Revealed: PSM3's 50 best PlayStation gaming moments ever
22nd Dec 2012 | 15:00
Twelve years. Five consoles. 2500+ games. Choosing the greatest 50 gaming moments from PSM3's history hasn't been easy - a mixture of fierce debate, nostalgia and emotion. Our final 50 has been selected by PSM writers past and present, honed by your votes and - ultimately - decided by the team members still on deck. What. A. Selection. It's been our honour to share them.
[WARNING! - CONTAINS SPOILERS]
20. MODERN WARFARE 2 - NO RUSSIAN
Format: PS3 / Dev: Infinity Ward / Released: November 2009
"Remember - no Russian." How could anyone forget? MW2's No Russian level puts you behind a gun aimed at hundreds of innocent civilians in a massacre you can't prevent. Whether you opt out of Infinity Ward's gratuitous killing spree or not, Makarov's mission was a success. It set the stage for global war in MW3, and kept the game in real-world tabloids for weeks.
19. LITTLE BIG PLANET - MEET SACKBOY
Format: PS3 / Dev: Media Molecule / Released: October 2008
"Planet Earth. Or as the rest of the omniverse calls it, the orb of dreams." For all the many, many hours of creativity, bafflement, breakthrough and awe that follow, little is quite so dizzying as the bravura opening five minutes of LBP: a concert of kid's laughter, video, crayons, interactive platforming and Stephen Fry's delightful voiceover. It's like nothing you've experienced before, and perhaps PS3's first truly epic moment: the dawn of a new way to play.
18. GOD OF WAR - PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Format: PS2 / Dev: Sony Santa Monica / Released: June 2005
Kratos wasn't always the lunk-headed psychopath we see in GoW III, but a surprisingly empathetic (if no less violent) prisoner of fate. After swearing allegiance to Olympian god Ares, Kratos is tricked into murdering his wife and child - whose ashes are bonded to his skin as a cruel reminder. During GoW's conclusion, Ares tries to break Kratos mentally, who has to protect his family from multiple waves of foes in a ghostly realm. It's rock hard - you need to keep stopping to cuddle your family - but success yields thrilling moral, and physical, redemption.
17. UNCHARTED 3 - THE CARGO PLANE
Format: PS3 / Dev: Naughty Dog / Released: November 2011
This. Can't. Happen. Except it does, as Drake dangles from the back of a cargo plane - soaring above a stunning open desert - you inch up the rigging in real-time dodging bullet fire. It looks astonishing, with sublime framing amplifying the breathless tension. In reality, no games leave you 'open mouthed' with awe, yet this left one team member doing exactly that.
16. FALLOUT 3 - NUKING MEGATON
Format: PS3 / Dev: Bethesda / Released: October 2008
Deep in the Capital Wasteland at the centre of the town of Megaton lies an unexploded nuclear bomb. It's harmless, as atomic bombs go, but the town itself is an awful blight on wealthy Allistair Tenpenny's view from the top of Tenpenny Tower. So go ahead, take that bribe and wipe Megaton off the map for the millionaire. Or don't... The choice is yours.
15. METAL GEAR SOLID 2 - RAIN ON YOUR SCREEN/THE DEMO
Format: PS2 / Dev: Kojima Productions / Released: November 2001
It's rare that a demo challenges your notion of everything a game can be, but MGS2 does just that - never more so than when you enter first-person mode and see blobs of rain (like, real rain) hit the screen. MGS2 reset the rules for interaction and creativity.
14. SILENT HILL 2 - REUNION WITH MARIA
Format: PS2 / Dev: Konami / Released: March 2001
You saw Maria die. The double of your dead wife was skewered by Pyramid Head, so when you meet again your flaky grasp on reality fractures entirely. There's no greater psychological terror in games.
13. MASS EFFECT 2 - SUICIDE MISSION
Format: PS3 / Dev: BioWare / Released: January 2011
Mass Effect's NPCs are so much more than the standard numpty meatsacks. And when you lose a crew member in Mass Effect 2's suicide mission because of a choice you did or didn't make, it becomes painfully apparent how attached you were. Better to have loved and lost, eh?
12. RESIDENT EVIL 4 - THE VILLAGE
Format: PS2 / Dev: Capcom / Released: March 2005
Leon's arrival in a nameless Spanish village is a brutal start to perhaps the best game ever made. No tutorial, no quarter given, just all-out siege in a muddy settlement of freaks. You barricade doors, knock down ladders, and you might even feel safe... till you hear that chainsaw.
11.HEAVY RAIN - LOSING YOUR FINGER
Format: PS3 / Dev: Quantic Dream / Released: February 2010
Ok, so David Cage's emotive, wonkily scripted, whodunnit is essentially a series of QTE events stitched to a branching story, but Heavy Rain asks you to make big decisions - often without warning - knowing you'll have to live with the potentially grave consequences. How far would you go for the one you love? In one harrowing scene, you're asked to cut off your finger, or risk never seeing your son. Is it a bluff? Do I use the rusty saw, axe... or pliers? The choice is yours: but do cauterise the wound, if only to avoid infection. Hard decisions. Unpredictable consequences. Genuine emotion.
10. ICO - YORDA LOSES HER GRIP
Format: PS2 / Dev: Team Ico / Released: March 2002
A simple, yet powerful, moment of inversion. For the game's duration, you've been protecting frail, ghostly princess Yorda from inky spectres - a girl so fragile, tiny child hero Ico is forced to assume the role of protector; wielding a tiny stick and helping her up tall ledges. After ten hours exploring the agoraphobia- inducing castle, you're on the brink of escape. As you flee the main gates, the bridge splits... and Yorda is left holding Ico by one hand as he dangles over the abyss. Seeing Yorda strain to save Ico is a tragic inevitability, yet she never loses grip until the inky ghosts seize her. Damn. Our eyes.
9. PORTAL - STILL ALIVE
Format: PS3 / Dev: Valve / Released: December 2007
After all the ingenious surprises in Portal, the biggest one is tucked away at the end: an actually funny comedy song. By this stage we know GLaDOS is murderous, deceitful and untrustworthy, but who guessed she could be so musical? Jonathan Coulton's perfect little song tops a perfect little game, neatly wrapping up the story and promising more from the series all at once.
8. MGS3: SNAKE EATER - THE END
Format: PS2 / Dev: Kojima Productions / Released: November 2004
The best boss fight of all time is an hour-long war of attrition against an ancient sniper who's as good at hiding as you are. When Snake walks onto The End's turf, he goes from hunter to hunted and has to turn the tables by tracking the old sniper's footprints and using the best of his camouflage skills to avoid detection. It's a fight you can win with patient counter-sniping, an aggressive rush on his position followed by a brave chase - or by just giving up and walking away. The End is an old dog, and if you turn off your console for a week, he'll die of old age.
7. BIOSHOCK - WOULD YOU KINDLY...
Format: PS3 / Dev: Irrational Games / Released: October 2008
On the surface, this is a clever twist. Atlas has controlled your actions all along using the phrase "Would you kindly..." and you never saw it coming, because in games, you're ultimately the master, right? Wrong. What makes "Would you kindly" really clever is that it's not just a plot device - it's a comment on being a player. You may think you're in control when you're pulling the trigger, but - just like Jack - you're little more than a puppet, manipulated by BioShock's super-smart developers into playing the story their way, not yours.
6. UNCHARTED 2 - HOTEL VS GUNSHIP
Format: PS3 / Dev: Naughty Dog / Released: October 2009
There's a moment in every console's life when a developer does something that can't happen - something that redefines the console's limits. For PS3, this occurred on stage at E3 2009, as Naughty Dog demoed Drake and Elena scaling Kathmandu's tallest vantage point. The crowd gasp in disbelief, as the camera pans over miles and miles of jagged architecture and rolling hills. Before you catch your breath, you're being chased by a gunship... only to have your notions of graphical impossibility redefined twice in two minutes as the hotel explodes.
5. MGS4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS - RETURN TO SHADOW MOSES
Format: PS3 / Dev: Kojima Productions / Released: June 2008
MGS4's Act IV begins with - Wha...? - the intro to MGS on PS1. Is your PS3 broken? Should the graphics really look this bad? Snake soon wakes up... on a chopper headed to Shadow Moses. Blinded by thick snow, you enter the base; now a crumbling ruin. Time waits for no one... and you're forced to reflect on everything that's passed since you first played MGS on PS1. A poignant moment of reflection, delicately handled.
4. SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS - YOUR FATE IS INEVITABLE
Format: PS2 / Dev: Team Ico / Released: November 2004
Wander kills colossi to unlock an ancient power that he hopes will resurrect his dead girlfriend. Sadly, this power belongs to an ancient evil and - after Wander is killed by holy knights - he's resurrected as a demon. Fighting in vain to save the girl, you're sucked toward a glowing pool. Despite frantic resistance, you are drawn closer, holding R1 to grip for dear life onto the final ledge. Eventually, it's clear: you have to let go. Of the ledge. Of love. Of obsession. In your last breath, ten hours of ambiguity become clear.
3. CALL OF DUTY 4 MODERN WARFARE - THE BOMB DROPS
Format: PS3 / Dev: Infinity Ward / Released: November 2007
Ignore the snobs: Call of Duty 4 was one of the bravest games this generation. In the campaign, it kills you not once but twice, and it's the second time that leaves the deepest impression. After a successful rescue mission you evacuate the city via helicopter, just in time for Infinity Ward to do the thing that never happens - the terrorists win, the nuclear bomb explodes, and you're forced to play your own death in the shadow of a mushroom cloud.
2. ARKHAM ASYLUM - SCARECROW'S NIGHTMARE
Format: PS3 / Dev: Rocksteady / Released: August 2009
It's important to understand that Bruce Wayne is not well. Witnessing his parents' murder at a young age shattered his mind, and left him with an unquenchable thirst for justice that manifested as dressing as a bat and punching men in the face. While other Batman games dwell on the punching, Arkham Asylum gets into the man behind the mask when Batman finds himself under the influence of the Scarecrow's gas. In the psychotropic fug, he sees his parents' corpses speaking to him; the borders of reality fray and your game appears to crash and reboot. When you come back, you understand why Batman became the hero he is.
1. METAL GEAR SOLID 4 - THIS IS GOOD, ISN'T IT?
Format: PS3 / Dev: Kojima Productions / Released: June 2008
How do you craft a satisfying end to a divisive, innovative and indulgent series that juxtaposes themes of genetics, politics and economics with Godzilla in-jokes, knob punching and nude cartwheels? A game that defies focus-group compromise with disparate playing styles torn from Kojima's toybox psyche? The answer is fittingly enigmatic, as Big Boss puffs his final cigar with lost 'son' Solid Snake and declares: "This is good, isn't it?".
What is good? The fleeting, sensory pleasure? Sharing a final moment with your son? This - the game, the series and Kojima's final knowing wink to fans that a game like this might never exist again? All these things are good, and it's a fitting end to the contradictory, brilliant series that defined a console generation, nine mag covers and thousands of gushing words until our final... *inhales*... breath.
BUBBLING UNDER: TEN GREAT GAMING MOMENTS
Not quite epic enough for our Top 20, but all defining moments in PlayStation history.
SSX3 - ALL PEAKS DESCENT
SSX3's Peak Three looks almost mythical, its untamed powder expanses licking the crystal blue sky. It's the haunting starting point of SSX3's epic final race: an unprecedented 30 minute, non-stop, descent down all three peaks. Epic.
BAYONETTA - THE FALLING CLOCK
Right at the start of the game you take control of Bayonetta as she scraps angelic hordes on a giant clock-tower... which is hurtling to earth, spinning and breaking apart. It's an incredible opening set-piece to a very underrated game.
HALF LIFE 2 EPISODE 2 - ELI FACES THE ADVISOR
Oh God. They can't... surely something will happen to save... NO. Few gaming moments kick harder than the shock - and we mean shock - conclusion to Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Now that's how to 'do' emotion.
PORTAL 2 - PORTAL TO THE MOON
Portal 2 is a masterclass in pacing and design, but saves its biggest step jump for the closing moments. A game defined by its claustrophobia offers you a - literal - shot at escape: to the moon. It's a liberating, dazzling contrast.
GTA VICE CITY - BILLIE JEAN
It seems absurd, but there was a time when licensed soundtracks didn't exist - which is exactly why it was so spine-tingling when you mount Vice City's first bike and the tantalising intro drums of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean tear into life.
SKYRIM - BLACKREACH
You think you've seen everything in Skyrim. Dragons, labyrinthine caves, frost trolls, talking dogs. Then you visit the underground expanse of Blackreach, filled with glowing fungi and giant, ancient buildings. Then you think again. Incredible.
MASS EFFECT 3 - RANNOCH
On Rannoch, you make a huge choice: the Geth or the Quarians. Side with the Geth, and loyal companion Tali − after seeing her fleet wiped out − throws herself off a waterfall. Honestly, when it happened to us, we couldn't believe it.
GTA IV - THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE
After 30 hours of chasing and shooting, you finally locate that 'special someone', only to discover you've become everything you despised in your pursuit of revenge. Still want to take that shot? It's a powerful moment of self-reflection.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS - AGRO
As you traverse the aching, desolate landscapes, felling giant, sad beasts with your blade; your trusty horse Agro provides the only point of emotional contact. Now imagine how it feels when he falls to certain doom at the game's end. Or so it seems.
UNCHARTED 2 - THE VILLAGE
The Village is everything Call of Duty's level design isn't - a point of joyous, mellow context; an ambient album track juxtaposing the noise. Better, when you return, and the peaceful village has been attacked... damn. It hurts.
MORE KEY MOMENTS IN PSM3 HISTORY
Stepping out into Cyrodiil is one of the definitive moments of the generation that only missed our top 20 because Bethesda replicated it in Fallout 3 and Skyrim. That moment of stepping into the daylight and having the whole world at your fingertips signalled the real start of next-gen gaming. Skyrim's vibrant world feels, fittingly, like a full- stop for this generation.
ASSASSIN'S CREED II'S FAMILY DEATH
After a few hours of boyish fooling around, a young Ezio has his innocence shattered as the Borgias hang his family in Florence. A poignant moment.
KANE & LYNCH 2'S ENDING
After hours of misery and murder, Kane and Lynch board a plane while the camera drops to the floor in the videogame version of a mic drop and walk-off.
YAKUZA 3'S DEATH OF RIKIYA
When loyal Rikiya takes a bullet for Kazuma near the end of the game, you don't expect him to die. But he does. You don't expect to cry either. But you might.
LEISURE SUIT LARRY'S TEDDY
Don't make that face. Leisure Suit Larry is puerile, often sexist, and not a great game. But it's actually funny. And all who played recall the 'teddy bear' bit. Vividly.
DARK SOULS' DARK ANOR LONDO
After hours spent in the murk of The Depths, the Undead Burg, Blight Town and Darkroot Garden, you discover the towers of Anor Londo - the only place in Lordran still touched by the sun. But even Anor Londo can be plunged into darkness if you kill the false queen guarding the city, forever making you a target for the Blades of the Darkmoon.
BORDERLANDS 2'S MINECRAFT ZONE
Tucked away in a corner of the Caustic Caverns is an area packed with Minecraft enemies and Minecraft loot - blocky textures and box-heads for your character.
COD4'S ALL GHILLIED UP
Ok, so it's all a big trick - not a real stealth mission at all - but the trip to Chernobyl feels tense and dangerous throughout, so it's a very good trick.
GTA SAN ANDREAS' LIBERTY CITY
Nobody saw it coming. Late in the game CJ hops on a jet to Liberty City where he shoots his way through the east-coast mafia and meets GTAIII's Claude.
JOURNEY'S FINAL LEVEL
Journey's finale doesn't see you get the girl. You don't kill the boss or save the world. It's just you, in a cape, against the elements. A fitting end to a real gem.
EVEN MORE KEY MOMENTS IN PSM3 HISTORY
IL-2 STURMOVIK'S MIRACLE FLIGHTS
With your wings riddled with holes and all your ammo spent on a Luftwaffe bomber, you have to make an impossible flight home and land in a field not far from the white cliffs of Dover, while losing altitude all the way. Sturmovik's simulation of real flight physics makes every one of those near-impossible flights feel like a real victory.
The last level of Rez is a trippy journey from the origins of life on Earth to the present day as you help the next step in evolution - artificial intelligence - emerge into the world.
RED FACTION'S GEOMOD 2.0
Why sneak in through the back door when you can make your own by driving off a cliff through a building's roof? Geomod spawned dozens of moments.
CASTLEVANIA'S DRACULA TWIST
When Dracula is finally revealed in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow it's in a post-credits cut-scene, and it's you - Gabriel Belmont, 1,000 years later in the present day.
In Bulletstorm you wrap an explosive flail around a man's head and kick him into his buddies as a man-bomb. You also guide sniper bullets up your enemies' asses.
FAR CRY 3'S HORNET'S NEST
The only mission with its own soundtrack - pumping music blasts out of giant speakers as you torch fields of drug crops. A hatstand-crazy man in a sea of fire.
THE DARKNESS 2'S LAST DANCE
Late in The Darkness 2 you're given a choice: spend the rest of your life in blissful ignorance with a false version of your girlfriend, or return to a horrible real world.
ARKHAM CITY'S FALSE ENDING
When Catwoman has a choice to save Batman or make off with her swag, the wrong choice will give you a glimpse of a nightmare world without Batman.
GUITAR HERO'S FIRE AND FLAMES
If one complex track defines the 'music' genre, it's Through The Fire And Flames by Dragonforce. We lost hours trying to perfect its brutal challenge.
HITMAN'S NEW LIFE
While there are plenty of great moments in Absolution, it's Blood Money's 'New Life' level that stands out as 47's finest. From dressing up as a clown, rigging the bbq to kill Sinistra's wife, to knocking out the corrupt FBI agent with chloroformed pants (which he sniffs); it's the perfect Hitman level, and the standard by which all stealth games are measured.