The PlayStation 3 console may feel like a relic from a past generation, but its library of incredible games still stands the test of time. When the PS3 launched back in 2006, many doubted Sony could recapture the magic of the beloved PS2. But over the course of its lifecycle, the PS3 amassed a stunning lineup of must-play titles across every genre imaginable. From groundbreaking new IPs to genre-defining sequels, the PS3 delivered endless hours of gaming nirvana.
In this list, we pay tribute to the system’s very best by counting down the 10 greatest PS3 games ever made. We based our rankings on critical reception, popularity, influence, and pure, long-lasting fun factor. The goal is to highlight the landmark titles that made the PS3 an all-time great – the games that every PS3 owner should have in their collection. Whether you lived through the PS3 era or are just discovering its classics, this list offers a roadmap to videogame brilliance. So power on your PS3, settle into your favorite gaming spot, and let’s revisit the system’s greatest hits!
10. Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1
The zombie apocalypse has served as the backdrop for countless games, but none have captured the human drama and moral gravitas quite like Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1. Based on Robert Kirkman’s iconic comic series, the game follows convict Lee Everett as he becomes an unlikely guardian for young Clementine amidst the undead pandemic.
Unlike typical adventure games, The Walking Dead minimizes traditional puzzle solving in favor of forging emotional bonds with characters and shaping their fates through difficult choices. Conversations feel dynamic and consequential, with every decision potentially sparing a life or ending one prematurely. No matter what you choose, there are no unambiguously good outcomes, which perfectly captures the ethical murkiness of the chaotic world.
By grounding the experience in rich relationships filled with authentic humanity, The Walking Dead achieves a level of emotional investment few games can match. Players grew to love Lee and Clementine over the course of their intimate journey, making the game’s gut-wrenching finale all the more impactful. It demonstrated the storytelling potential of gaming and ignited a new era for narrative-focused titles.
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9. Ultra Street Fighter IV
By 2009, the fighting game genre looked to be on its last legs. But Street Fighter IV arrived just in time to deliver a roundhouse kick of revival. Featuring hand-drawn visuals and a roster combining classic World Warriors with fresh faces, SFIV provided a back-to-basics fighting experience that appealed to diehards and newcomers alike.
Ultra Street Fighter IV represented the pinnacle of this approach, adding 5 new characters to the mix including the deadly Decapre and streamlined Hugo. It also incorporated crucial gameplay tweaks and rebalancing that enhanced the strategic metagame. Between the wealth of tactical depth and sheer fun factor, USFIV became a staple of fighting tournaments for years.
Ultimately, SFIV’s return to Street Fighter II’s core appeal sparked a mainstream resurgence for fighting games. Its success blazed the trail for excellent sequels like Street Fighter V as well as alternative takes like Mortal Kombat X. For breathing new life into the genre, USFIV deserves a spot among the PS3’s greatest hits.
8. Portal 2
The original Portal was a lean, ingenious puzzle game that left players eager for more. Portal 2 delivered that in spades, building out Aperture Science’s sinister world through a longer, more narratively layered campaign.
At its core, Portal 2 retains the inventive spatial puzzles of its predecessor. But new mechanics like light bridges, gels, and pneumatic tubes introduce creative new wrinkles. Combine that with expanded abilities and a larger scale, and the sequel becomes a fuller test of players’ problem-solving adaptability.
Of course, Portal 2’s witty writing also stole the show. Stephen Merchant’s Wheatley and JK Simmons’ Cave Johnson offer a masterclass in comedic voice acting. Their warm humor and frequent one-liners provide laughs between cerebral challenges. Ultimately, Portal 2 proved bigger can be better for a sequel, expanding on every element that made the original a modern classic.
7. Mass Effect 2
2009’s Mass Effect 2 took the rich sci-fi universe of the original and dialed its signature RPG systems up to 11. While staying true to the series’ core appeal, ME2 sanded off any rough edges for a more refined and customizable experience.
Character-building saw major improvements, with more abilities to mix and match. Meanwhile, the weapon and armor customization added new strategic depth. These RPG enhancements integrated seamlessly with ME2’s third-person shooting, making every encounter an engaging battle of wits.
But most memorable was the chance to further shape your relationships with Mass Effect’s diverse cast through loyalty missions tailored to each squadmate. Their cinematic storylines and fully voiced dialog immersed you in their distinct personalities. By personalizing the stakes of this grand space opera, ME2 created a sequel with both brains and heart.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls series has always delivered unparalleled freedom to explore fantastical realms. But Skyrim perfected the formula, unleashing players into its frosty northern kingdoms for endless adventure. As the prophesied Dragonborn, you could tackle the epic main quest or get lost in hundreds of idyllic distractions for months on end.
Skyrim refined The Elder Scrolls’ core RPG mechanics for more fluid combat and intuitive leveling. Combined with living ecosystems of wildlife and weather, the world felt fully realized and immersive. Dynamic side quests like joining the Companions or Dark Brotherhood created compelling stories to discover. And few games have matched Skyrim’s sheer breadth of content, with somewhere around 300 hours of adventures by one estimate.
But Skyrim’s legacy also lives on through its thriving mod community. With countless user-made tweaks and custom quests, each visit to Skyrim still feels fresh even today. It’s a testament to the depth of freedom and imagination Skyrim offers within its windswept mountains and misty forests.
5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Naughty Dog has a knack for cinematic storytelling, and Uncharted 2 raised the bar with a globetrotting action-adventure that played like a blockbuster film. It thrust treasure hunter Nathan Drake on a quest for the mythical Cintamani Stone in locales from snowy Tibet to lush Borneo jungles.
Uncharted 2 perfected the series’ mix of third-person shooting, death-defying platforming, and edge-of-your-seat set pieces. Escaping a teetering train car or surviving a collapsing building kept the pacing heart-pounding. Meanwhile, characters like Chloe Frazer added a dash of charisma.
It all culminated in a level that saw Drake desperately battling enemies while hanging from a derailed train. This sequence was emblematic of Uncharted 2’s bravura: bombastic, cinematic action that never lost sight of the heroes at its core. The game proved that games could channel the thrill of adventure films without compromising interactivity.
4. Dark Souls
The Soulsborne genre has produced some of gaming’s most rewarding yet punishing experiences. And it all traces back to 2011’s trailblazing Dark Souls. Though not the first Soulsborne game, Dark Souls refined the formula into its definitive form. It delivered an uncompromising but captivatingly bleak dark fantasy quest.
At the core of Dark Souls’ brilliance was its demanding combat. Enemies hit brutally hard, but could be felled with patience and precision. Boss battles tested your skill but were conquerable with observant study of attack patterns. Defeating these colossal foes imparted an unmatched sense of hard-fought achievement.
This difficulty extended to the intricate level design. The realm of Lordran interwove as a complex, bleak labyrinth. At times ominously empty, at others swarming with beasts, it challenged players to remain ever-attentive and curious. Dark Souls trusted you to piece together its subtle lore rather than spelling things out. This enigmatic approach created a palpable sense of haunting mystery.
By refusing to coddle players, Dark Souls fostered true mastery and accomplishment. It remains the quintessential Soulsborne experience, perfecting a formula that inspired a generation of games since.
3. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption transported players to the twilight of the American Old West in Rockstar’s most poignant tale. As outlaw John Marston, you’re blackmailed by government agents to hunt your old gang. This sprawling revenge plot becomes a meditation on the frontier’s fading way of life.
Red Dead crafted its world with astonishing fidelity, from the sweeping plains and roaming wildlife to lived-in saloon towns. Along the way, you meet figures clinging to the vestiges of the West’s lawless freedom. Through them, we see civilization taming the individual spirit Marston embodies.
Despite the melancholic themes, playing as Marston made you feel like the quintessential gunslinger. Epic shootouts and horseback chases channeled the thrilling intensity of a Sergio Leone film. And the varied distractions, from poker to bounty hunting, brought this harsh yet romantic period to vivid life.
Few games have so transportively captured a historical setting along with the spirit of its people. Red Dead Redemption stands as both Rockstar’s crowning technical achievement and most poignant storytelling.
2. GTA V
When it comes to open world games, few franchises consistently push the envelope like Grand Theft Auto. GTA V represents the zenith of what the series achieved on PS3, delivering Rockstar’s biggest and boldest virtual playground yet. It offered unparalleled freedom to live a life of crime across Los Santos and Blaine County’s sprawling map.
For the first time, GTA gave players not one but three distinct protagonists to control. Michael was a retired thief craving his glory days, Franklin a young hustler seeking wealth and status, and Trevor a violent loose cannon. Switching between their interwoven stories added diverse perspectives to this scathing satire of the American Dream.
GTA V’s urban sandbox was brimming with absurdist diversions and criminal ventures. Blazing through the streets in jacked supercars, buying up businesses, or just people watching fed into the game’s cutting humor. The open world truly felt alive.
On a technical level, the game delivered astonishing scale and fidelity while running smoothly. The varied biomes, from urban decay to sandy shores, created one of gaming’s most atmospheric worlds. And an expanded online mode let you live out criminal fantasies with friends.
With its sharp writing, vivid world, and enhanced gameplay, GTA V represented the open world formula at its most ambitious and fully realized. It set a soaring benchmark that upcoming sequels will strive to top.
1. The Last of Us
When The Last of Us released in 2013, it instantly cemented itself as not just one of the PS3’s finest exclusives, but one of the greatest games ever crafted. This post-apocalyptic masterpiece followed Joel, a hardened smuggler tasked with escorting teenager Ellie across a zombie-ravaged America. It delivered an emotionally powerful narrative that raised the bar for video game storytelling.
The relationship between Joel and Ellie served as the heart of The Last of Us. Their tender bond grew organically through quiet moments of conversation, with excellent performances capturing their cautious vulnerability. And the story memorably subverted expectations by having players control Ellie in a harrowing subplot.
Backing this drama was an tense, strategic combat system that made encounters feel gritty and desperate. Resources were scarce, forcing you to improvise with makeshift weapons and clever diversions. Striking the right balance of stealth, scavenging, and survival intensity created palpable urgency.
But The Last of Us transcended its genre trappings to offer something more poignant. Through beautiful environmental storytelling, it crafted a haunting post-pandemic world with its own tragic history. And in Joel and Ellie’s journey, we saw a glimmer of hope and redemption in the darkness. It captured the human capacity for cruelty and compassion alike.
With its patient, cinematic approach to storytelling woven seamlessly with gameplay, The Last of Us redefined what the medium could achieve. It set a new bar for marrying mechanics with narrative to create a truly mature interactive drama.