As the undisputed champion of the generation prior, Sony had a lot going for it when the PlayStation 3 was finally released on Nov. 17, 2006 – a full year after Microsoft had already unleashed the Xbox 360 on the masses. Despite this, Sony took its time to create a powerhouse of a system, backed by the processing capabilities of the widely-publicized cell microprocessor, integrated, wi-fi, a hard drive that took the Xbox 360’s interchangeability a step further by allowing you to replace it with any compatible 2.5” hard drive of your choice, a unified online infrastructure known as PlayStation Network, PS2 backward compatibility and the classic DualShock controller that gamers have favored for its ergonomic design. Oh, wait, did I not mention the Blu-Ray compatibility? The PlayStation 3 is generally regarded as one of the best Blu-Ray players on the market. Of course, with so many goodies jammed into such a glossy package, it has to come at a price – $499 for the least expensive model and $599 for the most expensive model at launch, to be exact. This steep price deterred many a potential buyer from investing in the PS3, leading to extremely poor sales for Sony. Recently, though, Sony has aimed to rectify their past missteps, recently releasing a $300 ‘slim’ model of the PS3 with all the goodies mentioned above minus the backward compatibility. Despite its poor sales, the PS3 still has some great titles, so let’s examine the software side of the story with my top five PS3 games.
If you haven’t noticed already from some of my previous picks, I’m a fan of adventure games – especially sandbox games. “Infamous” is just one of those, but like any and every sandbox game, it has a twist. As bike courier Cole McGrath, you are instructed to deliver a mysterious package and open it, causing a huge explosion. After surviving the explosion, you discover that you now have electricity-based powers. The game’s story basically then revolves around trying to learn more about the device that triggered the explosion and gave you powers while you cleanse Empire City of the gangs infesting its streets. The game combines action, adventure and puzzle elements with a hint of RPG characteristics. You’ve got a good amount of powerful, varied electric attacks that can be upgraded to increase their power even further – to pretty much godly proportions, really. It’ll make you feel like Thor himself.
4. Valkyria Chronicles
A fresh take on the tactical RPG genre, “Valkyria Chronicles” keeps things fast-paced and fun without taking away any of the strategy. Set in the fictional content of Europa and the country of Gallia, “Valkyria Chronicles” has you play as Welkin Gunther, a man who is forced to escape his hometown after it is attacked by outside forces. Reaching the capital city, Welkin joins the country’s militia and is given the rank of lieutenant, receiving his own squad of soldiers to fight off the invading forces of the Imperial Alliance. Gameplay is turn-based, and the standard view is an overhead shot of the playing field’s map. You are given command points that are spent by selecting your units and moving them. However, when you select a unit, the game pulls you into the map and lets you take control of the character for a certain amount of time, allowing you to move and attack enemy units manually. This allows for other factors to come into play as well, such as environment and location. “Valkyria Chronicles’” battle system makes you feel like you have more of a stake in how the battle flows and doesn’t feel as mechanical as most tactical RPGs, which I tend to shy away from. There’s always the exception.
3. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Like the summer blockbuster in game form, “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” is an action-packed, high-octane adventure that holds your full attention all the way to the end. The game chronicles of the adventures of Nathan Drake as he attempts to find the golden city of El Dorado. A combination of third-person shooting and platforming, the game harkens back to the days of “Tomb Raider,” minus the busty lead character and with more of an emphasis on story. Everything in “Uncharted” is crafted beautifully, from the graphics of the lush jungle environment to the natural-sounding voice acting. Putting it simply, “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” is a game with high production values all around.
Welcome to sandbox gameplay at its core. “LittleBigPlanet” isn’t your ordinary platformer – sure it has its share of fun levels to get through, but the driving mechanics of the game are in its creation capabilities. “LittleBigPlanet” is all about creating your own levels and sharing them to anyone and everyone through the PlayStation 3’s online network. Like “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts,” this is the kind of game where your most valuable asset is your creativity, and your greatest rewards are your creations. Factor in the impressive and colorful visuals along with the game’s highly diverse, bouncy soundtrack and you’ve got a game that easily stands out among the crowd.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
I’m not going to lie – I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The story is so heavily reliant on playing the previous games of the series that trying to explain it would require spoiling key plot points of those games, and doing that would be a crime against nature. I can tell you this much, however: the game is freakin’ amazing. It has some of the best graphics of this generation, an emotionally moving soundtrack, incredibly solid and varied gameplay and so many twists that it’ll take a few days to pick up all the pieces of your brain from the floor. The game’s story pulls on practically your entire range of emotions – I’m not afraid to admit that I may have shed a few tears at the ending. The “Metal Gear Solid” series has always proved to be a prime example of how video games can act as an exemplary medium for telling a story, and “Metal Gear Solid 4” continues the trend as the satisfying final chapter to the saga of Solid Snake.
With the rising sales of the PS3 slim model, could Sony be making a comeback? We’ll only be able to find out as these next few months unfold. Until then, stick around next week as we finish off this generation with the motion-sensing madness of the Nintendo Wii!