difficulty options that help tailor the experience, you’ll still be grinding your teeth as your squad rushes to extraction, hoping they aren’t gunned down and probed out of existence.


6. Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami

Developer(s): Dennaton Games
Publisher(s): Devolver Digital

As appealing as it is to go in guns blazing in this fast-paced top-down shoot-em-up, you might want to take a more cautious approach as enemies react lightning fast and won’t hesitate to turn you into a pixelated mess. Enemy numbers are plentiful in Hotline Miami, so you’ll need to take advantage of the level design by flanking enemies and utilising your new best friend — doors. That’s certainly easier said than done, as death comes quickly in Hotline Miami since a single hit can have you restarting the level.

If you are a competitive gamer, then there is a score system to chase, and the number of points you acquire in a level gives you an overall grade. This mechanic not only incentivises replayability but also adds extra challenge to an already hard game. To get the best score possible, you’ll want to use frequent combos and executions and even enter a room full of enemies unarmed.

Doing these specific challenges will reward you with a higher score, but raising your fists against a mob of shotgun-wielding Russian Mafia is going to take some serious skill to pull off. Even once you’ve cleared the level full of enemies, you still have to extract, and on some levels, you can be intercepted by SWAT teams completely unexpectedly.

Hotline Miami is brutal to platinum, as it’s required to get perfect scores on all levels, which can turn into a seemingly endless grind, making this indie classic one of the hardest PS3 games out there. Put on some Perturbator and find out if you enjoy hurting people.


5. Helldivers


Developer(s): Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment

Helldivers is a top-down, twin-stick shooter that oozes Starship Troopers vibes. Slaughtering bugs and robots in the name of freedom (or propaganda) has never felt so satisfying, but it’s no secret that Helldivers can be downright demanding.

You’ll face entire armies of aliens that quickly overwhelm you up close, while others add pressure with their ranged attacks. However, with hordes of enemies comes empty ammo clips, and you’ll need to stay well stocked if you are going to extract. Ammo management can be problematic in sticky situations and could easily be the cause of mission failure.

Another difficult aspect can be entirely accidental, as friendly fire is always a threat. A wrongly placed grenade or spraying and praying could very well send your teammates and you to the game over screen. You can counter this with a well-coordinated team, but if you’re anything like Colonial Marines on a bug hunt, then friendly-fire carnage will likely ensue. Players can place turrets down to assist them in combat, but they can also deal damage to any friendlies in the way. Positioning is key to surviving each other, let alone the swarms of enemies rushing you from all sides.

What makes Helldivers more bearable are the 12 difficulties you can choose from. If you’re just looking for a good laugh and want to deliver some sweet justice, then there’s plenty of tweaks you can make to craft the ideal experience. But if you’re after those achievements, then you may have to face the highest difficulty sooner or later.


4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising
Metal Gear Rising

Developer(s): PlatinumGames
Publisher(s): Konami

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a 3D hack-and-slash that sets players up against all kinds of mechas and futuristic enemies. You play as a sword-swinging badass that gives Dante a run for his money in style, but players might struggle on tougher difficulties, maybe even on Normal. There are just the rules of nature.

Let’s be real. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the hardest in the series to Platinum, as you’ll have to take on 5 bosses on hard difficulty without taking any damage. It’s also just the most challenging Metal Gear game in general.

Metal Gear Rising features a wide variety of enemies that have different attack strategies and threat levels, so knowing which enemies to prioritise in a group is important to stay alive. On the harder difficulties, this is certainly easier said than done, as enemies can be relentless, barrelling down on you with ranged and melee attacks alike. You can take out enemies in stealth, but unlike other Metal Gear games, it is very easy to be spotted, and once seen, the only way out is a battle to the death.

The combat is electrifying, and you’ll need to master the parry ability to survive some of the game’s more dangerous attacks — it has to be this way. This is especially useful in boss fights, but mastering the parry can take time and it’s especially punishing without it. Of course, it’s high-risk stuff, as missing a parry towards the end of a boss fight can cause you to do it all over again, especially when it comes to the later fights with certain presidential candidates.

There’s no doubt that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a difficulty that surpasses Metal Gear, giving it a well-earned place amongst the hardest PS3 games in the world.


3. Dark Souls

Dark Souls Remastered
Dark Souls

Developer(s): FromSoftware
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco Entertainment

The game that truly popularised the brutal challenge now seen in the contemporary Soulslike genre with its diverse playstyles, dreaded yet engaging boss fights, and the badge of honour you achieve for beating a Souls game. Dark Souls requires impeccable patience to overcome the many, many obstacles present throughout. From numerous traps that can one-shot you, to sneaky enemy placements designed to ambush you, to the hardcore boss fights that will take multiple runs to complete, to the intense platforming where enemies can shoot you off ledges, to the—you get the picture, the game’s brutal.

Oh, not to mention plenty of debuffs that weaken or kill you like poison. There’s a whole area covered in the stuff that you must trudge through before a boss fight (looking at you, Blighttown, all 10 frames per second of you). Then there’s curse, a lethal debuff that leaves you at half health forever until you find a cure, which in the early game is easier said than done.

Let’s not even forget the last half, where the game hits a firewall of pure difficulty. Enemy placements are dumped in large, sporadic hordes, and seemingly unfair groups of enemies stand in your way. There’s even an area towards the end where the early game bosses become the regular enemies and are just placed all over without much thought for your mental wellbeing. We can’t deny there’s a good chance the last half was rushed since the first part is a mix of carefully curated difficulty that can be beaten with precision and patience, while the latter is just about surviving against insurmountable odds.

Dark Souls is as rewarding as it is punishing, and the amount of testosterone you gain from defeating a boss that has spent the last few hours pummelling you to the last bonfire is immeasurable. This is one unforgettable controller-breaking experience and may the sun shine on anyone who’s beaten it.


2. Hard Corps: Uprising

Hard Corps Uprising
Hard Corps Uprising

Developer(s): Arc Systems Works
Publisher(s): Konami

It wouldn’t be a hardest games list without a Contra title cropping up. Hard Corps: Uprising is an aggressive run-and-gun that happens to be one of the hardest PS3 games out there. There’s a very on the nose reason why it’s called “Hard Corps.”

There are times when you are confronted with challenging boss fights that can take several restarts until you just scrape by, only to be immediately confronted by another boss. What makes this even more brutal is that there are no checkpoints, so death will send you back to the start of the level, where you have to refight the same boss while learning the mechanics of the next one.

It really tests the player’s patience and skills, to the point where defeat is all but inevitable until you painstakingly figure out their patterns. Let’s not forget the QTEs that sneak up on you in the middle or near the end of an aggressively hard level. Of course, if you slip up on those, you’ll be restarting all over again, and some even appear after lengthy boss fights.

Not to mention the brutal challenges you’ll have to endure if you want to get all the achievements. The elusive ‘I’ll make them pay’ trophy has you completing all 8 stages of Arcade Mode without dying. To achieve this, Hard Corps: Uprising demands nothing short of excellence to master each level from start to finish, which is going to push the players lighting reflexes, accuracy, and knowledge of the game’s levels to the limit. There’s a reason why only 1% of players have unlocked it.

Hard Corps: Uprising is not afraid to punish you for the most minor slip-up, but its addictive gameplay and triumphant feeling of completing a level is what makes it so rewarding.


1. Demon’s Souls

Demon's Souls
Demon’s Souls

Developer(s): FromSoftware
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment, Atlus USA, Namco Bandai Partners

Oh, Demon’s Souls, the game that apparently turned difficulty into its own genre in the video game industry. FromSoftware’s masochistic adventure doesn’t hold your hand at all, and you’ll start with barely any health and the damage output of a small mouse. While you’re learning the ropes, you’ll quickly be met with tough and tanky enemies that will relentlessly pursue you, numerous dragons that can only be killed in the most tedious way possible, and traps that will do everything in their power to send you back a checkpoint.

Speaking of which, unlike Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls has even crueller checkpoints, meaning every time you venture out into the unknown, you will lose all that progress if you die. Die again, and you’ll lose your souls, which can be used to upgrade your character. You could always run past enemies to recover them, but enemies will pursue you from much greater distances than the later entries in the series, meaning you can quickly be overwhelmed by a huge horde when the slower combat isn’t designed for taking on an army.

What sets it apart from the difficulty in Dark Souls is that your health will be halved if you die, and the only way to regain it is to either use a rare item or kill a boss. While this does encourage extreme patience, it can be daunting to find yourself in a difficult area with only half your health bar. This is how you’ll likely play the game, as the Souls games have always been about trying again until you get the mechanics of the fight down. Demon’s Souls, however, punishes you with snowballing difficulty that can be hard to get out of.

What made Demon’s Souls so punishing is that there weren’t many 3D action-adventure games as challenging as this, and since the game doesn’t hold your hand, it’s very easy to play against the intended design. Reckless swinging, running past every enemy, or general carelessness when navigating through the levels can all lead to swift ends.

As there wasn’t really anything like this at the time, no one knew what to expect when they first booted up Demon’s Souls. It’s a game that still catches players off-guard to this day, and the countless deaths and many controllers broken along the way make Demon’s Souls the hardest PS3 game out there.

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