The best Sony PlayStation 3 games of all time

The PlayStation 3 only just counts as a retro machine – but now is a good time to get in on an affordable library of great games, including the very best the system had to offer.

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Buy PlayStation 3 games on eBay

Buy PlayStation 3 games on eBay


The best PlayStation 3 games in Australia

For its third generation console, Sony opted for some very unusual, very powerful internal components that gave it a theoretical power edge at the cost of programming complexity. The PS3 debuted back in 2006 in Japan, but it was 2007 when we saw it arrive on Australian shores. Over the years Sony made several revisions that saw the PS3 get a lot slimmer, and quite a bit cheaper to buy as well.

Sony's main rival in this era was very clearly Microsoft's Xbox 360. The two platforms jostled for exclusives and the best versions of a given cross-platform game, as well as adjusting to a new console world that saw digital delivery of games emerge along with a strong focus on online gaming.

The PlayStation 3 also strongly codified what we could expect out of gaming visuals from then on, and there's still a large number of games that can hold their heads up high in a visual sense, with less of the jaggy polygonal or smeary motion effects that sometimes plague PlayStation 1 or PlayStation 2 titles.

Choosing which games were the absolute cream of the crop was no easy task. Yes, we've played a lot of games to prepare this feature, and that's not exactly hard work, but picking the best involves serious debate and consideration. Here's our pick of the finest games in the PlayStation 3 library of titles.

How did we pick this list?

This list was created based on our own experiences with the wide array of PlayStation 3 titles. The author has a large library of titles for the platform and keeps a number of PS3 consoles in his collection to this day. That alone would lead to a list that would be highly subjective – and a certain degree of that is inevitable for any list of this kind – so we included a wide array of critic and reader reviews for each title to balance that out. We've also considered review scores, themselves something of a blunt instrument, from services such as Metacritic when making our final selections.

Read more detail on our methodology below.

Best Sony PlayStation 3 game overall: Red Dead Redemption

Pros

  • The best western movies in a single game
  • Not just action, but a slowly unfolding narrative that keeps you hooked

Cons

  • Can be glitchy – which is sometimes ridiculously funny, other times annoying
  • Shoutouts on horseback are very hard to manage
Price (RRP): $10-$30+
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Why we chose it

The beauty of buying for a "newer" retro gaming system right now is that most of the best games are highly affordable. Frankly, if you've got a PS3 you should add everything in our list to your collection, and the reality there is that if you had to do so, with a little canny auction hunting you could score them all for less than the price of a single new PS5 game.

Still, if we must pick a single must-have title for the PS3, it has to be Red Dead Redemption. There's simply nothing like that first time you take to horseback down a dusty desert trail, turn a corner and see your first sunrise, realising the epic Western adventure that awaits you. Red Dead Redemption took the bare bones of the more action-oriented Red Dead Revolver and refined them in the best possible way, making for a game that could simply be graphically updated for modern consoles today that would still stand up as an exceptional gaming experience.

What I'm saying here is simple: Buy a copy. Do it now.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – Action Adventure: Red Dead Redemption

Pros

  • The best western movies in a single game
  • Not just action, but a slowly unfolding narrative that keeps you hooked

Cons

  • Can be glitchy – which is sometimes ridiculously funny, other times annoying
  • Shootouts on horseback are very hard to manage
Price (RRP): $10-$30+
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

The PS3 has a huge library of great action games, with titles like GTA IV and V vying for attention, alongside exclusives like the Uncharted games and LittleBigPlanet. Still, Rockstar's epic Red Dead Redemption tops them all for our money, telling a complex tale in an open world with engaging combat, intriguing characters and some stunning visual design thrown into the mix.

Red Dead Redemption is also something of a love letter to westerns as a cinema format, both visually and in the many smaller nods to classic westerns, beautifully realised on the PlayStation 3. While the sequel has been a tad more divisive on modern platforms, Red Dead Redemption – itself a sequel to the more action-oriented Red Dead Revolver – is a game that everyone old enough to handle its content absolutely must still play.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – Racing: Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Pros

  • Racing away from your foes and the authorities remains really good fun
  • Online functions are now basically DOA

Cons

  • You steal cars rather than earn them by racing
  • Online functions are now basically DOA
Price (RRP): $10-$20
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

The graphical grunt of the PS3 meant that we could finally see really high-octane racing games with a genuine sense of speed, thrill and risk, and that gave it a wide library of fender-bending contenders. Launch title Motorstorm showed what the PS3 could do with damage modelling, Gran Turismo was along for the ride for those after a more serious simulation, and Burnout Paradise took the crash-and-race genre into the open world.

Those are actually still all great choices, but we'll give the nod to Need For Speed: Most Wanted, a game that took the Criterion crew responsible for all those excellent Burnout games and threw it into the Need For Speed world. That means it's fast, feels realistic and includes all those white-knuckle moments where you're racing not only against your driving peers but also to evade some rather wily cops along the way. It's a simple enough mechanic, but it's one that really never gets old.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – RPG: Mass Effect Trilogy

Pros

  • A richly realised sci-fi universe awaits you
  • Great voice acting really brings the key characters to life

Cons

  • Mass Effect remake is incoming for modern platforms
  • First game does take its time to get going (but it's worth it)
Price (RRP): $50-$100+
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Why we chose it

If you get yourself a PS3, you're buying into an insanely rich library of really top-quality RPG experiences, and there were just so many ways we could have made this pick. Bethesda's Oblivion or Skyrim are both excellent, as are EA's Dragon Age games, Square's Final Fantasy and Ni no Kuni games… The list of RPGs could keep you gaming through to when the PlayStation 10 comes out, more or less.

The Mass Effect Trilogy brings together three epic games that blend the best of Sci-Fi RPG tropes with a rich plot that means it's as much an enjoyable Sci-Fi epic to watch as it is to wend your way through. It meshes in that character development and narrative with a gameplay model that's also great fun to play, so you're not just stuck in endless cutscenes with little to do. Its open universe invites exploration, and it's a world you can so very easily get lost in for a very long time.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – Fighting: Ultra Street Fighter IV

Pros

  • Wide roster of available characters
  • Deep fighting system underneath those flashy visuals

Cons

  • Essentially replaced by Street Fighter V
  • Good luck finding an online opponent
Price (RRP): $50-$100+
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Why we chose it

The PlayStation 3's power meant that it could put a lot of detail into fighting games, but the maturity of that particular gaming niche means that many of the best titles come from the well-established stalwarts of the genre.

That's absolutely the case for Ultra Street Fighter IV, a game that Capcom effectively iterated on with regular releases through the PlayStation 3's lifespan. It's pretty much the definitive edition of Street Fighter IV, with a deep fighting system that means the purists could keep themselves happy counting frames, while the more casual players could enjoy the widened roster and dazzling combat effects.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – Sports: Skate 3

Pros

  • Deep trick system has lots of depth and plenty to learn
  • Bone crunching bails are oddly engaging to just watch

Cons

  • Not always an easy game, especially if you came from the Tony Hawk games
  • Online server availability is up to EA, making some goals unattainable
Price (RRP): $30-$60+
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

If you just want a good representation of your favourite mass-market sports – notably soccer, NFL, NHL or baseball – then it's stupidly easy to pick up one of EA's yearly updates for mere cents these days, because nothing dates faster than an annual release sports game.

The outlier in the EA sports game library, and the game we'd pick as your PS3 must-have sports title, is Skate 3. Where the Tony Hawk games took a highly arcade approach, Skate always tried to be slightly more realistic, and that made for a deeper and ultimately more challenging type of skating experience. It's a testament to just how good Skate 3 is that it's still a highly popular title and one that's been deemed in demand enough for EA to be (finally!) working on a next-gen sequel.


Best Sony PlayStation 3 game – Puzzle: Portal 2

Pros

  • Portal 2 is a triumph
  • It's hard to overstate just how good it is

Cons

  • Some puzzles can be hair-tearingly hard
  • Some scripted moments become a lot less funny when you're stuck hearing them over and over again
Price (RRP): $20-$40+
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

You're probably sick of all the Potato and Lemon memes, even now, but Portal 2 remains an absolutely classic puzzle game that still deserves its place in the best puzzle game hall of fame, and will do until somebody at Valve gets around to making a proper Portal 3. It's okay... I can wait, but only because I've already got Portal 2 to play.

Portal 2 took that basic two-portals-and-mind-bending-puzzles hook of the original and amped up the challenge with a wide variety of other world-changing aspects, such as light beams and bouncy gels, along with some of the best and funniest voice acting in all of gaming. You'll also want to hook in another player for its excellent split-screen co-op mode, which ups the ante with even more portals and fiendish puzzles to solve. Cave Johnson may have been handed lemons, but you won't be when you buy a copy of Portal 2.


Buying PlayStation 3 games

What to consider when buying PlayStation 3 games

  • Many games are very cheap. The PS3 doesn't entirely "feel" retro to many people yet, and that means that most of its titles can be purchased extremely cheaply. If retro gaming history is any guide, don't expect that state of affairs to last. There was a time when SNES games were insanely cheap because they felt pretty recent too.
  • Online features may be hard to access. A lot of PS3 titles leaned in heavily into online communities, and while that was a light feature of the PS2 era, it was utterly baked into the PS3 experience. That does mean some games are less playable, or in some cases, essentially unplayable now.
  • Condition matters. If you want to save a few bucks, opt for a disc-only version of a game, but be sure it's still in decent condition. A scratched and grimy Blu-ray isn't going to bring you much gaming joy. If you want a pristine copy to display in your collection, as usual, you'll pay a little more, although right now outside some key or rare titles, not that much more in many cases.
Amazon prices last updated on 22 September, 2021 at 05:00 am

Methodology

1
Brands considered
400+
Products compared
7
Best products chosen
  • Our picks are based on price, game ratings, availability and user and professional reviews.
  • The writer has 30+ years of game collecting and curating experience.
  • The products on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not selected based on commercial relationships.

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