The Best of 2012: PlayStation 3

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Release Date: 20/12/2012

Although it may have wobbled in the early running, the PlayStation 3 approaches the end of the current hardware generation as one of the strongest and most eclectic gaming systems in history. Whether reviving and refreshing its big franchises for new fans, or supporting the more artistically inclined indie end of the development spectrum, a large debt of thanks for 2012's sterling games line-up is owed to SONY. Uniquely among the big platform holders, you could easily fill a list of the PS3's top titles with SONY's own first party exclusives.

Ratchet & Clank: QForces on PlayStation 3 at GAME

Also uniquely among its peers, SONY has done a superb job of dipping into its past without exploiting fans. High definition compilations of classic PlayStation 2 series such as Ratchet & Clank worked both as loving tributes to classic gameplay of yesteryear, and as highly polished introductions for generations of new fans. At the same time, new games featuring the same characters ensured they'll endure into the next generation, with Ratchet & Clank: QForce combining the crisp and humorous platform jumping of old with a frantic tower defence strategy twist.

Also making a comeback was the mighty Twisted Metal. SONY's ferocious vehicle combat game is a representative of a genre that has faded from popularity, but the combination of fantastic multiplayer mayhem, addictive arcade driving physics and the sheer visual punch that the PS3 delivers makes this bratty, splattery action game one of 2012's unsung gems.

LittleBigPlanet Karting on PS3 at GAME

Twisted Metal succeeded because it brought back classic gameplay that had been forgotten, but other SONY hits this year worked because they took popular characters and concepts off into new directions. LittleBigPlanet Karting, for example, found Sackboy reinvented as a cuddly textile version of Jenson Button. The introduction of kart racing into the LittleBigPlanet world was exciting enough, but when you factor in the boundless creativity that the game offers - allowing players to use the developer's own design tools to create their own tracks and mini-games - then you've got a game that is a more than worthy addition to the LBP lineage. Even if you never create anything of your own, the fact that the community is constantly producing new, free content is enough to keep you playing for months.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale on PS3 at GAME

SONY's roster of characters got an even more unlikely make over in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. This multiplayer fighting game pitted such unlikely stablemates as Parappa the Rapper, Sackboy and Sly Cooper against the likes of Nathan Drake, God of War's Kratos and Bioshock's Big Daddy. It's an insane mash-up of the whimsical and the fearsome, yet it works beautifully. The larger arena-based battles are frantic and hilarious - perfect party game fodder - yet the systems underneath are much closer to the classic fighting game standards you'd expect to find in hardcore genre titles. With former Street Fighter spokesman Seth Killian as the lead designer, it's perhaps no surprise that All-Stars is actually a seriously good fighting game that just happens to have some silly modes for everyone to enjoy. If you haven't picked it up yet because you thought it was just for kids, correct that mistake as soon as possible!

Wonderbook: Book of Spells on PlayStation 3 at GAME

SONY continued to innovate in other areas as well. The PlayStation Move controller found its perfect realisation in Book of Spells, the first in a planned series of Wonderbook augmented reality experiences. Produced in conjunction with JK Rowling, it sees players using an actual book which is transformed on-screen into a dusty old tome from the Hogwarts library. Casting spells and interacting with this magical world is genuinely spellbinding.

Journey on PlayStation Network for PS3 at GAME

Just as magical, in a more abstract way, was the critically acclaimed Journey. Created by esoteric designer Jenova Chen, this thought-provoking experience sets you down in a strange desert with only a distant mountain peak to guide you. As you wander, solving puzzles and navigating the ruins of a lost civilisation, you'll gain the power to float and fly, as well as meeting other players who can collaborate with you to find more secrets. Absolutely gorgeous to look at, and inviting all kinds of gentle emotional responses, it's a true work of art.

Even far away from the arty indie scene, the PS3 had a cracking year. Fans of Assassin's Creed III, for example, were treated to exclusive bonus missions on SONY's console that wove legendary traitor Benedict Arnold into the game's Revolutionary War narrative.

The Last of Us for PS3 at GAMEBeyond: Two Souls for PlayStation 3 at GAME

And, remarkably, 2013 looks like it will be even better. Intelligent blockbusters such as The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls will be available exclusively on the PS3, along with a new God of War and a new Sly Cooper adventure, and that's all before the summer arrives. The news may be full of rumours and guesswork about the next hardware generation, but there's plenty to be excited about on the consoles we do have!

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