To say that we at Irrational Passions love games is to speak in grave understatement. Many of us grew up with them, learned lessons about right and wrong with them, and so forth. So when we say that there are games on a particular console that you absolutely have to play, then you should definitely trust us.
Don’t approach the following as a “Top Ten” list, as it’s not that, per sé. The games aren’t in any particular order; not ranked from collective best-to-worst. Instead, these are personal testimonies to the strengths of particular titles, delivered by the colorful writing team of IrrationalPassions.com.
The Playstation 3, even with its slow start, has matured gracefully, and has become well known as the console you play the “weird” games on. Not weird in a bad way, actually quite the opposite. Sony’s black box has proven time and time again that thinking between the lines and taking risks can lead to real success.
When I first bought a PS3, I bought Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune along with it. It was the kind of game I had always wanted to play: an Indiana Jones style adventure with great characters, witty dialogue and tons of exciting action sequences. When people told me the sequel was even better, I couldn’t believe them. I had no idea how wrong I was.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves blows away its predecessor in every conceivable way. Right from the incredible opening with a badly injured Drake desperately climbing up a train car hanging precariously off a snowy cliff, you know you are in for a whole new experience. Whereas Drake’s Fortune spent it’s entire campaign on a single island, Among Thieves has you globetrotting around the world, visiting the jungles of Borneo, the war-torn streets of Nepal, and the glistening mountains of the Himalayas. The variety in locations makes for a much grander adventure, and creates some breathtaking scenery, aided by an impressive graphical jump between games.
Aside from the diverse group of locations, Uncharted 2 features some absolutely thrilling action sequences, arguably the best in the series. Over the course of the game you will be chased by helicopters, jumping between cars in a convoy, and spend an entire two levels climbing across a moving train. You’re always in control during these sequences, so it really feels like you are playing a movie. There aren’t many things in gaming as exhilarating as leaping out of a crumbling building while taking out a room full of soldiers.
The story was still a simple, movie-serial style treasure hunt, but was more epic this time around, featuring a desperate race against a villain who posed a real and credible threat to our heroes, as well as the rest of the world. More importantly, the already likable cast of Drake, Elena and Sully become more interesting, with Drake seeing character development rarely seen in this kind of story. New additions to the cast, such as Chloe, brought a new flavor to the series and made our heroes lives more complicated. Uncharted 2 set a new benchmark for dialogue writing in games, featuring witty and insightful dialogue that truly sparkles, and few games have ever matched.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a truly special game. It raised the bar so high for action games, it’s hard to imagine anyone ever topping it. The story is fun, the dialogue is sharp, and the action sequences will absolutely blow you away. This is a game that will surely be influential in the industry for years to come, and it is not to be missed.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Compared to the last few decades of gaming, JRPG’s haven’t been so prominent in the industry this generation. I’ve always been a huge Final Fantasy fan and have enjoyed various JRPG’s throughout my life. Games like Chrono Trigger and Pokemon have always captured my attention and had me playing for hours on end. This generation however, I found JRPG’s to be lacking. With all my hopes set on that Final Fantasy XIII would be a return to form for the dwindling franchise, I ended up being left with nothing but a bad taste in my mouth. I thought the JRPG genre was no more. That is, however, until I got my paws on Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
This Playstation 3 exclusive was developed by Level-5 and features animation done by Studio Ghibli, the guys who brought you animated films such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Ni No Kuni follows the journey of Oliver, a boy who has travelled to another world following the death of his mother. Accompanying Oliver is Mr Drippy, a doll that has come to life who is helping Oliver rid the world of Shadar, an evil being who has been robbing people’s hearts of their virtues, leaving them broken hearted.
Ni No Kuni is one of the finest games of this generation and is perfect for fans of games such as Chrono Trigger, Pokemon and classic Final Fantasy. If there’s one game you have to try before moving on to next-gen then it’s definitely Ni No Kuni, it simply cannot be missed.
The Last of Us
Not a single step you take in the games most tense moments do you not feel the thick smattering of soul that this game contains. When plotting your next moves on monstrous clickers or marauding hunters alike, you can’t help but start to fall in line with the character’s paranoid mindsets. You start thinking about Ellie, if she’s still two steps behind you, like you told her to stay. Or, the people who are out to kill you, and how you don’t really blame them for their motivations. You become the dreary and defeated person that Joel leads you to believe he is. This immersion is no accident; The Last of Us is a culmination of the great things that gaming is supposed to be: moving and motivating thanks to the excellent execution of the sum of its parts.
It’s world is one that we are used to, thanks to our post 9/11 obsession with the apocalypse, and subsequent fall of civilization as we know it. The real calamity isn’t even that new; all the cordyceps victims are essentially zombies. The Last of Us is, however, an example of how focusing on basic pillars of design can go a long way. Yes, hunters, clickers, bloaters, etc. are all zombies, but they aren’t as we’ve seen them before. The addition of the “reclamation by nature” motif makes them, at its most base level, something new to behold. Clickers, the most disturbing and interesting of the designs, are one of the most grotesque visions of the mutated human form I’ve ever seen. Trying to empathize the the sheer idea of a large set of mushroom crowns growing out of the top of my face still makes me uncomfortable.
The survivors of the plague aren’t your TV drama typecast either. You never meet a person within the game’s ten hour story and feel like they’re the “good” guy. They are anti-heroic in a way that still only barely crosses the line of acceptable, and even though you’re the player, Joel’s narrative will force you to play through decisions that he makes, that may make you uncomfortable. The brutal story and well-rounded characters are as challenging as the games action sets, and is the crux of what makes that game so special.
It was almost destiny that the Naughty Dog would create such a defining picture of Sony’s focus on unique experiences. The studio has almost been synonymous with Sony systems since the PlayStation, and had developed many of its brands, memorable characters and franchises. After developing the Uncharted trilogy, Naughty Dog’s team could have just waited out the generation, and began working on the next console’s trilogy. Instead they upped the ante, on both themselves and the industry as a whole.
It isn’t perfect, but make no mistake, even with its flaws, not only is The Last of Us a great game, it’s a shining example of what can be done when a publisher steps back and trusts one of the most talented teams in the business to do what they do best.
Memories are usually forged through extremely important moments in your life. When it comes to gaming, the same rules apply: those moments that stick out are real cherished memories. The dogs from Resident Evil, getting the Master Sword in Zelda, or destroying the Halo in the Halo series. These moments stick out from our favorite franchises, but Journey is another case entirely for me, because I remember every second of it.
Never has an experience left such an impact for me like Journey has. From the moment of awakening, to building the cloth bridge, to sliding through the sandy hills, finding the “machines” for the first time, and reaching the penultimate moment (which I won’t spoil for you), every moment has a meaning and a significance in my mind. They stick out as radiant facets of a world I was a part of for just a short period of time; a world that really reflected me as the player.
Yes, Journey is beautiful, and simple, and its creative multiplayer should be commended as much as any other aspect of it; but, the true power of Journey is in its very notion as a concept. It is a reflection of anyone who plays it, for there is no thruline that explains what the land, the ruins, or the beings of this world truly are, there is only one constant: the player. The player defines the world and what happened to it, and this contract between the one who plays and those who made the experience to begin with is the most power expression Journey has to offer.
Sure, you could say I am reading too deep into it, but I’d argue that my journey may have been different than anyone else’s. That what I saw may have been the same on the surface, but the value and lessons I took away from those images could be completely different from another’s.
Journey was my favorite game from 2012, and it left such an impression on me that to this day I still haven’t touched it from that first time I experienced it. It is something that will define what the PS3 gave to me, as a gamer, and also as a person, as much as any of my other favorite games have. It’s something that can’t be missed as we say goodbye to this generation of consoles.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
I remember the summer I got introduced to Ratchet & Clank. I loved the games on the PlayStation 2 so much that my cousin let me keep them. I’ve since played every game in the series including the HD collection as well as having platinumed every game. From its lowest point of Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault to the spin-off on the PSP: Secret Agent Clank. However the highest point for not only the series, but this generation has to be Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time.
Ratchet & Clank is known for its fantastic writing and its unique sense of humor, and in A Crack In Time, every aspect that makes the Ratchet & Clank games so well is cranked to 11. The story explores Ratchet’s past as he discovers more about the Lombax history. The weapons are bigger, better, and more explosive than they’ve ever been before. The world is bright and beautiful and filled with a vibrant color pallet.
Released in 2009, the game still holds up to this day graphically due to its wonderful cartoon aesthetic. It showed off the power and capabilities for the PS3 at the time. With Into the Nexus out this week, concluding the “Future” series, I have no doubt that Insomniac Games will deliver an epic conclusion. As it stands, over the course of 12 plus games, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time is not only the best in the series, but the best action platformer on PS3.
Heavy Rain was a system seller for me. Sure, by this point the console had plenty of great games and experiences that would also end up being well worth my time, but this was the game that pushed my decision to get a PS3 over the edge.
By the time this game was released, more than a few games on the market were telling interesting and thought provoking stories, but Heavy Rain set that out as its main goal. Above all else, it wanted to give the players an experience that they hadn’t felt before. That concept interested me right from the beginning, and its multiple endings kept me busy long after I had solved the mystery of the Origami Killer.
Heavy Rain gets a lot of crap. Sure, the voice acting in it isn’t the greatest and the gameplay is, well not really existent at all, but in a time where games were taking a lot of flak for being too similar and not taking chances, Heavy Rain dared to be different.