Great games don’t always sell well – sad, but true. Indeed, launching a new IP in this day and age, where ubiquitous blockbusters such as Call of Duty and FIFA dominate the market, is about as cut throat as it gets for developers and publishers alike. Even if your first game manages to find an audience, there’s no guarantee a follow-up will set tills alight. It’s an all-out war these days – particular in the notoriously crammed holiday season – and inevitably, there are casualties.
As PS3 gamers, we know there’s been a multitude of compelling software out there that’s been unfairly shunted out of the spotlight over the years, and it’s those games we aim to celebrate here. From Bayonetta to Resistance 3, Sony’s black box has played host to a number of commercially unappreciated classics that deserve your attention; and more importantly, they’re going dirt cheap nowadays to boot.
So, if you feel a compulsion to go trawling through your local bargain bin or just fancy getting an idea of what you’ve been missing out on all this time, you may want to have a butcher’s here at our list of seven overlooked PS3 games you need to try.
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Sultry actioner Bayonetta took everything that was great about Devil May Cry, turned it upside down, and gave it a good shake. Double handguns? This girl’s packing pistols on her bloody boots. Legions of demons to hack ‘n slash at? Bayonetta takes the absolute mickey by taking on heavenly angels. It’s not easy to see the influence though, seeing as how the game was directed by DMC director and dev legend Hideki Kamiya, who has been involved in some of the most celebrated games of the past decade or so. Unfortunately, the game’s pedigree wasn’t enough to flog units at retail, with Bayonetta receiving a lukewarm reception back in January 2010. Do yourself a favour and pick it up on the cheap; it’s immensely challenging, gorgeous and boasts an enormous amount of depth in terms of the sheer amount of combos you can unleash upon your unsuspecting foes. Plus, the script is witty and it certainly helps that the eponymous witch herself is quite the heroine – how many protagonists do you know that use their hair to wrap up and tear apart gigantic boss monsters? ‘Nuff said.
Resistance 3 is probably one of the most lamentable casualties of recent memory, least of all because it’s a PS3 exclusive, but more so to the fact it’s Insomniac Games’ Resistance swansong. Gritty, gory and bursting with technical marvel, Resistance 3 saw the return of fan-favourites such as the weapons wheel and old school health packs, many of which were eschewed from the game’s predecessor. The weapons line-up in particular was varied and brutal, and put to impressive use in the game’s manic multiplayer offering, which itself offers a satisfying progression system. Furthermore, the narrative packed an emotional punch that previous Resistance games sorely lacked, with family man Joseph Capelli replacing stoic slap head Nathan Hale as series protagonist. Throw in some epic boss battles, and some quality pacing – with frantic gun fights punctuating quieter moments as you skulk around creepy environments – and Resistance 3 serves as a fitting end to Insomniac's run with the series on PS3.
SEGA’s gangster-‘em-up series is a perennial top-seller in its native Japan, though due to its inherent quirkiness has never taken off in the west. In fact, due to the poor sales of the original PS2 games, it wasn’t until some poking and prodding from eager fans that SEGA decided to bring Yakuza 3 to the U.S. and Europe. Good job too, since despite only selling a combined 120,000 units across western regions, it’s an absolute corker. A story-man’s game, the brutal actioner is packed full of twists and turns as you pummel street punks and other unscrupulous folk in Kamorucho’s gritty underworld. The game is stuffed with extra content outside of the main quest, with a plethora of side-missions and mini-games on offer, including darts, pool, karaoke, bowling, poker, roulette, golf and surf fishing. Indeed, Yakuza 3’s idiosyncrasies give it a distinct look and feel unlike any other adventure on the market, which combined with its gripping narrative and wince-inducing combat system, warrants the attention it sadly didn’t receive at retail.
Developer People Can Fly & Epic Games delivered this ostentatious, addictive FPS in February 2011, though despite selling one million copies failed to turn a profit. The barmy plot is pretty inconsequential in the long run, but gives players an excuse to relish in the game’s unique ‘Skillshot’ system, where gamers are encouraged to get creative with their kills. It’s totally over-the-top, vulgar and downright hilarious at the best of times, and all the better for it – get a load of one skillshot that has you capping one unfortunate baddie in the balls, for example. Appropriately enough, the potty-mouthed blaster boasts a stellar weapons line-up to tinker around with, and as you rake in the kills you’ll acquire a copious supply of points used to spend on upgrades for your arsenal. Add in some lush environments, and Bulletstorm shines as a satisfying shooter that’s brimming with humour and creativity, with a pulse-pounding pace that never lets up.
The brainchild of Resident Evil father Shinji Mikami, Vanquish is the quintessential manifestation of a relentless actioner – with robots. Set in the near future where earth’s resources have all but dried up, the game injects several innovative tweaks into the shooter landscape, notably the ability to stylishly slide about the place while bumping off baddies in slow motion. Silky smooth controls make combat a breeze, with the game’s hulking boss battles doing a stellar job at keeping you on your toes. Meanwhile, the environments are hugely varied, with numerous set-pieces adding a sense of diversity to the bread-and-butter cover-based shooting. Yes, the game is woefully short, but this doesn’t stop Vanquish from offering one of the most cohesive, adrenaline-fuelled action fests of the current crop of home consoles.
A critical darling upon its launch in 2008, the original Valkyria Chronicles may have sold poorly but managed to get a nod from Guinness World Records in 2010 as the best strategy RPG on PS3, and with good reason. Boasting scrumptious visuals akin to water colour paintings, Valkyria Chronicles marries the freedom of third-person movement with the strategic depth of SRPGs, making for quite the compelling cocktail in terms of core mechanics. The system works great, bringing a refreshing sense of freedom to the proceedings. Missions are varied and challenging, while the story really shines, offering some surprisingly touching moments throughout. As with any RPG with its salt, Valkyria Chronicles is also a lengthy beast, so you’ll not be done with the game for quite some time. Although subsequent PSP sequels have impressed, it’s a pity we haven’t seen another PS3 iteration considering how superb the original game was and still is to this day. Don’t miss it.
ENSLAVED: ODYSSEY TO THE WEST
Developed by Heavenly Sword studio Ninja Theory, Enslaved released near the busy holiday 2010 period and took quite a battering at retail as a result. It’s been well documented the game sold well below expectations, nullifying any chance of a sequel, though that’s no reason not to give it a look. Set in a strangely lush post-apocalyptic figure brimming with dazzling vistas and stunning architecture, Enslaved sees heroine Trip and her companion Monkey teaming up for a thrilling mix of platforming and simple, yet diverse combat. The pair work great together, setting the scene for some top-notch dialogue and motion-capture work – Andy Serkis in particular is right at home here as the hulking, dexterous Monkey. Aside from the usual dose of combat and climbing, the action is also punctuated by some clever puzzles, where the duo has to cooperate in order to progress, plus some eyeball-popping set-pieces. Sure, it doesn’t do anything radically different, but as a complete packaged Enslaved is simply too good to pass up.