Four Games You Have to Play: PS3
The launch of Sony's seventh generation offering was something of an embarrassing mess, and its first couple of years on shelves weren't helped by a lacklustre gaming library and a high price point.
By 2009 though the console was definitely coming into its own, and these days offers one of the strongest line-ups out there.
Marvel of Game Design: Demon's Souls
Difficulty is a hard thing to balance in games. Often it's all based around numbers - enemies have more health, you take more damage and deal less. When implemented poorly, it can make a game a slow chore, instead of legitimately difficult.
Demon's Souls instead is difficult by being entirely open with its hand, and letting you punish yourself. In this macabre fantasy setting, you can see the scimitar wielding skeletons and suspicious hallways; and it's down to your levels of patience and quick thinking that save you from being sliced to ribbons or crushed by a boulder trap. If you do bite the dust (and you definitely will); you'll be driven to not make the same mistakes. NB
Aesthetic Wonder: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The Indiana Jones films are inarguably a permanent facet of pop culture, inspiring a setting revisited in the Action/Adventure genre across all media. While it sometimes is responsible for absolutely awful work, it's also responsible for Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series.
I [Nathan] choose Uncharted 2 here, because I feel that's when developers Naughty Dog hit their stride when designing settings for Nathan Drake to scramble over. Levels span cities, forests, temples, mountain peaks, and one every memorable trip on top of the carriages of a speeding train. The architecture and design of the locales have been heavily researched (know much about Tibetan and Buddhist mythology? You might learn something here); and areas that you'd expect to see as drab and grey/brown in other games are strong and vibrant here. NB
- Folklore: One of the release titles for the PS3 (and consequently a little tricky to find now), featuring two individuals who head to a remote village to unravel a murder mystery; and instead find Wonderland-inspired fantasy realms filled with monsters. The storybook aesthetic is gorgeous, even at the PS3's early stage.
Best Use of HD's Potential: Ratchet and Clan: A Crack in Time
Anybody who grew up on a diet of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon will find Ratchet and Clank is the realisation of the HD platformer they always dreamed of. Not only is the game utterly, deliciously beautiful it also has massive worlds, fantastic level design, a light-hearted but well delivered plot of time travel and malevolent robot dictators and most importantly of all, big, BIG guns.
Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time is by far the best entry in the series, letting you switch between the two titular time travelers as they go on a quest to save the universe from the hilariously broken robot overlord Dr Nefarious. The game is fast paced, funny, and never pads its time with anything you wouldn’t want to do anyway. Also, hover boots. It lets you have a pair of hover boots you can use at any time. AND THEY ROCK! LD
Truest Sandbox: LittleBigPlanet
It was one of the PS3 games which had been hyped since before the console's release (in the UK at least), and did not disappoint upon its release in 2008. The cutesy stylings of Sackboy and the somewhat whimsical stage design lead to an interesting platformer which was less Super Mario Bros. and more The Incredible Machine. While the game features a relatively robust single-player story-mode, the real fun is in user-created content.
The game makes editing stages and creating new levels incredibly easy, and even during the campaign you are taught how to do this and encouraged to share online. The PlayStation Network's online capabilities really comes out to play with LBP, and sharing or playing user-created levels is incredibly easy. And all the user-created content is free! CD
- Journey: It's set in a desert. There's lots of sand. Go figure. Okay this is a joke, but Journey is still fantastic.