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Sony had a lock on some of the most visceral shooters and most imaginative platforms developed in the last generation

Resistance: Fall of Man (2006): New consoles always need to launch with a quintessential shooter game, and Resistance was it for the PlayStation 3. It was one of the first games to showcase the console’s powerful processor and graphics, with the ability to host up to 40 people in an online multiplayer game. For a console, that was unheard of at the time. The game also represented the birth of a successful sci-fi shooter franchise, which had two subsequent solid entries on the PS3.

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God of War III (2010): At the other end of the spectrum is God of War III, the high point in the Greek mythology-themed hack-and-slash-a-thon started on the PlayStation 2. Four years into the PS3’s life, Sony developers had finally figured out how to fully exploit its horsepower, and it showed. The graphics in the third instalment had mind-blowingingly epic scale, starting with the protagonist – the chain-sword-wielding bad boy Kratos – battling up Mount Olympus while riding on the back of a Titan. God of War III, although gory and thoroughly mindless, has to be considered the apex of how developers can make relatively small TV screens explode with action.

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Demon’s Souls (2009): If there’s one criticism to be made of current-generation games, it’s that they’ve become too easy. Not wanting to discourage players from continuing on, developers are now figuratively holding players by the hand. Save points are frequent and deaths are usually no big deal. Not so in Demon’s Souls, a purposely difficult fantasy role-playing game. Death was common, and respawning meant having to find your just-killed character in order to grab all of his or her equipment and treasure. The game also made innovative use of online connectivity, where players could see brief ghosts of other actual players going through the campaign. The glimpses, which usually forewarned of danger, are now a feature increasingly being used in other games.

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The Unfinished Swan (2012): The PlayStation Move motion controller was largely forgettable, but one game in which it shined was The Unfinished Swan. A simple and short art game that required the player to fling paint at a blank background in order to reveal what was hidden there, it was one of the most creative efforts of the generation. It showed that innovation in technology incorporation and different gameplay styles is alive and well among developers, despite the unending wave of shooter sequels.

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Journey (2012): Speaking of indie art games, Journey is the reigning king of them. With no dialogue or instructions to speak of, players were thrown into a desert and left to their own devices. It didn’t take long to figure out that the only thing you really could do was head toward the rather obvious mountain off in the distance, but as the title implied, it was the trip there – full of amazing visuals and moving audio - that was important. Like Demon’s Souls, Journey incorporated multiplayer ghosts, but here, there was no overt way to communicate. The result was a fantastical world left entirely up to the player’s interpretation.

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Heavy Rain (2010): Over the course of the generation, the PS3 cemented itself as the console for experimental new methods of gameplay. Heavy Rain and its focus on character development was at the forefront of that. Although some gamers and critics considered it slow-paced and dull, the game did establish that there is demand for more cerebral interactive stories. Without Heavy Rain, such award-winning character-oriented games as The Walking Dead wouldn’t have been possible.

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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008): The PS3 wasn’t all just artsy-fartsy indie games – it had its share of good, old-fashioned shoot ‘em ups too. Metal Gear Solid 4 was the pinnacle of the long-running series, with grizzled hero Solid Snake seeing the sorts of high-definition stealth and firefights like he had never seen before. And oh yeah, the franchise’s trademark uber-long cutscenes were considerably more tolerable in HD.

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LittleBigPlanet (2008): There was a time when developers avoided taking a stab at reinventing the Super Mario platforming formula, at least until Media Molecule did so. That studio’s LittleBigPlanet, starring a little cloth puppet named Sackboy, would have been fun enough if players simply had to complete its pre-packaged adventure. But the developers took it a step further by giving players all the tools they needed to create and share their own levels. Millions of levels have been shared online to date. LBP paved a huge path for Sony as a whole, leading the company to adopt a motto of “play, create and share.” Not bad for a little puppet.

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The Last of Us (2013): The Last of Us, released just a few months ago, is a fitting coda for the PS3 and is perhaps the console’s perfect game. It had the atmospheric plot and believable character drama of a Heavy Rain, but also the taut action of a Metal Gear Solid, all while stretching the console to its technical limits through amazing visuals. It got better as it went and finished on an ambiguous note that simultaneously left you fulfilled, but also wanting more. Needless to say, the game also established Naughty Dog as one of the premiere developers in games today.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009): Did we mention that Naughty Dog is one of the best developers in the business? Uncharted 2, which furthered the Indiana Jones-esque adventures of hero Nathan Drake, is what put the company firmly on the map. One of the best examples of a game-as-an-interactive movie, Uncharted 2 looked so real and was so engrossing that it could easily have been mistaken for a film. Sony even played that up in its ads, where a dude somehow fooled his girlfriend into thinking they were watching a movie. While games shouldn’t necessarily aspire to be movies, a product that blurs the lines so thoroughly is an amazingly unique occurrence.

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