5 must-have PS3 games for retired hardcore gamers

You used to play video games for hours, sometimes days. Friends would come to you as the one reference to know what was good or not, what games were coming soon, and if they were worth the money. Your headshot ratio at LAN parties was possibly the best in your group of friends. You could not imagine life without video games.

Then life actually caught up: today you have a job, a family, maybe kids, each of these keeping you busier than ever. You still buy games, but you’re lucky if you can spend more than 1 hour a week playing them, and you have several unopened video games on your shelves. You are, like me, what I call a retired hardcore gamer.

It’s not that you don’t like games anymore, you just don’t have time to play any of them. So when you finally get to turn your PS3 on, it better be a good one.

Below is a selection of 5 games that share the following features:

  • They are high quality games: If you’ve played video games for the past 20 years like myself, you’re not easily impressed, and since you don’t have much time, you’d rather play the “best game of the year” rather than “it’s that same FPS again, but with better graphics”.
  • The games can be completed in a reasonable amount of time: in other words, this means no crazy RPG or open world game that will take you 150h to complete, you don’t have that amount of time. Also I chose games where the multiplayer experience is not what matters. I’ve chosen games that can all be completed within 20h or less
  • The story/experience is compelling: in my opinion this goes with the “high quality” argument above, but I’ll state it again: none of these games will have you throw chickens at pigs in an endless uninteresting fashion. We are not talking of casual games here, you are, after all, still a hardcore gamer, the birds are not for you.

1. Uncharted 2 & 3

Uncharted

The Uncharted series feature an Indiana Jones-like character (Nathan Drake) in a game style that is extremely similar to the Tomb Raider series. It’s a mix of action (gun fights), platform-like sequences, and riddles (how to access the trigger that will open this heavy door?). The 3 games all have lots of impressive cut scenes which are smoothly blended with the game in a movie-like atmosphere, but in all honesty you can skip the first one.

The game has 3 levels of difficulty which will impact the gunfights, and makes it easy to go through the action sequences (despite the fact that a PS3 controller is probably as adapted to play a FPS as a spoon is to slice meat). The riddles are usually reasonably easy if you’ve played similar video games before. The platform sequences are extremely simple, and usually just an excuse to give you a great scary view from the top of a cliff or a falling train. Did I mention the game is breathtakingly beautiful?

The Uncharted series have a great scenario, awesome graphics, simple and smooth gameplay, and difficulty levels adapted for those who want to go through the game without being killed constantly. Each one of them takes less than 10h to complete, although you can make that last longer if you’re into “collecting items”. The multiplayer mode also got great reviews but I haven’t tried it.



2. Heavy Rain

heavy-rain2

There is a love and hate relationship in the gaming world with Heavy Rain, and I myself have mixed feelings about it, but it is still a game I’d definitely recommend. It’s probably one of the most impressive experiences I’ve lived in a video game recently, but it also has lots of flaws.

Heavy Rain, rather than a game, is an interactive movie where the player gets to take decisions that will influence the scenario. There are a few action scenes and it is much more enjoyable than its philosophical ancestors such as Dragon’s Lair. In heavy Rain, you play as 4 distinct characters trying to catch a Serial Killer before he strikes again. The paths of the 4 characters cross regularly in the story, and there are dozens of endings in the game. The 3D is really good, although the artistic choice of using the 3D engine to render cutscenes is sometimes awkward, and the game enters the uncanny valley more than once.

Playing Heavy Rain is like watching a very immersive movie with which you interact. In the end, it’s still one of those “Quicktime event” games, but done in such a good way that it’s difficult to let go of the controller. Completing the game once will take somewhere between 5h and 10h.

People have criticized the plot holes in the game, which is a problem in a game that is 100% about the atmosphere and 0% about the gameplay, but if you are ok with letting such a few things slip, and understand that it’s difficult to write a perfect scenario when you have to think of dozens of outcomes for each scene, then it’s still great.

My own personal “doubts” about the game come from the first hour of so, which is here to guide you through the mechanics of the game, and is extremely boring. If you can go through the first hour of the game, then the rest is like watching a pretty good thriller.

Despite its scenario flaws, Heavy Rain was probably the best game I played on my PS3 so far, is a really original concept, and I truly wish the company behind it, Quantic Dreams, have more similar things up their sleeves (well, there’s “Beyond: Two souls” coming soon).


3. Little Big Planet 1 & 2

little_big_planet1

Platform games are always relatively easy to understand and get into. Mario or Donkey Kong Country were instant fun when I was a kid, and games like this are always good fun alone or with a group of friends. Little Big Planet is revolutionary in the way it brings lots of new concepts to a genre that is in general a bit repetitive.

In both Little big Planet and Little Big Planet 2, the first few levels are a funny and really well made tutorial, that will get you used to the basics of jumping and grabbing stuff. Every level can be finished reasonably fast, and it’s easy to come back to it even without having touched it for several days or weeks (unlike, for example, racing simulations or fighting games).

I’ve had friends and family come to visit and become instantly hooked to Little big Planet minutes after playing. Playing even the intro with a friend who’s never tried the game doesn’t get old, and for those who don’t care for the main story, there are lots of mini games than guarantee a good time, especially in Little Big Planet 2.

The main scenario can be completed in about 10h, and the game has lots of replay value. For those who want to push it further, there are millions of community created levels available.

If you can’t play both, go with Little Big Planet 2.



4. Journey

Journey

The fact that I don’t like angry birds doesn’t mean I don’t like indie games. Journey was one of the biggest hits on the PS3 last year, and for a good reason.

In Journey, you play as a character trying to reach a beacon far on the horizon. The travel takes you through deserts and mountains. The controls are incredibly simple, and more than a game, Journey is compelling for its atmosphere and awesome graphics (which are simple yet gorgeous).

Journey is a no brainer: the game can be completed in a couple hours, and this is a recommended experience, showing that simplicity and originality can make a terrific game. Interestingly enough, when I got my wife to try and play the game, she got easily confused and never knew where to go. This is were I realized that the game uses very “gamer specific” hints that non gamers might have a hard time to follow (as an example: if you’re in a very dark place, you’ll want to go to that one spot that seems to emit a very bright light. apparently that’s natural if you’ve been playing video games for a while, but not to others)



5. The Last of US

LastOfUs1

Probably the best game I’ve played in my life… and I’ve been a gamer for 22 years now. It’s easy to be over-cheerful about Naughty Dog’s latest game, one of the best selling games ever on the PS3.

The Last Of Us is the journey of a man and a girl through the United States, in a world where a huge part of the population has turned into zombies. Although the plot sounds completely over-used, the interactions between the main characters, the great music, story, gameplay, cutscenes, and cliffhangers make this game an impressive experience. I’ve stated before that if you need one good reason to buy a PS3 in 2013, the Last of Us is that reason. Try to forget about the “Zombies are overrated” prejudice for a few minutes, and get that game.

The Last Of Us can be completed in 15 to 20h. I haven’t tried the multiplayer mode, but it is said to be very good too.



The games that did not make it to this list

I have played many games on the PS3 over the past years. Many great games did not make it to this list for various reasons, including:

  • Open world games (such as Red Dead redemption): It’s easy to spend dozens of hours without completing the main quests. Finishing “only” the main quest feels like a waste.
  • Giant RPGs (e.g: mass effect series). Let’s be serious, you don’t have 150h to play one single games, or you wouldn’t be reading this article
  • Games with a strong learning curve. These include fighting games with a strong online component (e.g. Street Fighter 4), racing simulations (e.g. Dirt and its sequels), or FPS games in which the solo mode is a joke (e.g. the Call of Duty franchise)
  • Games so old the graphics turned me off (e.g. Resistance 1… which I tried to play just after the Last Of Us… ugh)

Share your favorite games!

How about you? How much time can you spend playing video games every week? Are there games you would recommend to fellow retired gamers?

Disclaimer: the amazon links in this article are affiliate links. If you buy through these links, you don’t pay more, but I get a percentage of the sale revenue.

  1. Seong Aleque’s avatar

    Or, you know, just get a Vita and play on a train/bus/lunch break.

    F.I.R.S.T

    Reply

    1. Sylen7Nato’s avatar

      still the same principle…you only get to play in the few spare minutes of the day, compared to hours on the couch with nothing better to do…i have both vita and ps3, and i dont play one more than the other even if the vita is always in my pocket…from one retired hardcore gamer to another, great article wololo…i can definitely relate.

      Reply

    2. NakedFaerie’s avatar

      WHY do people care if they post first then say it? You sound like a complete moron with no life if your so excited you commented first.

      Go outside and find a life as you dont have one now, OR grow up and get a life as you are too young to be on the internet so much.

      Reply

      1. nevercall’s avatar

        why do you care either?

        he prolly wrote that to piss you off. :)

        Reply

  2. EmoryM’s avatar

    Whenever I see Heavy Rain I sing Chocolate Rain to myself.

    Reply

  3. Chezni’s avatar

    Of note, I’d like to plug from software’s 3D dot heroes as a Zelda Clone that was better than most of the mainstream Zelda games.

    Regarding your choices, I’d have to generally agree. What competitor does TLoU does Xbox have? I can’t even come up with an answer.

    Reply

  4. Archaga’s avatar

    While as a fan I’m obligated to say MGS4 was the best PS3 game, Heavy Rain was so absurdly awesome it’s a mystery how more people haven’t played it.

    Reply

  5. mixedfish’s avatar

    “despite the fact that a PS3 controller is probably as adapted to play a FPS as a spoon is to slice meat”

    That’s alright because Uncharted is a TPS game.

    Reply

  6. hackinformer’s avatar

    Retired hardcore gamer don’t retired, we just lose are hand eye coordination..Great list of game..

    Reply

  7. NeonAera’s avatar

    Wow I just ordered The Last of Us on Amazon.com. :) I can’t wait to play it.. There are sooo many people that raved about how really good it is.. So I couldn’t resist. I like zombie survival games too anyhow, so yeah perfect for me.. Excited. Glad this game made it to your must-have PS3 list, wololo! And I’m also somewhat of a retired gamer myself.. glad someone is going through what I am as well..

    Reply

  8. scooter61686’s avatar

    are the /talk Forums giving anyone else a ’503 Service unavailable error’? it has been for like the last 3 days for me? if someone could comment back with an answer that would be swell. thanks guys!

    Reply

  9. The Kick’s avatar

    The resistance series should’ve made it. My dad loves resistance 3.

    Reply

    1. NakedFaerie’s avatar

      MGS4 is a movie and after 3 hours of cutscenes there is 5 seconds of gameplay before another 2 hour cutscene.

      Its the biggest ‘piss you off’ game there is. ENOUGH with long boring cutscenes and get on with the gameplay.
      Games are supposed to be about gaming NOT cutscenes or it would be called an interactive movie which MGS4 virtually is.

      Reply

      1. sathriel’s avatar

        It is a silly excuse when The Game of Press X To Not Die is on the list.

        Reply

      2. Acid_Snake’s avatar

        I partially agree with you. The MGS series has always been known for their storyline, but MGS4 and MGS2 took it too far. On the other hand, Peace Walker took it to far in focusing on gameplay more than story, becoming yet another generic shooter. MGS1 and MGS3 were the best as they had a perfect balance between storytelling and gameplay.

        Reply

  10. NakedFaerie’s avatar

    Great list. What about Uncharted 1 as you said 2+3.
    And the LBP series also goes to the PSP and Vita also. Great game on any platform. Really hard and rage quit lots of times but eventually you’ll get past and be glad you finished it and never play it again.

    There are a few other great games like the Hitman series, Rainbow Six series, Bioshock series, and Assassins Creed 1+2 as anything past them suck. I’m a huge AC fan and 3 was the worst and 4 doesn’t look like getting any better. Everyone I speak to about AC said 3 was a flop and the series has gone down hill and not getting any better soon. We all with AC4 does bring it back to life but it doesn’t look like it. So its got new features, thats not really the game its the console the game is on thats got those new features. It all comes down to gameplay and AC3+4 gameplay isn’t as good as AC1+2 and the story sucks on both.

    And what about Tomb Raider, thats a great game. The series is good but it needed that reboot.

    And what about GTA? That series is awesome. Again its another game where the gameplay is about the same throughout the series but its great from GTA3 to GTA5. Its got the right amount of ratio between gameplay and cutscenes. 90% of game time is gameplay which is great. Thats the problem with MGS4 it was about 55% gameplay to cutscenes ratio which made the game suck.

    Reply

  11. john’s avatar

    Great article, but what about Portal 2?

    Reply

  12. hackinformer’s avatar

    scooter61686 the talk forums have been working fine,For me and it may be your ISP.

    Reply

  13. Caio’s avatar

    What if you don’t have a family? Can you still be a non-retired hardcore gamer?

    Reply

  14. sathriel’s avatar

    From the list one can see that wololo is more interested in movies than games :P

    Seriously tho, LBP and Journey are very unique games, and Uncharted and Last of Us are very cinematic experiences.

    Heavy Rain on the other hand…

    Reply

  15. Jkoiou’s avatar

    Definitely inte boat of retired hardcore gamer being married, one kid and one comng in 2 weeks!… I play max 3 hours a week and usually late at night (12-3 am). The above list is great. I’ve started tLoU and I’m about 5-6 hrs in I think. It’s good but I feel I need a long stretch to play it to enjoy the story. Plus I suck at fps games so I constantly have to keep retrying missions. ;).

    I know you wanted to keep the list to short burst games, but I would say FFXIV would be a great addition as you can play in 1 hr spurts, get a few missions done, accomplish something and them return at your leisure. Plus the end game is not the point. And it’s FUN.
    ALSO, ni no kuni for those RHCG who want an amazing jrpg experience an can manage a 30 or so hour game.

    Reply

  16. BahamutBBob’s avatar

    4/7 of those I wouldn’t recommend, personally. (Uncharted, LBP)

    I’ve been meaning to play through Heavy Rain, but I have a pretty big backlog right now. I didn’t like the gameplay in The Last of Us demo, and I haven’t watched the story on YouTube yet.

    Reply

  17. Acid_Snake’s avatar

    I have to disagree with you about Uncharted 1. Yes it may not be as graphically intense, and gameplay seems old, but the storyline alone makes it a must have, plus there are some screwups in the other two (specially Uncharted 3) that make them on par with the others.

    Reply

  18. capcomlegend’s avatar

    Lol a retired hardcore gamer lol I like the way that sounds ,im in the same boat ,just turned 30 busy with work ,school and the fam,it sucks…

    Reply

    1. vicsidious’s avatar

      Now now old sport, don’t be so sad! You should be glad you have a wife and kids! Many of us don’t have this chance! Beside, you still can play a lot of games with them. I’m sure there’s AT LEAST 1 game that you and your wife will enjoy! Play it and smile! :)

      Reply

  19. Ravi’s avatar

    I couldnt agree more. But i also wanted to see God Of War 3 on the list

    Reply

  20. Maniac’s avatar

    I’m turning 13 soon. It will be time for me to grow up and do some more important stuff then gaming. So I will get returned as you

    Reply

  21. coldhell’s avatar

    Mass Effect doesn’t require 150h, 15-25h max per game if we assume that you are not skipping bonus mission (at least for PC, PS3 has long loading times). It was probably the best RPG series for the current gen, however they screwed it and the game was not finished with the EA’s deadline…
    Uncharted 1 has a good story. In terms of storyline actually the second one is the worst :(.
    Heavy Rain – I like games with 2-3h cut-scenes like Uncharted, DMC, and etc but if it is only like a film why I need to pay $40-50 for it. The tickets in the cinema are cheaper…

    Reply

    1. GottaBeesAJoke’s avatar

      “Mass Effect doesn’t require 150h, 15-25h max per game”

      <50hrs is an instant 'bad ending' in those games. Unless you've got a strategy guide and literally paying money for war assets.

      Reply

  22. vicsidious’s avatar

    Great article! I like the expression “retired hardcore gamer”. Being 28, maried with twins (not maried TO twins by the way!) I carefully select the games I play. The fact that I play in the bus an hour a day helps a lot to go through old games, but still it’s not enough for me, so I still have the middle of the night to game to my heart’s content, or til my eyes shut completely down!! You should try it, the Silent Hill franchise is WAY better at night.

    Reply

  23. francois’s avatar

    tu fi de la publicite

    Reply

  24. Ninjakakashi’s avatar

    Metal Gear Solid guns of the patriots has the best story out of all the games I have played in my opinion and for me has a lot more emotion than the purely cinematic game heavy rain whilst actually being a game.

    It was even my favorite online game as the learning curve for a shooter for me personally was higher than any other type of shooter I have ever played. e.g. equipping the cardboard box would stop porno mags on the floor disabling you and even remove fire if you were burning.

    The one thing that ruined this online experience online was that glitchers were free to do as they liked as the game was on konami servers opposed to PSN servers.

    P.S. Buy MGSV. You never know it could be your favorite game as well.

    Reply

  25. traa07’s avatar

    yeah just like me, and the game you listed is my kind of game except LBP, maybe because were at the same age.

    Reply

  26. kazuya101’s avatar

    I can totally relate to the retired gamer.
    The last game that had me engrossed was the Batman Arkham series.

    Its awesome because you have a lot of non gamers who are still familiar with DC
    And then you have one of the best RPG action games thats had more of a in/out hardcore gamer addicted to the screen for hours.

    And maybe i might just put my retirement cap aside till after im done with the latest arkham series, then ill return into the shadows of a normal life :P

    Reply

  27. DS_Marine’s avatar

    Damn it Wololo the introduction is like looking at a mirror :D
    Great list, I’ll be grabbing one of these games for my next work trip.

    Reply

  28. NNNRT’s avatar

    @wololo, what about GTA V?

    Reply

    1. S4r0m’s avatar

      Dude, gta is too much for retired gamers with jobs, wife, kids and the regular economic issues of paying the bills, the house an furnishing it.

      I tried red dead redemption last year and after like 30hrs of play i just passed the 4th or 5th main quest… For me 30 hrs are like 3weeks. So, i got bored or frustrated and left it inconcluse…

      Personally i would recomend some beat em ups like god of war, they are shorter than sandbox games and open world rpgs, not intended for online playing and dont have many endings.

      Reply

  29. totsk1’s avatar

    It should be “Busier Hardcore Gamer”

    Reply

  30. Byronlp’s avatar

    Wololo I’m a retired hardcore gamer as well, don’t have family yet but a girlfriend and a veryyyy absorbing job. This list really comes in handy!!!! Thanks man!

    Reply

  31. theHand’s avatar

    classics like vagrant story and samurai western are fun also psn castlevania multiplayer
    is good if you only have limited time free tekken revolution great for a random p vs p fix lately outlaw sports series i wish on psn i havent beat up a caddy for who knows how long

    Reply

  32. Lol’s avatar

    Look its a list of the only decent games for Sony. Too bad there are so few we already know them all. Good post bro….

    Reply

  33. RetiredGamer Lik-Sang’s avatar

    I agree those titles are good but dont make the ps3.
    Call of duty series Gt5 tekken series wipeout hd bionic commmando rearmed and many more make the ps3 a exclusive all on its own
    With ps3 cfw you can relive the ps1 and ps2 psp best games to make the ps3 the overall machine in console history!

    Reply

  34. Foleyfactor’s avatar

    Great article, I can definitely relate, have Kids and a Wife too.
    I would definitely recommend God Of War series also especially GOW3, fantastic Graphics, Cutscenes and something that can be completed relatively quickly.
    I agree also with Uncharted, Heavy Rain(loved it apart from the first hour like you pointed out) and the last of us.
    Recently been playing GTA V and I must say I’m addicted, every spare hour I get goes on that release.

    Reply

  35. S4r0m’s avatar

    If you just turned 30, have a wife and kids, maybe you could consider buying a Wii: your little kids and non gamer wife can enjoy playing with you simpler games like mario bros or kirby. Is a nice familiar activity and you could begin to train your little padawans in the ways of the force xD

    Reply

  36. Gibberish’s avatar

    I was extremely disappointed with this article.
    “The games can be completed in a reasonable amount of time: in other words, this means no crazy RPG or open world game that will take you 150h to complete, you don’t have that amount of time. Also I chose games where the multiplayer experience is not what matters. I’ve chosen games that can all be completed within 20h or less”
    A “hardcore” gamer? This seems more like an article for the layman that likes running through story mode games like they’re watching a movie.
    What the heck do you mean by “completed”? For me, it’s doing everything there is, long after getting the platinum trophy: akin to completely memorizing a good, long novel and being able to give a 12 hour recital (I do this, too, though I’m not much of a reader and textbooks are usually too stupid and disagreeable for me to stomach doing such a thing).

    For not having time…
    … What? Ever heard of “time management”? What is this… I don’t even…
    If you’ve got a new RPG that you’ll spend more than 200 hours on… that doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once. Focus on your life responsibilities, even if that means going months without touching the game, and when you have time, play it, whether that be for less than a minute or 2 hours. Then, if you need to, you instantly drop it that second and go other stuff, etc etc. That 300 hours will be gradually worked upon… You can break it up however you want. Just… what? I am extremely confused by this article. @-@

    Then again… perhaps you’d call me a casual gamer, now that you mention it, considering I don’t try to play lots of titles or speedplay things. Although this is pretty much because like the “retired” part mentioned in the article, well, although I’m a self-employed bachelor, I certainly don’t have time for games. But geez… I don’t even know. People make no sense.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      First of all, I should have clarified: by “complete”, I mean completing the main story/quest/single player campaign of the game. In particular, I mean not collecting all the trophies, completing side quests, or playing the multiplayer mode. Of course this is vastly different from “running” through the story mode. When I say it takes less than 20h to complete the Last of Us, I mean it takes less than 20h to complete it without speed-finishing it.

      So, clearly, our definition of completing a game was not on par, I hope that’s clear for you now.

      Regarding your comment about time management: if you have ways to organize your time to your convenience, great for you, clearly you are not the target audience for this article, and, let me tell you, if you have ways to control your free time, then you still have too much of it compared to what I call a “busy” person. Come back when you have 2 jobs and a kid, then we’ll discuss. Hint: until you have kids, there’s no way you can understand what “lack of free time” really means. (And believe me, I was as arrogant as you were on that subject before)

      Regarding your comment about playing “less than a minute”, obviously you’re exaggerating, but you know this is a stupid comment. Turning on the console and starting the game, these days, takes at least 5 minutes. Sounds like it’s not a lot, but when your total free time for the evening is 45 minutes, that’s more than 10% of your playing session. It gets worse if you play every month or so, where you have to go through a 15 to 20 minutes update of the firmware, or the game, or both. Additionally, playing any relevant game for less than 30 minutes is a guarantee you’ll just barely get back in, understand the controls again, then have to turn the console off. This is not enjoyable.

      With my current schedule, it would take me about 2 years to complete a 200h RPG, and that would mean giving up on all other games, why the hell would I do that. What single game is so great that you would ignore all other games for 2 years of your life? In my opinion, none. (who said GTA V?)

      Reply

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