On July 2, 2021, the PlayStation Store will close on PS3. While users will still be able to download the games currently in their library (and any purchased between now and shutdown), no new digital games can be purchased following this closure. But beyond the 138 digital PS3 games that’ll disappear entirely, you will still be able to purchase all the best PS3 hits in physical form via eBay or your local charity bin.
If you come across any of these gems in your travels, make sure to pick them up.
These games are the best exclusive games the PS3 has to offer — and they’re all still worth playing today. (Note: This list will mostly stick to exclusives, but some of these titles also had PS Vita support.)
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was one of the last major blockbusters to release on the PS3, and it’s a real shame it got lost in the transition to a new gen. Even today, the colourful cel-shaded style of this game pops, and it means the adventure has an enduring, cartoony appeal. But beyond the visuals, it’s also a fantastic romp through time and a totally brilliant action-stealth game.
The excellent Sly Collection, which brought together the first three games in the franchise, is also a worthy contender on this list — but given the games first came out on PlayStation 2, it doesn’t quite count. If you dive into any of these games, you’re guaranteed a great time.
Uncharted 2 & 3
It might be cheating to put Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 together on a list like this, but both deserve the accolade. There’s much debate about which game is “better”, but let’s put all that aside and state definitively that both games are absolutely fantastic. From the iconic train-climbing segment that opens Uncharted 2 to the epic shifting sands set piece in Uncharted 3, both are filled with beautiful, action-heavy moments buoyed by great voice acting and graphics that pushed the boundaries of what the PS3 could accomplish.
These excellent, well-paced adventures will take you through wild rainforests, snowy mountains and ancient, crumbling temples, all while telling a story with real heart. The entire Uncharted series is great, but 2 and 3 were simply incredible.
The Last of Us
No ‘best of PS3 game’ list would be complete without The Last of Us, the video game that advanced the idea that video games can be art. The popularity of Ellie and Joel’s post-apocalyptic adventures as they escaped zombies and madness spawned a remaster on PS4, an excellent sequel and even an upcoming TV show starring The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal. It’s hard to overstate the impact of The Last of Us and how it changed storytelling in games. In short, it’s one of the most important games of the modern era.
If you’re looking for an adventure filled with beauty, tragedy and horror, you can’t go past The Last of Us. While it does look prettier on PS4, the original PS3 version still holds up very well today.
inFAMOUS 1 & 2
Superhero games went gangbusters on the consoles of old, but it was rare that we actually got a good superheroic adventure. So when inFAMOUS and its sequel came along, they were real revelations. Both games explore original stories filled with lightning superpowers, the end of the world and giant monsters from beyond the deep. As super-powered protagonist Cole MacGrath, it’s your job to save the streets in inFAMOUS — or doom them to eternal misery.
The best part about the inFAMOUS franchise outside of its fun combat and great story is the morality system that features in the games. You don’t have to be a good guy and if you choose, you can trample your way through the streets causing havoc everywhere you go. It means the games have a sense of freedom that’s still unmatched in modern gaming.
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
The Ratchet & Clank franchise is filled with hits, but it was arguably A Crack in Time that was its best entry on PS3. This adventure featured a great story, interesting new mechanics and complex, time-based puzzles. You shouldn’t necessarily start here if you want to enjoy the Ratchet & Clank series in full (the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a better first experience) but if you want to play the best of the franchise, A Crack in Time is it.
With sleek graphics and gameplay, great writing and plenty of witter banter, it’s a shining example of why the series is so beloved.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is an incredible entry in the Metal Gear Solid series with a near-impenetrable story. But while these games are layered with dense lore, a massive cast of characters and complex game mechanics, they’re also some of the most interesting and engaging titles around. The fourth mainline entry in the series is no exception, and built on what made the entire franchise so fascinating.
Here, you’ve got spectacular battles, great combat, a dense story and visuals that were rarely matched in the PS3 era. At the time, it was considered a perfect game, and even in retrospect it holds up. While the Metal Gear Solid franchise is notoriously difficult to really “get”, once you dive into the series you’ll understand just why they’re so revered. MGS4 is a real masterpiece, and deserved every accolade it got.
Heavenly Sword is rarely spoken of in the annals of gaming history, but it’s one of the best and most fun games you can find on the PS3. This exclusive was a beautiful hack-and-slash adventure through gorgeous snowy landscapes, mountains and deadly arenas. With incredible combat and a great cast of characters, Heavenly Sword is a story worth playing today.
It was created by an all-star team behind the scenes, so its not hard to see why it was so good. The script is the work of Rhianna Pratchett, Tameem Antoniades and — most surprisingly — award-winning Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis. He also stars in the game alongside Fringe‘s Anna Torv and worked on the dramatic direction of the game with developers Ninja Theory. The game’s brimming with talent, and you can really see that in how all the action plays out.
LittleBigPlanet 1 & 2
LittleBigPlanet was briefly the mascot franchise for PlayStation, and while we’re far past those halcyon days, it’s always great to look back on where it all began. LittleBigPlanet was a game that felt new and fresh when it launched in 2008. In a time before Dreams was leading the charge for build-your-own-game customisation, LittleBigPlanet was letting you craft your own worlds, obstacle courses and characters — all in an adorable plush style.
The first two LittleBigPlanet games on PS3 are real gems, and brought just the right amount of cutesy style and fun platforming to the table. Spiritual successor Sackboy A Big Adventure is now available on PS5, but arguably the two originals are much better examples of this fun little franchise.
Demon’s Souls had such a big influence it almost single-handedly invented its own genre of gaming: Soulsbornes. These are the games we love and hate in equal measure. The ones that kick our arses and laugh while we’re down. For some, they’re a cathartic release. For others, they’re a frustrating, heart-pounding romp through gloomy corridors and slimy monsters with no hope (or serotonin) in sight.
No matter where you sit on the Demon’s Souls bench, you can’t debate just how much of an impact this game had on modern RPGs.
From its dodge-based combat to its gothic cathedral landscapes, every element of Demon’s Souls came together in near-perfect harmony to make it the smash hit success it is today. In 2020, it received a remaster on PS5 — but like others on this list, the original PS3 version is still just as worthy of a playthrough.
Did we miss any of your favourite PlayStation exclusives? Wanna reminisce about the good old days of gaming? Pop on down to the comments below or join the Kotaku Australia Discord to discuss.