Sony’s PlayStation 3 started off at an unfair disadvantage. The Xbox 360 released more than a year before the PS3 got the chance to wow the market, and as such, many gamers had already declared their allegiance before Sony’s console could hook them in. That’s a shame, because the PS3 was a pretty amazing console with some incredible gaming experiences on offer. Thanks to the built-in Blu-ray drive, the PS3 enjoyed a lot of hardware advantages the 360 couldn’t claim, but first and foremost, it just had some great games on it. Here, in no particular order, are the top 25 PS3 games of all time.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Many gamers will tell you that Metal Gear Solid 4 has way too many cutscenes, and that it’s more of an interactive movie than a game. There’s some truth to that, but the gameplay that is here is tense, exciting, and a great precursor to the more open-ended Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. MGS 4 is a fitting conclusion to Solid Snake’s story, tying up all the loose ends and giving its characters a strong send-off.
2. Demon’s Souls
Before there was Dark Souls, there was Demon’s Souls. Don’t play the 2020 Bluepoint PS5 remake; hunt this version down instead, because it has that indefinable From Software atmosphere that the remake lacks. Demon’s Souls is a brutal action RPG in which you’ll need to make it from checkpoint to boss, taking down a series of enemies and navigating precarious levels along the way.
3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
We’re not going to put all three Uncharted games on this list, because although they’re all worth experiencing, they’re not significantly different enough to warrant individual places. Uncharted is, in essence, a movie in game form. Its gameplay isn’t particularly challenging or innovative, but it’s got incredible cinematic production values, and Uncharted 3 demonstrated the power of the PS3 better than almost any other game did.
4. Infamous 2
Like Uncharted, the two PS3 Infamous games (stylised as inFAMOUS on the box art) are interchangeable enough to consider a single package, so if you like the first one, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the second as well. Infamous is a superhero sandbox in which you get to zip around the city with electric powers, and if that wasn’t already a big enough sell, there’s also a surprisingly good story attached.
5. God of War III
God of War protagonist Kratos is now a repentant, taciturn antihero, but at one stage, there was pretty much no doubting his villain credentials. God of War III is an over-the-top, brutally balletic action game, yes, but it’s also the absolute apex of Kratos’ time as a god-destroying maniac. Eventually, he would calm down, but let this game stand as testament to his frothing, rage-filled best.
6. The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s magnum opus (to many, at least) is a heavy, serious exploration of human nature in the face of overwhelming despair. It tells the grim story of Joel and Ellie as they attempt to cross a post-apocalyptic United States, using scrappy third-person cover shooting and item-gathering mechanics to tell a story of resilience and hope.
Stephen Fry’s voice is one of the most comforting things on the planet; this is known. LittleBigPlanet leverages that fact to maximum effect, guiding players through a series of expertly-crafted 2D platforming challenges while Fry gently narrates. The real meat of LittleBigPlanet is in the user-created content, though; this is a game with a huge, fully-featured creation suite attached.
8. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni no Kuni is a DS RPG that came packaged with a rather fun little physical booklet containing the game’s spells, meaning you had to refer to it when you were in battle. The PS3 update of the game does away with that conceit, as well as the strategic turn-based battling, but it retains the adorable Studio Ghibli cutscenes, general sense of whimsy, and surprisingly strong story.
9. Resistance 3
The first two Resistance games were perfectly adequate if somewhat forgettable first-person shooters, but Resistance 3 upped the ante considerably. It took things back to the old days of shooters; there was no regenerating health, so you needed to look for medkits under fire, and the weaponry was imaginative, allowing you to experiment with different ways to navigate the game’s well-designed levels.
10. Killzone 2
If Resistance 3 is a throwback shooter, then Killzone 2 represents the direction shooters would largely move in for the next few years. Released in 2009, it depicts the war between the Vektans and the Helghast with unflinching brutality, offering up a dark, fast-paced shooter for players to enjoy. It’s not the most innovative work, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
11. God of War Collection
The first two God of War games were re-released in an all-new HD package on PS3, and if you haven’t played them yet, this is definitely where we recommend you start. The first game’s classic Greek tragedy has aged better than the 2018 reboot will, and the second game, while being nowhere near as narratively deep, offers an even more intricate dance of combat to wrap your head around.
12. Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Just like Demon’s Souls, it’s better to seek out this original updated version of Team Ico’s masterpieces rather than the Bluepoint remake. Ico is a tender, minimalist 3D platformer with an obscure yet rich storyline, and Shadow of the Colossus is a mixture of open-world adventure, puzzle game, and platformer that needs to be experienced to be believed.
13. Okami HD
Despite being from the PS2 generation, Okami HD easily stands up to any game released after it. This Zelda-style adventure is inspired by classical Japanese mythology; you play as Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, as she recovers her power and sets out to defeat the dark forces currently threatening the land of Nippon. There’s a wonderful sense of humour running through this one that makes it a joy to play.
14. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Again, just like God of War and the Team Ico games, Konami decided to re-release three seminal Metal Gear Solid experiences on PS3: Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Peace Walker. All three are great games, but it’s MGS 3 you’ll get your money’s worth from here. It’s a sprawling, iconic jungle stealth adventure complete with some of the most memorable bosses and story moments in gaming.
15. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time
Do you see what they did there with the title? Juvenile puns aside, A Crack In Time represents the best of the Ratchet and Clank franchise. 2021’s Rift Apart is a little too earnest for its own good, but this PS3 outing strikes the perfect balance between syrupy sentimentality and the more ribald humour for which the shooter-platformer series was originally known. Great soundtrack, too.
16. Ninja Gaiden Sigma
Despite being a somewhat flawed re-release of 2004’s Ninja Gaiden, Sigma is still a hugely enjoyable action game in its own right. It does have some slightly dodgy SixAxis controls, but it’s the same brutally difficult, frenetic adventure as we got in 2004, albeit with some added extras including a Mission Mode and several chapters where you get to play as NPC Rachel.
17. Heavy Rain
We’re not huge fans of David Cage’s game design here, but Heavy Rain represents the last time the French auteur designer was genuinely interesting. Despite the QTE-heavy gameplay and disappointing endings, there’s a palpable sense of dread and tension in Heavy Rain that makes it a more entertaining outing than Cage’s subsequent works. Just cut back on the misogyny in future, okay, Dave?
18. Batman: Arkham City
Batman’s second outing in the seventh console generation was bigger, better, and more accomplished than its predecessor. Unlike Arkham Asylum, City was an open-world game in which Batman could roam a cordoned-off section of Gotham in which all of his worst nightmares are allowed to roam free. With plenty of Riddler trophies to find, iconic villains to battle, and genuinely upsetting story moments to sit through, Arkham City is a triumph.
19. Tokyo Jungle
Whenever the discussion of “best survival game” comes up, Tokyo Jungle is almost always mentioned. It’s a bizarre animal sim in which you get to play as all kinds of animals, including herbivores and carnivores, as they attempt to survive in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Somehow, along the way, you’ll also learn what happened to the game’s humans. It’s as weird as it sounds, and as fun, too.
Journey demonstrates that you don’t need to have a huge amount of gameplay for your narrative to hit home. It’s a game about a small humanoid person in a red scarf who must journey across a desert in order to reach a mountain. If that sounds like a humble setup, believe us when we say that it becomes heartbreaking by the story’s conclusion, then hugely satisfying.
21. Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar proved themselves masters of open-world design with Red Dead Redemption. Set in the dying days of the Old West, this sandbox starred John Marston, a cynical but good-hearted cowboy looking to make good on his promise to go straight. He’s sidetracked, of course, and not least by the game’s many diversions; side missions, gambling minigames, and hunting were all par for the course here.
22. Persona 5
Technically, Persona 5 was released for the PS3 as well as the PS4, which seems amazing considering the game launched halfway through the eighth console generation. Persona 5 is a wonderful RPG, full of spiky character and incredible music, and it’s also a thoughtful rumination on the ways in which adults can genuinely ruin the lives of young people.
23. Dark Souls
After Demon’s Souls proved that From Software’s characteristic third-person action RPG gameplay could work, Dark Souls arguably perfected the formula. It’s flawed, yes, but it’s such a brilliant experience that it hardly matters. This adventure through a ruined, bleak fantasy landscape has some of the most memorable boss encounters and level design in gaming history.
24. The Orange Box
When The Orange Box originally launched for PS3, there were a huge amount of fan complaints that it was broken and completely unplayable. For the most part, those fan complaints are hyperbolic. The Orange Box was so utterly brilliant that it transcended any technical issues it experienced on PS3, leaving five exceptional gaming experiences for a budget price.
BioShock isn’t quite as good as System Shock 2. There. We said it. However, given that System Shock 2 is one of the greatest games ever made, merely being one of the “other” greatest games ever made really isn’t too much of a downgrade. This Objectivist nightmare is a fun first-person shooter on the one hand, and a deep philosophical exploration of capitalism on the other.