Halloween comes but once a year, and for us gamers it’s the perfect excuse to lock the doors, turn off all communication devices, get nice and snug and dust off some horror classics. With PlayStation 3 nearing its five-year anniversary, the console has amassed a fairly competent bunch of potentially pant-wetting pleasures, from the like of Visceral Games’ sci-fi spook fest Dead Space to the PSN-exclusive Siren: Blood Curse.
As such, PSU has decided to cobble together a list of the most horrific slices of entertainment to grace Sony’s black behemoth since its inception. If that’s got you in the mood for all things horror, then be sure to have a butcher’s at our past Halloween features, which takes a look at some of the biggest and baddest horror foes to strike fear into the hearts of gamers worldwide.
For now though, join us as we count down the top 5 PS3 horror games.
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SIREN: BLOOD CURSE
Released in episodic form on PSN and later on Blu-ray, Siren: Blood Curse is a quintessentially old school Survival Horror romp, which sees players investigating a spooky Japanese village infested by undead known as ‘Shibito.’ The game is broken up into bite-sized chunks, or Chapters, and is noted for incorporating many stealth elements, encouraging players to evade enemies rather than fight them. Instrumental to this is the intriguing ‘sight jacking’ function, allowing you to effectively see through the eyes of your enemies. A far more methodical outing than the outright blasters of recent times, Siren is packed full of twisted, grotesque creatures and weaves a compelling narrative that’ll ensure you adopt a ‘just one more chapter’ approach to playing. The Shibito are among some of the most disturbing foes you’ll likely see on PS3, whether it be the disturbing, skittering Spider variety or the grinning, blood-stained nurses that ramble incoherently to themselves before charging at you, knife in hand. If you want a thinking man’s horror where action takes a back seat, then Siren should be right up your street. One chapter has you playing as a terrified 10-year-old girl named Bella, where you must use wits and stealth alone to make it out of a dilapidated hospital alive – no guns, no gadgets, just you and a torch.
For many, Visceral Games’ seminal sci-fi horror fest Dead Space single handily reinvigorated the Survival Horror genre up on its release in 2008. Looking back, it’s not hard to see why, and in my eyes hasn’t really been surpassed to this day. You play as Isaac Clarke, a space engineer sent to aboard the spooky mining ship Ishimura, which has ceased communication with the outside world. After snooping around for barely five minutes, you quickly discover the cause of the perpetual silence: the whole place is infested with Necromorphs, that is, human corpses which have been reanimated by a mysterious alien entity. Functionality similar to Resident Evil 4 (only miles scarier), Dead Space uses an over-the-shoulder perspective and throws just about every horror cliché out there at you, but never feels over-produced or cheap. The scares genuinely work, whether it is the distant clatter of something around the next corner, a surprise Necromorph attack from behind or the suicidal ramblings of a would-be survivor. Combat is intuitive and incredibly satisfying as you attempt to ‘strategically dismember’ the vicious walking corpses, and ammo and supplies must be carefully manage if you don’t want Clarke to end up with a lost limb…or two. Boasting a stellar score and atmosphere unrivalled by virtually any other horror game on Sony’s flagship console, Dead Space delivers buckets of gore, thrills and chills at every corner.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
An integral ingredient to any self-respecting horror aficionado’s games collection, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is actually one of the better zombie games to come out of the current-generation of consoles. Don’t let the fact this mini-adventure is based on a Wild West sandbox game; Undead Nightmare is a full-on, standalone zombie romp chock with the added benefit of being based around the gameplay mechanics of an already stonking adventure. As hero John Marsten, you find yourself caught up in the middle of a zombie pandemic, while attempting to find a cure for your wife and son and battling the flesh-eating hordes. However, there’s more to Undead Nightmare than landing meticulously-timed headshots. The game throws in new missions, such as rescuing civilians, as well as zombified version of indigenous wildlife and the chance to tame the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. Marsten can even ‘loot’ zombie corpses to use their body parts as ammunition. Who said zombies can’t be useful?
SILENT HILL: HOMECOMING
Back in the day Konami was at the top of its game with Silent Hill, and while there’s no denying the venerable psychological horror franchise has lost its way as of late, 2008’s Homecoming is still a worthy effort. Focusing on former soldier Alex Shepherd searching his home town for his missing family, Homecoming was the first console game in the series to be developed by a western studio, and adopted a much more action-oriented approach to the proceedings. Nonetheless, the game still packs in all the vital ingredients of a hair-raising Silent Hill experience, boasting stellar atmosphere (the cemetery is a particular highlight), all manner of gruesome ghouls to battle, and spine-tingling audio work. The combat system takes obvious influence from Resident Evil 4 by employing an over-the-shoulder mechanic, and in the process irons out a majority of the wrinkles present in previous games, where gun play in particular was a fiddly business. This in particular helps out against some of the more nimble foes, and makes boss encounters – which are a real highlight of the game – far less stressful than past entries. Sure, the narrative isn’t as compelling as the glory days of Silent Hill 2, but Homecoming is still dripping with intrigue, and its blend of combat, exploration and riddles ensures the heart of classic Silent Hill template is still very much beating – even if it could occasionally benefit from a pacemaker.
RESIDENT EVIL 4
Recently made available in HD (or rather, upscaled form) via PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, Resident Evil 4 was something of a paradigm shift for the series upon its original release, eschewing much of the traditional survival horror elements in favour of a more streamlined action-horror fest. While the presence of zombies and greater emphasis on solving puzzles may have gone out the window, RE4 is still easily one of the best horror games on PS3, and effortlessly blows its successor out of the water. Sure, it’s nowhere near as scary as the older RE games, but it still manages to make RE5 look like an episode of the Tellytubbies. Playing as RE2’s pretty boy survivor Leon S. Kennedy, players battle through an assortment of parasite-infected goons, including chainsaw-wielding villagers, gigantic trolls and the unnerving Regenerators as you attempt to rescue President Graham’s kidnapped daughter, Ashley Sure, things are more action-packed than before, but the fear factor is most definitely still present; plus, the bosses are among some of the best out there, and the game is always mixing things up to keep you on your toes. One minute you’ll be fending off against dozens of rambling monks, the next you’ll be battling an over-sized salamander in the middle of a lake. With such a relentless pace, memorable foes and an impressive arsenal of fully upgradable weapons, RE4 is a blockbuster horror fest from start to finish.
And the rest….
-Dead Space 2
-F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origins
-Resident Evil 5