The best selling games console of ALL TIME was unveiled on 4th March 2000, in where else but Japan? I am, of course, referring to the Playstation 2, Sony‘s hugely anticipated follow-up to the classic original which had already spawned a wealth of fan favourites such as Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro The Dragon. Reaching European, American, and Australian shores by Autumn of the same year, the sixth-generation console was immediately pitted into a war with rivals such as Sega‘s Dreamcast, Nintendo‘s Gamecube, and the Microsoft Xbox.
Despite this, the PS2 emerged successful in the face of adversity, blowing competitors out of the water with a whopping 155 million units sold worldwide thanks to backward-compatibility, and the added feature of being able to read CDs and DVDs, trebling up as an all-round home entertainment system, a revolutionary feature for the 21st century. With over 3,800 titles shifting more than 1.5 billion copies thanks to the likes of Sonic Heroes, Sly Cooper, and the hotly discussed Star Wars Battlefront II, Sony served up a vast array of treats for gamers at the turn of the Millennium. But which were the greatest?
These are, CULTR’s Top 10 Playstation 2 Games of All Time…
10. KINGDOM HEARTS
Having Donald Duck and Final Fantasy VII‘s Cloud Strife in the same game certainly takes some explaining, but somehow, Kingdom Hearts managed to pull it off with aplomb. This nostalgia-soaked jamboree of mayhem saw an array of Disney characters and Looney Tunes combine for a dynamic and refreshing take on the platform/adventure game which still lives long in the memory. Much like one of those crazy dreams where your Uncle Jim, Max Verstappen, and that girl you had a crush on in 2nd grade all somehow end up on a night out together at Pizza Hut on the North Pole, the random nature of ‘Kingdom Hearts‘ made for a fun playalong for just about every age range.
9. VIRTUA FIGHTER 4
Already building on the fabled SEGA series which hit arcades worldwide, the meteoric success of the Virtua Fighter series soon started to dwarf previous Sony success-story ‘Tekken‘ as the PS2 stepped through infancy and into adulthood. Reuniting gamers with their favourite characters from the button-basing joystick versions in local Bowplex centres – including Canadian pro wrestler ‘Wolf‘ – the slick graphics and mesmeric violent gameplay of this title catapulted ‘VF4‘ into instant ‘classic’ teritory. Whether utilsiing low punches and ground attacks, or spinning high-kicks from martial arts siblings Sarah and Jacky Bryant, Playstation had finally found a worthy opponent for the success of Nintendo‘s ‘Street Fighter‘.
8. MEDAL OF HONOR: FRONTLINE
Back before the modern controversies of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Russia, ‘Medal of Honor’ focused gameplay on the age old tradition of delivering justice for the Allies, under the strain of Nazi invasion. The first-person shooter from EA Games offered gamers tremendous value for money at the time, with a 100% completion of the title taking around 16 hours in total. Taking Churchill‘s famous speech to new heights, players were invited to battle on the beaches, as well as oceans and local towns/marketplaces, all in the spirit of re-enacting World War II. Achieving a then-score of 9/10 from Gamespot, it’s easy to see why so many were keen to pick up a virtual rifle in the early 2000s.
7. THE GETAWAY
Bringing a taste of ‘GTA‘ to the United Kingdom, Brits – in particular – couldn’t get enough of ‘The Getaway’ when the title hit stores in 2002. Inspired by gangster films such as ‘Snatch‘ and ‘Get Carter’, the game aired the murky underbelly of London crime culture following a botched kidnap and murder of the child and wife of main character, Mark Hammond. Our hero is then tasked with a series of on-foot and in-car chases around the streets of the English capital as he attempts to wreak vengeance on the crime-lords responsible for his trauma. Made with a real ‘Krays‘ style energy, this one makes you wanna smash a pint of ale on the local bar and scream “GET OUTTA MY PUB!“
6. JAMES BOND 007: NIGHTFIRE
Back at the turn of the century, James Bond-themed games were certainly in no short supply following the success of the N64‘s legendary, ‘GoldenEye’. The PS1 tried – but ultimately failed – to replicate the success via the basic – yet fun – ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ and ‘The World Is Not Enough’ titles, but it wasn’t until 2002 when the meat in this Bond sandwich proved the PS2‘s crowning glory. Having already aired ‘Agent Under Fire‘ to keen gamers, with ‘Everything Or Nothing‘ launching just a year or so later, it was ‘Nightfire‘, the middle child in this trilogy which delivered the most fun for 007 enthusiasts, as the World’s most famous spy galavanted round snowy landscapes with his fabled ‘golden gun‘ in toe.
5. PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 5
To gamers these days, ’tis almost unthinkable that EA Sports’ FIFA titles were once usurped for the crown of ‘greatest football game’, but throughout the noughties, Japanese developers Konami truly hit the jackpot thanks to the ‘PES‘ series. Starting slow, PES really started to gather pace around the time of ‘Pro Evo 2‘ in 2002. Adding iconic referee Pierluigi Collina only added to the cult-hero status of the games in 2003, before Pro Evo 4, 6, and particularly 5, really dominated the console for sports fans. Clad with the brilliant ‘Master League‘ game mode, ‘ballers were less bothered by unlicensed team names such as ‘Mersey Red‘ and ‘Manchester Blue‘, and more keen to rattle in those Adriano thunderbolts thanks to the infamous 99-rated shot power.
4. RATCHET & CLANK
Still one of the most iconic platformers of all time, the Ratchet & Clank series has since evolved into a true juggernaut of modern gaming thanks to sequel titles such as ‘Up Your Arsenal’ and ‘Size Matters’. But it was this original in 2002 which helped catapult the title into primetime consciousness as nerdy android ‘Clank’ teamed up with our main protagonist; Lombax mechanic pilot, ‘Ratchet’. A truly fantastic-looking PlayStation 2 game, the sheer size of the levels is really impressive, and you’ll often find yourself fighting a screen full of small enemies amid these huge environments, but the game’s incredibly smooth frame rate never slows down. One of the PS2‘s finest, without a doubt.
3. GRAN TURISMO 4
Talking of asthetics… They don’t come much finer than the gorgeous ‘GT 4‘, released around New Year 2004/05. Offering petrol heads the chance to get to grips with over 720 cars from 80 different manufacturers, the game also featured more than 50 varying tracks from iconic spots around the World. Soaked in a beautifully silky and advanced graphic rate, racers were implored to try their luck with a Ford Mondeo on the cobbled gravel of a Rally circuit, or drive a Fiat Punto around the jaw-dropping scenery of the Grand Canyon. A revolutionary pioneer for the PS2, this was arguarbly the first sixth-generation title to open gamer’s minds up into what graphics of the future could offer.
2. THE SIMPSONS: HIT & RUN
By this point, you’re probably wondering where ‘Grand Theft Auto‘ features in this list, but here in the silver medal position, is Homer Simpson – remarkably – playing the role of Tommy Vercetti. Written by the same folks behind the show, Hit & Run sees several of the animation’s most cultish moments delivered in a golden slice of fan-service, with Mr. Plow, Duff beer, and Buzz Cola all making an appearance. Though some have argued that The Simpsons was already past its best by 2003, the story is well written and enjoyably goofy, with plenty of humorous gags to boot. It’s a faithful, feature-length story of the show, which – both at the time – and since release, managed to please fans eternally.
1. GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY/SAN ANDREAS
Okay, so… Technically, we cheated. It’s near-on impossible to seperate the brilliance of both Vice City, and San Andreas, which are – arguarbly – the most iconic games (on any console) of all time, let alone the PS2. Building on the success of GTA III, which allowed gamers to access a fully operational 3D open-world format for the first time, Vice City was soaked in retro pastel colours, imitating an 80s Miami, whilst San Andreas offered more gruff settings of growing up in the hood, and offering gamers a ‘get rich or die tryin’ vibe. With Rockstar‘s series later birthing GTA IV and most recently, GTA V, the success of the entire franchise can be pinpointed down to the moment these two changed the game forever!
Do you agree with our selections? Wanna shout out those hidden gems you think we might have missed? Why not head over to our CULTR Twitter page to start the debate!