If I had to pick my favourite PS2 game, I would go for God of War 2. There would be close competition from the likes of Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Burnout 3, but God of War 2 is the one for me. It was the perfect example of taking something that was already great and improving on it in every way, upping the ante in every area and fixing some niggling problems. It was a showpiece for what the PS2 could achieve and still holds up superbly.
The reason why this is relevant is because God of War 2 came out after the release of the PS3 (just after Motorstorm came out to be exact). Before this point proud PS3 owners could have been tucking into the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog (yes, the 2006 one), Need for Speed Carbon and Genji: Days of the Blade. Of course there were better games, Resistance: Fall of Man was nothing special, but it was fun, and some people like Call of Duty 3 (apparently). However, even if you do have an affinity towards one of the early titles, I would still argue that at the time of release God of War 2 was better than anything available on PS3.
The reason this is relevant is because history may repeat itself. At this stage we are seeing some bad PS4 releases, some good ones and some mediocre one, but nothing amazing. Multiplatform titles like Assassin’s Creed 4 have impressed, but that’s a game you can also play on your PS3 or 360. On the horizon things certainly look more interesting for the PS4, but March 21st’s Infamous: Second Son is the first real highlight. Before then you could play Rayman Legends on your new console, but you could play that game now (and I can’t foresee more powerful hardware improving much). Of course there is Thief, but we’ll wait on that one as early opinions are all over the place.
Is early 2014 a dull time to be a gamer then? Well, only really for the PS4 (the Xbox One manages to be a touch better with Titanfall coming out on March 11th). If you still have your PS3 or 360 hanging around though, you’re in for a treat. There are games like Lightning Returns and Earth Defence Force 2025 which will appeal to people who aren’t me, but then there is South Park: The Stick of Truth on March 4th. With Obsidian releases its hard to be sure, but the game looks promising and Ubisoft seem to be committed to releasing a quality product (even if they have to keep delaying it).
The real treat though comes on 11th March (not Titanfall this time), Dark Souls 2. Dark Souls 2 has the possibility of falling into the God of War 2 slot and being better than anything on the newer consoles at the time of release. I’m not going to argue that Dark Souls 2 will be the best game on the PS3 (or the 360 for that matter), even though I am of the opinion that Dark Souls 1 is the best game on both of those platforms. It seems primed – in theory – for that God of War 2 sequel bump, but Dark Souls 1 wouldn’t be improved by iteration in the way that the original God of War was. However it seems likely that Dark Souls 2 could provide you with a better time on your last gen console than you could get anywhere else with a shiny new machine.
The reason why I keep citing Sony platforms as opposed to Microsoft is not due to oversight or favouritism, it’s due to the continual support that Sony give their consoles. After the 360 came out the original Xbox (which wasn’t the Xbox one apparently) was forgotten. For good reason, they had a new console after all, but it was still nice to see Sony continue to push out quality titles (and terrible titles) on the PS2. The end result of this was a couple of impressive PS2 exclusives in 2007 and 2008, namely God of War 2 and Persona 4.
Dark Souls 2 has the potential to be the better than any next-gen titles due to few releases, and some mediocre games, up until its arrival. However I feel we have not seen the end of the PS3 yet, and that it is possible the best could be yet to come. The announcement of PS3 exclusive Persona 5 gives more weight to this claim, and I think it’s very possible that a few fantastic PS3 exclusives could continue to trickle out. This means that packing up your old PlayStation may not be the best idea, so keep a HDMI port free if you have one.
However, there is a convincing argument to be made to the contrary. Though PS3 games may continue, they may not be masterpieces like God of War 2 and Persona 4. The reason is that the PS3 was the main platform for longer than the PS2 was. God of War 2 was an example of a developer really showing us what the PS2 could do, but a longer lifespan has meant developers have already got to this stage with the PS3 and 360. Game makers have put out their grand trilogies and have had time to spare to do some more as well. Take the Last of Us for example, for me this is the God of War 2 facsimile, the game late in the consoles lifespan that makes you wonder (if only for an instant) why we need new consoles anyway?
In the end its clear that the near future of your PS3 and 360 is looking brighter than that of next-gen platforms, and all signs seem to point to the PS3 to get continual support. However, I am not wholly convinced that we will see landmark releases like we did on the PS2 well into a newer consoles lifespan. You haven’t seen the last of the PS3 yet, but at this stage it seems likely you’ve seen the best of what it has to offer.