The best PS3 games reflect a strange time for Sony. After the monumental success of the PS1 and PS2, the third PlayStation console got off to a bit of a slow start. But steadily over time, Sony got it together – releasing one fantastic exclusive after the other, until there were few who could doubt the strength of this console’s library. In fact, now it’s pretty easy to see that many fo the best PS3 games have helped shape the way that we play today.
With the PS Plus Premium games list growing – the upper tier of the subscription service allowing you to stream select PS3 games from the cloud – many are returning to this generation to see what they missed. That’s why we’re pulled together this list to help guide you, so here’s our pick of the 25 best PS3 games of all-time.
For more definitive rankings of Sony PlayStation games throughout the years:
Best PS3 Games, Ranked
25. Tokyo Jungle
You’d be forgiven for overlooking Tokyo Jungle; the game looks like a B-grade title, with blurry textures and blocky models throughout. But you don’t play Tokyo Jungle for the graphics – you play it so you can control a pack of beagles taking on a lion. You play it to dress a giraffe in silly hats. You play it because Tokyo Jungle is an addictive roguelike, constantly offering new surprises and challenging you to perfect your routes through an abandoned city as you hunt for food and mates to keep your species alive. Its simple gameplay and plethora of unlockable animals means you’ll get the hang of things quickly, but constantly be striving to get that next piece of the puzzle.
24. LittleBigPlanet 2
Developer: Media Molecule
With the possible exception of Minecraft, no other console game nurtures the imaginations and creativity of its players like LittleBigPlanet 2 (opens in new tab). The first game’s user-content creation tools were a revolution in player freedom, and the sequel not only refines these options, but expands them to allow you – yes, you – to create not only fresh levels, but whole new stories, worlds and even games. And the stuff the community has created is unbelievable.
No, LittleBigPlanet 2 doesn’t have as sophisticated a platforming system as the Marios and Raymans of this world (it’s still heaps of fun, regardless), but to judge the game on these terms is as short-sighted as dismissing War and Peace because you don’t like the font it’s printed in. Simply put, this is one of the most important, relevant, and entertaining games on any PlayStation.
23. Hotline Miami
Developer: Dennaton Games
Hotline Miami is the game your parents always warned you about back in the 1980s, a video game from an alternate universe where Reagan became Forever President and The Running Man is actually a real thing you can watch on TV. Don a rubber animal mask of your choosing and wander into one of a few dozen pixelated murder carnivals to waste every mook in sight, as the background colors pulsate along with the way-too-cool-for-you synthwave soundtrack. Hotline Miami is raw, punk fury, a hypnotic display of hyperviolence one step away from pure, unadulterated anarchy – Just don’t tell your parents.
22. Batman: Arkham City
Developer: Rocksteady Games
How do you make the best superhero game of all time better? You add a whole lot more of it and drop all of that into one of the best-realized open-world cities ever seen in a game. Smartly choosing fidelity, personality, and meaningful design over sheer scale for scale’s sake, Rocksteady’s quarantined chunk of Gotham is one of the most striking, affecting, and most entirely purposeful environments seen in an entire generation. Letting the empowering yet perfectly balanced mechanics of the first game really fly, literally and figuratively, Arkham City (opens in new tab)s structure is an equally grand victory in both gameplay and aesthetic terms.
But just as importantly, it never dominates or detracts from what made Arkham Asylum great. The same mix of intelligent, creative sandbox stealth and taxing, thrilling, almost musical combat still underpins everything and is even better than it ever was before. That Arkham City also plays host to a Batman story dark, dramatic, and entirely epic enough to stand up in any medium is just the icing on the utility cake.
21. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Montreal
It shouldn’t have worked. It shouldn’t have even been attempted. It should have been a dumbed-down, lite-RPG cyberpunk shooter with a recognizable name stapled on. But miraculously, Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the real thing, a layered, complex, entirely player-driven action RPG with freedom, creative thinking, and choice at the core of its every element.
Effectively whatever game you want it to be, it’s even more impressive that DE:HR manages to offer so much customization of experience while also being so coherent. Its dense story of conspiracy and philosophical tension – both global and personal – will drag you along whatever you choose your character’s stance to be, and the cohesive, lived-in nature of its world-building is second to none.
20. Burnout Paradise
Developer: Criterion Games
When Burnout Paradise came out, multiplatform games were always better on Xbox 360. Not so this. Criterion always made PS2 sing and PS3’s Burnout Paradise still looks sensational. It revised the Burnout formula too, combining an open-world city and surrounding countryside to race around. But the wealth of enjoyable things to do make this better than EA’s more recent Need for Speed outings.
It’s in the little things, like trying to handbrake-turn your car into a parking space (for which it grades you) or trying to leap down the side of a mountain and land without totaling your car. DLC patches even fixed the few annoyances in the original release’s structure, meaning this truly is a Burnout-themed paradise. Great soundtrack, too.
19. Resistance 3
Developer: Insomniac Games
The Resistance series went from a decent launch game to a disappointing sequel to FPS masterpiece over the course of the PS3’s lifespan. It’s a shame then, that Resistance 3 – the FPS masterpiece from the first sentence – signaled the end of the series. There’s something so utterly right about R3. It’s the way the alternate-reality ’50s setting combines with the mad, yet satisfying, alien weaponry, and mixes in with the heart-warming story of a father protecting his family that makes this game a stand-out.
Each stage is well-pitched too – there are few, if any, weak moments – and the combat is slicker than a gull plucked from the Gulf of Mexico. Every time you think you’ve got it nailed, the story throws another situation or problem at you, forcing you to adapt and explore the game’s versatility even further. Which you’ll gladly do to bring Joe Capelli’s sad, hopeful tale to its thrilling conclusion.
18. Yakuza 5
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Lots of games talk about how big they are, but few offer a wealth of wildly entertaining and bizarre things to do like the Yakuza games. At its heart, Yakuza 5 is a deeply serious story of the Japanese criminal underworld, of evil men doing bad things and righteous men ripping their shirts off in one swift motion to stop them in hand-to-hand combat. But Yakuza 5 isn’t just a brawler. It’s also a taxi driving sim; a hunting game; and a Japanese pop idol sim (complete with dance battles!). It’s got baseball minigames, ramen cooking minigames, stand-up comedy minigames, an arcade with damn-near full versions of Virtua Fighter 2 and Taiko Drum Master, and so much more – and all of these pursuits are fun in their own unique ways. Yakuza 5 is an exuberant abundance of gritty crime drama and abject silliness, and while it may not be the best place to hop in for newcomers, it’s got more than enough goodies inside to entertain anyone.
17. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
Whatever you think of COD’s current state, there’s no denying that Modern Warfare was a watershed moment for games. Not only did it revive the tired FPS genre, and transform Call of Duty from ok shooter into OMG shooter, it set a benchmark for multiplayer gaming and provided an incredible, 8 hour rollercoaster of a story that few have matched since. The ghillie suit stage, the opening scenes on the tanker, that ending – Modern Warfare is stuffed full of memorable moments.
And guess what: it has aged really well. While subsequent Call of Duty games have attempted to build on Modern Warfare, making the action ever more bombastic, this stands as an exercise in stripped-back, streamlined entertainment. There’s no fluff here, just 8 hours of smooth FPS action that still outclasses all its imitators.
16. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Developer: Kojima Productions
Old Snake may have a creaky back and snarl even more than he used to, but he’s still got it where it counts. MGS4 is still a technical showcase for PS4, just as MGS2 was for PS2 before it. But, crucially, it uses the advancements in technology to better its gameplay. The camouflage suit, in particular, is not only fun to use but useful in the tense stealth situations you find yourself in.
You could criticize Kojima and his team for making the storyline too complex and movie-like (especially in terms of the length of its cut-scenes), but the cast of characters and bosses are all memorable, and there’s no denying the drama at the game’s conclusion. However, had one scene, in particular, ended the other way, this would likely be even higher up this list. Still essential gaming if you own a PS3.
15. Dead Space 2
Developer: Visceral Games
Few games offer the same sickening dilemma as Dead Space 2. While you want to play the game to explore the beautifully broken Sprawl, you also constantly live in fear that something nightmarish is watching your every move. DS2 strikes a neat balance between the originals’ constant scares and a more robust combat system. The horrors are just as real, but now Isaac is more capable of fighting back.
While this does diminish the helplessness you feel, Dead Space 2 is more of a rounded game as a result. Plus, the Necromorphs in this sequel are true abominations: they set the gold standard for video game monsters, and deliver some trouser-ruining scares.
No dialogue, no overt plot, no combat, no way to die. Yet has any game ever provided a more complete experience, filled with so many agonized, terrifying lows and such jubilant, exhilarating moments of joy? Well, yeah, but not many of them…
Thatgamecompany’s Journey is a masterpiece of abstract storytelling, emotion through gameplay, and exquisitely beautiful world-building. Its freeform exploration and platform-puzzling are captivating in themselves, but every single element of Journey, from visuals, to sound design, to the very feel of control, is precisely designed to evoke deep and affecting meaning every step of the way. And as for its anonymous co-operative multiplayer, you simply will never have felt so attached to another player in a video game. Not ever.
13. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Developer: Firaxis Games
One of the most economically brilliant games on the PS3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown delivers enough thrilling, edge-of-the-seat action, cerebrally satisfying gameplay, and engrossing emotional involvement to rival any AAA epic. All without a single moment of real-time action. Its turn-based squad-shooting is immediately accessible, even to a total strategy noob, yet holds fathoms of depth once you’ve navigated its friendly-as-a-hug learning curve.
Despite superficially playing like a board game, its skirmishes and ground wars unfold in spectacular fashion, creating the kind of emergent set-pieces and skin-of-the-teeth stand-offs that you’ll remember as real-time, Hollywood blockbusters. It takes 20 minutes to pick up, but you’ll be obsessing into many a late-night for months. An absolute gem.
12. Wolfenstein: The New Order
From the moment it begins, Wolfenstein: The New Order screams with howling intensity and purpose. The series has never dabbled in subtlety, and that’s no different here: you’re still BJ Blazkowicz, you’re still Nazi Hunter Supreme, and you’re still ruthlessly efficient at your job. But what should be a mindless shooter suddenly finds itself examining the human cost of endless war and soul-crushing fascism, and thanks to the team at MachineGames, it’s pretty good at doing both. You’ll come for the dual-wielding MP-40s and old-school action, but you’ll stay for the branching narrative and fleshed-out characters. Oh, and you’ll shoot Nazis on the moon. Come on.
11. The Walking Dead
Developer: Telltale Games
Here’s an interesting thing. Zombies are one of the most used – overused, in fact – tools in horror gaming, but very rarely are they actually scary. Lumbering, meaty target practice, that’s what they usually are. The Walking Dead, however, gets back to the root of what makes zombies, and good horror in general, affecting: Real, slow-burning, emotionally powerful human drama.
With some of the best writing and acting in games, not to mention the most painful, almost impossible moral decisions, The Walking Dead drops you into a nightmare situation and forces you to try to make not the best of it, but the least-worst. You’ll agonize over every choice and conversation, and in the end, you’ll never have entirely the right answer. There are no heroes here. Just those still left alive.
10. Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition
There are a lot of things to talk about when discussing the greatness of Street Fighter 4. There’s the seamless blend of endlessly explorable, opened-ended depth and immediate, pick-up-and-play accessibility. There’s the immaculate balance across a roster now comprising 39 fighters. There’s the wonderful sense of humor in the game’s combat animations and character design, the latter tied beautifully into each world warrior’s play style and flow. There’s the subtle and powerful nuance of the Focus Attack/dash-cancel system.
But there’s something much simpler at play in Street Fighter 4 that isn’t talked about half enough, and that’s the fact that it’s just immense fun, pure and simple. The fighting game of a generation, no two ways about it.
9. GTA 5
Developer: Rockstar North
Probably the biggest evolution Grand Theft Auto has enjoyed since it went 3D, GTA 5 takes the essence of what has always made the series great, dismantles it, and rebuilds it with a new, fresh, altogether more thoughtful, and entirely reinvigorated structure. The three-protagonist set-up does far, far more than simply mix up the characterization, building sophisticated dramatic irony as three separate storylines twist and conflict, all under the control of the player. Even better, it’s now finally possible to play GTA any way you want to and have it make sense. Between naive nice-guy Franklin, aggressive family-man Michael and benevolent psychopath Trevor, suddenly all play-styles are catered for without breaking the integrity of the game’s stunningly realized world.
As for that world… never has an open video game setting been so expansive, so richly varied, so cohesive, and so utterly, vibrantly reactive. It takes days – weeks, maybe – of immersion to truly realize its nuances, but for now, just know that in terms of form, feel, and function, it’s the closest games have yet come to recreating the real world.
8. Red Dead Redemption
Developer: Rockstar North
Is Red Dead a better game than GTA 5? It’s a close call. While GTA’s San Andreas is a more densely detailed world, there’s a certain beauty to the concept and story of Red Dead that just tips it for us. Few other games create such a glorious sense of time and place. All your actions and interactions within its rugged landscapes just make sense, and it’s the perfect backdrop for John Marsden’s tough tale of injustice and loss – a narrative that climaxes in one of the boldest, most memorable endings of any game, ever.
Ok, that’s enough with the flowery descriptions: it’s also super cool to be a Clint Eastwood-esque, outlaw badass. Shooting angry cowboys, lassoing criminals, and charging through the scrub on a horse – it’s like an interactive Sergio Leone movie. The set-pieces are ripped straight out of the finest classic Westerns, and the understated soundtrack perfectly mirrors the on-screen action. Red Dead is the complete package.
Developer: Irrational Games
It took a while for PS3 to get BioShock, but good Lord, was it worth the wait. The first truly defining, AAA game of the last generation, it set standards of gameplay depth, world-building, atmosphere, and narrative ambition that many other developers spent the following seven years desperately trying to match. From its still unsurpassed opening sequence, it’s clear that BioShock is different from anything that came before it.
The complete, cohesive creation of a world like Rapture is a vast achievement in itself, but to ensure that the compulsive, ever-escalating RPG-shooter action only ever feeds further into the believability and immersion of that world? That’s just showing off. And don’t forget the powerful soundtrack in this equation, which blends stirring strings with perfectly chosen vintage recordings, to create a soundscape in which coherent, moving tone is king. Presenting a setting and story like no other, and filling them with action as thoughtful as it is exhilarating, BioShock is as unique and completely realized a vision as you’ll find in gaming.
6. Uncharted 2
Developer: Naughty Dog
Uncharted 2 is the very definition of an adventure game. It’s part Indiana Jones, part James Bond, part Lara Croft, and all utterly awesome. While U3 up’s the ante in terms of set-pieces, this second game strikes the best balance between action, puzzles, platforming, and witty quips. The story itself is a classic tale of betrayal, violence, and love rivalry, and each member of the cast fits perfectly into the drama.
Crucially, though, every aspect of the game is pure fun. Whether youre zip-lining over roof-tops in the mountain village, dodging tank fire or solving a tricky, statue-based puzzle, there’s never a dull moment. The sheer variety of interactions and set-pieces, combined with all the hopping from stunning location to stunning location, ensure that Uncharted 2 never grows stale or samey. Even the under-used multiplayer mode, played only by a tiny percentage of Uncharted 2 owners, packs entertainment value into every encounter. It’s all tied together with a fluid control scheme and jaw-dropping visuals, that still impress over 4 years after launch.
5. Mass Effect 2
While Mass Effect 3 is technically more polished, there’s something about this sequel that makes it the superior game. It’s just got more magic. Everything in Mass Effect 2 is a delight to experience. It kicks off with a ballsy start, essentially killing off Shepard and ripping the Normandy to pieces. The remainder is about rebuilding and redemption, as you cobble together a loveable crew of misfits to tackle a heroic suicide mission.
The overarching story provides the pace and structure, while the more personal stories onboard the Normandy (Mk2) pull you in different emotional directions. Do you side with Miranda or Jack? The Geth or the Quarians? Can you save your crew from the Collectors? Who, if anyone, will you sacrifice in the suicide mission? While many games give players choices, few offer the same level of involvement with the plot, thereby adding immense weight to the decisions you make. It all adds up to a wonderful, self-contained story, that truly conveys the highs and lows of being the hero. It’s almost a secondary concern that the RPG / shooter gameplay is slick and pleasing to tinker with, or that the game looks amazing and offers incredible scale.
4. Portal 2
The original Portal is a lean, mind-bending puzzler with a darkly comic thread running through it, wringing every last drop out of its mechanics in its brief, two-to-three-hour runtime. Portal 2 takes those foundations and flawlessly builds on them, proving that bigger can actually mean better. It’s got a far meatier story, expanding on the lore surrounding Aperture Science, its mysterious experiments, and the world beyond its walls without ever feeling tacked-on or unnecessary. The addition of various colors of goo adds new wrinkles to how you navigate the environments, often requiring you to use your surroundings along with your newfound mobility in surprising ways. It’s also deeply funny, thanks to Stephen Merchant’s portrayal of Wheatley, your bumbling muppet of a guide who finds himself suddenly drunk on power. Throw in some killer two-player co-op, and you have a recipe for one of the best sequels in gaming history.
3. Persona 5
Persona 5 originally began life as a PS3 game (originally scheduled to release in 2015, no less), and while it’s gotten most of its love in 2017 on PS4, the PS3 version is just as valid a way to play one of the best JRPGs in years. It builds off the successes of past games’ formula, thrusting you into the stylish world of an ordinary Japanese high school kid who suddenly finds himself the recipient of demon-busting superpowers. You’ll navigate daily life, taking on odd jobs, making new friends, and building relationships that grant you special abilities to make combat easier in the Metaverse – an alternate reality that exists on top of our own, governed by the evil desires of some of Japan’s most nefarious citizens. What makes Persona 5 special is its ripped-from-the-headlines narrative; a story whose villains are based on actual people in Japan but, despite cultural differences, feel just as relevant to the current state of world politics. It’s a deeply relevant game, a power fantasy that goes beyond what most video games offer.
2. Dark Souls
Forget the obvious talk of Dark Souls’ difficulty. The truly initiated know that the challenge is only the smallest part of the game, acting as a conduit to its peerlessly satisfying interactions and immense depth. Dark Souls world spoon-feeds you nothing and delivers a swift and bloody death for irresponsible play, but it does so from a place of pure benevolence.
No matter how insurmountable the odds may look, Dark Soul’s flawless combat, staggering freedom, and deceptively ingenious level design ensure that there is always a way. Far from the punishing task-master, many believe it to be, it’s a game that both believes in and trusts its player. It wants you to do well, and it rewards you gloriously when you do. And it always gives you the tools you need to do so. You just have to find and understand them for yourself.
1. The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog
It feels fitting that the PS3’s best game arrived towards the end of its life. Arguably a culmination of everything that AAA gaming grew to be over the course of the last generation, it’s a masterpiece of affecting, mature storytelling and ingenious, gameplay-driven narrative; one that uses the graphical power of a fully mastered console as much for emotional resonance as for visual impact. Dropping the player into a beautifully realized, nuanced, all-too-believable nightmare world, The Last of Us (opens in new tab) provides the tools to survive, but wisely never the means to launch a truly empowered fight back. Every encounter and achievement in the game matters, not because of prescribed spectacle or contrived, cartoon heroism, but because of the need for the player to bring their own instincts and wits to the table.
And that’s just the start of how The Last of Us builds empathy during every step of its harrowing journey through the emotional wringer. It’s a perfect game, from a first-party Sony developer at the peak of its ability (so far), and something that no owner of a PlayStation 3 has any right to miss. Truly, the full stop at the end of the generation.
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