At the turn of the century, the PlayStation 2 was the console to own. Not only did it dominate its competitors, outselling some of them into oblivion (RIP Dreamcast), the system continued to be a successful money maker for Sony until it was discontinued in 2012. But the PS2 wasn’t only successful because it was a cool piece of hardware, the system had some of the most outstanding and memorable games to ever exist on any console.
So I’ve put together a list of my personal favourite games that appeared on the system and it wasn’t easy as there were quite a number of amazing titles to consider but much like the Playstation One list, I’ve gone with games that I remember the best and ones that make me feel the most nostalgic. Some games may have released on other consoles before the PS2 but I’m talking about how I experienced them. Like before, I’ll only be able to name a single game from a series.
Number 10 – Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain (2003)
What!? A wrestling game in the top 10 PS2 games….. well yeah. WWE games these days are what they are but back in 2003 they were something completely different and I’d spend a decent amount of time playing them. HCTP was marketed to have improved graphics with an increased polygon count over its predecessor, whatever happened to Polygon count anyway?
This game was released when WWE still had quite an edgy product. They still have bra and panties matches! This was a really great game that I used to play for hours with my brother, we’d always do falls count anywhere matches because you could venture backstage and end up doing some pretty insane things. You can end up going outside the arena and you’re able to climb a helicopter and lampposts and do a diving move from what looks like a 100 foot drop. It was so much fun because it wasn’t trying too hard to be realistic.
Number 09 – The Simpsons: Hit & Run (2003)
Hit & Run has seven levels, each with missions and a unique plot. The player can only control one specific character in each level. The game’s playable characters are Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Apu. To drive, the player can either take one of the vehicles that litter the road, a feature taken from Grand Theft Auto or use a phone booth to select a car. The game’s driving missions are also similar to those of Grand Theft Auto. In both games, the player races against other characters, collects items before a timer runs out, and wrecks other cars. A sandbox game set in The Simpsons universe!? Why hasn’t this been done again with modern graphics…
Number 08 – Soul Reaver 2 (2001)
Soul Reaver 2 was an excellent sequel to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and the third game in the Legacy of Kain series. Raziel retains most of the powers he possessed in the previous game, such as the abilities to glide, climb walls, fire bolts of telekinetic energy, and swim. To sustain his strength and travel between the planes, he must devour souls; this is typically accomplished by defeating enemies. Much of the same but with improved graphics, this was a must buy for any fan of the series.
Number 07: Max Payne (2001)
The game centers on the NYPD Detective Max Payne, who attempts to avenge the murder of his family. It features a gritty neo-noir style and uses graphic novel panels (with voice-overs) in place of animated cut-scenes to narrate the game.
The gameplay of Max Payne revolves around bullet time, a form of slow motion when triggered; the passage of time is slowed down to such extent that the movements of bullets can be seen by the naked eye and enables Max to perform special moves.
Number 06 – Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)
Gameplay carries on the high speed gameplay of previous entries in the series, in which players race through various courses, earning boost by driving in oncoming traffic lanes, narrowly avoiding other vehicles, and drifting. The main new addition to the series gameplay is a focus on ‘Takedowns’, in which players are encouraged to try and take down their opponents by knocking into them and causing them to crash.
How fun was this game!? I used to love crash mode in which your only objective was to crash into a busy, traffic filled highway at full speed and cause as much damage and chaos as possible.
Number 05 – Silent Hill 2 (2002)
Silent Hill 2 is not a direct sequel to the first Silent Hill game. Instead, it centres on James Sunderland, who enters the town after receiving a letter written by his deceased wife, saying she is waiting for him in their “special place” in Silent Hill. Joined by Maria, who strongly resembles her, he searches for her and discovers the truth about her death.
Number 04: Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (2001)
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X focuses on Claire Redfield and Steve Burnside during a T-virus outbreak on an island. Besides controlling Claire and Steve, the player also has control over Chris Redfield, Claire’s brother who tries to save his sister during the latter stage of the game. The game retains the survival horror elements from previous installments in the series such as the use of puzzles and a shortage of health items and ammo for guns.
This is a severely underrated Resident Evil game in my opinion. It may be controversial to choose this over Resident Evil 4 but personally I experienced that game on the GameCube.
Number 03: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2005)
Set in the Cold War-era Soviet Union, the story centres on FOX operative Naked Snake as he attempts to rescue a weapons designer, sabotage an experimental super weapon, and assassinate his defected former boss. Snake Eater introduces many new aspects of gameplay not present in previous Metal Gear games, including camouflage, a new hand-to-hand combat system called “close-quarters combat” or “CQC”, a stamina gauge, and an injury-and-treatment system.
Approximately two-thirds of the game is set outdoors in a Soviet Union rainforest and using this varied environment to its fullest potential was the key to the games success. I’m a big fan of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty but this game was a huge breath of fresh air and a necessary one at the time. It feels much more like the original game and manages to push the PS2 to the limit in terms of what it can do graphically. Also, MGS3 has arguably the best story of any of the current MGS games and helped the series take a massive step forward with its improved gameplay.
Number 02: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
The game is set in 1986 within the fictional city of Vice City, which is heavily based on Miami and draws inspiration from 1980s’ American culture. The single-player story follows Tommy Vercetti, a Mafia hitman who is released from prison. After his involvement in a drug deal gone wrong, Tommy seeks out those responsible while building a criminal empire and seizing power from other criminal organisations in the city. What can I say about this game that you surely already know? The story was great, the gameplay was great, and the music was amazing.
Number 01: Final Fantasy X (2001)
Set in the fantasy world of Spira, the game’s story revolves around a group of adventurers and their quest to defeat a rampaging monster known as Sin. The player character is Tidus, a blitzball star who finds himself in Spira after his home city of Zanarkand is destroyed by Sin. Shortly after arriving to Spira, Tidus joins the summoner Yuna on her pilgrimage to destroy Sin.
I consider this to be my second favourite Final Fantasy game of all time and as time goes by it seems as if that is quite a controversial thing to say. I never realised how many people disliked this game until recently but personally, I loved every second of it. And yes, even that laughing scene.
So there you have it, what games did I leave out that you would have had on your top 10 PS2 games?