PS3 franchises with story but little backstory?
September 24, 2009 2:01 PM   Subscribe

What video game franchises in the current generation would be good to pick up for the first time?

I like games with a decent focus on story or lore. I just bought a PS3 and am looking to build up my library a bit. Problem is, I look around and see a lot of those types of games with large numbers at the end of their titles... Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil 5, Devil May Cry 4. Not having played the earlier titles in these series, I'm hesitant to buy them for fear that the plot will make little to no sense to me or that I'll end up with a cruddy cash-in sequel that only appeals to people who had their minds blown by the early entries.

Which franchises justify that fear and which don't? Of the ones that have a rolling storyline, do the earlier games hold up well enough to be worth playing now (and would I be able to play them on a new PS3)?

The above were just examples, I'm open to any other franchises you can think of. Also feel free to assume a fairly loose definition of "story", I just mean it to exclude franchises where the plot is just a flimsy framework to justify the gameplay, like Street Fighter.

(also no need to talk about the following: Fallout 3, Oblivion, GTAIV, or the Final Fantasy series)
posted by Riki tiki to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
i can't answer to what stories will be worth it/not worth it

however - i can speak to "would I be able to play them on a new PS3" - no. the ps3 is not backwards compatible. it sorta kinda was when it was first released, but all that's been stripped out. if you're lucky, you might be able to buy substandard ports through PSN.
posted by nadawi at 2:03 PM on September 24, 2009

nadawi: oh, I know that, but some games are available as remakes or PSN downloads. God of War 1 and 2 are being rereleased for the PS3 with updated graphics in November, for example.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:07 PM on September 24, 2009

If you have a Wii, the recently released Metroid Prime Trilogy is a nice, self-contained story. (And the new Wii controls are great for a FPS newbie.)

For PS3: Batman: Arkham Asylum game is fantastic, and is a self-contained story inside the well-developed Batman universe, with a fantastic attention to detail. There is, of course, Bioshock, which has Bioshock 2 coming out soon. I also think Assassin's Creed is worth it, only because Assassin's Creed 2 is coming out. (But the parkour running - and in my opinion, the story - in Mirror's Edge is much better (although the intro comic is terrible and shouldn't be canon), although I wouldn't hold out for a sequel given its tepid sales.) Lastly, LittleBigPlanet is great, and there's definitely the outline of a story, but it's not well-developed by any means.
posted by sachinag at 2:09 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

the Devil May Cry series is good, but skip #2.
the Call of Duty series is good, but only the even numbered ones.
the "plots" of the Resident Evil and Metal Gear series are too convoluted for their own good; you could very easily have played all of the precedeing games in the series and have no idea what's going on.

Oblivion is a great one for not needing previous experience, too. deep RPG, open world that doesn't force you to take any particular course of action, and you don't need to know a thing about what's come before to enjoy it... but if you do enjoy gamelore, this is the about richest universe available. and everything i just said? Ditto Fallout 3.
posted by radiosilents at 2:14 PM on September 24, 2009

I'll note right now that Devil May Cry 4 won't be unintelligible because of its epic backstory, but because semi-to-un-intelligible plots are one of the defining features of the series. If you want craaaaazy action, go for it! You won't be much less confused than those who've followed the series from the beginning.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:15 PM on September 24, 2009

With Metal Gear, there's tons of backstory to all the characters from the previous games, so it may not be worth it if you're worried about this problem. For Devil May Cry, the story is so bizarre to begin with that I don't think playing the previous games will help you at all.
posted by demiurge at 2:17 PM on September 24, 2009

Seconding Batman and Bioshock, both AAA games with interesting self-contained stories.

Skip Metal Gear.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:31 PM on September 24, 2009

As no one has addressed Resident Evil 5:

I have not yet played RE5, but I jumped into the series at the (sublime) RE4 and did not feel like I was missing much in terms of the events of the prior Residents Evil.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:39 PM on September 24, 2009

Resident Evil 4 is the only video game I'll touch.

What are ya buyinnn? What are ya sellin?!
posted by oinopaponton at 3:08 PM on September 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Oblivion seconded, as well as Fallout 3 (same developer, same engine, very different game) which is really a "reboot" that doesn't relate to Fallout 1 or 2 anyway. For either of those, get the "Game of the Year" edition, which comes bundled with extra bonus content that you'd otherwise need to pay to download.

The PS3-only Uncharted is a great game (an Indiana Jones ripoff as a puzzle-solving first-person shooter) and the sequel (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) is brand new.

I liked the story and gameplay of Red Faction: Guerrilla a lot, I think it's underrated, and it also pretty much ignores the earlier games so there's no history learning curve. Saints Row (1 and 2), by the same developer, are GTA-style open world games IMHO better games than GTA IV. Unlike Rockstar, they left the fun in there. GTA IV feels like work compared to the excellent SR2.

You don't need to know the (deep and well-done) backstory to appreciate Half-Life 2, part of the Orange Box bundle, which also gives you the very very excellent Portal and Team Fortress 2 games.

And as sachinag says, the new Batman: Arkham Asylum is great, by far the best Batman game ever because it covers sneaking and detective-ing as well as combat so well.

Other than Batman and the new Uncharted sequel, all of the games I just mentioned are available discounted, cheap, used or in "Collector" reprints that are like half of the usual new price. Great time to build a quick collection.
posted by rokusan at 3:40 PM on September 24, 2009

rokusan beat me, so seconding/thirding Uncharted, Saints Row, Red Faction Guerrilla, and Batman:AA.
posted by Remy at 3:43 PM on September 24, 2009

Resident Evil 4 was, indeed, quite fantastic. I think all of the Resident Evil games are quite playable as standalone titles, mostly because you don't actually need a lot of backstory to shoot zombies in the head. There is plenty of backstory if you want it, but not having it doesn't affect the gameplay. I haven't played through all of the Metal Gears, but I think that statement probably holds true for those as well.

I quite liked Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, and I'd never played any of the Ratchet and Clank series before. I also enjoyed Eternal Sonata (not a franchise) for its wonderfully convoluted Japanese RPG-ness.

This isn't a rule, but generally if you need to have played the other games first in order to know what's going on, it's not a good game.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:44 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thirding Bioshock, which I should have included in my list of "great games now on sale in the bin for twenty bucks". It's the first of a new franchise, sequel coming soon.
posted by rokusan at 3:52 PM on September 24, 2009

I highly recommend the final fantasy franchise. final fantasy 13 (the most recent one) was made for the ps2, but is still highly rated for it's role play value and gameplay.

a new final fantasy is due to come out soon (if not already) which looks to have the type of graphics you would expect from a mordern gamestation.
posted by sockpim at 4:15 PM on September 24, 2009

(forgot to mention above, that, although there may be loose ties to an ongoing storyline in the franchise, prevous knowledge of this is not required for each individual game, as it will fill you in on the details in the introducition of it if required)
posted by sockpim at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2009

Each of the GTA games are pretty much a freestanding story.
posted by box at 4:31 PM on September 24, 2009

The Orange Box! While the Half-Life story was already in motion at this point, it's a great place to pick it up, and a helluva bargain. Incredibly memorable gaming experience.

Also nthing Bioshock, my single favorite game of all time. Best story in a game.
posted by jbickers at 4:59 PM on September 24, 2009

nth-ing Arkham Asylum, Bioshock and the Orange Box.

The first two re quite simply two of the bestgames I've ever played - and I'm usually far from a fan of the genre.

Bioshock is cheap right now - and the game, with its art deco stylings, is gorgeous to look at.
posted by chris88 at 6:12 PM on September 24, 2009

nadawi: "the ps3 is not backwards compatible."

Amendment: The original PS3s were backwards compatible with the PS2 by either hardware or software, if you can find one on eBay or in a store with stock that's been sitting around. Joystiq has a chart with the model numbers.

Even the newer PS3s (I am not sure about the PS3 slims, however) *ARE* backwards compatible with PS1 games. Do not bother going into Gamespot (or Best Buy, etc) and ask them if this is true... many of them will tell you that it's not true because they either don't read gaming/hardware blogs or don't try it out. I have personally played PS1 games on a newer 80G PS3, although sometimes the controls are a bit confusing.

Here is a site from Sony showing which Playstation 1 and 2 games are compatible with those above models and any quirks they might have.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2009

The PS3-only Uncharted is a great game (an Indiana Jones ripoff as a puzzle-solving first-person shooter) and the sequel (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) is brand new.

Another vote for Uncharted--I really enjoyed the first one and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
posted by dubitable at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2009

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