Top 5 visually stunning PS3 exclusives

Graphics aren’t everything when it comes to videogames, but blimey, are they nice to gawp at. Indeed, every console throughout history–be it the Super Nintendo or the PlayStation 2–had its fair share of exclusive jaw-droppers, those triple-A juggernauts that salivating fan boys love to wax lyrically about to show off the graphical prowess of their shiny new telly box. As you’d expect, Sony’s PlayStation 3 is no different. Sure, you might have heard horror stories about how the console’s fiddly architecture has made it a right bugger to programme for, but those days seem to be firmly behind us now. After all, a console is like a carton of Ribena; the more you squeeze it, the more you get out of it, and the last couple of years have seen developers doing just that.

While multiplatform games continue to look better and better on Sony’s machine, it’s the console-exclusives that really push the boat out when it comes to graphical flare, and this is where PS3 can flex the big guns. Titles like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Heavy Rain have already delivered some eyeball-popping spectacles on the visual front, and the trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future as we tuck into the likes of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Resistance 3. As such, and with PS3 set to turn five years-old this November, PSU decided to single out the five of the best looking exclusives titles available on the platform to date.

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Hideo Kojima’s stealth-action outing released back in June 2008, though it was a visual showcase for PS3 as far back as 2005 when it made its debut at the Tokyo Game Show. And, while the footage shown off at the Japanese trade show wasn’t an authentic representation of what we actually got to play, the final product was still pretty darn close. MGS4’s colourful cast in particular are meticulously realised, eschewing much of the fidgety, unrealistic animation of past-generation iterations in favour of smooth, slick and – in Naomi’s case – sexy character models. In fact, they’re so detailed, that you can make out every crease (or in Snake’s case, wrinkle) on their forms, which truly shine in the meaty cut scenes. Likewise, the environments are equally impressive, whether it be the dilapidated and dusty warzones of the Middle East or the foggy streets of Eastern Europe. Sure, it’s not true HD, but when you’re an old git like Snake and can still be considered eye candy, it doesn’t matter.


Quantic Dream’s acclaimed thriller was always going to be an eye-opener, and, even though games like L.A. Noire have taken facial animation to the next level with MotionScan, Heavy Rain still features some of the best-looking guys and gals on PS3. In a game that champion’s emotion like Killzone 3 does headshots, Heavy Rain’s intricately crafted visuals really help to sell the human qualities of the game’s multiple protagonists, pulling on your heart strings as Ethan Mars succumbs to despair after losing his son and instilling a knot of disgust in your stomach as a creepy nightclub owner forces Madison into a strip tease at gunpoint. And, while the performances of the cast are instrumental in selling a believable story, it’s the subtleties that really seal the deal, be it a quick flash of optimism across someone’s features, or an incredulous raise of the eyebrow. More than anything though, Heavy Rain doesn’t sugar coat anything; it’s a depiction of everyday life, with characters evoking a raw and realistic edge that too many games are only too quick to tart up and air brush these days.


Nathan Drake’s 2009 adventure set the proverbial bar for next-generation console visuals, let alone those on PS3. While some games excel in one area and are conspicuously lacking in others, Uncharted 2 is a visual spectacle from start to finish, be it the colourful cast or the war torn streets of Nepal. Cheeky chappie Drake is wonderfully animated, stumbling precariously when he lands a tricky jump and gritting his teeth as he unleashes lead hell upon a gaggle of gun-toting goons. Same goes for the supporting cast, too. For example, when Elena’s poor mate Jeff is mercilessly dispatched by bald baddie Zoran Lazarveric, you can practically feel the knot of dread that punches her in the gut thanks to some stellar facial animation work. Environments are chock full of detail, whether you are barrelling through the lush vegetation of Borneo or leaving footprints on the snow-drenched mountains of Alaska. Among Thieves also features some of the flashiest particle effects around; fire crackles and sends shadows dancing around the room, while water sparkles in the sunlight, undulating realistically as you wade through it. The shiny, polished aesthetics really come into play in the mammoth set pieces, as choppers swoop overhead pepping your cover point with lead and whole train carriages tumble off the tracks in a shower of metal and flame. And the best part? It’s all locked down at a blistering 60fps.


The God of War series is no stranger to strutting its stuff when it comes to visual prowess; after all, the acclaimed actioner stretched PlayStation 2 to its limits with 2007’s God of War II, and pushed PSP to breaking point with Ghost of Sparta. As such, I don’t think any of us expected anything less from Kratos’ third console outing, which hit PS3 in 2010. Aesthetically, the game is an absolute diamond, both in terms of the sharpness of the graphics to the sheer scale of what’s on offer. Baldy looks bloody brilliant (both literally and figuratively in Kratos’ case, given the amount of claret he soaks up during the game), with bulging biceps and ripped abs glistening amongst some of the best lighting effects on PS3. Likewise, locations are brimming with detail, and as mentioned the scale of God of War III’s battlegrounds are jaw-dropping, and are highly complemented by the equally epic boss battles. And, while there are some minor inconsistencies – some characters aren’t quite as eye-candy as Kratos for example – overall the game, just like its perpetually pissed-off protagonist, is an absolute beast.


Like God of War, Guerrilla Games’ sci-fi blaster has consistently remained a visual showcase for the PlayStation brand, be it the original PS2 outing or 2009’s Killzone 2, which at the time was among one of the prettiest console games of its time. Despite this, the chaps at Guerrilla still managed to somehow up the ante for the inevitable follow-up, with Killzone 3 standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best looking games on Sony’s black behemoth. Environments are rendered in lavish detail, be blood-soaked pavements of war-ravaged urban locales to the snow-coated industrial complex, all of which are accentuated by the eye-popping lighting and weather effects. Likewise, the characters themselves look fantastic, with chisel-jawed marines and glowing-eyed Helghast alike coming to life thanks to some immaculately-crafted motion capture technology. If that wasn’t enough, Killzone 3’s visual spectacle is greatly bolstered by the addition of 3D support, and if there ever was a reason to convince your mates they need to splash out on a swanky 3D TV, then this is a game that’s guaranteed to floor some jaws.

What games do you feel flexes the PS3’s graphical muscle to its limits? Let us know in the comments section below.