Saluting the Best PS3 and PS Vita PlayStation Plus Games
It’s a sad time for PlayStation Plus subscribers. February 2019 marks the last time we’ll get free PS Vita and PS3 games with our subscriptions. It’s not a surprise, as Sony made this announcement around a year ago, but seeing the older generation games go is tough. As next-gen development ramps up, it makes sense that Sony will want to transition towards that and move their focus away from PS3 and PS Vita. But that doesn’t mean we can’t remember the good times.
PS Plus really changed the landscape of gaming, with many platforms now having their own version of the subscription service. Most notably, Games with Gold on Xbox platforms offers a similar service, giving players Xbox One and Xbox 360 games each month.
As such, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the best last-generation games given away with PS Plus. The subscription service started with PS3 and PS Vita games. There were some fantastic games given away, especially when the service first rolled out. If you’ve been a subscriber from the start and been diligent about claiming games, you probably have a massive library of them. The PS4 games given away have been incredible too, but looking back on PS3 and PS Vita titles is sort of bittersweet and it really goes to show how much value the subscription service has had over the years.
In this list, we will be looking at some of the best PS3 and PS Vita games given away with PS Plus. Keep in mind, this isn’t the be-all end-all list, but more of an acknowledgement of some of the fantastic titles that were available with the service.
Here are some of the best PS3 and PS Vita games offered for free with PS Plus. Please enjoy and let us know what you think!
Rogue Legacy - PS Vita
There's something special about Rogue Legacy. When it released as a PS Plus game back in February 2015, some might have thought it was just another run-of-the-mill platformer. But after spending just a few minutes with it, you'll quickly learn that it has a lot of depth and definitely deserves your time.
Maybe it's because of how well it handles its rogue-like elements, giving you a unique experience each run, while still making you feel like you're progressing. It helps that it has some personality and a great sense of humor, adding to its accessibility.
Rogue Legacy is right at home on the Vita, as you can play in short play-sessions and it is a ton of fun on the go. Even if you missed this when it was free, picking up a copy is still a good idea.
Batman: Arkham City and Asylum- PS3
It's really hard to choose between the two Batman games and, since both were offered as PS Plus games in 2014, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City should be mentioned.
These were (and quite possibly still are) the defining super hero games, setting a precedent for what to expect from them and setting an almost impossibly high bar for the genre.
Whether you love Asylum, City, or both, these games nailed the tone of Batman and gave us a high quality cinematic experience with a myriad of things to do.
The actors' performances are engaging, the gadgets are fun to use, and each game makes you feel like Batman.
Did you play one or boh of these games, whether you bought them when they released or Sony downloaded them for free with PS Plus?
Killzone: Mercenary - PS Vita
Some think this is the best Killzone game. Hot-take or not, having a console-like shooter on a handheld system was incredible at the time, and the fact that Killzone: Mercenary was given as PS Plus game in April of 2015 is a testament to the value of the subscription service.
The in-game economy that spans across multiplayer and singleplayer, the integration of Vita functionalities, and the robust mulitplayer modes all make this one of the best games on the platform.
Mercenary allows for many options throughout all its modes, giving you the sense of freedom that lacks in other entries throughout the series.
If you're looking for another console-like experience on the Vita, Killzone: Mercenary should not be skipped.
Borderlands 1 and 2- PS3
Back before there were Destiny and other loot shooters, there was Borderlands, one of the most memorable first-person co-op RPGs of the last generation.
Much like the Arkham games, both Borderlands games are special and are worth playing. Luckily, if you've been a part of the PlayStation ecosystem for a while, both games might be in your Instant Games Collection. The first one was given away in September 2012, and the second one was given away in December 2013.
Borderlands successfully blends RPG elements with first-person shooter action, giving you a large open world to explore. There are a ton of perks to level up, different weapons, and huge bosses to take down, all of which can be played with up to three other players.
In addition to the fun and engaging gameplay, Borderlands has a ton of humor with smart, witty dialogue that ties everything up nicely.
Let's keep our fingers crossed for Borderlands 3 soon.
Limbo - PS Vita
Limbo gained much recognition when it released on the Xbox 360 in 2010 as an XBL Arcade game. It has since been ported to many platforms, one of which was the Vita. In May 2014, Limbo was available as a PS Plus game for the Vita, making it the first time the game was available on a handheld system.
As for the game itself, you've no doubt seen its instantly recognizable art style. Limbo, at its heart is a puzzle platformer, but is unique because of its presentation.
There is no dialogue or text found throughout, so you must rely on the environment to get through. Interestingly, there is no color in Limbo, and the game plays with this in such a unique way that hasn't been explored in many other games since.
Tomb Raider (2013)- PS3
The original Tomb Raider series was one that was in dire need of a reboot. That's why a lot was riding on the success of the 2013 release, simply titled Tomb Raider.
Not only was it a worthy modernization of the series, but it was an absolutely fantastic, semi-open world action game. You can see how it drew inspiration from Far Cry, Uncharted, and the original Tomb Raider games, especially when looking at the way it handles the open world and crafting.
Being able to download this for free only a year after it released on PS3 was an awesome opportunity for players who might have been on the fence about it. After how it reviewed, they likely weren't disappointed.
Hotline Miami - PS Vita
Probably one of the most criminally underrated games of last generation - Hotline Miami is a trip. Simply describing it doesn't do it justice, but if you're unfamiliar, it's a top-down shooter with a kickin rad soundtrack.
There are a lot of important aspects to Hotline Miami. One of which is the way it handles violence. It does so in a humorous and satirical way, poking fun at the idea of violence in the media by giving you an over-the-top gruesome and brutal experience.
It's also quite difficult, but immediately spawns you back at the beginning of each section, making it hard to put down. It's so easy to give it "one more try."
But possibly the most important part of Hotline Miami is the music. It's got a mix of electronic and weird atmospheric sounds that help put you in a zen-like state while you embark on your murderous rampage.
When this became available for free on PS Plus in October of 2013, it gave this game the extra push it needed to get into more hands.
Mass Effect 2 - PS3
Part two of the beloved Mass Effect trilogy is arguably the fan favorite, continuing where the story left off in the first entry and adding some much-needed improvements to streamline the gameplay.
The Mass Effect name might be slightly tarnished after Andromeda in 2017, but back in the day, this series was almost universally beloved.
Mass Effect 2 was available as a PS Plus game in November 2015, and it gave players a chance to relive (or play for the first time) the smart blend of shooting, RPG elements, and character development as you engage in battles throughout the galaxy.
Hopefully, we'll see the series return to the quality of the original trilogy. In the meantime, you can enjoy the first three games, and if you downloaded Mass Effect 2 while it was free, you'll already have one third of one of arguably BioWare's best series.
Gravity Rush - PS Vita
The Vita is no stranger to unique games. Gravity Rush fits that description quite well, with the unusual way it handles traversal.
To this day, there isn't much like it. It's an action game in which the main character can manipulate gravity, allowing for you to fly through the air, fall in whichever direction you choose, and stop at any given time.
The art style is beautiful, as well, being presented in a comic book style with panels and speech bubbles that will likely catch your eye.
It's a shame this series didn't catch on, but at least Vita owners got to play this one for free when it came to PS Plus in November 2012.
Demon's Souls- PS3
Before there was Dark Souls, there was a little PS3 exclusive called Demon's Souls that set the series in motion. While you can definitely see much of this game in what would later spiral out into the Souls series, Demon's Souls did a lot of unique and interesting things, especially for the time.
Sure, it's a tad clunky by today's standards, but there's still a lot to love with this game. With its interesting interweaving levels, Demon's Souls was quite close to a 3D Metroidvania but with a fantasy setting.
You can easily identify Demon's Souls by The Nexus, the hub-world used to access all the levels. It, much like Firelink Shrine or The Hunter's Dream is a safe space, giving you access to the many distinct areas of the game, but in more of a linear fashion than the other games in the series.
Players were able to download this as a PS Plus game in April 2013, but if you missed it, it's still worth the purchase today.
Freedom Wars - PS Vita
As the Vita starts to sunset, it's a great time to look back on many of the rad first-party games available on the handheld. One game that doesn't get enough credit is Freedom Wars, much like many of the Vita games on this list.
Part Monster Hunter, with an anime aesthetic, Freedom Wars has a unique premise: Complete missions that involve taking down giant enemies to reduce your time in prison.
What a game. There are a ton of different weapons and upgrades to play experiment with, and a wide variety of mission structures and enemies to face. Some missions involve saving civilians, while others are actual massive scale battles and all of them can be played with a group of friends online.
When this came to PS Plus in December 2015, it was probably a little too late, but it's awesome that we got it at all, since it's one of the best Vita games out there.
Spec Ops: The Line- PS3
A game like Spec Ops: The Line doesn't come around very often. Its emphasis on narrative and violence was praised upon release, despite the game being a commercial failure.
Even today, the bold move to heavily focus on such themes in a third-person shooter is rare. It gave violence a meaning, other than just mindlessly murdering enemies because that what video games are "supposed to do".
It's not necessarily a happy game, or even a pleasant one, but it's important for art to go into uncharted territories at times, which Spec Ops does brilliantly.
Thankfully, March 2013 saw the release of this game on PS Plus, allowing for more exposure to this hidden gem.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss - PS Vita
The Uncharted game you probably didn't play—Golden Abyss was awesome. It utilized the Vita's functionalities in smart ways and really felt like a console-like experience.
Set prior to the events of the first game, Uncharted: Golden Abyss was Sony Bend's last project before working on the upcoming Days Gone. It focuses on a younger Nathan Drake and his adventures with fellow explorer, Marisa Chase.
It caught a lot of people off guard because of how much it felt like a console game that you could take on the go. It has close to the same production value as the Naughty Dog titles, but on a slightly smaller scale, giving us the same excellent performances and narrative we love from the PS3 games.
Luckily, it didn't take long to get this one as a PS Plus game, as it was available for free in November 2012.
Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception- PS3
You might often see fans debating on which Uncharted game is the best: Among Thieves or Drake's Deception. While that might be a tough call for some, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception did come to PS Plus in June 2013, so it likely garnered a ton of extra fans because of it.
What more can be said about Uncharted 3, though? It's stunningly beautiful, features various interesting and dynamic set-pieces, and some of the best performances out of any game ever. It's amazing that Naughty Dog was able to get it to look so good, especially running on a PS3.
The visuals still hold up quite nicely, even by today's standards.
If you missed the boat on this one, you can probably get the Nathan Drake Collection for pretty inexpensive on PS4.
WipeOut 2048 - PS Vita
The signature PlayStation racing series may be Gran Turismo, but WipeOut certainly stands toe-to-toe with it. To some, it even surpasses it and takes the number one spot. Whichever the case, WipeOut 2048 came to Vita in early 2012 and was available with PS Plus by November of the same year.
Acting as a prequel to the first game in the series, WipeOut 2048 had so much to offer. There was online play, cross-play with PS3 owners, a ton of modes and beautiful visuals.
What works so well in WipeOut 2048 is just how much there is to do. Racing games can sometimes get old, fast, but not WipeOut.
If you're into fast arcade racers with excellent music, it would be a mistake to skip this one.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - PS3
While many were probably hoping and expecting Sony to go out with a bigger bang when it comes to last-gen PS Plus games, getting Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for free is still a big deal.
The interesting thing about this game is that it's only available on PS3, as opposed to the other mainline MGS games, which can be found across various platforms.
Many critics gave this game perfect scores, praising the way it concludes the series, the over-the-top action, and how unusual it is.
The way it handles themes such as death, the implementation of fan-service, and new control scheme were all acclaimed, as well.
As the last big PS3 game given away with PS Plus, this is still a worthy way to sunset last-gen games. This might be one you missed, so add it to your download library ASAP.
It’ll be interesting to see how the service evolves with the departure of last-gen games. Perhaps the quality of titles will go up, to make up for the loss of games. Maybe we’ll start seeing more PSVR titles or other noteworthy features, like the increase of cloud service storage. February 2019’s PS Plus games were looking pretty good.
Whatever happens, the PS3 and PS Vita had a good run, with an incredible breadth of games available through PS Plus.
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