Screen Critics takes a look back at Sony’s legendary PlayStation 2 console – picking out he best games that made us glad to own one.
Without question, Sony’s PlayStation 2 was a titan of the videogame industry. When released, it helped propel Sony’s brand to the forefront of the game industry, creating a mammoth console that became home to some of the best games of all time.
But what were the best games on Sony’s iconic system? Screen Critics has decided to take some time out, looking at the games that made the console so special to gamers.
Which games did you think were the best on the PlayStation 2?
Silent Hill 2: For my money, the best entry in the series and easily among the best titles on the console.
ICO: Love it or hate it game. I’ve never really been a huge fan, not my bag at all. But there’s no denying that this game is beautiful, stunning and emotionally gripping at every turn.
Timesplitters 3: Easily one of the best multiplayer shooters on PlayStation 2. Crack out some drinks, whip out the multi-tab and you could lose whole nights playing this beast of a game with friends.
10. Burnout 3: Takedown
For sheer enjoyment, few titles on the PlayStation 2 came close to the madness that was Burnout 3: Takedown.
From a dizzying array of modes and options, to the replayability of the game – there’s a lot to love inside Criterion’s madhouse offering. Perhaps best of all, the game encourages you to get inventive – turning the repetitive task of crashing cars into a carnival of fun and excitement. It’s not the deepest game on PlayStation 2 – but it’s certainly one of the funnest to play when you need a break.
Arguably the pinnacle of the series (Paradise City was great, if slightly repetitive), this was Burnout at its absolute best.
Beautiful. elegant and just a blast to experience, Okami is a series that deserves a lot more love than it ended up getting.
The tale of Amaterasu’s adventures is wonderfully crafted, beautifully paced and easily one of the better adventure titles on the system – any system for that matter. It’s hard to understate just how strong this game is, both from a visual and gameplay perspective. It takes a lot of time to get into, but those who do commit are rewarded with one of the warmest outings on PlayStation.
It’s a damn shame the series never really found momentum in the mainstream.
8. Resident Evil 4
Many consider Resident Evil 4 one of the greatest games of all time. It certainly helped to change the fortunes of a franchise that seemed to be stuck in its ways – and PlayStation 2 owners eventually got their hands on it.
The fourth entry in the main series made a heap of changes to the series formula, focusing on action and quick-time-events. Out went the jump scares and fixed cameras of the previous game – in came a sleek new approach to the game that came to define third person action games moving forward.
Yes, this originally landed on Gamecube (Where it was originally penned in as an “exclusive”), but there’s an argument that all the extras thrown in helped to make the PlayStation 2 version more enjoyable. The graphics may not be as polished, but who cares when the core gameplay was so strong?
7. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
The first of two Grand Theft Auto games on this list (Both rightly earning their spots). Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 3 was a game changer for console outings. It showcased that PlayStation 2 could do impressively detailed worlds while affording the open choices that had made the GTA series such a staple.
Vice City was everything Grand Theft Auto 3 was, and oh so much more. It came bursting with 80’s charm, some of the best dialogue in the series and expanded on every aspect of the original. In came helicopters, motorcycles, multiple weapons for each slot and property ownership. It’s insane to think this game landed not 12 months after its predecessor.
It’s a loving tribute to the gangster films of the 1980’s. It’s a glorious step for a series that was breaking boundaries and making a name for itself on Sony’s console.
6. God of War 2
God of War was hugely popular when it touched down – delivering some of the most intense action on PlayStation 2 while giving gamers some of the most epic boss encounters in gaming. It’s twist on Greek mythology established it as a destination for those not afraid to take on a challenge.
It’s sequel only upped the stakes – delivering arguably the most brutal offering on Sony’s console. It’s balance of action and storytelling kept things from getting repetitive, while the improved levels made for a more even game overall.
If you haven’t already, I totally recommend locating the HD collection on PlayStation 3 and giving this game a proper try out.
5. Gran Turismo 4
Very few videogames command the kind of respect and pedigree that Gran Turismo has managed to attain over te years. A series loved for its dedication to detail and insanely long playtimes arguably peaked with Gran Turismo 4.
Here the franchise delivered an exhaustive number of cars, tracks and modes to play. Even as Forza Motorsport and PGR (God rest that franchises soul) were fighting for gamers hearts, Gran Turismo 4 proved that it had all the pedigree to be considered among the best titles in the generation.
The only major downside to the game is that it didn’t feature online gameplay – something an increasing number of PlayStation titles were offering towards the end of the consoles lifespan.
4. Kingdom Hearts II
On paper, Kingdom Hearts shouldn’t work. It’s a game that crosses Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy with the colourful characters of Disney’s cartoons. Yet not only did it work, the sequel to that game is arguably a masterpiece.
Blending the best of both worlds, Kingdom Hearts is a love letter to the genre it represents. A compelling story tied to a series of quirky, enthralling and emotional moments – it’s the Disney experience you didn’t know you wanted.
Fans have been waiting patiently for the sequel to this game for over 10 years now. That’s a sign of just how strongly this series resonated with them. It’s arguably the second outing that showcases just how brilliant the Kingdom Hearts is – and why PlayStation 2 owners were fools to not check it out.
3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Ask most casual gamers from this period what their top game on PlayStation 2 was, and you’ll likely find the answer was San Andreas. This game wasn’t just a cultural touchstone, it became THE game on PlayStation 2 for many.
Upping almost every aspect from Vice City, San Andreas goes big on every front. Now there are three cities to explore, a whole region to get lost in and a much wider scope for gamers to dive into. There’s an almost daunting array of weapons, vehicles and story to work through – or you can just go mad and get lost in the wildness between cities.
Add in RPG elements that allowed you tailor your CJ exactly as you wanted, as well as the introduction of proper swimming, and it’s easy to see why so many people loved this game.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
There’s a reason Shadow of the Colossus is so desired as a HD remake – it’s arguably the most grand experience on Sony’s console.
The game is centered around a series of large scale boss battles. Typically this wouldn’t be worthy of note – but this game delivers its boss battles that have much deeper meaning. You feel bad for killing the Colossus’s – as the game swells up music and conjures up the kind of atmosphere reserved for emotional stage plays. I think that’s the best way to describe this game, an unfolding tragedy that tugs at your heart strings throughout.
Sure, some people don’t enjoy it. That’s fine. It’s a very divisive game – and for those who don’t “get” it, that’s fine also. But there’s no question that this game is one of the best looking on PlayStation 2 – while also managing to deliver a hugely unique experience in the process.
1. Metal Gear Solid 3
After the mixed reaction to Metal Gear Solid 2, Konami and Kojima went back to the drawing. Their premiere series needed something to get fans back on board – enter the iconic Metal Gear Solid 3.
Maybe it’s just because we don’t have all that many great Cold War era titles, but Metal Gear Solid 3 relishes in its surroundings. Playing up to the tropes and ideas of the time, the games story is perfectly paced – delivering shocks, laughs and tragedy in equal measure. It’s easy to become invested in Solid Snake and the characters in this epic tale, with so much depth given to each one of them.
It’s also easy to forget just how inventive the game was. Implementing wildly inventive systems like a fully featured camouflage system. The inclusion of food that needed to be eaten, as well as full implementation of cover systems. Wandering through the jungles of this game felt like an adventure – and the game used them to gain maximum enjoyment. From some of the most creative boss battles I’ve seen – to allowing you free reign in how you approached each situation.
Few videogames matches Metal Gear Solid 3’s ambition on the PlayStation 2. In my opinion, it was the best experience on the console.