March 31st, 2016 a day that will live in infamy. This will forever be the day that marks the death of one of the world's most popular gaming consoles. The Sony Playstation 2’s last remaining online server was shut down today signifying the official death of the Playstation 2.
Of course, this iconic console still lives on offline. The machine hosted some of my favourite ever gaming titles to date and this article will celebrate what I believe to be the best that the Playstation 2 had to offer. This is a totally biased piece and I welcome any and all of your favourite Playstation 2 games to be listed below in the comments.
Gran Turismo 4
Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Gran Turismo 4 was absolutely stunning – it was not like anything we had really ever seen before in a video game. It was so luscious to look at that it fast became the benchmark for all car related simulators that followed. The graphics were stunning along with the highly accurate driving element all combined with the vast array of cars available to the player this game was truly breathtaking.
There were over 700 fully licensed, fully detailed cars available for players to tune, mod and race. This was the first time I ever mistook a game screen shot for a photograph - I will always remember that moment.
Kingdom of Hearts II
The series as a whole is an enigma – it shouldn’t really work but it does and not only does it work but it excels. The Kingdom of Hearts series became one of the consoles most popular franchises. The second edition is my personal favourite, at the time, confusing as ever but the improved gameplay mechanic gave the game a much smoother feel. The series as a whole should really sit here but the second in the series is my favourite.
Snowboarding is cool. Fact. Playing SSX Tricky made me feel like such a cool kid – the music was insane and the tricks were not all that difficult to pull off. I spent many a Saturday afternoon, evening and night shredding it on the powder. The series has been around for a long time now but whether it is because of my age at the time or the fact that the game was gnarly, SSX Tricky is defiantly making this top PS2 games list.
What a game! An emotional rollercoaster that is laced with drugs, sex, and violence. I must have played this game a hundred times. From the emotive narrative that plays throughout to the iconic slo-mo, bullet time mechanic - Max Payne will always be one of my favourite ever video games. Another reason why I can’t wait to see how Quantum Break plays out next week.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
I liked it. The series had its critics but this title was pretty addictive. On the bounce of considerably less successful predecessors, Sands of Time was taken on by Ubisoft Montreal with a certain amount of hesitance – but, boy did they turn things around. The new atmosphere combined with the sharpened run and jump mechanic that allowed for repeat attempts was revolutionary to the puzzle based platform genre. It had a vastly improved storyline and this allowed players to get a little more emotionally involved with the characters. A class game that in my opinion was the best of the PoP bunch!
Final Fantasy X
The first Final Fantasy to find it’s way onto the Playstation 2 – the game was a testament to the machines increased power. The fidelity on display in Final Fantasy X still stands up against the games that come out today. But, this isn’t the only reason I have included this title – the new edition transformed the fighting style by ditching the real-time aspect in favour for a more strategic turn-based system. Not to mention the gripping storyline that the game has.
Shadow of the Colossus
A game that needs to be played to be realised. A story that needs to experienced to be appreciated. This title surpassed many a critics’ expectation with its immersive narrative that encourages the players to keep going. A very well put together game.
Resident Evil 4
The game that breathed new life into the series. A game that took the fans away from the familiar and into dark new territory. Aside from how great the new storyline was Resident Evil 4 was just wicked fun to play. It felt like it all came together in the fourth edition – the tweaked manual aiming mechanic combined with the over the shoulder adjustments all came together to provide us with a real bad ass game.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This GTA gave us a world to explore. This edition moved us out of the city and into what felt like a never-ending world. Easily the best GTA narrative to date. It took us from playing as a generally care free mobster and into the living breathing persona of a real hard-hitting underground personality. It was the birth of GTA legend Carl CJ Johnson! Need I say more?
Ratchet and Clank
Proof that chemistry is priceless. Riggs and Murtaugh, Tango and Cash, Ratchet and Clank – iconic duos that we will never forget. This epic series follows this tremendous pair as they travel through the universe taking down and dispatching many an evil and despicable foe, hell bent on their destruction. Not only were your enemies insane but the weapons and gadgets were over the top too – and we loved it! Ratchet and Clank: Up your Arsenal was, even more, OTT and included online play. Pretty revolutionary at the time. The series has gone on to spawn multiple additions and is even coming to the silver screen very soon.
Silent Hill 2
Radio static… Remember that? Silent Hill 2 is, without doubt, the best Hills game ever made. The game incorporated so many different horror-centric elements that it still freaks players out to this day. The use of such an oppressive atmosphere and controversial subject matter lifted Silent Hill 2 up to a whole new level. Not to mention this is the first time we ever saw Pyramid Head!
Black was so underrated in my book – this epic real world (ish) depiction of an FPS was mind-blowingly hot for the time. The weapons and associated effects were spot on and the movie type feel that was attached to the gameplay made it a thrilling encounter. The wisecracking soldiers and forgettable storyline made it so easy and fun to play that I used to play individual missions over and over just for the fun of it all. Great game – more acclaim, please.
Medal of Honour: Frontline
The most immersive war experience I had ever been in. Never before had I felt that moved by an experience I had just had in a game. The opening segment that involves the assault of the beach tore my nerves to shreds. The ripping sound effects that accompanied the explosive horror I was seeing in front of me came together perfectly to truly immerse me into my role as rookie soldier, Patterson. The missions that followed were just as fun as the opening sequence and this game is the reason many of us have begged to see another WW2 game come to the current generation of gaming machines. Just epic.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
The photo-realism that this game hit the scene with sucked me in. The storyline was great and was, for me, a welcome gear change to the series. Raiden was not your usual Metal Gear Solid protagonist. Sure, it angered a few people but it was as good as it was annoying – if you know what I mean. This was also many younger gamers first Metal Gear experience and for that reason alone it goes on the board.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
What a colourful, controversial and utterly epic open world game this baby turned out to be. Coming out just a year after our exploits in Grand Theft Auto 3 this new 80’s feel cranked up the heat under this incredible franchise. This game introduced us to all new airborne exploits as well as an epic soundtrack. Although not as big as San Andreas this game still remains a favourite amongst fans.
The reason I bought a Playstation 2. As a massive fan of sci-fi and first person shooters, the decision whether or not to buy (request from parents) Red Faction was an absolute no brainer. The game introduced the Playstation 2 to a new world of explosive ‘Geo-Mod’ action. The idea that instead of needing a specific key to progress through a level, the player could simply blow a hole in the wall next to the door and walk through. There was something very Arnie Swartz about all that that I just loved.
It had a rip-roaring multiplayer aspect too – that precision rifle blew my mind man. This is defiantly one of my absolute favourite PS2 games.
Well, that’s it from me. Of course, there were many other games that I would have loved to include but unfortunately, I don’t have all week to write this one piece. A few notable mentions, however, have to go out to Jak & Daxter, God of War, Jak 2, Persona 4 and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.