TuffGnarl.com’s 50 must-play Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 titles: Part 2

(Click HERE to read part 1.)

While I do not own an Xbox 360, all but three of the titles I’ve grown to love on PS3 are also available for that console. These are the games that I’ve found to have excellent replay value and a good balance of everything that makes a game good. Some of them were even better the second time around.

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11. Wipeout HD: Fury — Psygnosis | 2008

I’ve played a lot of great racing games over the years, but Wipeout HD is one of my favorite go-to’s when I need a racing fix. This title has evolved over the years, coming a long way from the pixelated, but still very fun original Wipeout (1995) for PC, Playstation and Sega Saturn. Set in the future, this is an anti-gravity racing game. It reminds me of F-Zero for SNES, except in that game you didn’t have missiles or mines. Wipeout HD is the core game, harnessing the PS3’s excellent graphics to seamlessly render racing landscapes of the future in full 1080p. The Fury add-on downloaded from the Playstation Network adds a bunch of new tracks, 13 new ships, as well as a visual overhaul to the interface and three new game modes. I continually come back to this one.

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12. Infamous — Sucker Punch Productions | 2009

Infamous changed my opinion of what video games ought to be. This story follows Cole McGrath through a wild series of increasingly challenging missions in order to save the innocent citizens of his city after being rocked by a devastating explosion. Since he was the courier delivering the bomb, he’s labeled a terrorist. As a side effect being caught in the blast of this unique device, he is given the ability to manipulate electricity. Cole decides to use these abilities to help the innocent trapped in the city after the government imposes a quarantine — or does he? In one of the best features of the game, Cole can either choose to help and try to save everyone or he can give into his anger and turn on his friends and against the city itself in order to take over and destroy the world. The game succeeds in every way. Players get to explore an ever-expanding sandbox city. Cole’s electrical abilities can be used to fight, snipe and bomb your enemies, to glide between buildings and skate along power lines and railroad tracks. The fighting can get a little repetitive, but that’s true of any adventure game of this sort. Infamous combines elements of RPGs, platform adventure games, and shoot-em-ups very well. The controls can be a little bit wonky until you get the hang of them, but the adjustment period is very short. All in all, this is a reigning favorite for Playstation.

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13. Borderlands — Gearbox Software | 2009

Its beautiful, cell-shaded graphics help to keep things from appearing too realistic while being visually pleasing (it’s violent), which allow this game to produce gory dismemberment and blood splattering demise for your enemies, who come in all shapes and sizes. The game’s audio is plenty loud and surround sound allows you to detect enemies you can’t see on the screen. It’s also hilarious. Interacting with the other characters in the story is a big part of the fun, especially Claptrap, the robot. Borderlands is a first person shooter combined with elements of an RPG. The player picks one of four main character types, each with their own set of skills which can be upgraded along the way. The game uses a random system for producing loot on fallen enemies, which keeps things very interesting. Occasionally, incredible weapons are found that are so awesome that you can’t bear to part with them. In fact, picking out new firearms is fun all by itself. Some weapons produce corrosive damage, some set things on fire, and some even radiate electromagnetic energy to nullify shielding. Between the entertaining story, excellent weapons, hilarious interactions and one-liners, as well as four different player experiences to choose from and multiple expansions with their own respective mission sets, Borderlands keeps me coming back for more. I’ve played through it three different times on two platforms. PC offers far more accurate controls for those who crave precision and extreme graphics, but the PS3 delivers a solid experience, too. Either way is a win.

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14. Fallout: New Vegas — Obsidian Entertainment/Bethesda Softworks | 2010

Fallout: New Vegas didn’t interest me at first. I was still replaying Fallout 3. I felt this was a lousy imitation. Then I bucked up and played it. Its gameplay feels familiar, but the storyline has changed a little, helping it feel fresh. Instead of being someone who has lived in a vault, as in prior Fallout games, you begin as a courier who makes a living making deliveries across the wasteland surrounding what was formerly Las Vegas, Nevada. Several factions exist in this world. There’s the New California Republic, who returns from the original “top-down” series; Caesar’s Legion is a new, radical, violent faction led by Caesar, who has used his influence to unite all the scattered tribes of the wasteland to take over the region; and the enigmatic Mr. House, who wants to retain control of the city, backed up by his army of “Securitron” robots. New Vegas’ gameplay combines elements of turn-based combat in the V.A.T.S. system, allowing you temporarily suspend time and aim your weapon more accurately in order to disable, disarm, or dismember your opponent. Thankfully, you can also just shoot regular FPS-style, too. Enemies seem smarter out west, as well as stronger, making them noticeably harder to eliminate (especially the damn bloatflies early-on). Also, available for the otaku in us all, is the Hardcore Mode, in which all ammunition counts toward your overall carry-weight, weapons wear out faster, cripped limbs cannot be healed with stimpacks, and when you die, you really die in the game and start all over, instead of just waking up at your last save point. It may sound a little insane, but some of us like insane.

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15. Call of Duty: Black Ops — Treyarch/Activision | 2010

I have also played a lot of first-person shooter games. Classics like GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Turok 2  and Jet Force Gemini soaked up hundreds of hours of my life during high school. Things have come a long way in terms of graphics for these kinds of games. I recall the blocky faces, hands that looked like square mittens, and poorly rendered environments in most of the games I played back then. Gameplay, however, has remained largely the same since the 1990s. Black Ops is a nearly perfect FPS game. The main attraction for this game is not the campaign mode, or the story-telling part of the game. Much like the classic GoldenEye, the staple here is multiplayer. Unlike GoldenEye, you can challenge people from all around the world to test you mettle against. It’s embarrassing to get repeatedly rocked by a squad of Portuguese-speaking preteens. It is, however, very satisfying to listen to your opponents complain when you’re mopping the floor with them. Also, a fun feature is the reward system that gives you boosts, or “killstreaks,” for taking out enemies without getting killed yourself. The more in a row you get, the better the reward. For instance, you can send in attack dogs, call in close air support, or take over as a door-gunner for a Blackhawk helicopter. (As if your kill streak wasn’t demoralizing enough, now you annihilate them from the air.) The maps do get a bit familiar after a while, but that’s also part of the fun. You learn the hidden spots and take out your foes as they run by. Hours and hours can be spent playing this without noticing. That is the mark of an excellent, immersive experience. This game was so good that I would come home for 45 minutes on my hour lunch break to get in some multiplayer.

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16. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe — Midway Games/Warner Bros. Interactive | 2008

Have you every wanted to see Raiden fight Superman, or Batman fight Scorpion? This is your game. While awaiting Mortal Kombat X to arrive, I decided to test out this one. I was very pleasantly surprised. I expected it to be ridiculous. The story is almost reasonable, especially considering DC’s weirdo-universe-blending-splitting-what-huh style of storytelling these past couple years. The plot involves the two universes blending in to one, with the DC universe being overwritten by Mortal Kombat’s. Later on you discover why this is happening and who is behind it. MK vs. DC has one of the longest story modes I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. One of the positives about this is that you change characters throughout the story from battle to battle and, depending one which side of the conflict you choose at the start, you will use different groups of characters. In one fight you might be learning to use Liu Kang, while later you may have to learn to fight with Wonder Woman. This certainly keeps things interesting, as all of the different possible characters have different styles of combat, different combinations of movements and buttons that execute different attacks. Like most fighting games, these moves are pretty easy to figure out. Sub-Zero’s attacks are noticeably different from previous versions of Mortal Kombat, as are Shang Tsung’s. My favorites to play with so far have been Batman and Sub-Zero. This one is great for playing with friends, challenging them to a mini-tournament, but the solo play through is also lots of fun.

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17. Street Fighter IV — Capcom | 2008

I cannot explain how pleased I was to finally play a Street Fighter game again. I stopped paying attention when Capcom forgot how to count to three for a while. Capcom has added a slew of new characters to the mix. Some good, some bad, and some rather annoying. I’m pretty sure all of the old characters returned–Ken, Ryu, Blanka, Chun Li, Guile, and all of those, along with M. Bison, not playable in the first version, but playable in several of the other updated versions of SF 2. Chronologically, this game takes place between Street Fighter 2 and 3. Weird. But this allows for a large selection of fighters for the player to choose from. This game has been hailed as one of the best fighter games of this generation. I’d be hard pressed to find an argument against that recognition. Characters have new moves, keeping things fresh, but the good ol’ Hadouken still works the same way (down to forward, punch). I’ve found that every time I play through, I discover new moves, new strategies, and even try new players I didn’t like previously. With more than 25 characters to use (some you must unlock by playing or with downloadable content, or DLC), Street Fighter IV provides an update to a familiar classic. New graphics help to make the environments more enjoyable, as well as making the characters look much better than they have in the past. This is a great, great game for those that like fighting.

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18. Katamari Forever — Bandai Namco Entertainment | 2009

This is one of those odd additions. I haven’t played anything like Katamari Forever before this. It certainly feels like an original game concept. Essentially, the king needs help rebuilding his kingdom after getting knocked in the head and getting amnesia. This is done by pushing around a sticky ball, which grows larger with every object that is bonded to it. Each different level has a theme, certain objects to grab and some to avoid, as well as a goal size for your Katamari (the ball you move around each level) and a time limit. It’s a simple game. There is no depth to this story. It’s a puzzle game, but like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Columns (does anyone remember Columns?) it delivers hours of entertainment. Each of the 34 levels are well designed and the cel-shaded graphics add to the cartoony feel of the game. While there is no multiplayer mode to challenge your friends in, there are world-wide score boards to help you keep track of how well (or poorly) you compare to Katamari fanatics around the planet.

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19. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks | 2011

I’d only ever seen Morrowind for XBox prior to a friend showing me this title. I knew certain RPGs had maps that were big, but nothing like this. You start as a prisoner on his way to be executed for being an enemy of the state, one of the “Stormcloaks.” Once you escape, a series of choices sets the tone for the rest of the game. You can side with the Imperials, who’ve outlawed worship of the Nords’ gods, and who’ve largely been taken over by the high-elves, or you can join the Stormcloaks, who believe that Skyrim ought to be ruled by the Nords that live there. You also have your own story to follow. You discover that you may be the one known as “The Dragonborn,” a mythical person with the soul of a dragon who can use their language and magic. I love this title for a number of reasons. It has a familiar style of mythology, but it is completely it’s own thing. It’s very much like real-world Nordic mythology, but feels completely original and unique. I love the design of everything in the game. Each different type of level, of armor, of weapon all look distinctively separate from each other. That is to say that just by looking at armor you can tell what make it is, Dwarf, or Dwemer, Imperial, Elvish, leather, Daedra (demon), or Dragon. The characters are rich and alive, amusing and terrifying, intelligent and foolish. The monsters and creatures look great as do the people and the biomes. You experience dense forests, dank caves, creepy dwarf ruins, and the frigid tundra. I especially like seeing dragons in the sky. I highly recommend playing the game with full surround sound or good stereo headphones for total immersion. There are drawbacks such as subpar controls at time. Moving around can sometimes be real wonky, but typically its not bad. Also, when you compare the graphics of PS3 to the same title on PC, it makes you sad inside, like a child that knows his neighbor is having dessert, but he can’t have any. You still enjoy dinner, but Mom won’t let you eat ice cream afterwards. That’s how it can feel when you see a buddy enjoying this game on PC. That being said, in the five years I’ve been playing this one, I’ve never stopped taking great joy from Skyrim. It’s about the experience and overall this is an amazing game.

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20. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West — Ninja Theory | 2010

This is a “sleeper” game. It’s one of those titles that didn’t make very much noise when released and wouldn’t really hear much about unless you really search for new games to try out. The plot is that you have to help a young woman get west. You aren’t sure what she’s looking for, but it’s vital to the future of mankind. Along the way you battle robots and monsters, all having an appearance that makes them look like they were ported over from Bioshock. You play primarily as a character named Monkey who, as you might guess, is a great climber and acrobat. You fight with a staff that is upgraded throughout the game by finding little glowing orbs which are either currency or upgrade points depending on the color. Your companion is a woman named Trip who escapes the slave ship you both are on at the opening of the game. The pair of you must navigate through the ravaged world to her home, 300 miles away. The levels are laid out in such a way that there is only one right path to complete them. To explain, if there is a wall to get over, you can only really get up one “right” way. If you’ve played any of the Uncharted titles of late, you know what I mean. After a while you can determine what is usable and what is not by little variations in the coloring. I would have to say that my favorite part of this game was not the controls, but the story. It’s enigmatic, it feels fresh, and the end is not what I expected at all. Enslaved is totally worth playing through.

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Rob Zimmerman

Veteran. Futurist. Writer. Humorist. Since Chuck Livid and I both plan to rule the world, it seems only right that we start as allies on a small media blog. Until then, I hope to publish entertaining articles and reviews, spreading information and comedy through the interwebs. Have a nice day. Do not, under any circumstances, forget to tip the waiter. Ever.

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