Today, It’s part two of my initiative to get other people writing on this blog, as we chronicle some of the most important games of all time. I covered the efforts of Microsoft in this article, and today it is the turn of Stephen Jackman to present his case for Sony. Stephen is a good friend of mine from Lincoln University, where he holds the enviable position of being the reigning champion at the Gaming Society I help to run (trust me – its a big deal). So, take it away…
Top 10…Most Important Games On Sony Consoles
I just want to thank Mr Cooke for allowing me to post on his blog as I always find it enjoyable to write about games, since most of the time they are pretty awesome. As someone who grew up with Sony and the Playstation console line, starting back in 1997 with a package deal along with the not so stellar title of Bubsy 3D (one of the times when games aren’t awesome), up to the present day with the Playstation 3 and my acquisition of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, I have seen a selection of great titles come and go with some leaving a large impact on the games industry and becoming a huge benefit, if not a major means of success, for Sony and their endeavours into the games industry.
Whereas the first console played a lot of copycat with the N64, for example the introductions of analogue sticks and the controller rumble feature, it had some strong titles that allowed it to reach the level of success that it did. The Playstation 2 built on what the original foundations the Playstation set out and ended up having one of the largest selections of titles any console ever supported. The most current iteration of the console, the Playstation 3, is a powerhouse of a machine and the most powerful console on the market at the moment, bringing high definition with blue ray among many other features.
From each Playstation console I have had a chance to play a fair amount of the games. From when the older titles were new on shelves and not yet nostalgic memories, as well as the newer releases, I feel I am able to look back at Sony’s history and find a top ten of important titles. As with Darren my aim was to give preference to console exclusives over multi platform releases, or at the very least the console the game launched on and what it was well known for.
Monster Hunter Portal 3rd (2010) – Capcom – One Playstation console that I have not paid much attention to is the Playstation Portable which has been a fairly successful console in its own right. With great titles from the God of War, Metal Gear and Kingdom Hearts franchises, the Sony Portable unfortunately was nowhere near as successful in the West as it was in the East. A game that shows off the Eastern success is Monster Hunter Portable 3rd . It is a fantasy, action role play about hunting or capturing monsters and you can even do it with a bunch of mates. There are several Monster Hunter Portable titles but this one in particular was chosen as it was the fastest selling PSP title in Japan. The whole Portable spin off in itself deserves the mention as a title that got consoles sold all over Japan and the East.
Tomb Raider II (1997) – Core Design
Lara Croft was and still is to a degree an icon in video gaming. She became the nerdy sex icon of the late 90’s, and she even starred in an advert for Lucozade. The second title is most important though as a deal was made between Core Design and Sony to make it console exclusive to Sony. She became an iconic character for Sony among other characters making the console and its brand that much stronger. I guess the character as marketing may even be more influential than the game but Tomb Raider 2 secured that. That and she clearly had a love child with Indiana Jones to make Nathan Drake but more on that later.
Insomniac Games (1998-Present)
A slightly odd final honourable mention, but Insomniac Games have given constant support to each Sony console. From the era of mascots with the PSX they added the wonderful and memorable Spyro the Dragon (before he became a terrible collectible action figure in the recent Skylanders); for Playstation 2 they brought along the fantastic Ratchet and Clank and then introduced us to a more serious title in Resistance on Playstation 3. Insomniac have been a great support to Sony with the thoroughly enjoyable franchises.
1) Crash Bandicoot (1996)- Naughty Dog
Back in the 90’s appealing video game mascots were one of the key selling tools and they were for the most part characters in platforming titles. Mario and Sonic had been around for the previous era of video games representing their respective companies and Sony with their console bid needed one too. This came in the form of Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot. Not only was Crash the mascot Sony were after, Naughty Dog had created a fantastic platformer too. Bright colourful environments, wacky characters, wonderful and varied level designs with life and character injected into every stage: not forgetting to mention the likeable mute protagonist in Crash. Crash Bandicoot was, and still is, a very solid title. It would end up as one of the top ten selling games on the console, an astonishing feat for a pseudo-launch title.
2) Final Fantasy VII (1997) – Square
Final Fantasy is a series with a lot of gravitas, excluding spin offs and XIII which received slightly bad reviews. From Final Fantasy I (the RPG about heroes and crystals that stopped developer Square going bankrupt) through to Final Fantasy XII (an RPG with sky pirates and endless wars), all have been great titles, all receiving great reviews. Importantly, instalments 1 to 6 were all exclusive on Nintendo consoles. However, in the mid-nineties there was a falling out between the developer and the gaming giant (I cannot remember what over), but it meant the next iteration in series needed a new console home. This was found on the Playstation. Not only was it the seventh Final Fantasy title it was the first in 3D. It was met with a great reception and is arguably one of if not the best Final Fantasy games ever made. Boasting a fantastic story of magic, silver haired aliens, clones and doomsday among other things along with impressive battle visuals, superb summons and the materia based skill system – the game was a wonder to play. It was the best selling RPG on the console and the second best selling title on it.
3) Gran Turismo (1998) – Polyphony Digital
It is the best selling title on the Playstation. A console needs a variety of different titles. If Crash covered platforming and Final Fantasy VII covered the RPG then Gran Turismo covered racing. Unfortunately I don’t have much to say on the game since it is not a genre I take in much unless there are special moves involving blue shells or the like. I do know however that it was a pretty much a near perfect racing game at the time from five years of development. It featured a large variety of cars, a great selection of music tracks and lead onto even more massive selling titles in the franchise.
4) Devil May Cry (2001) – Capcom
Originally Devil May Cry was meant to be a Resident Evil title, until in development it created focus on a glitch where enemies struck into the air stayed there. This error found by chance would be integral to the stylish gameplay that became a staple of the Devil May Cry franchise. Style being a grading with a word starting with D such as Dull going up to S words like Superb. In further games Double and triple S ranks were added. Combos upon combos without damage grant better grades. Not only do you get to feel stylish, you do it with demon transformations, a variety of firearms and awesome demonic close range weapons from thunder swords to fire gauntlets. Devil May Cry set the standard for the new subsection of action games, “extreme combat.” This allowed for games like God of War to come about. Not to mention Dante is a pretty damn cool protagonist, apart from his occasional voicebreaking, but that is hilarious. A fairly early PS2 exclusive and still rated as a top game nowadays.
5) Grand Theft Auto III (2001) – DMA Design/Rockstar North
In terms of intense violence in a ‘closer to home’ environment within the realm of video games; well there is one franchise that has defined that. That franchise is Grand Theft Auto and the most important game for the series is Grand Theft Auto III. It is not the biggest selling title on the PS2 but it paved the way for GTA: San Andreas to take that title, and for the also stellar GTA: Vice City to sell ridiculously well too. Not only was it the first outing in 3D for the franchise but it also gave birth to the sandbox game. There are so many sandbox games that receive great praise released even now among later titles in the GTA series, but this was the first. It was not only a sandbox title, driving game elements and third person shooter ones were applied too. It truly was the first of its kind and the winning formula was rebuilt time and time again to dominate the best selling games of the Playstation 2.
6) God of War (2005) – Santa Monica
Speaking of God of War, here it is in the list. Whereas it is fairly comparable to the Devil May Cry series in terms of gameplay, it did do something else. It brought quick time events, or QTE’s, to the forefront of video games. Cinematic events happened during gameplay but with single button inputs making it easy to play and enjoy at the same time. Obviously quick time events are only one part of God of War; it was also extremely violent – and it wasn’t only normal adversary’s getting beaten to death by the hero Kratos, but legendary mythical beasts and even gods as well; he would throw Cerberus around like it was a puppy. Great visuals were combined with an immense feeling of power from being able to play as the ghost of Sparda. The game received critical acclaim from many publications and the franchise still remains exclusive to Playstation.
7) Metal Gear Solid 3 (2005) – Konami
Representing the Metal Gear Solid franchise and its contribution to Sony on this list is MGS3: Snake Eater. Whereas the first two games in the series sold better than Snake Eater, it gave an entry point into the franchise and sold fairly well too. The first game in all of Metal Gear chronologically, it gave us a character that wasn’t Solid Snake or Raiden. It was Snake’s “dad”, Big Boss or Naked Snake. This game allowed others that had not yet played a tactical espionage action game to get into the story from a beginning point. The game also gave a different type of stealth and sneaking for the player to perform unlike other stealth games at the time; being based mainly in the jungle with camouflage and the need to hunt to survive all part of the gameplay. A different take on a now classic genre and a fantastic title for the Playstation 2.
8) Little Big Planet (2008) Little Big Planet
One game at the forefront of promoting a community among players is Little Big Planet. The ability to create and explore levels created by others in a console game is fantastic and lends itself to non-stop replayability. The soothing voice of Stephen Fry guiding you through with your fully customisable Sack Boy or group of Sack Boys is a very enticing prospect indeed. It remains one of the best selling PS3 exclusives along with its even more creative sequel.
9) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009) – Naughty Dog
Although Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the must have launch titles from the ever impressive Naughty Dog, they outdid themselves with the sequel. Building on the treasure seeking, waist high gun fighting first outing for Nathan Drake, they added huge, dynamic set pieces. It really showed off what can be done on the Playstation 3 as entire buildings shook from a helicopter attack whilst you were in a gun fight with enemies until the whole thing collapsed with you in it – playing the whole time cutscene free! The same goes for the several chapters that incorporate the train. The whole game felt like a movie that you had some say in with memorable characters and fantastic in game action. Not only that but you got to play as the cocky, funny love child of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.
10) Heavy Rain (2010) – Quantic Dream
Another game that took heavy influence from film is the interactive drama of Heavy Rain. It was not a huge seller, but a massive step towards engaging, Hollywood worthy narrative within a video game. The majority of the game takes place through quick time events requiring you to make bold decisions, and the facial capture technology used made leaps and bounds towards even more impressive realism within a video game. Actions affecting characters within the world and whether or not they may live or die made it all the more interesting to play a thriller style game.
My thanks to Mr Jackman for compiling this list, keep your eyes peeled for the next installment sometime soon.