I think most of us would concede that when it comes to games, we all relish at a challenge. Sure, sometimes we just want to kick back and effortlessly dispatch legions of enemies without breaking a sweat or zip unchallenged around a race track, but at the end of it, you can’t beat the satisfaction that comes with beating a game after copious amounts of retries and profanity-induced sessions. Challenge is what drives us, what makes us more determined to overcome all adversity and maybe bag a Platinum Trophy along the way. Sure, it may sometimes make us want to hurl our controllers at the screen, but it’s worth it in the end.
As such, PSU.com decided to honour some of the PS3’s toughest games to date; titles that test the patience and sanity of even the most hardcore players.
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It was a tough toss-up between this and spiritual successor Dark Souls, but ultimately the PS3-exclusive outing came out on top – just. Demon’s Souls doesn’t require you to tweak the difficult setting to up the ante; the game’s super-strict combat system is inherently tough to begin with, requiring you to make ever sword strike and block count. Button mashers beware: if you go without a second thought for strategy and precision, then prepare to have your character end up in a blood-splattered, disembodied heap on the floor. Demon’s Souls is a game of both extreme patience and skills, but therein comes the reward. Toppling even the most rudimentary foe feels like a major accomplishment, let alone bringing down one of the hulking boss creatures you’ll encounter. To make matters worse, players can also impede your progress by leaving traps for you via the game’s online component, giving you more to worry about than just your on-screen enemies. Oh, and if you die, then prepare for some major backtracking.
NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA
Before Demon’s Souls came along, Ninja Gaiden Sigma easily held the candle for the most difficult game to grace Sony’s black behemoth. And, even though it has since been dethroned of this title, Sigma is just as brutal and unforgiving as it was five years ago – even on the standard difficult setting. If you’re a casual gamer, then prepare for a rude awakening as you delve into Ryu’s bloody hack-‘em-up adventure, as this game was obviously designed for hardcore players in mind. Like Demon’s Souls, you won’t get very far mindlessly hammering away at the attack button; you’ll learn very quickly to wait for an opening in your enemy’s attacks before even trying to land a blow. Foes come thick and fast and are tenacious buggers, so you’ll be doing as much blocking as swinging your pointy blade around. Those of you who want the ultimate challenge should indulge in the Master Ninja difficulty setting, which is guaranteed to give you sleepless nights.
Racing games are generally notoriously difficult buggers, and WipEout HD is no exception. The futuristic speedster is bone-crushingly tough, though to be fair this has long been a series tradition. HD features the same superb track designs as its predecessors, requiring meticulous timing and planning, often at the expense of losing a few rounds just so you can mesmerise the track layout. Aside from the demanding tracks, WipEout HD’s AI is equally brutal, and catching up to your opponents is a challenge in itself; let alone managing to overtake them and remain ahead while avoiding their attacks. On higher difficulties and in events such as Time Trial, there’s literally no margin for error. Every nook and cranny of every track must be imprinted on the Old Grey Matter, or you can kiss goodbye ever conquering this adrenaline-fueled romp.
CALL OF DUTY WORLD AT WAR
Say what you like about CoD, but when it comes to offering a challenge, these games definitely offer considerable bang for your buck. However, World at War ranks as one of the hardest to date, specifically when you attempt to tackle the Veteran difficulty setting. Aside from the fact you have little to no health (one direct shot and you’re brown bread, as is ever the case on Veteran), but you also have to contend with respawning enemies who are alarmingly accurate. In addition to that, foes have a penchant for lobbing a seemingly limitless amount of grenades at you, making your task all the more hair-pullingly frustrating. Oh, and just in case you were banking on your allies to facilitate your victory, then don’t – they’re totally useless, and about the only thing they’re good for is getting shot at. Make no mistake, after playing through this game on Veteran, you’ll be seeing Nazis in your dreams for weeks.
Another FPS title graces our list, and deservedly so: Guerrilla Games’ Killzone 2 is one tough cookie, particularly when you take it to Elite difficulty. In fact, between this and World at War on Veteran, we’re not sure which one is more difficult. However, one thing for sure is that Killzone 2 possesses some of the best AI we’ve ever seen, and boy do they make your job tough on Elite. In this difficulty setting, your skills will be tested to their limit, and you'll have to track your enemy’s movements like a hawk. Foes will force you to rethink your strategy on the fly, applying different tactics depending on the situation. You can’t just camp down and pop out now and then for a quick head shot; adapt and overcome is the name of the game here, and if you aren’t vigilant you’ll quickly bite the dust. Aside from this, expect all the usual staples of a tough difficult level, such as your character being able to sustain less damage, tougher enemies and grenades…lots more grenades. The campaign is host to some excruciatingly difficult moments, but none quite tops the final battle with Radec – make it through this, and you really are hardcore.
Quirky, sheep-infested puzzler Catherine certainly raised a few eyebrows upon its release last summer, but what perhaps went unnoticed in all the idiosyncratic madness is just how blimin’ tough the game is. When you’re not flirting with Catherine in the bar, you’re having nightmares that involve some of the trickiest puzzles known to mankind, and they only get harder towards the end of the game. Not only that, but you have the added pressure of time to boot, with the game requiring you to solve the riddles pretty sharpish. Those of you who panic under pressure won’t find this much cop one bit. AI is equally punishing, and even on the lower difficulty setting Catherine presents a substantial challenge for players. On harder settings, you may as well nearly throw in the towel.