Welcome to my favourite PlayStation memories.
My first PlayStation memory was playing Tomb Raider 2 with my cousin. My small hands prevented me from properly gripping the controller so I wasn’t very good with the controls – I felt sorry for Lara Croft constantly falling to her death. I spent most of my time exploring Croft Manor (& giggling when I locked the butler inside the freezer). The first time we encountered/fought a tiger was terrifying for my 9-year-old mind, combat was too stressful for me to control. However, that moment formed my perspective of gaming, that through it I could encounter/overcome my internal fears regarding my Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
My first console was a PlayStation 2. I was still a novice gamer so I never managed to complete every game I owned. It’s difficult just to pick 2 examples of PS2 memories but here goes:
I had recently found my love of comic books (through watching X-Men the Animated Series) so I was so excited to play X-Men Legends on PS2. Exploring the X-Mansion, talking to fellow X-Men, answering the trivia questions and fighting the Brotherhood throughout the story was just perfect. The best part of gameplay was the graphics and amazing visual effects capable on the Playstation when activating mutant powers.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was breath-taking. Every element of the game from the stunning Arabian landscape, time rewinding mechanics, platforming and even your death were linked together by a beautiful narrative. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time still has the smoothest wall-running mechanic in any game, even beating Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order or Titanfall. You felt fully in control of the Prince’s combat skills and his agility during platforming sections. Completing the difficult Palace’s Defence system puzzle was a proud moment for me, usually, I would have given up on challenging puzzles. This game is the reason why I enjoy playing games with a strong narrative.
The PS2 controller was a joy to use, with an intuitive button layout due to the addition of trigger buttons and the analog sticks allow you to control a character with a 360-degree range of precision movement.
Honourable mentions: SSX Tricky (the Awesome Tricks), Burnout 3: Takedown (Vehicular Mayhem), Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (I’m not Built for Stealth), Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (Awesome Psychic Powers), James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire & Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds.
The PlayStation 3 is still my favourite console generation as it came with the best controller ever: the Dualshock 3. I preferred the semi-triggers on the PS3 controller to the previous controller buttons. Around that period my muscle weakness started to affect gaming so I bought the lighter wireless Dualshock 3 controller. I could easily press every button but clicking the sticks was challenging but doable.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was a narrative masterclass from Naughty Dog, solidifying my quest to find a narrative that even came close. The power of the PS3 was in full bloom, the train level was an unbelievable feat of design, from that day on I respected game designers and their amazing work creating an experience this magnificent.
The final scene and epilogue in Red Dead Redemption, watching John Marston gunned down in a hail of bullets actually made me cry. It was the antithesis of the Uncharted narrative, I realised then that not all stories in games should end with the hero triumphant. The end of the West meant the end of John. The game’s Dead Eye mechanic required you to press the difficult R3 button, during the tutorial you had to use it to shoot a hat thrown up into the sky. It took me a lot of practice to shoot the hat without using Dead Eye.
A significant achievement occurred in Bioshock, I actually stepped out of that bathysphere, ignored the terror that a splicer would kill me and told myself “Would you kindly…” complete your first a horror game. I’m grateful that I experienced Bioshock, the narrative, the world-building and the ingenious gameplay mechanics. I had never played a game where you could melt an icy barrier using Inferno, throw a rocket back at an enemy using Telekinesis or send a swarm of bees to attack enemies.
Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were the only 2 games that I ever earned a Platinum trophy. You became every aspect of Batman, from the Detective solving riddles, the Invisible Predator stalking enemies and the world-class Fighter. The Scarecrow sections were a highlight but my favourite was the opening scene. The Bat-Mobile zooming through the gates Arkham Asylum with a captured Joker cackling away, glimpsing the terrifying jaws of Killer Croc and then Batman trying to break through the bulletproof glass with only his fists to stop Joker from escaping. What an entrance?
Honourable mentions: GTA V, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, the Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
My relationship with the PlayStation 4 was rocky from the start, the controller had a completely different design from the PS3 so it was inaccessible for me to be able to enjoy gaming. I faced accessibility issues for the first time, initially, I felt alone, however, inclusion/accessibility is a huge issue for plenty of other disabled gamers, I wasn’t alone. I’m able to continue gaming now, thanks to the assistance from the gaming charity Special Effect.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was a fitting end to Nathan Drake’s story, the bigger environments give you time to savour your moments, you’re not constantly on the rollercoaster ride, lessons taken from the Last of Us. The game was revolutionary for its accessibility features, they had options for one-handed gamers, auto-aim, toggles and remappable controls.
I’ve enjoyed playing Spider-Man, it brought back fond memories of swinging around New York in the PS2 game Spiderman 2. Insomniac perfectly illustrates the core of Spiderman: his humanity and compassion born through Peter Parker’s loss.
I can’t finish without talking about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, every element was perfect, a tight engrossing narrative set in an open-world that looks more beautiful than Uncharted 4.
Honourable mentions: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Red Dead Redemption 2 & Horizon: Zero Dawn.
The future PlayStation 5 – I can’t believe that it’s going to be my 4th generation of console. It’s exciting because it will be the first generation where accessibility and inclusion is a priority from the start.
I’m super pumped to experience The Last of Us Part II, it’s definitely going to be a quantum leap in storytelling, environmental realism and implementation of gameplay systems.
Welcome back, Ellie.