I’ve got shocking news for PlayStation.Blog readers: Tomorrow marks the five-year anniversary of PlayStation 3’s launch in the United States of America. Just think — our beloved black box was born into a primordial world where online multiplayer modes were the exception, not the rule; HDDs were a side option for game consoles, not a standard feature; standard-def DVDs were the only choice for home video; and Nathan Drake wasn’t a household name. It’s unthinkable!
To mark the big day (which technically hits tomorrow, November 17th), I asked an army of industry-leading game developers to share their top three “must play” PS3 games. The result is a a definitive list of PS3 games by some of the best game designers in the business. And stay tuned: more developer selections may be on the way!
Reviewing the list below reveals some interesting patterns. Unlike ICO and Shadow of the Colossus’s domination of last year’s PS2 10-year anniversary list, there was no clear-cut favorite game. PS3 critical heavyweights Heavy Rain, God of War III, and the UNCHARTED series led the pack, while LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3, and Portal 2 also enjoyed plenty of attention.
Be sure to chime in with your own three favorite PS3 games in the comments!
Game Director, Sony Santa Monica Studios
- Heavy Rain – While playing Heavy Rain, there were several times I felt like crying. And in a good way! Whoa, I didn’t know games were supposed to do that, but I sure liked it. What an achievement.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Never have I played a game with such a rich universe; I sat in a library reading books for hours! I sunk more than 120 hours into the game before I even dug into the main storyline. I even remember one mission that took more than eight hours to finish and had more plot twists than entire games! Simply amazing.
- Dead Space 2 – Dead Space was really cool, but after a few hours the level layout, pacing, and cast of enemies started to get repetitive. Visceral Games fixed all of these issues in Dead Space 2 and took players on a space roller coaster ride to Hell where something cool was waiting around every corner.
Design Director, Epic Games – @therealcliffyb
- Heavy Rain – People toss the term “Interactive Movie” around, but David Cage and crew actually delivered on that promise. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish.
- UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune – Indiana Jones died in the blast that nuked the fridge. Nathan Drake took up that helm and I’ve loved treasure hunting with him ever since.
- Killzone 2 – Not just because it’s damned gorgeous, but because the head engineer is the guy I made a little game called Jazz Jackrabbit with which kickstarted my career. Thanks, Arjan Brussee!
Creative Director, Netherrealm Studios – @noobde
- God of War III – The first God of War burst into the scene with an attitude all its own. I don’t remember ever playing a game that was so unapologetically brutal and unique. Amazingly each sequel managed to top the previous version with God of War III delivering perhaps the most epic adventure ever in a video game. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kratos.
- Grand Theft Auto IV– Another series that managed to get better with each iteration and create an entire genre all by itself. GTA3 make the term “sandbox” part of video game vernacular and to this day games are borrowing ideas from this amazing title. But GTA4 is the granddaddy of all sandbox games. Until GTA5, of course!
- LittleBigPlanet – Yeah, this one doesn’t quite seem to fit with my other two choices. But I simply can’t exclude a title so inventive, so creative and so inspiring. The fact that so many professional-looking levels have been made by players online is a testament to how utterly unique this game is. Yes, the sequel does everything better, but there was nothing like taking in this game for the first time.
Creative Director, Quantic Dreams
- Portal 2 – Amazing level design, fantastic solo and co-op modes, simple but complex, hard core but accessible, well written and funny for dads and sons. A great example of traditional game play perfectly implemented.
- Catherine – A narrative-driven, crazy, surprising, weird, original, Japanese experience unlike anything else. This is far beyond taking risks and that’s what I like about it.
- LittleBigPlanet – Okay, this choice is not very original. Everybody said how great the game was. +1 Loved the graphics and the possibility to play with my two kids shouting, laughing and jumping on the sofa.
Co-Creative Director, Arkane Studios – Current project: Dishonored
- Fallout 3 – I was a big fan of the original series and Fallout 3 (as well as Fallout: New Vegas) manage to capture the vibe of the original, adapting it to a more modern play style and an open world. I’m so impressed!
- BioShock – Of course! Awesome universe, the Looking Glass legacy, immersive first-person game, and a mind-blowing story with an amazing twist.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – This game has all the design elements I value in a game: a persistent world, simulation, exploration, a wide variety of play styles, non-linearity, depth…
President, Q-Games Ltd. – @dylancuthbert — Current project: PixelJunk 4am
- Fallout 3 – An absolutely brilliant game that starts off slow…but when it gets going, it really gets going. Fallout 3 has a ton of moral choices, so I suggest not fully following the narrative path you are being led down. Take some turns by yourself!
- Gran Turismo 5 – It’s the best of the best, nothing beats it in terms of quality and sheer content. Even if you don’t have that much of an interest in cars or racing, when you’ve played this for a few hours you will! They really shook up the series and added some really interesting tracks – and the photography mode is awesome.
- LittleBigPlanet – In my mind, the original is still the best – it combines simple systems to let you create complex ideas, and the art direction in the single player (and in the game overall) is mind-blowingly good. Stephen Fry’s voice over really helps set the mood too. This is a game that everyone needs to play.
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves: An all round awesome experience. It was a game that I couldn’t wait to get through and when I did I wanted another one. The story was compelling and the game play polished to perfection, I haven’t got all the way through 3 yet but I can say it delivers exactly what I wanted from the series. It’s like the BMW of videogames, it doesn’t re-invent cars it just perfects the experience – truly inspirational.
- Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty: An excellent, bite-sized chunk of a game. This for me is the future, I love the idea of games becoming like mini-series style releases instead of the super expensive retail product. People will look back on this title as a vanguard of a digital content future for console experiences.
- inFAMOUS: A great game by a great team. A tour de force of technical achievement on the PS3.
Director of Product Development, Bend Studio – Current project: UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
- UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception – Who says that Hollywood isn’t making great summer blockbusters anymore? Oh wait, this is a *game*! Hollywood only wishes it were making big screen adventures this good.
- God of War III – Probably one of the most epic games I’ve ever played. Loved the homage to 2D fighting games…
- Heavy Rain – My knees and elbows still hurt from crawling through all that glass.
Animation Director, Sucker Punch Productions – @BillyHarper73
- God of War III – I love super-gory melee games. I love caffeine. God of War III is caffeinated melee gore at its best! The finale of the boss battle with Hermes sums it up best for me.
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – When I played UNCHARTED 2, my mother-in-law was visiting. She actually had as much fun watching me play the game as I did playing it, and she made me finish the game before she left to go back home. It was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had playing a game in a long time.
- Portal 2 –Whenever I want to flex my atrophied brain muscles I pop in Portal 2. I’m actually playing the free Peer Review DLC with my son right now and having a blast. GLaDOS makes me feel like crap… and yet, I <3 her. I’m a masochist, I know.
Creative Director, Media Molecule
Flower – Refreshingly mellow, and can be played with one hand, so you can hold a baby in the other.
- Heavy Rain – I really liked that you could decide how slowly to get out of bed. It made it feel epic somehow.
- Blast Factor – This was the first PSN game I bought, I was addicted to it for ages, and thought I got quite good at it, until I saw my position in world hi score tables.
Co-Director, Co-Designer of Twisted Metal – @davidscottjaffe
Current project: Twisted Metal
- Darksiders – I LOVE this game! It’s like The Legend of Zelda meets Heavy Metal magazine. I dig the blend of open adventuring, wonderful-feeling melee combat, the crazy-distinct Joe Mad artwork, the fun and sometimes emergent puzzle solutions, the high-quality voice acting, and the fresh storyline. Darksiders 2 is the only game I’ve ever chosen to do a media blackout for; I loved the first game so much I want EVERYTHING in the sequel to be a surprise! *Eric Williams, one of the genius pappas of the God of War combat system, did some work on this title
- Flower – Emotional, beautiful, and just downright moving. It makes me envious and puts me in awe of That Game Company. Flower is a wonderful game that elicits fresh emotions and for me that is a sign of true evolution in the medium. I don’t know if I’d ever be capable of lending my talents to such a game, but I sure can appreciate it for the amazing work that it is.
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction – Curse you, PlayStation.Blog, for only letting me pick three games! UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune (yes, I dig #1 more than #2) almost took the third spot but at end of the day, I just dug the perfect blend of shooting, platforming, weapon design, humor, space combat, and ‘many weapons allow for multiple solves’ meta-game blend that was the PS3’s first Ratchet title.
President, LightBox Interactive – @DylanJobe
Current project: Starhawk
- Burnout Paradise – This is the best racing game I have ever played. And yeah, yeah I *TOTALLY* know that it isn’t a “pure” racer but damn, I felt sooooooo good playing it. It got my adrenaline pumping in the same way as shooters do and it’s overall presentation was stellar.
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – A fantastic experience that is the poster-child for remarkable execution and “couch-friendly” games. By that I mean that it was super enjoyable to play and watch being played. I remember running away from the final boss battle in Shangri-La and just being stunned at it’s beauty.
- Red Dead Redemption – It’s really hard to say just a few things about this game so I shall ramble: Gorgeous, immersive, loved the music as I crossed into Mexico, missions were great at capturing the American Western theme and I’m still very sad I accidentally skinned my own dead horse’s body after I jumped him off a cliff :-(.
President and Creative Director, Irrational Games – @iglevine
Current project: BioShock Infinite
- God of War III – I’m just like Kratos, if you discount the muscles, the courage, and the ability to bed seven wenches at once.
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – I’m still working on UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception, so I’m gonna go with UNCHARTED 2. Let’s face it: unless your first name is Indiana, you kinda wanna be Nathan Drake. Don’t lie. You know it’s true.
- Joe Danger – I love this game. It’s like Excitebike, but I’m playing it in a nice house rather than the crappy studio apartment I had in 1989.
Producer, DICE – @pottan – Current project: Battlefield 3
- Shatter – This breath of fresh air for the puzzle genre could be described as Arkanoid on steroids. The best part: its amazing soundtrack!
- Siren Blood Curse – My favorite Japanese horror game features uncompromising design and an atmosphere that I really savor. Creepiest game ever.
- Wipeout HD Fury – The series has been one of my favorites since PSOne, and this version encompasses that feeling with the smooth framerate and controls. And again, the music here is excellent. Do I unconsciously judge games by their music?
Creator, Everyday Shooter – @queasy00 – Current Project: Sound Shapes
- PixelJunk Racers – Back in 2007, I was at my first E3 I happened to be paired up in the same kiosk with PixelJunk Racers. I didn’t know anything about the game but offered to help demo it. At first I didn’t think much of it, but as I played more and more I realized how similar the game was to a shooter where basically all the cars are bullets and you must avoid them. Of course there were certain situations where you actually want to bump into the cars, but that’s even so for shooters (bullet-eaters, shields, …). It’s pretty interesting how two completely different genres can share such similarity.
- Flower – I only played this a short amount of time but it’s a game that is permanently implanted in my head. There are days where I still see flashes of Flower in my minds eye, and whenever I think of video games, this one pops up in my head. I don’t really know what it means in the grand scheme of things and I don’t know why it’s so stuck in my head, but it is. Maybe it’s simply because it’s so damned beautiful.
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Raised the bar of what a AAA game is in my opinion. The amount of variety in interaction and the density of distinct content was and to this day, continues to be unmatched in the big-budget game world. Sometimes I can’t control the way my broken brain works and I end up drawing parallels with Eric Chahi’s Another World. Both games stuck to its respective genre and yet explored so many possibilities within it.
Producer, Capcom – @Yoshi_OnoChin
Current project: Street Fighter X Tekken
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction – The first of the new Ratchet & Clank series, I remember thinking excitedly, “what kind of adventure will I be experiencing today?” as I set the disc into my PS3. I also have fond (and sometimes frustrating) memories of trying to control those Zoni creatures.
- inFAMOUS – I loved being able to choose between good and evil in this game. Your choices would affect not only your play style, but the missions in the game. Considering you got two different experiences for the price of one game, it was definitely worth it. I really appreciated the seamless level technology, as well as the sheer amount of strategies.
- PixelJunk Eden – It was a blast exploring the Eden world, while clearing objectives here and there. A great casual game, I feel it really set the bar for PSN downloadable titles. When you first play it, all you can think is “Huh?” but that thought gradually turns into an “Oh!” It really is a remarkable game.
Vice President and Executive Producer, Visceral Games EA – @leveluptime
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – it’s like being thrown into the middle of a great movie with characters you find interesting and fun to be around. Incredible epic moments and acting make for a very memorable game.
- MLB 11: The Show – Hands-down my favorite MLB game. It features an incredibly deep career mode, plus great-looking graphics and animations. I look forward to this game every single year.
- Heavy Rain – One of my favorite games from this generation. It proved you could create a story that both pulled you in and made you care about the outcome and characters. I tell all my friends to give it a try, really, really enjoyed it.
President and CEO, Gearbox Software – @duvalmagic
Current project: Aliens: Colonial Marines, Borderlands 2
- Valkyria Chronicles – UNCHARTED and LittleBigPlanet are going to get plenty of play, so I want to call out great games that haven’t gotten as much love as they deserve. Valkyria Chronicles is one of those games: great art direction and appealing characters wrapped around an awesome turn-based tactical RPG! Such a rarely represented genre is so beautifully realized. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a turn-based tactical game owes it to themselves to check this game out.
- Demon’s Souls – Difficulty aside, these guys really did a great job in bringing some new experiences to the world. I hope their successor game Dark Souls gets even more traction and recognition because there are some good ideas in the “souls” games that we all can learn from. I think it’s important for gamers and game makers to spend time with this game and understand why it’s so rare and special.
- Resistance 3 – I’m a big fan of anything Insomniac, but Resistance 3 motivated me to get the PlayStation Move set up with the sharp shooter controller, and it’s a great way to play this great game. It’s always difficult to be able to rationalize custom development effort for sub-sets of customers on a platform, but the experience I had with Resistance 3 and the sharp shooter makes me want to see something special done with that interface in our games.
Studio Game Director, Evolution Studios – @mrsuv
- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – History beats fantasy and sci-fi for me, I wish there were more historical games. And as his name suggests, Ezio Auditore da Firenze is the coolest videogame hero of the 21st century.
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit – Modesty prevents me from naming one of the three racers that are better than this thrilling mix of Burnout and Chase HQ :) A focused, polished game from two world-class developers.
- Red Dead Redemption – An obvious choice, but all the Rockstar open world games on PS3 have been astonishing, and this one is the best. Absolutely breathtaking ambition.
Creative Director, 2K Marin
- UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – I’m not a platformer guy. On average, I enjoy them to the precise sum of zero, as I have a troubled relationship with gravity on my best day. I’m also not a huge fan of handsome box-art protagonists with grafted-on personality for me to chafe against – as I watch them make decisions that just ain’t remotely me. UNCHARTED 2 won me over despite my biases, seducing me into caring about Nate Drake & his struggle to grow the eff up – then stealing my breath with the finest “playable cutscene” set-piece challenges I’ve ever faced.
- L.A. Noire – Another in the list of games that blithely reduced my preconceptions to ash, I was quickly won over by Noire’s contract with the player – it’s going to be about attention, comprehension, observation, and memory. In
other words, it willfully invites you to *think* like a detective, to actually use that atrophied head-meat that has gone slack after so many shooters. I had forgotten how thrilling that can be in the right frame. In real life, while searching for my wallet or keys, I still occasionally pick up inane household items, rotate them left and right, and mutter “optimistic, Thomas.”
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution – I really didn’t think a console sequel to Deus Ex, so many years later could be done. Suffice it to say, the original was one of three games that convinced me to do this for a living. And the team at EIDOS Montreal, in my opinion, pulled off a post-human miracle with this baby. They’ve managed to streamline the experience I loved so dearly on the PC – and improve its presentation a thousand-fold – without neutering it. Also, cyber-arms: still cool. Who knew?
Co-President, Naughty Dog – @evan_wells
Current project: UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception
- Flower – I love this game for its simplicity and its beauty. That Game Company is like none other; it took a concept that nobody else would dare attempt and created an experience that engages your eyes, your ears, and your heart.
- Portal 2 – The first one was great but left you wanting more, and Portal 2 delivered just that. The writing was top notch and the puzzle design so amazingly good that just when you’re ready to give up, you have that “Aha!” moment that makes you feel like a genius.
- Pac-Man Championship Edition DX – Who knew a concept three decades old could be reinvented in such a fresh and addictive way? I’ve never been big on leaderboards, but there’s something about this game that makes you want to get in there and shave a second off your time or pump your score up another 100K. And is there anything more satisfying than eating 100 ghosts in a row?
PlayStation.Blog Staff Picks
Senior Manager, PlayStation.Blog – @jeffrubenstein
- Valkyria Chronicles – A strategy RPG with innovative third-person shooter controls and brilliant visuals that tells an engrossing tale featuring memorable characters. This is a true masterpiece.
- UNCHARTED series – Perhaps the finest crafted games ever made, with undoubtedly the most lifelike cast ever featured in this medium. In my mind, Drake, Sully, and Elena are real people…maybe even friends.
- Street Fighter IV – This reinvention of the Street Fighter series tapped into a competitive hunger that had laid dormant since my early teens – except that this time I was actually pretty good. A career highlight: Challenging and defeating Hiphopgamer with Guile in front of a raucous crowd at GDC 2009.
- Other favorites: Rock Band, Batman: Arkham City, inFAMOUS 2, Catherine, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed II
Senior Specialist, PlayStation.Blog – @sidshuman
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – They don’t make games like this anymore. Decried by some as an exercise in wretched excess, game director Hideo Kojima packed this stealth-action epic with enough material to make several feature-length films. The plot is at times incomprehensible, but that’s part of its charm. As usual, Kojima gets the last laugh.
- PixelJunk Monsters – I’m absolutely shocked to not see this PSN classic pop up on every list, and I can only assume the omission is due to mass amnesia brought on by late nights with Skyrim. For me, Monsters represents the perfection of the tower defense genre. Its adorable visuals and twinkling soundtrack belie its deep strategy, while the compulsively playable co-op mode has as an effective gateway drug to ensnare countless girlfriends and boyfriends.
- Heavy Rain – My favorite games tend to open my eyes to radically different experiences. I distinctly remember inserting this Blu-ray into my PS3 on launch day and being filled with doubt. Could Quantic Dream really achieve their insanely loft goal of an interactive film? Two hours later, I was sold.
- Other favorites: BioShock, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Super Stardust HD (with Solo add-on pack for “Endless” mode), Dead Nation, Mortal Kombat
Senior Specialist, PlayStation.Blog – @r3yguti3rr3z
- God of War III — Around the office, I’m known for singing the instantly recognizable God of War theme song with my own makeshift lyrics: “Kra-tos is so cool! Heee is red and white! KRAAATOS!” In some ways, it’s the highest honor I can bestow on my favorite PS3 game. In my mind, God of War defined the PlayStation brand on PS2, and what better way to introduce the power and technical achievement of PS3 than with God of War III?
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots — The last hour of this game kept me on my feet as I guided Old Snake through to the gut-wrenching finale, only to be confronted with one of the most memorable boss fights in gaming history. This game reminded me of the time I first played the original Metal Gear Solid demo on my PlayStation Underground disc, which left me floored. Also: I have a huge crush on Laughing Octopus (yes, with the costume on).
- Resistance 3 — This was one of the first PS3 titles I was passionately involved with as I worked closely with Insomniac and SCEA to create a series of developer diaries. To see the Resistance franchise truly find its voice and deliver such an enjoyable experience — especially when played in stereoscopic 3D with the PlayStation Move — made it a total blast to play!
- Other favorites: Heavy Rain, Enslaved, UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim