It's the question on every gamer's lips, their ultimate quest - "What are the top games for my system?" In an effort to give PS3 owners everywhere a handy 'best of' guide, and stir in a bit of friendly debate (after all, you're welcome to disagree with any of our choices), CVG writers stopped, collaborated and listened in an attempt to chart 20 amazing titles spread throughout the five-year history of the console, titles that look and play brilliantly to this day. Here are the 20 best games on PS3.
01. ROCK BAND 3
Anyone who's played Rock Band 3 with other people knows exactly why this sits as the greatest PS3 game ever - it's an absolute riot and the best multiplayer experience going. Sure, you could play solo, and with a pro mode that actually teaches guitar chord structure, drum timing or keyboard skill it's musically helpful, but playing in a four-piece is where it's at.
Be the dummer, bassist, guitarist or lead singer and rock out to a tracklist that, accounting for downloadable songs, sits at thousands. Harmonising Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody with a falsetto friend while another mate thumps out an improvised drum solo is an experience that, in the heat of the moment, dwarfs every other gaming experience going, offline or on. It's a social blast with a miniscule barrier of entry, offering wide appeal stretching across age groups, skill gaps, musical tastes and genders. It's as much fun as you can have with a videogame.
02. MASS EFFECT 2
Mass Effect 2 is the future of games: a sweeping narrative that reacts to choices made previously, expert pacing, a gripping plot that sees you assemble a suicide squad to stop a galaxy-ending threat - it's a fiction unparalleled in videogames, and every bit the equal to entertainment giants Star Wars and Star Trek.
Its key appeal, however, is the writing, skilfully never saying in more words what it could in fewer. Characters are a high watermark, developed and developing as you talk to them. Take Thane, the diseased Drell with an imminent expiry date. Or Wrex, a tank-born Krogan fighting for clan acceptance. These are characters you want to spend time with, and consequently death and romance in Mass Effect hits like a Thanix Cannon.
It's a 30-hour epic without a weak link. A rich universe, convincing characters, an absorbing story...Oh, and the shooting is pretty solid too.
03. THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
Skyrim is what happened when RPG's stopped conceding to rubbish combat and bad graphics simply because they were RPG's, games traditionally offer quantity over quality. It's as mechanically sound as other games on the market, not a glowing appraisal in itself but startling when you consider Skyrim's scale and ambition.
Simply, it's astonishing. You're chained and dropped in a raggedly beautiful fantasy land home to dragons and kings, and flowers to pick and caves to explore, and potions to mix and armour to forge, and even braised lamb to stew. Marry an Orc, punch a mammoth in the face, summon an undead walrus, blacksmith jewellery, sell it, then pickpocket the cash. Skyrim is yours with which to tinker and toy. Depth has been done in games before, and so has breadth and so has quality. But rarely do all three combine at once. An incredible achievement only possible today.
04. THE ORANGE BOX
Some games in this collection are more than eight years old, yet committing Half-Life 2, Episode 2, Episode 3, Team Fortress 2 and Portal to disc proved this: Valve games don't age. You only have to listen to their developer commentary for an insight into their genius.
Every section of every level of every chapter of every Valve game has been considered, tested and reconsidered until it's perfect. Take the introduction of mechanical beast Dog, who teaches you the ways of the Gravity Gun with a game of fetch. Or commanding a swarm of Antlions. Or stepping off the train into City 17 for the first time, passing through refugee checkpoints and being bullied by guards into putting away their trash.
And let's not forget Team Fortress 2's brilliantly playable multiplayer, or perfect puzzler Portal which introduces one of gaming's funniest characters, GLaDOS. The Orange Box is still masterful after all this time.
05. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV
When it came out in 2007, GTA IV topped many critics' lists. Since then people have had time to reassess. Some discovered it wasn't quite as good as they'd first thought, but we're sticking to our guns. Nothing's changed, and GTA IV is still one of the PS3's best games.
For starters, Liberty City is a contender for the most convincing game world ever. It feels remarkably, vibrantly alive: reggae flares from open windows, taxi drivers hurl foreign obscenities at jaywalkers, people pop umbrellas when the weather takes a turn. A monumental achievement, and that's to say nothing of Niko and his involving American dream-turned-nightmare tale. GTA IV also showcased revolutionary physics.
With Euphoria, previously rag-doll men gained self-preservation, finding their footing in a stumble and collapsing weightily from a gunshot. This, combined with the story and world, makes GTA incredible both from a technological standpoint and an emotional one. Still.