Getting new game consoles as a kid is a strange experience. Aside from specific games you really want and have read about in magazines for months, what exactly you end up playing and ultimately falling in love with is often down to chance. When my mum ditched my dirtbag father and we moved countries in 2002 she stole his original PlayStation and a box full of games before throwing them in my lap. All of a sudden, I was christened a gamer.
Inside this box was a laundry list of classics. Final Fantasy 7, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Hogs of War, Gex: Deep Cover Gecko, Silent Hill, and so many others that escape me all these years later. I came from a relatively poor family with nine siblings and parents who worked all the time, so often I was thrown video games and expected to kill time on my own terms. Aside from forming a teensy bit of resentment, this also put me on the path to where I am today. My PS2 was pre-owned and bought from my brother’s stoner bestie for a fraction of the price, while my PS3 came from similar circumstances.
I wasn’t handed a freshly sealed package on Christmas morning, but something that looked like it was stolen off the back of a truck on the M25. Maybe it was, and who was I to question how this machine ended up here? It was mine, and I want to run through the random selection of games that came with it. Turns out that my mum actually has decent taste.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Okay she can’t win them all, because this first game is a total stinker. Sonic 2006 was bad on all platforms, but the PS3 version somehow takes the cake. Its visuals and performance were improved over the Xbox 360, but it traded this in for loading times so disgusting that I could get up and make a cup of tea in the time it takes to transition between menus.
While echoes of Sonic Adventure can be found throughout, this diabolical platformer is broken, unfinished, and feels like a student project someone threw together in a couple of weeks instead of something meant to represent a legendary Sega mascot. What a mess.
Genji: Days of Blade
This one is a little better. Known for the ‘giant enemy crab’ meme more than the game itself, Genji: Days of Blade was a competent launch title with gorgeous graphics let down by a painfully sluggish combat system. It aimed for historical majesty and just ended up feeling dull. The PS2 original is ten times better, and there’s a big reason why this series has never been spoken about since.
Resistance Fall of Man
Now here’s a banger. Resistance remains a wonderfully distinct project from Insomniac Games. Not only does it maintain the creative weapons from Ratchet & Clank, it also takes a generic alien invasion premise and breathes new life into it with a setting we haven’t seen replicated since. While the sequels would go all international on our asses, the first game has us fighting through the cities of York, Grimsby, Manchester, and Nottingham.
Playing it today just makes me wish our country was being invaded by hostile alien lifeforms instead of struggling through another year of Tory leadership. There would probably be fewer food banks and more shops on the high streets if the Chimera were in charge, let's be real.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
My mum is responsible for my love of Naughty Dog, so in a way she is also responsible for The Last of Us remake. I’ll have a word with her and get this sorted out. To her credit though, I hadn’t heard of Uncharted when it was found in the piles of games next to my pre-owned console, and at the time it was a graphical showcase that nothing was able to compete with.
Today it’s a ropey nightmare filled with dodgy technical decisions and some awful writing, a testament to how far both Naughty Dog and the medium has come. In remastered form it’s still a good time though, and back then it introduced me to a new kind of gaming blockbuster.
SingStar Volume 2
Apparently when I first came out of the closet it was painfully obvious and my family knew for ages. Given they also bought me SingStar maybe that was supposed to be a fairly blatant hint that the entire thing was made of glass. It came with two microphones, so I wasn’t alone in becoming a pop sensation in front of extended family after a pint of Pepsi Max. What a thrill this game was, and my love for karaoke remains.
It turns out this game only came to Xbox 360 and PC, but I asked for it to be included in the header image because I’m sure I remember it, so I need to get it in here it somehow. Pretty sure I got it mixed up with Heavenly Sword. Or was it Untold: Legends Dark Kingdom? There was a pretty lady and that’s all I know.
This was the one game I was super excited about, praying it was under the tree so I could lose myself in Bethesda’s RPG after hearing so many amazing things about it. I got my wish, and was too young to realise how awful the PS3 port was too! I’d like to mention that before the release of Modern Warfare 2 I played all of my games on a CRT that would electrocute me whenever I dared touch the screen or press one of the buttons. It’s a miracle I’m still alive and gaming today. Fallout 3 is a classic though, dodgy console ports aside.
Rubbish. At least it has dragons I suppose.
Digital games were still scary back in 2008, but Jackass remained incredibly popular – and thus Pain was born. This simplistic showcase of chaos involved launching a poor dude from a catapult into the midst of a crowded cityscape with the aim of causing as much damage as possible. It was really fun, and I remember spending so much time with my brother as we tried to beat one another’s scores before calling it a day. I was never allowed to pick up the downloadable content though, so who knows if that was any good.
My mum knew I loved JRPGs, with names like Final Fantasy already being a common utterance in our household. Yes I was a cool kid. One Christmas she told me she’d found a game that was ‘just like those Final Fantasy games you like’ and it turned out to be Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events for the PS2. I still haven’t forgiven that lying bitch.
Folklore was incredible though, and remains a rare PS3 exclusive even today that I wish received more recognition. I adored it as a kid, and would go on to play countless JRPGs on the platform that ranged from masterful to mediocre. This one was comfy, spooky, and the perfect way to ring in a new generation.
I’m probably missing a few games that have escaped my memory, but the PS3 remains one of my favourite consoles of all time because it arrived at a pivotal point in my upbringing. There are so many games from this time I remember fondly, even if my brother would bring them home after pinching them off his friends in exchange for a joint. I wouldn’t have been able to play Demon’s Souls any other way, so it was an oddly perfect set of circumstances for a little gamer like me. Think I’ll have to do all of my other childhood consoles now if I can remember enough about them. God I feel so old, but games are for life, not just for Christmas.
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