With the launch of both the PS4 and the Xbox One now a fading memory, the current generation of gaming consoles has well and truly established itself, with games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Batman: Arkham Knight and, of course, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, all justifiably taking the limelight. Here at Power Up Gaming, however, we’re not so keen to let go of the past. Originally starting out our coverage as primarily a retro games outlet, we take great pleasure in revelling in the titles of yesteryear.
While the PlayStation 3 may not be old enough to be considered a retro system just yet, many stellar games released for Sony’s 2006 console are becoming little more than dust-collectors – and that just doesn’t sit right with us. In an effort to set the world to rights, and possibly make you consider picking up that DualShock 3 (or even Sixaxis) once again, we take a look back on some of the best lesser-known games on the PS3 that you may even have missed the first time around.
1. Dark Sector (2008)
This third-person shooter from Digital Extremes (BioShock, Unreal Tournament) sees protagonist Hayden Tenno, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Breaking_In) infected by the Technocyte virus. This fictional virus gives Hayden several abilities, the main of which being able to grow a three-bladed ‘Glaive’ at will that he can throw and control to slice and dice his enemies.
Dark Sector had some brutal ‘finishing moves’ that the player could use on enemy soldiers. So brutal, in fact, that the game was temporarily banned in Australia just before release. While it did eventually launch down under, the violence was heavily censored.
The gameplay is similar to typical action-adventure titles like Uncharted or Splinter Cell, but with much more of a sci-fi element to it. You move between cover, observing the room, then pop out and take down your enemies with either a gun or one of your powers. Alternatively, you can sneak up behind your enemies and rip them to pieces up close and personal.
It’s a very fun game largely due to the Glaive, which only gets cooler as you progress through the game; beheading your foes and slicing them in half. You feel truly powerful and that’s what this game is all about.
2. TimeShift (2007)
Developed by Saber Interactive (God Mode, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary), TimeShift is a first-person shooter set in a world where scientists have created two time machine suits, the Alpha and the superior Beta. Our protagonist, whose name is never revealed, uses the Beta suit to follow a fellow scientist, Dr Aiden Krone, back to 1939, where he has used the Alpha suit to change the past and become an evil ruler.
The suit gives players the ability to slow, stop and rewind time with the press of a button. This is the main selling point of the game, and for good reason: it’s incredibly fun, and at times amusing, what you can do with these powers. Blowing up a barrel and sending a group of bad guys flying is so amusing that you can rewind time just to do it again. Or why not stop time and clear a room of soldiers before they even know you’re there?
What was particularly impressive back in 2007 was TimeShift’s precipitation effect (it’s raining throughout most of the game, to emphasise how dull this alternative universe is). The raindrops looked beautiful, especially when you froze time and saw the droplets stop in mid-air.
Looking back at it now, the graphics and animations haven’t aged particularly well, but the gameplay, story and concept are still unlike anything we’ve seen in the gaming world. There’s even a little twist at the end – but we won’t spoil the surprise here.
3. Dante’s Inferno (2010)
Released in February 2010, this third-person action-adventure game from Visceral Games (Dead Space, Battlefield: Hardline) was based on the poem Inferno (the Italian for Hell).
We follow Dante, as he progresses through the weird and creepy nine circles of hell to reclaim the soul of his beloved from Lucifer himself. The gameplay is over the top, combat-heavy and rather violent, echoing games like Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising.
Dante’s primary weapon is the Scythe from Death that you “acquire” at the beginning of the game, which is accompanied by his secondary weapon, a holy cross that can shoot light at foes. Each circle ends with a boss battle leading to Lucifer as the game’s final battle.
With that said, Dante’s Inferno is somewhat of a guilty pleasure. You feel like you shouldn’t like it when it so blatantly rips off other games, particularly God of War. It’s hard not to think of GoW while you’re playing Dante’s story, but at the same time, we don’t really care too much. They’re both very great games and worth playing for what they are.
The story isn’t the worst we’ve seen but can be a little weak in places. The game itself, though, is very fun and very, very brutal, making you feel more and more powerful as you progress.
4. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)
Developed by Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, DmC), Enslaved, for us, will always be up there as one of the best all-round games to date. It was initially released on Xbox 360 and PS3 in October 2010, with a later release coming for PC.
This action-adventure platformer is a re-imagining of the Chinese novel, Journey to the West. It’s set 150 years after a global war left humanity crippled and follows “Monkey” (Andy Serkis) who is being forced by a young women, Trip (Lindsey Shaw), to protect her using a slave headband. The headband means that if she dies then so does Monkey. Realising he has no choice, he reluctantly agrees to help her get back to her village, which is some 300 miles away.
The game does a great job of having the protagonist accompanied by an AI character throughout who doesn’t get in the way or annoy the player, as is usually the case. Trip can help Monkey access areas he otherwise couldn’t, and overall they make a formidable team – with their relationship going from strength to strength through the 10-hour campaign.
The combat is also fun, with Monkey wielding a staff that can also shoot projectiles at the robotic enemies, or Mechs, left over from the great war.
The story and the voice acting ultimately make Enslaved the gem it is. It generally received very high review scores upon its release, yet went unnoticed by the majority of gamers.
5. Vanquish (2010)
In Platinum Games’ (Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising) Vanquish, players take on the role of Sam Gideon in this fast-paced, third-person, sci-fi shooter. In control of a futuristic battlesuit, Sam is working for the US government in an overpopulated world where countries are battling for earth’s dwindling resources.
The game is so enjoyable to play due to the ARS (Augmented Reality Suit) that Sam boasts and the abilities that come with such tech. By using thrusters in the boots, you can slide around the environment at speed – like a certain Avenger – before slowing down time to take down a group of antagonistic Russians.
The cover system is fluid and works very well – but don’t expect to be sat still for long. The AI is intelligent and several different types of enemies will be trying to flank you at all times. Most cover, like walls and boxes, are destructible, too, leaving you vulnerable if you attempt to hide from a barrage of bullets for too long.
The campaign is quite short, at a mere 5-6 hours (though there are several challenge maps). The hectic action doesn’t let up for very long, though, providing gamers with sweaty palms throughout. It’s this pace combined with how cool and powerful you feel that make Vanquish worth picking up for any gamer.
There were several other underrated games that we thought fondly of, including Stranglehold, The Darkness, The Saboteur and Bayonetta – but they didn’t quite make the cut this time. None of the five we’ve focused on spawned a direct sequel either, most likely due to them getting overlooked by the majority of gamers, which is a shame in itself.
Let us know in the comments section below if you enjoyed any of these titles – or why not give us your suggestions about your favourite PS3 hidden gems, and we may just include them in a follow-up piece?