McGinnis: PlayStation 3 memories – A look at the games that helped define an era.Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After months of hype, discussion and debate, the next generation of gaming hardware is almost upon us. On Nov. 15, Sony will release PlayStation 4, the latest in its line of home consoles that extends back to America’s original PlayStation back in 1995. A week later, Microsoft will counter with the curiously — named Xbox One, giving both competitors a new product and games to shill to consumers in advance of the holiday shopping season (Nintendo released the even more confusingly titled Wii U last year, and it has struggled to find a foothold in the market ever since).
But as a new era begins, I can’t help but look back with nostalgia and warmth at the generation that will soon begin to recede. I’ve loved video games for a long time, but it was my experiences with the PlayStation 3 that really made me a gamer; I’ve never owned an Xbox 360. Games in general also came of age over the past seven years — new franchises took hold and began to convince the world that interactive media could have as much emotional power as other forms of art.
With that in mind, here are 10 games that, for me, defined what was made possible by the PlayStation 3 and the consoles that shared its life cycle. These are not the “best” games, necessarily. But these are the experiences I will never forget, and titles that made me glad I invested in new hardware. In chronological order:
- “Portal,” October 2007 — Part of Valve’s “Orange Box” package of five games, it was this relatively unheralded puzzler that became a certified phenomenon. A first-person shooter with no gun, mind-bending challenges of physics and timing, and the greatest villain in gaming history made “Portal” a statement to start a new generation. (Its 2011 sequel is remarkable, too.)
- “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots,” June 2008 — The conclusion to a story that had begun two consoles prior, “MGS 4” was the reason I purchased a PlayStation 3 in the first place, and the experience didn’t disappoint. A fitting coda to an era of action stealth gameplay, with emotional moments that brought almost every character in the series’ history full circle.
- “Dead Space,” October 2008 — A perfect marriage of survival, horror and action, few games have successfully captured an environment quite like EA Redwood Shore’s excursion into an abandoned space station overrun with horrific monsters. “Dead Space” showed it was possible for a title to be exciting and intuitive to play and still scare the pants off of you.
- “LittleBig Planet,” October 2008 — If any game bridged gaming’s past and future more successfully, I’ve missed it. Media Molecule’s sidescroller was a delightful throwback to the 8-bit games of players’ youths, but by adding an intuitive and incredibly deep level creator and giving people the chance to share their creations with the world, it demonstrated how the future of play provided almost limitless possibilities.
- “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” August 2009 — If the stereotype that licensed games were uniformly horrible had begun to crack, this was the title that blew it to smithereens. The best superhero game ever made, developer Rocksteady crafted a gameplay experience that was as deep and satisfying as the most celebrated of existing franchises, and married it to a universe of characters that made it a joy to explore.
- “The Beatles: Rock Band,” September 2009 — The fad of music games rose and receded like the tide, but not before it gave us this beautiful tribute to the greatest band of all time. Beyond the joy of playing along to the Fab Four’s legendary catalog, it also provided an ever-evolving set of distinctive visuals and background information to function as a remarkably entertaining interactive museum to the group’s history.
- “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves,” October 2009 — The greatest installment in the greatest action-adventure series of all time, the follow-up to the system-selling “Drake’s Fortune” demonstrated that developer Naughty Dog had a franchise that would help define PlayStation in the years to come.
- “Heavy Rain,” February 2010 — Quantic Dream’s interactive thriller provided gamers with experiences they had never quite had before or since in a game environment. “Heavy Rain” took steps to demonstrate how gaming could provide an artistic experience that no other form of media could emulate.
- “The Walking Dead,” April-November 2012 — Telltale’s episodic series inspired by Robert Kirkman’s apocalyptic comic provided more proof of how games could instill emotions in their players, inspired by moral debate and the consequences of one’s actions. Few titles moved players more than the story of an escaped convict and the girl he swore to protect — even at the cost of his own life.
- “The Last of Us,” June 2013 — With gameplay finely honed by the developers’ experience on “Uncharted,” combined with a human story almost unparalleled in the history of the medium, “Last of Us” filled its players with a simultaneous sense of dread and hope. Naughty Dog’s masterpiece provides a fitting summation of all that this generation represented.
Tags: 8-bit, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space, Heavy Rain, LittleBig Planet, Media Molecule, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Portal, Quantic Dream, Sony, Telltale, The Beatles: Rock Band, The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Valve's "Orange Box"