Innovation is instrumental to a healthy life for any entertainment medium, videogames included. If companies don’t take risks and try new things, the videogames industry – as well as film and music for that matter – would stagnate, shrivel and dry up at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s branching out with a new IP or injecting radical changes into a well-oiled series paradigm, we wouldn’t get far without it.
Still, while that’s all very well and good, sometimes having more of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fortunately, there’s room for familiarity and uncharted territory in this industry; annualized sequels like FIFA and Call of Duty certainly don’t break boundaries with every instalment, but offer incremental upgrades to an established formula just enough so that people don’t get tired of things. In fact, some of this generation’s biggest games – from Halo 3 to Uncharted 2 – attracted rave reviews and sold like hot cakes with innovation being at the back of their creator’s minds.
With that said, PSU.com has decided to look at three major PlayStation 3 releases that blew us away without having to innovate in the slightest – and we didn’t care that they didn’t either.
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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The original Uncharted was the excuse punters looked for when investing in a PlayStation 3 during the console’s infancy. Cheeky chappy Nathan Drake cemented himself as a protagonist that everyone warmed to, and the gameplay – a combination of intense gunplay and satisfying platforming – was a marriage made in heaven. Throw in some scrumptious visuals and you had the makings of an instant classic. Naughty Dog knew this, and that’s why they stuck to their guns with the 2009 follow-up, Among Thieves. Nate still moved the same, still capped an absurd amount of baddies with big guns, and scaled precarious ledges, but did the job just fine. However, just to spice things up, the set-pieces were bigger, the visuals more polished, and the dialogue even sharper than its predecessor. It was everything we expected from a sequel to Uncharted, but with everything shifted up a gear. Sure, we got multiplayer, but the core single-player experience didn’t deviate from the norm. And it worked splendidly.
God of War III
By the time Kratos turned up on Sony’s black behemoth, we had already scoffed down two epic God of War games on PlayStation 2. Hack-‘n-slash games don’t get much better than Sony Santa Monica’s Greek mythology-inspired romp, and anti-heroes don’t come much more brutal than Kratos. While some people predicted something of an overhaul for the perpetually-pissed off protagonist’s PS3 debut, God of War III clearly stuck to the old mantra of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And thank god (no pun intended) it did, because the sequel was everything we could ever want from a PS3 GoW game. Sure, the visuals received a massive upgrade and still rank among the console’s best to this day, but the gameplay – aside from some minor tweaks – was pretty much the same offering we’d been playing since 2005. Kratos cut his opponents to ribbons via a variety of gruesome combos, solves rudimentary puzzles and vanquishes hulking boss creatures – why mess with that?
Killzone 2 proved that its predecessor wasn’t just a one-hit wonder, establishing the brand as one of the most successful PlayStation-exclusive franchises of this generation. Killzone 3 was pushed out the door two years later, and didn’t bother attempting to reinvent the sci-fi shooter franchise – it just offered more of what made Killzone 2 so celebrated among consumers and critics alike. Aside from a chilly winter wonderland to explore and the addition of Jetpacks, Guerrilla Games didn’t muck with a well-oiled machine; Killzone 2 plays just like you would expect, with adrenaline-fuelled gun battles punctuated by epic boss battles and macho banter. Visually the game is just as pretty as the already stunning-looking Killzone 2, and the melee kills add a slightly new dynamic to the proceedings by offering brutal beatings for those who like to get in close to their enemies. Other than that though, this is the original Killzone blueprint with an extra layer of polish, and it’s no worse off for it.
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