Top 10 Games by Sony Interactive Entertainment [Best Recommendations]

For anyone who grew up playing JRPGs and action games, it’s hard not to associate Sony with video games. However, the franchises that made Sony a household name, like Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, and Tekken, came from third party developers unrelated to Sony themselves. Often times, Sony is merely seen as a console manufacturer and their input into actual game development is negligible at best, especially when compared to the software juggernauts that are Nintendo and Sega.

This is an unfair assessment. Sony themselves have been responsible for some of the most influential, popular, and all around best games of the last two decades. Their development input has been overshadowed because many of the studios they own, like Naughty Dog and Polyphony Digital, exist outside of the main Sony offices and thus have their own level of autonomy. So, to help correct this view, we thought we’d make a list of the top 10 games to have ever come from Sony, either from one of their own studios or just as a publisher.

10. Little Big Planet

  • System(s): Playstation 3
  • Publisher: Sony Computer
  • Developer(s): Media Molecule
  • Release Date: October 27, 2008

There’s not much surprising regarding the gameplay of Little Big Planet. It’s a pretty standard 2D platformer, to be honest. It’s got a pretty unique, ramshackle artstyle, with a main character made out of a burlap sack and environments that look like someone drew on some cardboard. There is something to be said about how it’s a 2.5D platformer that actually takes advantage of the “.5” aspect of the name and has you alternate between different planes, but ultimately it’s running, jumping, and picking up shiny objects for points.

But, think of it like this: would Minecraft, a title that has effectively defined the current era of gaming, even exist without Little Big Planet? While user generated content is certainly nothing new (reaching as far back as the NES days), Little Big Planet was the game that opened up and streamlined the process for the masses. The idea that you could actually play on your console, share your creations with the world, and have them be rated and acknowledged in game was something that was unusual in games at the time. There’s an astounding amount of foresight found in Little Big Planet, and for that, it needs to be acknowledged.


9. Gravity Rush

  • System(s): Playstation Vita, Playstation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): SCE Japan Studio, Project Siren
  • Release Date: June 12, 2012 (US)

Gravity Rush was Sony’s attempt to revitalize open world gameplay from being solely about the size and scope of the world. Kat, our main character, has been blessed with the power to shift Gravity around as she feels fit. This allows her to hurl boxes and barrels, float in the air, and drop and fly around at blistering speeds. Using these powers, she fights off the Nevi; deadly monsters that have invaded her town Hekseville, and attempts to remember who she is.

Sucker Punch Productions attempted the combining of superpowers with open world gameplay in their Infamous series of games (also owned by Sony, coincidentally), but we’re acknowledging Gravity Rush because of the way your skills in game are so intrinsically connected with your movement throughout the game world. In most open world games, you can go and see almost everything, but you’re limited in your movement options because you inevitably are rooted to the ground and have to move in a grounded motion. Even when you acquire some form of flight, either by vehicle or by a new power, you’re still rooted to moving in a certain direction. Gravity Rush, however, is entirely free in how you travel. Since you can adjust the direction in which you shift gravity, you’re often just flinging yourself through the world and have no limits as to where you can go. The world itself is even designed to be traveled under as well as over! It’s one of the very first games where you have complete 3D movement.


8. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

  • System: Playstation, Playstation 3, PSP
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): Naughty Dog
  • Release Date: October 31, 1997

Mario and Sonic get all the credit, but Sony has long been attempting to make their mark on the platforming genre. In fact, you could even argue they’ve had even more big name platforming series than either of those two companies! With Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, Spyro the Dragon, and so forth, they’ve really wanted to be known as a big name in that field. But, of course, they all have their roots in one franchise: Crash Bandicoot, who for the longest time was seen as the unofficial mascot of Sony.

What makes Crash Bandicoot interesting as a franchise is that it’s a style of 3D platformer that we actually didn’t see for a long time until the release of Mario 3D World. The level progression is very similar to that of 2D platformers, with a clear end goal in mind and you have to make it through a tricky obstacle course to reach it. It’s a different feel than the open world, mission-based style of 3D platformers that came out after Mario 64.

But we’re acknowledging Crash Bandicoot 2 specifically due to how it managed to incorporate the best of both worlds. It still has that focused twitch based platforming and liner structure to its levels, but you now have the ability to choose which level you’d like to tackle first. Each level has hidden boxes you can break to find gems, and if you manage to collect them all you can get a different ending. In a way, Crash 2 was very forward thinking, as it realized that you didn’t have to give up one just to have the other.


7. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

  • System(s): Playstation 2
  • Publisher: Sony Computer
  • Developer: Polyphony Digital
  • Release Date: July 10, 2001 (US)

Sony has created their gaming empire based on the image of cool, something that Sega had attempted during the early 90s to be a counterpoint to Nintendo’s family friendly brand. No game better exemplifies Sony’s success in this approach better than Gran Turismo 3. While simulation racers are a dime a dozen nowadays, Gran Turismo was a breath of fresh air when it came out in an era of cartoony kart racers. Gear heads could spend hours customizing real sports cars with real parts, indulging in their greatest fantasies.

We’re giving the nod specifically to Gran Turismo 3 because this was the game that opened the floodgates of the impending rush for simulation racing. While it possibly looks dated today, this was the game that really drove home that the genre was capable of such realism. No longer were your vehicles angular and blocky imitations. The cars in the game actually looked like the cars they were based on! And the amount of licenses they acquired was truly something to behold. Gran Turismo 3 remains the ultimate racer’s package.


6. God of War

  • System(s): Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): SCE Santa Monica Studio
  • Release Date: March 22, 2005 (US)

Character action games have been around for a while, but there are few that capture the raw and primal nature of them like God of War. The story is simple enough: Ares, the Greek god of war, is responsible for the death of Kratos’ family. Wanting revenge, Kratos seeks out the powers of other gods in order to kill Ares for himself. Without delving too deeply into the story, it follows a similar structure to that of classic Greek tragedies, where Kratos is actually cursed by his own hubris and is forced to live with his sins for the rest of his life.

Despite coming late in the life of the Playstation 2, God of War did a lot to influence the coming generation of games. Most important was its popularizing of dynamic, cinematic camera angles during gameplay. At the time, there was a real divide in how camera systems should work; either they gave full control to the player so they could figure out a decent angle, or they locked the camera in a set position for the entire game. While not perfect, God of War’s dynamic, shifting camera gave the developers freedom to design creative combat scenarios while making sure that the player always had proper view of the action.


5. Wild Arms

  • System(s): Playstation, Playstation 3, PSP, Playstation Vita
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): Media.Vision
  • Release Date: April 30, 1997 (US)

Since it released only a few months before Final Fantasy VII in the US, Wild Arms often gets overlooked as an important game by Sony. However, don’t let that discourage you, as Wild Arms is still a unique title, even today. The story is split between three different main characters: Cecilia, a princess training as a wizard at the Curan Abbey magic school; Jack, a vagabond swordsman who has his sights set on all the treasures of the world; and Rudy, a young farmer who gets banished from his home due to possessing ARMs, a forbidden form of gun-like weapon. The three, guided by fate, meet up and set out to restore life to their dying home planet of Filgaia.

Wild Arms is the game that helped set the standard for JRPGs in the coming years, and set the stage for Final Fantasy VII’s total dominance of gaming culture. Wild Arms managed to also keep the bloat to a minimum though with its gameplay, keeping the playable characters just the core three. This meant that everyone on the team had a dedicated, focused role: Celica was your mage, Rudy your tank, and Jack your glass cannon. Wild Arms also featured almost a Zelda-esque focus on dungeon design with each character gaining new tools that they’d use to solve puzzles. All of that combined with its Wild West motif made Wild Arms a sleeper hit, and showed there was a place for smaller JRPGs on the console to coincide with Final Fantasy VII’s blockbuster appeal.


4. Bloodborne

  • System(s): Playstation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Computer
  • Developer(s): FromSoftware
  • Release Date: March 24, 2015

Sony didn’t quite realize what they had stumbled upon when they funded FromSoftware to create a spiritual successor to their King’s Field series called Demon’s Souls. Namco did though, and snagged them up to create the Dark Souls franchise, and the rest is history. Not wanting to lose out on FromSoftware’s talent entirely, however, Sony managed to talk them into creating an exclusive Souls-type game for them in Bloodborne.

What makes Bloodborne so great is how it differentiates itself from being just a different Dark Souls game with a new coat of paint. Combat in the Souls games, for example, tend to be much more methodical. Bloodborne, on the other hand, jacks up the pace and battles come down to much more fast-paced, nail-biting, strike-first-or-die affairs. It shows there’s room for this newly evolving subgenre of action RPGs.


3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

  • System(s): Playstation 3, Playstation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): Naughty Dog
  • Release Date: October 13, 2009 (US)

Many games have attempted to incorporate the kinetic action and sweeping scale of film into game design. Few have succeeded. Uncharted 2 brings its world to life, though, with stunning visuals that continue to impress even now. It’s a wonderfully scenic game, with unique locales such as Nepalese temples and the jungles of Borneo that you never really get to see in games. There’s a grand adventure to be found within.

But it’s the set piece focused gameplay that really draws you in. The Uncharted franchise is known for its almost exhausting levels of spectacle, but Uncharted 2 is the one that best balances that by melding it with some pulse-pounding gameplay. The memorable scenes are too many to count; one moment you’re riding on a train and need to shoot loose some logs to knock heavily armored troopers out of your way, the next you’re the force fighting off a tank that’s attacking a Nepali village with your new best friend, Tenzin. Uncharted 2 is a game that wants to make sure you’re saying “Wow!” every moment, and even now, games are trying to catch up with it.


2. Shadow of the Colossus

  • System(s): Playstation 2, Playstation 3
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): SCE Japan Studio, Team Ico
  • Release Date: October 18, 2005 (US)

Shadow of the Colossus is a game where you ride your horse from boss battle to boss battle. That’s it. That’s the game. To be fair, there is some element of exploration to the game, as you can increase your max health and other stats by finding various items around the overworld, but that’s really more something you decide on rather than the game pushing it on you. After all, there’s even a button entirely dedicated to pointing you in the direction of your next battle. Where else are you going to go?

As you can imagine though, seeing as how the game is nothing but boss battles, those battles are absolutely awe-inspiring. The Colossi are gigantic, screen filling beasts that go through multiple stages and constantly require you to change up your tactics in order to bring them down. It even makes the act of climbing them a game unto itself. Even today, when critics judge boss battles, comparisons to Shadow of the Colossus come up. It represents that test of our abilities we so crave when we get into the climactic encounters when we play, and for that, Shadow of the Colossus deserves all the praise it gets.


1. Last of Us

  • System (s): Playstation 3, Playstation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer(s): Naughty Dog
  • Release Date: June 14, 2013 (US)

Games are generally seen as power fantasies for the player. After all, people play games to escape from the drudgeries of the real world and want something where they can feel good about themselves for a few hours. That’s what makes Last of Us such an interesting and bizarre case. It does make use of the “predator” style stealth gameplay that has become popularized in the past few years, where you need to sneak around a playfield and quietly take down enemies that are far better equipped than you. But you really don’t feel powerful doing it, because more often than not, what happens is you get caught and end up running for your life in a brazen attempt to make it out alive.

But that’s where the appeal of Last of Us comes from. This is a game that bucks tradition and attempts to build a game that’s really about survival. There’s a real sense of melancholy in this game, with the story about the fall of civilization and putting you as a player in a situation where you need to figure out your best options to just make it out of encounters alive. It beautifully blends its narrative and its gameplay into a fully cohesive experience. Because it’s not about your fantasies. You actually get to feel what this sorrow is actually like.


Final Thoughts

There are so many games we had to leave off this list due to space. Mark of Kri, for example, was one of the first games to incorporate a hunter-style of stealth mechanic that would become big eight years later with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. And we’re sure to see more visionary titles from Sony down the line. By the time this article comes out, you should all be enjoying Horizon: Zero Dawn and be immersed in that game’s gorgeous world. Please, if that’s become one of your favorites, or if you think we missed some games, please let us know in the comments below!

Matt Knodle

Writer

Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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