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Ode to the PS2

I love the NES for bringing consoles back after the crash and mostly for its first-party & Capcom titles. I love the SNES for its library, which was the largest & most diverse of its time. I love the Dreamcast for its uniqueness, but I've thought about it a lot lately and I still think the PS2 was the best of them all.

These are the games I owned and enjoyed on my PS2. We will probably never see a console and game library as good again.

List items

  • This port from the Dreamcast was a great sequel/remake of the unique Genesis game and was an excellent 3D interpretation. If you are one of those people who hate swimming in games, stay far away from this one.

  • Completely stupid vampire light-gun fun!

  • This was basisically Sony's attempt to have a Zelda game on their console, but hey, why not throw in a city-building sim while you're at it?

  • Beautiful, abstract musical rail shooter. Like a cross between Panzer Dragoon, Tron and a Harmonix game.

  • This one's on my Obscure Classics list and it's a a weird one where you control a little girl with a posessed scarf that can reach out and pinch things and stretch them. One of the few releases on the PS2 by the great Treasure.

  • Another reworking of the Zelda formula, but this time into an incredibly intimate puzzles & platforms escort mission in a giant, empty castle. A true classic with incredible atmosphere.

  • In some ways this game feels like a first attempt ar DMC with its locked camera hack-n-slash gameplay.

  • One of the best plane combat sims I have ever played and the first one I ever saw that tried to tell a story. I burned through a lot of hours out of replaying the single player missions and had a lot of fun in the dogfight modes playing with friends.

  • Koei takes the same Romance of the 3 Kingdoms & Dynasty Warriors characters and puts them in a great real-time war strategy game with some interesting fantasy elements including magic attacks.

  • VF is my favorite fighting game. Street Fighter and MK dominate the field and I've known some serious Tekken, SNK and DOA fans, but VF is the one that appeals to me most. I love its balance of different fighting styles and this fourth iteration is the one I've played the most. Definitive and well made.

  • One of the best rhythm games ever made and one of the most bat-shit crazy games as well.

  • I'm not a huge fighting game fan and I'm not much of a devotee of this series, but I really enjoyed playing this one with friends. It looks great and felt more balanced to me than the other ones. Probably my 2nd favorite fighter on the PS2. I really enjoy playing Voldo.

  • Stealth blood sucking! Another game that made my Obscure Classics list.

  • This is a great, fast-paced ninja action game with a cursed sword that drains your health if you don't continue to feed it with kills. I remember the originals from arcades and Sega consoles, but this was the first one in 3D and it had some great but difficult boss fights.

  • The original Greek-Myth-themed DMC clone, years before God of War. A great reimagining of the 80s side-scroller.

  • This game was hard, but it drove you to keep trying until you beat each stunt. Great level editor too.

  • The best giant Mech/Kaiju game ever made. Super low budget with intentionally bad writing & voice acting and the pacing of the dialogue is slooooooooow, but if you can endure all of that the combat is great fun and it has one the most interesting systems for camera control I've ever seen.

  • An intersting mix of stealth & violence with reat visual style.

  • I guess this is still undispudedly the best Silent Hill experience you can have. I liked the first a lot, but this one improves on it in a lot of ways. I actually like most of the ones on PS2 including 3, 4(which is barely even a Silent Hill game) and Origins. It's the ones that came out later that have really dragged the franchise down (althought I did enjoy playing Shattered Memories).

  • GeoMod! Great variety of missions. One of the best FPS games for PS2

  • This is one of those JRPGs where you feel like you're watching a long movie where you have to earn the next scene through fighting. It had a great battle system, some decent characters and a convoluted but interesting plot. I thought, overall, that this was a really well made Sci-Fi experience but it wasn't enough to interest me in the sequels.

  • Good platforming, fun weapons.

  • One of the greatest times I've ever had in a video game. I still remember a lot of the crazy, random things that happened to me in Vice City when I maxed out my wanted levels. At the time I was pretty down on the 80s and wouldn't have listened to a lot of the soundtrack otherwise. The GTA games have a funny way of tricking you into liking music you've been resisting.

  • This is probably the first RPG I played on PS2 and I was completely absorbed for many days. It has a deep storyline you get to experience from 4 different points of view. With great features like base-building, character collection, battle combos and a tactical battlefield mode. It's also loaded with tons of little systems like mini games, trading between cities for profit, a lottery, recipes & bath house conversations (like the elevator scenes in Mass Effect)

  • Super quirky Japanese city biulder.

  • An action-puzzler about herding animals with some of the best character animation of any game on the PS2.

  • With the Exception of the obscure S.O.S. for Genesis, this is the genre-defining entry for disaster games. Think of it as daylight survival horror. If you can get past the framerate issues, it's well worth playing.

  • A great sci-fi-fantasy RPG about life underground--like Metro 2033 with dragons! It had a really clever mechanic that let you restart the game at any time with all of your XP.

  • Still the most effective horror game I've ever played. The use of sound in this game is amazing. I can still recall the sense of dread I felt every time I heard the slow, heavy creak of a door being carefully opened.

  • After a lackuster attempt to do the Prince in 3D on the PSX, this was the perfect reworking of theis classic franchise. I got this on christmas when it came out and spent a full day of the holiday playing this from beginning to end. Just a great, fluid platformer with a good story, great acrobatic moves, good level design and a cool time manipulation mechanic.

  • In some ways, this was just a higher-def rehash of elements from the PSX games, but was still a really satisfying ninja stealth game. It also had a great co-op with highly entertaining combo kills that took cooperation to pull off.

  • Great squad-based 3rd-person action. It was Red Dawn the game before there was a Red Dawn game.

  • It's like Theme Park, but with dinosaur cloning. A pretty good console sim game. Nothing beats having some carnivorous dinosaurs bust through your safety walls while your park is full of guests. Also had an interesting safari/photography mode.

  • An incredible turn-based gladiator combat game from LucasArts.

  • Family-friendly GTA. Decent Simpsons jokes. Great voice cast.

  • If you didn't play this game with a headset, then you didn't properly play this game. Brian Cox was amazing as the psychotic millionaire and having to watch your own breathing while hiding was intense! Also one of the first instances of 3rd-person cover mechanics I can remember.

  • A fun, cartoony monster-fighting game with destrictible environments. This one is a lot more entertaining than the often low-budget Godzilla fighting games you could get for the system and has the same type of charm as the better Rampage games.

  • I missed out on the Devil Summoner games for PS2, but I loved every minute of this unique, challenging post-apocalyptic JRPG. Also with a nice cameo appearance by Dante from DMC.

  • This sequel moves away from the Zelda-like qualities of the original with a great cel-shaded style, randomized dungeons and a weapon break/repair system.

  • Crazy fast action and time-controlled 2.5D melee combat. Great fun.

  • Get some exercise, nerds!

  • Similar to Silent hill, but you have the psychic ability to scan the area and see through the eyes of nearby enemies to learn their patterns which turns it into a kind of puzzle, like a 3D horor version of Lolo. Great use of a non-linear timeline and ensemble cast.

  • Finally, an MGS game for the PS2 where I get to play the whole game as Solid Snake! Wait, this is Big Boss? Oh well, that's close enough, I guess. It had some really great added systems like wound treatment, eating hunted animals (and throwing captured snakes on people) and the boss fights are as amazing as usual.

  • Fun game, great music. This could have just been another one of the great obscure, quirky games on the PS2, but somehow, it broke through with larger audiences and inexplicably became a huge hit.

  • I don't really play racing games much, but this game isn't really about racing. it's about crashing cars a spectacularly as possible and getting rewarded for it. They did some interesting things with Paradise, but to me, this will always be the perfect Burnout game.

  • This game had almost too much content for its own good, but I won't complain. I remember being hyped up for months to get this and it lived up to everything I was expecting. I love the bikes.

  • PS2 had a ton of great RPGs, but this may have just been the best of them. Just exploring the world was incredible in this one but it also had a good story, great characters and monster team collecting and battling.

  • Creative Assembly took the battles of their Total War seiries and dropped you into the middle of the battle. This game is like a more interesting Dynasty Warriors with its great hack-n-slash gameplay.

  • I didn't get around to playing Half-Life 2 until over a year after it was released, so this was my first exposure to a high-level use of the Havok physics engine and it was awesome. A great set of powers and just a really fun game that gives you plenty of opportunities to use them.

  • I'm not a fan of military shooters, but Gearbox did so many interesting things with this one. Still one of my favorite squad-based experiences.

  • I've neve had a game make me feel so guilty about doing what it wants me to do.

  • Pandemic did a great job of reworking the GTA formula into a 3rd-person, military open-world experience. Lots of fun running around causing trouble in North & South Korea.

  • It's hard to describe just how much fun I had with this game. The Batman Arkham games are now the standard for comics games, but this is probably the best game that can be made from the Hulk. The open world is simple, but really fun to jump around in and they give you a ton of moves and a variety of interesting enemies to fight. The same team went on to make the Prototype games in the next gen which have a lot of similarities, but I'd still rather go back to this game.

  • Rockstar took great cult-classic movie and turned it into a great 3rd-person beat-em up. I feel like it gets forgotten in comparison to the rest of their catalog, but I had a great time playing it.

  • An impressive and challenging return to form after a disappointing second entry in the series. I played the original, harder version before it was rebalanced and rereleased.

  • Another really interesting use of 1st person. This game is a lot different than anything else Michel Ancel has done in his career, but it's really intersting to see movie games made by respected designers instead of simply churned out for a quick buck.

  • A lot of people like the Spider-Man 2 movie game a lot, but this is the only one I really got into. I was actively reading the comic at the time and they did a great job of tying this in to the storyline and emulating the art style of the books.

  • It seems like this series is the Successor to Shenmue in a lot of ways but also like a Japanese attempt at GTA--while at the same time being an update on side-scrolling beat-em-ups like Final Fight. It's like being set free inside a Fukusaku movie with a pretty good fighting system and a lot of good mini-games.

  • FFXII gets both ignored and disrespected by most fans of the series, but I really liked FF Tactics and Vagrant Story and was really excited when the same creators were let loose on a FF title. This is one of the best looking games ever released on PS2 and it had some really interesting characters and a pretty good story.

  • This is probably the closest thing to a Zelda game we'll ever see on a Sony console, but it also had a great charm of its own and an incredible art style.

  • I have a hard time deciding between this one and Suikoden III as the best PS2 Suikoden game. It has everything that makes a Suikoden game great, but I think the multi-POV approach that III takes ranks it slightly higher than this one in my opinion. It's still one of the top 5 JRPGs on PS2 either way.

  • Who would have thought when this was released that plastic instrument games would get as big as they did? Both GH and Rock band exploded out into full-band experiences in the next gen and oversayed their welcom after flooding the market with releases and new instruments, but at the time of the first two GH games it was a refreshingly new gaming experience that seemingly came out of nowhere.

  • I don't know if I have ever laughed more at a game in my life. Just amazing. Damn, I miss Clover Studios. I love Platinum Games, but I still miss clover.

  • I got this just as it was released, so I never played FES. I heard there were some improvements in that version, but I enjoyed this original version a lot either way.

  • Honorable Mentions:

    Frequency & Amplitude

    Just Cause

    Black, Area 51, Darkwatch

    TimeSplitters 2

    Alien vs. Predator (RTS)

    Destroy all Humans

    RE4 (played on Gamecube)

    Beyond Good & Evil (played on Gamecube)

    Flower, Sun, Rain (Played on DS)

    Killer 7 (played on Gamecube)

    Michigan: Report from Hell

    Haunting Ground & Rule of Rose

    the Jak & Daxters (Didn't own or play enough, but good games)

    Sly Cooper

    Radiata Stories

    Indigo Prophecy

    Soul Reaver 2

    Splinter Cell & Hitman games

    Whiplash & Dog's Life

    Silent Hill 3 & 4

    Disgaea & Phantom Brave

    Shadow of Rome