Feature: Must-Have PlayStation 3 Games - Sammy's Picks
Posted by Sammy Barker
Bringing out the big guns
To introduce you to the team we've put together here at Push Square, we asked each team member for two PS3 games they considered absolutely essential. Here, associate editor and Push Square founder Sammy Barker discusses arguably two of this generation's biggest games.
There’s a moment in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves where Naughty Dog masterfully reduces the game’s breakneck pace to a halt. Playing as the affable protagonist Nathan ‘Nate’ Drake, you shuffle through a Tibetan village as the locals go about their daily business.
“Does anyone speak English?” Nate calls to the crowds as he pets a nearby Yak and engages in a short kick-about with a duo of local children. “Don’t suppose you speak English, do you?” he asks another native.
The sequence is over in about ten minutes, but the short wander through the exotic rural settlement is one of the most memorable moments on PlayStation 3. The industry has taught us to anticipate action at every opportunity, but Naughty Dog eschews that expectation with a risky sequence that makes later events dramatically more poignant.
In fact, if there’s one trend that’s consistent throughout Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, it’s Naughty Dog’s constant disregard for expectations. An escort sequence set in a rainy, war-torn, urban environment, side-steps the usual instant-fail irritations, and instead prompts a pulsating shoot out that sees Drake picking off foes while stumbling through the world’s soggy streets with his injured associate. Throughout, Naughty Dog never surrenders the importance of player-control; resulting in some of the most technologically impressive gameplay encounters that, pivotally, keep you at the crux of the action.
If critics questioned Naughty Dog’s ability to craft pulsating action upon the release of début Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – and they did – then the American developer emphatically silenced any scepticism with Among Thieves’ rip-roaring train sequence. The speculative chapter-long set piece drops Drake into a firefight on the back of a charging train, as scenery whips by and the sun glints in the sky.
The brand name might refer to the treasure hunting and exploration that’s at the core of the franchise’s narrative, but for us Uncharted will always refer to the unexplored territory that Naughty Dog dares to explore. Among Thieves’ bold love-triangle underlines the entire story arc and is brought to life by captivating and unparalleled performances by Nolan North (Drake), Emily Rose (Elena Fisher) and Claudia Black (Chloe Frazer), the three demonstrating on-screen chemistry completely unrivalled in games. It’s so far ahead of its peers in terms of writing and presentation that the industry is still trying to catch up.
We couldn’t possibly produce a PlayStation 3 “best of” without paying reference to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. And the real beauty of the release is that there’s the equally brilliant Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception to look forward to once you’re done.
Few games start as strongly as God Of War III. Following in the footsteps of the series’ PlayStation 2 outings, developer Sony Santa Monica kicks off the anticipated threequel with a spoonful of technical wizardry that’s still yet to be surpassed by any other title on PlayStation 3.
Picking up immediately after the conclusion of the excellent God Of War II, we find series anti-hero Kratos riding upon the back of the Earthly giant, Gaia, as the Titans go in pursuit of the Olympic Gods that have wronged them. The spectacle is absolutely stunning, as the changing landscape that the protagonist resides upon becomes the backdrop for an unbelievable bout against Poseidon.
Throughout the campaign, Sony Santa Monica shows an adept understanding of scale. The franchise’s trademark fixed camera perspective is used to stunning effect, switching between striking close-ups of the angry Spartan before pulling miles away from the protagonist without relinquishing player control. It’s in these moments that Sony Santa Monica’s art department is really able to flex its talent, showcasing some of the most staggeringly detailed environments in games.
It’s not always the environments that represent the greatest moments of scale, though. A battle against the Titan Cronos midway through the campaign opens with Kratos being pinched between the mountainous figure’s fingers – and it leads to one of the most gigantic boss fights in games.
But God Of War III is just as stylish as it is technically impressive. The game sprints towards an unbelievably rewarding conclusion that brings the franchise to a fitting end. Needless to say that if you’ve been following the series’ escapades from its comparatively humble beginnings, then you’ll get a kick out of the game’s first-person conclusion.
Beneath the set pieces and swish artwork, God Of War III hones the franchise’s faithful combat too. While the chained blades remain the series’ staple ingredient, the inclusion of enjoyable alternatives brings some welcome variation to the franchise for the first time. God Of War III doesn’t necessarily evolve the systems that have come before it, but it perfects the appeal with gratuitous visual effects and an increase in on-screen enemy types.
God Of War III takes you on a rollercoaster through an exotic land. It’s a tour de force of superfluous violence, and its staggering technical achievements alone warrant it a place amongst the PlayStation 3’s elite releases.