It’s hard to believe that the release of the PS3 was over a decade ago, in 2006. During that time, video game graphics and gameplay have only gotten more realistic.
Despite all the advancements and new consoles, you may sometimes be in the mood to revisit some of your favorite games that you played as a kid or teenager. Sifting through all the old PS3 games can feel overwhelming, but if you’re trying to figure out which games are still worth your time, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations.
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Grand Theft Auto V
The latest installment of Grand Theft Auto is a benchmark in terms of open-world design and narrative. The gorgeous, bustling streets and back roads of Los Santos are chock-full of stuff to do, while the title’s unprecedented three-protagonist system propels you through a gripping story lined with superb, multilayered heists and unforgettable sequences that owe as much to the voice acting as they do the tight vehicular handling.
Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption remains the undisputed sleeper hit of 2010. It’s essentially a GTA title set in the Wild West and built on all manners of Western cliches. The deserted region you traverse as former outlaw John Marston is vast, peppered with memorable characters and a variety of optional activities, including everything from racing and roping to poker and hunting. The accompanying story and its melange of staggered climaxes are just as sublime, so much so that you often forget there’s an entire multiplayer component with a host of classic options to explore.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Playing as going-on-senior-citizen Solid Snake could have easily been a disaster, but Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots took the series in a brilliant direction with the use of gadgets like the camouflage suit, a buddy robot, and the innovative Psyche Meter. From a technical perspective, MGS4 was one of the most impressive feats of the era, from visuals to gameplay to cinematics.
The story, like the games in the series before it, twisted and turned and amused and befuddled. With a movie-length cutscene sequence at the end, MGS4 ended with a startling bang. MGS4 was a more than worthy addition into the Metal Gear library and is commonly viewed as one of the greatest stealth games of all time.
The Souls series gained a reputation as the standard for challenging games. Demon Souls kicked off the From Software series, but it was Dark Souls that brought the punishing franchise to the mainstream, and for good reason. Though Dark Souls is an open-world game with a dizzying number of tangents and secrets, it can be aptly described as an epic boss rush.
You had to master the methodical combat and learn the tendencies of its diabolical bosses to come out on top. Even early bosses felt like an immense hurdle, which made each victory sweeter than the last. Dark Souls is also known for its bugs and inconsistencies. Rather than diminishing the experience, however, the strange occurrences and dips in performances contributed to its novel charm.
Dead Space felt like the perfect combination of horror and action. Developed by the now-defunct Visceral Games, Dead Space followed spaceship engineer Isaac Clarke’s repair mission on the USG Ishimura. Naturally, things quickly went south when Clarke realized the crew had been slaughtered and turned into terrifying creatures called Necromorphs.
Dead Space stood out for its haunting atmosphere and brilliant action gameplay that saw players dismembering the Necromorphs limb by limb with technological gadgets. With brilliant pacing and expert design, Dead Space kicked off the best action-horror trilogy of the era.
The Last of Us
Despite an uneven combat system and a lack of multiplayer content, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us came away as one of the most alluring console titles of any generation. Its fantastic visual design, rich voice acting, and choice-based gameplay blend together in support of incredible, mature storytelling. The compelling relationship between Joel and Ellie as they fend for themselves in the post-apocalyptic United States is memorable, to say the least — so much so the game was quickly remastered for the PlayStation 4. It’s truly a cinematic masterpiece.
Read our full The Last of Us review
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted 2 doesn’t really deviate from the first title in Naughty Dog’s smash series, and that’s fine by us. It once again stars world-class treasure hunter Nathan Drake and an entourage of familiar faces. Like its predecessor, it seamlessly blends platforming and shooting with a riveting storyline and deep levels of exploration. The competitive multiplayer and bundled game modes add to the fun, offering up an attractive perk system designed to keep you engaged beyond the 10-hour campaign. Now, if only the cover system worked better in tight spaces.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed V: Unity seemed awful, but largely because Black Flag was so mesmerizing. It features all the hallmarks of the series — clever stealth mechanics, high-flying acrobatics, a fluid combat system, et cetera — while introducing a vibrant open world where resounding naval combat and a dynamic progression systems reign supreme. The story revolving around protagonist Edward Kenway is also fascinating, and though it’s a bit formulaic and repetitive, it somehow manages to paint a less dismal portrait of pirates and the sea-faring life than most modern media.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed IV review
Batman: Arkham City
The crime-ridden, atmospheric metropolis of Gotham has never seemed more appealing than in Arkham City. The terrific adventure sees you grappling and soaring above the city as the everyone’s favorite superhero, before descending upon the streets and engaging in fast-paced combat with a bevy of notable Batman characters using your fists or a host of iconic gadgets. The story itself is lined with a vast assortment of side missions and nerdtastic lore as well and features standout voice acting from the likes of Batman staples Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, and others.
Shadow of the Colossus
Fumito Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus was great on the PlayStation 2, sure, but it’s even better remastered on the PS3. The larger-than-life title has you playing as the game’s two heroes, Wander and his horse Argo, shuffling you through a bleak and somber landscape as you work to eradicate a host of enormous colossi and wake your fair maiden from her slumber.
The colossus fights make boss battles in any other game look small and prosaic by comparison. The short story and accompanying score are beautifully orchestrated — as are the updated visuals — but it’s the way the puzzle and action mechanics seamlessly intertwine that makes it unlike anything else.
Read our full Shadow of the Colossus review
In a nutshell, the evocative Journey is a third-person adventure in which you cross the desert as a red-robed figure on a quest toward a mountain. However, it is just as much a work of artistic expression as it is a video game, reveling in dazzling animation and a highly interpretive story that’s never clearly defined throughout the game’s short length. Nonetheless, it’s a joy to play alone or with any stranger who might wander into your game without notice. Moreover, gliding and sand surfing provides movement that’s as dynamic as the stirring music.
Read our full Journey review
Acclaimed game designer Ken Levine knows how to tell a great story — take BioShock Infinite as proof. The lofted, spirited world of Columbia is a sight to behold on foot or via skyline rail. Like any good story, Infinite can also tug at your emotions through incredible voice work and a mind-blowing plot that will leave your mouth agape when the credits roll. The gameplay can be customized to your preferences, too, with a gratifying swath of vigors, weapons, and upgrades to make you feel like more than just a man trying to wash away the sins of his past.
Read our full Bioshock Infinite review
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a watershed moment for the franchise and first-person shooters in general. First, it brought the traditionally World War II shooter into the modern era with a contemporary single-player campaign that raised the bar for the genre. It remains one of the most affecting and well-crafted campaigns in shooter history. Second, it really kickstarted the Call of Duty multiplayer craze on consoles.
Thanks to finely-tuned mechanics, an addictive class-based system, and wondrously-designed maps, Modern Warfare quickly became the leading example of multiplayer shooters done right. Even more than a decade after its release, fans are still enjoying Modern Warfare thanks to a remake on current-gen consoles.
Developed by Insomniac Games, the Resistance series saved its best game for last. Set in a ridiculously cool alternate 1950s reality filled with grotesque aliens, every single mission managed to outdo the previous one. Fast, over-the-top combat made Resistance 3 a constant joy to play, but it was the touching story that brought the trilogy to a great conclusion.
For a science-fiction series filled with fantastical elements, Resistance 3‘s grounded tale about protecting one’s family was both surprising and moving. Though Insomniac has moved on in the years since the underrated trilogy reached its conclusion, Resistance 3 remains one of its best efforts.
The third installment of LittleBigPlanet is just as quirky and playful as any platformer Sumo Digital has released to date. It shines when it comes to the rabbit-hole of a level editor and the sheer wealth of inventive gadgets if offers, even if its ineffective tutorials and bugs can sometimes interrupt the gameplay. The game’s new characters and items also substantially change the platforming mechanics, giving you a convenient means for flying (Swoop) and scrambling up walls (Odd Sock). And who doesn’t like clean visual design and Pug costumes?
Read our full LittleBigPlanet 3 review
Portal 2 is a wonder to play — that is, assuming you can look past the lengthy load times and general lack of replay value. It features a welcome array of spatial orientation puzzles centered around the portal gun, much like its short predecessor, and includes both a story-driven single-player and a less story-driven two-player co-op campaign.
Either way, the puzzles are more sophisticated and the characters more entertaining than before, the latter of which owes much to the game’s clever writing and Valve’s ability to bring a surprising human element to its cast of spherical robots and ghostly voices, featuring fantastic actors like Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons.
Read our full Portal review
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
The charming Ni no Kuni is a pleasure, described by some as Chrono Trigger crossed with Pokémon, in the style of Studio Ghibli, who worked on the game’s animation. It’s a sweeping cartoon adventure revolving around a simple boy named Oliver, who sets out to become a wizard in the hopes of toppling evil and saving his recently departed mother.
The timeless world is rich and inventive, whether it’s the talking scenarios, enemies, characters, or the surrounding locales. And the heartfelt themes and motifs make up for troublesome leveling mechanics. Drippy is also one of the best fairy sidekicks you ask for, on par with Ocarina of Time‘s Navi.
Read our full Ni no Kuni review
Fallout: New Vegas
Occasional disastrous glitches aside, New Vegas expands upon the winning formula Bethesda first forged in Fallout 3. The role-playing game features an expansive and detailed wasteland strewn with wide-ranging quests, along with a stellar soundtrack and voice work that buoy the prevailing atmosphere to great effect. The deep and flexible leveling and reputation system, the gravity of your choices, and the innate ability to play in either first or third-person allow for a multitude of approaches, too, increasing the game’s replay value.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The world Bethesda conceived for the latest iteration of the Elder Scrolls is incredibly immersive and big, not just in terms of its massive map and an overwhelming number of quests, but in the engrossing lore and battles themselves. It’s been almost a decade after its initial release, and people still use it as a standard for the scale of open-world RPGs.
Bethesda’s insistence on porting it to every new platform that comes along has certainly helped it remain in the public eye. Fighting dragons is epic fun, of course, but the title’s subtle atmospheric touches and a stunning emphasis on art design give it the upper hand over its predecessors.
Read our full Elder Scrolls V review
The Mass Effect trilogy from Bioware is arguably the greatest video game trilogy of all time. While everyone has their personal favorite in the series, we chose to go with the original due to the way it redefined choice-based RPGs. Set in the Milky Way galaxy in 2183, players stepped into the shoes of soldier Commander Shepard. With human life in danger from a machine invasion, Shepard departed on an adventure that we’re still thinking about today.
Filled with stellar writing that forces you to make critical decisions that alter the course of the story, Mass Effect featured some of the best world and character building of the era. The original held the deepest RPG connections and moved at somewhat of a slower pace than its sequels, but it rewarded those who stuck with it to its extremely satisfying conclusion. Though the series ended with controversy and was followed up by the disappointing Mass Effect: Andromeda, the first game will always be known as a defining and influential action-RPG.
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