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Feature: Games of the Generation - Jamie's Five Favourites

Posted by Jamie O'Neill

Big bets

Welcome to Push Square’s all-encompassing Games of the Generation series. In the lead up to the PlayStation 4’s release later this week, we’ll be rounding up our writers in an effort to look back at some of their favourite PlayStation 3 games. These titles have been hand-selected personally by each individual author. This time, we're looking at Retro Editor Jamie O'Neill's, er, quite modern selection.


Seven years is a triumph, and a respectable length of time for a console cycle. I actually first owned the PS3 on its UK release date of March 2007, so it’s only been six and a half years for me, but this is still one of the longest console cycles that I can remember. This durability made choosing only five of my favourite titles an even harder task. Sony's console is clearly neither burning out, nor fading away, and the seventh generation of console gaming has entertained me beyond measure. I own almost 100 boxed retail games, and I’m on my way to amassing well over 100 titles on the PlayStation Network. If the PS4 is the fresh young upstart, then it could learn oodles from the critical software success of its wise older brother.

The Last of Us

My first choice could just as easily have been given the title ‘Naughty Dog on PS3’, because the Uncharted trilogy is truly worthy of its own place in my top five. However, in the interests of variety for this list I’ve chosen the team's most recent offering, the seminal The Last of Us. Rather than describing the impact and tension of sneaking past vicious adversaries, or the way that the game mixes natural beauty with monstrous horror, I’ll instead explain how this title impacted upon my household. My 60GB PS3 buckled from the graphical demands of The Last of Us, and it crashed on regular intervals, which became worse the further that I journeyed through the game. My girlfriend didn’t pick up a controller, but she became absorbed in every moment of its story and gameplay as a viewer, like she was watching a gripping movie. Just as I was about to concede to the weariness of my ageing machine – three-quarters of my way through the main single-player game – it was my girlfriend who found an external fan to cool my PS3. Thankfully, we could both share in the ending of this outstanding game. The Last of Us is captivating, and extraordinarily accomplished – it’s the type of game that even a spectator doesn’t want to miss.

Vanquish

My very favourite games of all time are side-scrolling 2D run-and-gun titles from the 16-bit era, and the speed and frantic sci-fi feel of Vanquish reminds me of the golden days of Konami’s Contra III: The Alien Wars and Treasure’s Gunstar Heroes. The brilliantly named Augmented Reaction Suit has value beyond a snigger inducing acronym. It enables you to manage the chaos by sliding around the gleaming environments, or it allows for a massive speed-boost that makes the game feel like its slowing down time, so each mechanic is expertly balanced for battling against humongous transforming robots. I think the greatest compliment a gamer can bequeath on Platinum Games is to note that as a studio they convey the same creative and frenzied sense of fun as Treasure. The eye-popping pacing of Vanquish epitomises this comparison from my perspective as a fan of unconventional and stylish Japanese video games. Even its lenticular sleeve-box cover and its title select screen were incredibly cool.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

I’ve enjoyed video games starring Batman for almost 25 years, since Ocean Software’s 1989 Amiga game, and Sunsoft’s Mega Drive title in 1990. Batman: Arkham Asylum is particularly gratifying, as in a similar way to Retro Studio’s unforeseen craftsmanship on the original Metroid Prime, Rocksteady Studios caught me off-guard with the talent that they lavished on this adventure. I’m also a fan of Batman: Arkham City, but I find the confines of the Asylum and its surrounding areas to be more suitable to tight Metroidvania gameplay and investigation based around gadget upgrades, rather than the widespread and loose scope of the city. The first game has a stronger plot in my eyes, especially considering the Scarecrow sections, and I find this gives it a darker story tone, even if Arkham City infected the Dark Knight with a lethal disease. The image of Gotham City blanketed in snow amidst the glow of festive lights has been vivid since Batman Returns on the SNES, so Batman: Arkham Origins is a fitting game to play during Christmas time. However, it’s Arkham Asylum that compacted the grappling between stone gargoyles, exploration detective work, and brawling together most effectively in 2009.

Killzone 3

The PlayStation Move controls are underrated in this game, and they elevate the gameplay experience for me. Motion controls boost Killzone 3 by adding an arcade feel, especially if you experience the first-party wizardry of Guerrilla Games pushing the PS3’s visual prowess on a 50” television. Killzone 3 with Move controls is a triple-A sci-fi shooter to complement the Japanese bombastic-ness of Vanquish. Killzone: Shadow Fall is being praised for delivering visual variety to locations in the series, but its predecessor had already expressed this with treacherous Helghan jungles, jetpack snow sections, and a space opera finale. In this respect it feels like a direct homage to the first game, and it’s Killzone 2 that’s predominantly responsible for resigning the series to a reputation of concrete greys and dusty brown landscapes. Even the obnoxiousness of Rico Velasquez is toned down slightly, although the gung-ho muscle-headed military aggressiveness of the characters is just as unsophisticated as before. The motion controls also worked well in BioShock Infinite, which is a game that very nearly usurped Killzone 3 to be included in this list. Despite this, I chose the weightier feel of Guerrilla’s graphical powerhouse, because it’s a solid example of a platform exclusive, which is underappreciated outside of the PlayStation community.

Red Dead Redemption

This is the highest calibre of open world gaming to me, because I find the western historical setting to be far more unique and appealing than a crime infested city. I’d relished a few Wild West video games in the past, the bright cartoon presentation of Sunset Riders on SNES is one example, but it’s Red Dead Redemption that evokes the grittier atmosphere of films like 3:10 to Yuma and Unforgiven. The time period of Rockstar’s game was perfect at conveying the last wild gunslingers being swept away by the winds of modernity, and the map was clever at depicting a variety of backdrops beyond dusty desert plains. Travelling south across the San Luis river to Mexico was memorable enough, but it’s the north east town of Blackwater and the nearby Tall Trees area that provided the most striking and unexpected visual contrast. I remember discovering a sense of pride from bestowing John Marston with a sense of honour, and I was genuinely disappointed when the sandy coated horse that hauled me through the majority of my travels became lost in a reckless bandit skirmish. Galloping across the country as the heavens opened to leave Marston rain lashed and sodden, felt as free and unfettered as riding Epona across Hyrule Field for her first canter in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.


Do Jamie's selections speak to you? Are you a fan of any of the abovementioned games? Join the discussion in the comments section below.

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User Comments (23)

CanisWolfred

#2

CanisWolfred said:

I'm surprised you picked Killzone 3 over 2. I haven't played 3 yet, but I loved Killzone 2, despite it's lack of color and variety in settings. I keep hearing that KZ3 is the lesser experience in terms of story, and perhaps even gameplay as well. Perhaps I should pop in my copy of KZ3 sometime, just to try it out? Granted, it seems you choose 3 more for its motion controls, something I've never cared for.

Also, props for mentioning Vanquish, that game is a real treat.

get2sammybAdmin

#3

get2sammyb said:

Vanquish is an amazing pick. Such a ridiculously satisfying shooter, with silky smooth controls.

chazaroonie

#4

chazaroonie said:

Killzone 3 using the move and sharpshooter attachment was pretty exciting for me too. I'll never understand why the sharpshooter didn't take off, I love it and am quietly hoping that Killzone: Shadow Fall has this functionality too, even if it comes via a post release patch. The immersion of seeing your target and pulling the trigger made the game and the peripheral for me.

ferrers405

#5

ferrers405 said:

Yeah, that's a very good list, Last of Us goes to my personal list, Vanquish and Batman Asylum are in the best of PS3, I don't like Red Dead but i recognize that is a excellent game and just Killzone is not between the best for me.

DazzaAdmin

#6

Dazza said:

Quality choices Jamie, I knew yours would be a list which I would wholeheartedly agreed with!

JamieOStaff

#7

JamieO said:

I think it’s been particularly ace during the PlayStation 3 generation that I’ve shared these experiences with other gamers. Most of the games on this list have been completed and scrutinised together by meeting up with my cousin and friends, because we’ve spent many a hung-over Sunday taking turns to play-through a single-player story mode. Just as I mentioned about my girlfriend, the advancement of more compelling story components in modern games can be almost as fun to watch, as they are to play.

Thanks to Push Square I’m also more involved with a community of PlayStation gamers, and I’ve shared my first hands-on of potential future classics with the team at expos, meet-ups and events. For example, cheers to @Dazza who recommended Arkham Asylum to me, I completed it after he tweeted me to praise Rocksteady’s Titan-sized Batman bonanza late in 2009. A game may well be on my radar, but my interest piques when it’s another gamer who recommends it. I’m always grateful for this, like how @get2sammyb first turned my attention to Resogun and Velocity 2X.

@CanisWolfred I’m still a fan of Killzone 2, but I prefer how the journey through Killzone 3 takes in a vaster range of Helghan’s sights. As you mentioned, it’s the PS Move controls that make the difference to me, I completed it with the core motion control set-up at home, but I also agree with @chazaroonie, because I had lots of fun using the Move sharp shooter on this game at my cousin’s house. I definitely recommend Killzone 3, its set-pieces are well positioned to pace the action, and it rounds off the trilogy effectively by linking back to the feel of the first game.

The idea of a seven year life cycle also interests me. I find the North American release dates between each console paints a clear picture of this, because the time span has grown proportionally in the US from the original PlayStation (five years), PlayStation 2 (six years) and PlayStation 3 (seven years). However, it’s also indicative of how Sony’s view of each market has altered, with Japan having to wait a long seven years and three months between the release of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. In contrast the UK’s lifespan for Sony’s second and third consoles has balanced to become directly comparable to each other, as PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 share an approximate release date life cycle in the UK of six and a half years.

Apologies, I edited this comment, because I had replied to the wrong people about Killzone 2 and 3.

MadchesterManc

#8

MadchesterManc said:

@JamieO Can't help but agree completely with your view on Killzone 3 with the move. I've never played it myself with a DS3 as the Move controls were absolutely spot on, to the point where I was happily using it online too (and doing more than good enough ;) ) Good to know others have enjoyed it too. Picked up the Move again the other day for HOTD Overkill so I might see if I've still got the silky moves on Killzone 3

JMC

#9

JMC said:

All these game are really good and, with the exception of Killzone, I own all of them. They are really good, but for some reason I haven't got around to beat them, although I definetely want to someday.

Gemuarto

#10

Gemuarto said:

This generation was the weakest for Sony.

Also, blockbusters have become boring this gen, I enjoyed games like Dead to Rights: Retribution, House of the Dead: Overkill and Wolfenstein much more than any game from the list.

Killzone 3 was pretty fun, though. Had blast with it.

NathanUC

#14

NathanUC said:

Great list! I liked the mutiplayer in Killzone 2 a lot better, but Killzone 3 in 3D with the sharpshooter is an absolutely amazing experience! I still have to go back and finish my platinum trophy run on Vanquish. It was such a surprisingly awesome game

JamieOStaff

#15

JamieO said:

@JMC I own multiple gaming systems and handhelds, so I find that quality new games are released at such a fervent pace that it's hard to keep up by completing all titles before moving on to a new game.

The trouble is that the difficulty curve in some games is so stringent, and this applies to The Last of Us and Vanquish, that returning to later stages when you're out of practice can be surprisingly punishing.

On the flip-side, the way that the plot events in The Last of Us develop is excellent the further you ramble through the game, and Vanquish manages to increase its scale and intensity towards the end. I like the final locations in both Killzone 3 and Vanquish, the backdrops are similar in the way they increase the context of the science-fiction setting. There are two decent final boss battles in Vanquish too, plus it has a neat little take on the developer credit sequence, as an extra treat for finishing it.

Good luck beating these games, I hope you get the chance to complete them in the future. Have fun!

calin1010

#16

calin1010 said:

This is a good list, I share two of your choices, my list would be:
Arkham City
Red Dead Redemption
The Last of Us
GTA V
Uncharted 3

Gemuarto

#17

Gemuarto said:

@CanisWolfred Have you even played those games? I recomended Dead to Rights to two people and they liked it a lot. I was surprised with it, too. Bought it for like 10$ just out of curiosity and had a lot of fun. Fun is the word that most developers don't remember this days.

CanisWolfred

#18

CanisWolfred said:

@Gemuarto No, I was just messing with you. I don't care one way or the other about Dead to Rights, I just know its not-so-good reputation. I'll probably never try it out. Shooters and action games don't interest me anymore. (unless they do their best to be silly and charming, then I can't resist them)

Godsire-

#20

Godsire- said:

I think this is a pretty great list! I especially like the inclusion of Batman: Arkham Asylum over Arkham City. Don't get me wrong, I love Arkham City, but I always thought the original was slightly better (similar to how I like Batman Begins more than the Dark Knight, even though H. Ledger was amazing). Obviously, I am in the minority in this, but both games are great.

Wesker

#21

Wesker said:

Very good list. Difficult to order, but I would say:
1. Last of Us
2. Read Dead Redemption
3. Batman
4. Killzone 3
5. Vanquish

JMC

#22

JMC said:

@JamieO
I also have multiple consoles and haldheld gaming machines and there are always a lot of quality titles to play on them. I bought a lot of games on my PS3 that I got 3-4 years after launch so I could find a lot of games cheaper. It's also a challenge to complete them all, so I know some of them probably will never be (I'm loking at you GTA IV).
It's also hard going back to games and not remembering much about it. The main reason I didn't advance much in Red Dead Redemption is this. I just don't remember what I'm supposed to be doing to advance the story and I kinda want to start it all over, but I keep telling myself that I will do it when I have enough time to make some real progress, which I'm finding harder to have.
On the other hand, a game like Vanquish is intuitive enough so I can go back with more ease, which it will probably get beaten sometime this year. As for The Last Of Us I played a lot when it came out, but I was a little underwhelmed by it (for the record, I don't think it is a bad game, but for me it was a bit overrated) and couldn't bring myself to finish it more quickly. Lately, I've been wanting to get back to it, and I think I will do it soon.

JamieOStaff

#23

JamieO said:

@calin1010 Looking at your list, it's clear that our taste in games is similar, I rate both Batman: Arkham City and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception very highly. Sometimes when you enjoy the genre and gameplay feel of a series, presuming that the quality is consistent with each instalment, it's the set-pieces and events in the game that determines what becomes your favourite instalment in a franchise. You've chosen a top-five that I can fully support, although I'm perhaps unwisely waiting with my fingers crossed for an as yet unannounced PlayStation 4 release of Grand Theft Auto V.

@Gemuarto You certainly have a passion for Dead to Rights: Retribution, plus its brawling looks meaty, so you've captured my interest in Volatile Games' 2010 title. If I find a cheap boxed retail PS3 copy I'll buy it and check it out. I remember in Shadow Dancer from 1989 in the arcades and on the Mega Drive you had a gnarly dog companion, so I'm interested in a game with a canine ally, other than Call of Duty: Ghosts. The dog in Dead to Rights: Retribution is even called Shadow!

@Godsire- Cool, we share an appreciation of Batman: Arkham Asylum slightly above Arkham City. I found all of Christopher Nolan's Batman films to be excellent, Batman Begins is fantastic, although The Dark Knight is my favourite of the movie trilogy.

@JMC You make a good point about returning to open world games in particular. I find that the structure of the story sections dotted around a map, alongside numerous side missions, combine to make it hard to remember what is the next task when you return to a sandbox game after too long of a hiatus. I hope that you enjoy The Last of Us more when you return to it, and it grabs your attention for longer, it's quite possibly my favourite game from my top five.

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