Join us over the next few days as we look at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and try to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. Today we're looking at the PS3, with Justin Haywald taking you through the highlights of Sony’s system.
The PlayStation 3 has come a long way, especially in the US. Sony’s console was the frontrunner in sales across Europe and Japan, but Microsoft always dominated the massive US market. However, those numbers have recently started to even out, and although Microsoft still has a lead in America, the PS3 and Xbox 360 are neck and neck worldwide with just over 80 million consoles sold in total.
But the reason for PlayStation’s comeback after a pretty tumultuous few years has everything to do with how they’ve improved their online capabilities, listened to their consumers, and started offering exclusive content that gamers really want.
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The current PS3 library offers an almost unrivaled variety of content. Of course, the system is home to all of the big AAA games from last year: Tomb Raider, BioShock: Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Rocksmith, DmC: Devil May Cry, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons... Basically, if it was a multiplatform release, one of those platforms was PS3.
But Sony is able to round-out those offerings with a massive slate of exclusive titles from their own stable of studios.
- Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series set the bar for what an adventure game could be, and they followed it up with the powerfully moving story in The Last of Us.
- The Metal Gear Solid series may have some divisive entries, but almost everyone can agree that the PS3-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the (if not the) best.
- Journey and Flower from thatgamecompany pushed the boundaries of what a game can be and how to tell a multi-part story without using any words at all.
- Dark Souls may be all the rage now, but it started with the PS3-exclusive Demon’s Souls (which you can pick up for ridiculously cheap as part of the PlayStation Greatest Hits collection.
- The family-friendly LittleBigPlanet put creation directly in the hands of the players, giving them the same tools the developers had access to to make their own levels.
You get the point. There's also Valkyria Chronicles, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, 3D Dot Game Heroes, God of War III, the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Infamous, Katamari Forever, Kingdom Hearts HD, the Ratchet & Clank series, Killzone...just too many to list. The PS3 has something (exclusive) for pretty much every gaming taste.
It's safe to assume Sony is going to focus primarily on PlayStation 4 in 2014, but there’s still a lot of life left in the PS3. Most games are going to continue to get multiplatform releases:
- The brutally funny South Park: The Stick of Truth.
- The brutally difficult Dark Souls II.
- The enigmatic Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.
- A game from the former Halo developers at Bungie: Destiny.
- One of the most anticipated games on every console: Watch Dogs.
And, of course, PS3 will still get the full slate of yearly sports titles, and Call of Duty and Battlefield’s regular outings will be sure to get some love on every platform. But the PS3 will be the only console that lets you revisit Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts 2 in HD. And Persona fans will need a PS3 to get their fix; Persona 5 will be a PS3 exclusive.
Some games are up in the air: Will the PS3 get The Last Guardian or has that long-in-development title officially moved over to PS4? We’ll learn a lot more at this year’s E3, including a few final promising exclusives for Sony’s "last-gen" system.
One of the best things about the PS3 is the budget price. Used consoles sell for bargain-basement prices, and new consoles come bundled with extra peripherals and games to get you playing right away. We already have a slimmer form factor for the PS3, so the hardware itself probably won’t change, but near the end of the year, another slight price drop is very likely.
All of the above is great on its own, but it ignores the console’s arguably biggest selling point: PlayStation Plus. Unlike the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s consoles, you can access most of the PS3’s online functionality at no cost. Multiplayer comes standard for the system, but the reasonably priced PlayStation Plus service introduces cloud-game saving, deep discounts on the game’s online store, and (most importantly) free games every month. The Instant Game Collection Sony makes available to members makes the service worth it on it’s own. And these aren’t old games either – January’s offerings for the US include BioShock Infinite and DmC: Devil May Cry. Plus, if you do happen to have a Vita or PlayStation 4 as well, you only have to purchase the service once: your account applies across every current Sony gaming platform.
And some of the best stuff for PS3 is still on the way. The PlayStation Now service, promises to let you stream PS1, PS2, and PS3 games from the cloud directly to your system. We don’t have any details on the price yet or how it might work with your existing library of games, but more access to old games (especially if it offers a Netflix-like all-you-can-play option) will be hard to resist.
If you’re on the fence about upgrading to the next-gen consoles, the PlayStation offers every excuse to just wait. There’s plenty to play until the next-gen consoles fall in price next year, and by then, there’ll also be a lot more can’t miss titles for the upgraded consoles. But 2015 is still a long way away.