Top 50 All-Time Playstation 2 (PS2) Games That You Must Play


When the Sony PlayStation 2 was released in North America, it was the only 6th generation console you could buy.  And it stayed that way for over half a year, which gave the PS2 a massive head start over its rivals. The Nintendo GameCube didn’t arrive until 2001, and when it did come there was no way to play regular DVDs/ CDs on it.

The PS2 was also very affordably priced, it cost no more than standalone DVD players of the time. While the GameCube cost less, it had fewer features. The Xbox had a built-in hard drive and more controller slots, but it didn’t have a 6-month head start (plus PS2’s controller was better).

It’s been over two decades since the PS2 launched, and many gamers from the early 2000s still have fond memories of this console. Today, I shall take a look at the top 50 all-time Playstation 2 (PS2) games that you must play. Many of the franchises we know and love today were born on the PS2 (God of War, Kingdom Hearts, etc.).

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Release Date: October 26, 2004

When Grand Theft Auto III was released, it revolutionized open-world games forever. You now had a massive city all to yourself, and everything was rendered in 3D so it felt super immersive. Plus you now have a protagonist who speaks, giving them much more personality and character.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas took everything that was introduced by GTA III, and cranked it up to 11. Bigger city, better AI, more quests, fleshed-out characters, and much more. While Vice City replicated the visual theme of 80s Miami, San Andreas combines Los Angles and San Francisco into one fictional city.

San Andreas tells the story of a young gangster Carl Johnson. You get a glimpse of life in the hood, fight with corrupt cops, and meet a bunch of quirky side characters who become your allies. GTA: San Andreas does a good job of portraying gangster societies and has a very well-written protagonist.

Shadow of the Colossus

  • Developer: Japan Studio, Team Ico
  • Release Date: October 18, 2005

Many people have compared this game to a piece of art made by visionaries such as Picasso or Bach. Is it a piece of art? Can video games ever be considered art?

Shadow of the Colossus is something one should experience at least once, for it merges exceptional world design with an art style that is completely unique. You have this sense of loneliness and mysticism thanks to a sparsely populated alien world that has mythical giants roaming around.

Armed with a sword, you must solve intricately crafted puzzles and engage in extended action sequences to take down each colossus. Every colossus you beat takes you one step closer to discovering the truth about the powers hidden inside this fantasy world. 

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Resident Evil 4

  • Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
  • Release Date: October 25, 2005

Resident Evil 4 steered the entire series in a totally new direction, one that is very different from the previous 3 games. It focused more on 3rd person shooting action and cheesy action movie set pieces instead of survival horror. But at the same time, Resident Evil 4 knew exactly when to be serious and frightening.

The character of Leon Kennedy in this game is brimming with coolness, he is the ultimate zombie murdering machine in your hands. You’re on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter from some cult with dark powers, and there are all sorts of genetically mutated monsters out to stop you. Despite its wacky plot, the gameplay is extremely fun in RE4 thanks to a wide variety of weapon and enemy types.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: November 17, 2004

Metal Gear Solid is 3 is a game that’s simultaneously a spy thriller, 80s action movie, and philosophy class. All packaged into a 3rd person stealth simulator with wacky cutscenes and weirdly eccentric characters. Some consider this to be Kojima’s masterpiece in storytelling with just the right balance of outlandish action sequences and realistic character motivations.

Regardless of what anyone else says, I believe any gamer who’s a fan of stealth/ action should play through the Metal Gear series at least once. It does have its flaws, but which game doesn’t? Metal Gear Solid 3 introduces an open-ended approach to solving problems that makes you go back and try each mission in a different way.

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Silent Hill 2

  • Developer: Team Silent (Konami)
  • Release Date: September 24, 2001

Silent Hill 2 approaches horror in a very different way compared to games like Resident Evil. When you play this game, it isn’t the jump scares or hideous monsters that keep you on permanent alert. Instead, it’s the THREAT of encountering those horrors.

Imagine the constant dread of not knowing what’s beyond the fog as you slowly walk through a desolate village, listening to terrifying noises from the other side. Sometimes, you don’t even know if what you’re experiencing is real or the thoughts of a disturbed mind. That’s the beauty of Silent Hill 2, its mastery of psychological horror combined with a gripping narrative and excellent character design.

God of War II

  • Developer: Santa Monica Studio
  • Release Date: March 13, 2007

God of War II picks the story of Kratos from where the first game left it. Thanks to the improved combat system and action set pieces, it still holds up to this day. No joke, you can load up God of War II in your PS2 or emulator software right now and have a fun time.

You can pull off insanely cool-looking combos by mashing random buttons and following on-screen prompts. Plus there are so many Greek mythology references and giant bosses to fight that you won’t mind the dated graphics. 

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Release Date: October 29, 2002

Vice City doesn’t make any massive technological improvements over GTA III, but its story feels a lot more grounded and relatable. Plus, the characters and quests are a lot more engaging. Vice City is set in 1980s Miami, telling the story of a mafia rivalry and one man caught in the middle of it all.

You’ve got Porsches, Ferraris, mullets, aviators, pool parties, rock music, and more. This is the quintessential 80s simulator that makes you feel like you’re playing an episode of Miami Vice. 

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: March 1, 2005

Considered to be the pinnacle of the DMC franchise, at least until Devil May Cry 5 dropped. While the first game was a refreshing take on hack and slash action, the 2nd DMC was a massive disappointment. However, the 3rd game is filled with awesomeness and is a massive improvement over its predecessors.

The combat is fast-paced and rewards player skills once you get the hang of it. Boss battles are extremely memorable, and Dante is constantly spouting cool one-liners. This is a story about the two sons of Sparda- Dante and his brother Virgil, both of whom have extremely different views on the future of humanity. 

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Okami

  • Developer: Clover Studio
  • Release Date: September 19, 2006

Its art style reminds you of quality Japanese hand-drawn portraits, and the story is filled with Japanese mythology. The legendary snake monster Orochi has been resurrected and his powers have turned the world into a nightmarish hellscape. You play as the Sun God Amaterasu who has taken upon the form of a wolf.

This wolf you control has access to incredible powers and you must defeat countless enemies on your way to rescue the world from Orochi’s rule. Your celestial brush lets you paint objects into existence and change day into night or vice versa. Everything from the story and dialogue to the soundtrack is perfect, this is one of the best PS2 games ever. 

Kingdom Hearts

  • Developer: Square
  • Release Date: September 17, 2002

Alright, I know this is going to sound a little crazy. But what if we combined famous Disney characters with Final Fantasy characters and made them team up to fight an evil supervillain? That’s Kingdom Hearts in a nutshell.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this game. It manages to combine the light-hearted and frankly silly antics of Disney classics such as Mickey Mouse with more brooding and serious characters from Final Fantasy. There are plenty of puzzles to solve and minigames to play, alongside that you also have an incredible world filled with boss fights.

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Gran Turismo 4

  • Developer: Polyphony Digital
  • Release Date: February 22, 2005

Each Gran Turismo is a massive leap over its predecessor, designed to show off advancements in PlayStation hardware. The 4th installment is no different, and it has the best car handling you’ll see in any racing sim of the time. Tracks are lifted straight from the real world, as are the licensed copies of real-life cars.

You’ve got over 700 cars from companies like Ford, Holden, Pagani, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Audi, etc. Each car is painstakingly modeled over a period of months from over 500 photos of the real-life version. And engine sounds are recorded from actual cars for accurate representation. 

God of War

  • Developer: Santa Monica Studio
  • Release Date: March 22, 2005

While God of War is an action game at its core, the gameplay isn’t particularly challenging or deep. You don’t have to memorize combos and adjust on the fly if you need to impress your friends. Simply mash buttons and Kratos will do like a dozen acrobatic maneuvers within the span of 3 seconds.

Plus, when you have weapons that are this cool you don’t need to worry about pesky things like skill. God of War’s main selling point is its large action set pieces that make you feel like you’re inside a movie about Greek gods. A movie that was probably made by Michael Bay, since there are copious amounts of adult scenes and special effects. 

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Grand Theft Auto III

  • Developer: DMA Design, Rockstar
  • Release Date: October 22, 2001

GTA III is what put Rockstar on the map. Sure, they had been developing excellent games well before GTA III, but this is the one that revolutionized open-world gaming. It inspired Ubisoft and many other developers to create their own GTA clones.

So what is it in this game that differentiates it from previous Grand Theft Auto games? Well, for starters- it’s completely 3D and portrayed from a 3rd person view. Plus the narrative is a lot better now with a protagonist who speaks and has an interesting personality. 

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: November 13, 2001

Is it a movie about thought-provoking philosophical theories and global domination conspiracies? Is it a tactical stealth game? Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty seems to be both.

When you play through this game for the first time, you might be left disappointed with its ending after the amazing build-up. However, subsequent playthroughs will make things a lot clearer as you discover new ways to achieve your objectives. The controls, level design, and AI in this game are hugely improved over the first Metal Gear Solid for PS1.

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Burnout 3: Takedown

  • Developer: Criterion Games
  • Release Date: September 8, 2004

While Forza and Grand Turismo were concerned with realistic depictions of actual cars, Burnout was its own thing. It’s an arcade racer much like NFS, but with a lot more action. Burnout 3: Takedown is basically professional wrestling, but with cars going at 200mph down busy city streets.

Your goal is to beat up rival racers in every possible way, so you’re the one with the most takedowns as you cross the finish line. You can spin out their tails, lead them into oncoming traffic, bash their bodies into a mangled mess, and do jumps like the Dukes of Hazzard. Most importantly, Burnout 3: Takedown has this incredible sense of speed and acceleration that no other arcade racer of the time can match.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

  • Developer: Insomniac Games
  • Release Date: November 2, 2004

While Crash Bandicoot was the headline platformer for PS1, Ratchet & Clank attempted to do the same for PS2. It too is a 3D platformer, but with a more open-ended and non-linear level design compared to anything else on the market. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal introduced an excellent multiplayer mode in which you can compete with up to 7 other players online.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Release Date: November 10, 2003

Imagine Aladdin, but he is an incredibly athletic swashbuckler who can run across walls and turn back time. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a classic that’s still plenty of fun today thanks to the excellent storytelling and world-building. You feel like you’re inside a dreamland straight out of a middle eastern storybook, playing as a prince on a mission to defeat an all-powerful villain. 

Guitar Hero II

  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Release Date: November 7, 2006

Before Guitar Hero dropped, music and rhythm games weren’t all that popular. They were viewed as niche products for casual gamers. Things obviously changed with the first Guitar Hero which became an overnight sensation.

Guitar Hero II takes things one step further. While Guitar Hero II comes with an updated guitar, you can still use the original SG from the first game to play it. The main selling point for this game is its updated track selection and improved quality of cover songs for bands like Nirvana, Van Halen, etc. 

Final Fantasy X

  • Developer: Square Product Development Division 1
  • Release Date: December 17, 2001

When Final Fantasy X was released in 2001, it caused a massive stir in the gaming community. This was a game that introduced several new mechanics to the FF franchise, some of them being inspired by western RPG game design. It also discarded many of the traditional FF game systems.

New to FF X is the sphere grid character leveling system where you collect XP points from battles and unlock new sections of the grid. Weapons often have unique properties inscribed into them, and you can further upgrade this aspect of weapons by adding new properties. 

Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution

  • Developer: Sega AM2
  • Release Date: March 17, 2002

Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution isn’t just a remake of the original VF4 for Sony’s PS2. It introduces two new characters- Brad Burns and Goh Hinogami. Brad is a kickboxer while Goh is a judo master.

You have the entire cast of the original VF4, with some new moves added to spice things up. You move with the D-pad and execute attacks/ defense with the punch, kick and guard buttons. 

Beyond Good & Evil

  • Developer: Ubisoft Pictures
  • Release Date: November 11, 2003

The creator of this game originally worked on Rayman. However, this is no platformer. Instead, it’s more like Legend of Zelda with its non-linear level design and puzzle-solving sequences.

Combat isn’t the primary focus of this game, rather it encourages you to avoid confrontation. There is an AI companion you can control who will assist you in solving contextual puzzles within the environment.

Deus Ex

  • Developer: Ion Storm
  • Release Date: March 26, 2002

Deus Ex is the most open-ended game on this entire list, with some of the best level design and writing you’ll see in any game. It’s not just a great game on PS2, it’s a great game in general and still holds up to this day with some mods. Originally designed for PC, the PS2 version contains an orchestral soundtrack and cinematic cutscenes that you won’t find in the PC release.

The game is a mix of FPS, RPG, and Stealth elements. It follows conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati and various other shadow organizations, set within a futuristic cyberpunk world. You play as UNATCO agent JC Denton, the first nano-augmented field agent. 

Ico

  • Developer: Japan Studio, Team Ico
  • Release Date: September 24, 2001

On its surface, it’s a simple “boy meets girl” romantic adventure set within a fantasy world. Ico was developed silently by a relatively new team within Sony, and it was meant to be released for PS1. However, things dragged on during development and it eventually came out on PS2.

The game isn’t like anything else you’ve ever experienced. For the most part, you’re walking around and solving puzzles. Some platforming elements are present, they usually involve clearing a path for your female companion by removing environmental hazards. 

Tony Hawk’s Underground

  • Developer: Neversoft
  • Release Date: October 27, 2003

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a game that every sports aficionado has at least heard of. You take upon the role of a nobody starting out on the streets, trying to learn new skills and gain reputation. While your goal is to become a pro, the things you do in career mode don’t have much to do with that.

However, Tony Hawk’s Underground is a completely different beast. The career mode has been replaced with a story mode that feels a lot more believable. It focuses on a tightly written narrative following a young skater who’s trying to make it into the big leagues. 

Sly 2: Band of Thieves

  • Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
  • Release Date: September 14, 2004

The first Sly Cooper was a game in which you played as a thieving raccoon, it had a nice blend of platforming and stealth elements. However, the game had nothing to make it stand out from the other stealth platformers. Sure, you had a unique-looking protagonist but the narrative was too short and there was no real difficulty.

However, Sly 2 changes all of that by introducing a longer storyline with more characters and lots of stealing. You start out the game by trying to get your hands on Clockwerk’s robotic parts that are now in Interpol’s custody. You mostly play as Sly, but Bentley the turtle and Murray the hippo are also available for control in certain sections of the game. 

Katamari Damacy

  • Developer: Namco
  • Release Date: September 21, 2004

The word “Katamari” in Japanese means clump and “Damashii” means spirit. So the title literally translates to clump spirit, which makes sense because you spend the entire game rolling up clumps of random stuff. You are the prince of the cosmos and your father has accidentally dropped every single star from the sky.

You start out with a small lump that you can roll around to pick up stuff from your environment. You use the analog sticks and create the largest lump possible, containing everything from trees to buildings. 

Jak 3

  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Release Date: November 9, 2004

Jak was intended to be a mascot game, a platformer for Sony’s new consoles that redefined the genre. They tried to do this very same thing with Ratchet & Clank, and Crash Bandicoot before it. However, Jak eventually transformed into its own thing much like the aforementioned franchises.

The third Jak game doesn’t change the world design too much compared to its predecessor. It starts out in the wastelands adjacent to a futuristic cyberpunk city. And the level design is very open-ended, you move around inside a city hub accepting quests from NPCs. 

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release Date: December 9, 2008

Persona games are a social simulation in which you play as teenagers straight out of some slice-of-life anime story. But Persona 4 adds a certain supernatural/ horror element to the storyline. It starts out really nice with you moving from a big city into a sleepy little town, so you can live with your uncle.

You meet some interesting characters over there, including another boy and a couple of girls. Eventually,  you find yourself at the center of a homicide case and it turns out you have special powers. You can enter an alternate dimension by watching a TV show where the victims have yet to be murdered. 

SSX Tricky

  • Developer: EA Canada
  • Release Date: November 5, 2001

A sequel to the first SSX game, SSX Tricky is possibly the greatest snowboarding game ever and one of the best PS2 launch titles. It has a new roster of playable characters and completely new gameplay mechanics that make tricks look a lot cooler. You have the classic spin, flick, grab, etc. but now there is an adrenaline meter which upon filling up unlocks “uber tricks” unique to each character. 

Soulcalibur 2

  • Developer: Project Soul
  • Release Date: August 27, 2003

The original Soulcalibur was released on Dreamcast back in 1999 and was considered one of the best fighting games ever. It introduced weapon physics that took weapon weight into account while fighting. Plus there was a new defense system that gave you guarding options to protect yourself while laying on the ground, and you could also get back on your feet a lot quicker.

Soulcalibur 2 has the same gameplay mechanics with a new coat of paint. The original cast of fighters returns with much of the same animations and moves but you now have entirely new stages and improved visuals. There are new game modes too, and the AI has been slightly improved.

Dark Cloud 2

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Release Date: February 17, 2003

Like the original, Dark Cloud 2 is an excellent action RPG with a simple narrative that’s presented well. You play as Maximillian in this game, a child inventor with a talent for coming up with weird gadgets. Max inherited a mysterious little artifact that places him at the center of a massive quest to restore his dying world. 

Guitar Hero

  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Release Date: November 8, 2005

The one and only Guitar Hero, this game single-handedly transformed the way people view rhythm games. Earlier attempts to make games centered around music failed because they couldn’t capture the casual audience. Guitar Hero managed to bring in everyone regardless of their proficiency with a musical instrument.

Packaged along with the game was a Gibson SG electronic guitar that acted as a special controller. This controller uses five buttons, one on each of the first five frets. As you play, a scrolling fretboard on your TV screen tells you which button to press/ hold down. 

Amplitude

  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Release Date: March 24, 2003

Guitar Hero was far from Harmonix’s first stab at the rhythm game genre. They had done it before with a game called Frequency, and Amplitude was its successor. This game was released before the first Guitar Hero, and its goal was similar- making rhythm games mainstream.

Instead of playing the role of a rockstar, you drive a futuristic hovercraft on tracks made out of musical notes. There are lanes on each track, with every lane representing a different component of the song- bass, vocals, synth, etc. You gather higher scores if you don’t miss beats, and there are various powerups to increase the tempo.

GrimGrimoire

  • Developer: Vanillaware
  • Release Date: June 26, 2007

It may seem like a cheap Harry Potter knockoff at first, and I wouldn’t doubt you for thinking that way. After all, you play as a newly inducted young magician in a school presided over by a person called “Gammel Dore”. The evil mage Calvarous who was previously defeated by Gammel Dore is out for revenge and has killed everybody in the school except you.

However, you find yourself stuck in an infinite time loop that makes you go through your first 5 days at school. Over and over, until you become strong enough to defeat Calvarous by gathering “grimoires”. These grimoires are available for each of the 4 unique categories of magic and teach you new spells.   

Ridge Racer V

  • Developer: Namco
  • Release Date: October 25, 2000

Old fashioned arcade racing comes alive once again with Ridge Racer V. It’s mechanically similar to previous installments but with updated visuals and new cars + tracks for you to play on. The sound effects of roaring engines and squealing tires are pretty good, plus there’s an announcer to spice things up during races. 

Black

  • Developer: Criterion Games
  • Release Date: February 28, 2006

An undercover paramilitary organization called Black is tasked with protecting the United States from all threats- foreign and domestic. They operate independently of government oversight, answering directly to the president. Trained in tactical espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination, etc., each Black agent is a one-man army.

Gameplay is fast-paced and fun, you have access to a wide variety of firearms and explosive munitions. Everything in this game that can blow up, will blow up. It’s like an old action movie in video game form, involving plenty of conspiracy theories and world domination plans by cartoonish bad guys. 

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Release Date: November 15, 2005

An amalgamation of everything that gamers love about the Dragon Quest series, condensed into one beautiful 3D adventure. The art design has been done by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. That’s why many of the characters in this game look like they came out of Dragon Ball.

The main reason this game still works today is its ageless cell-shaded art style and excellent narrative. Combat is done through old-school turn-based systems typical of JRPGs, there is nothing revolutionary here but it still feels very satisfying. 

TimeSplitters 2

  • Developer: Free Radical Design
  • Release Date: October 8, 2002

First-person shooters in their early days didn’t have a good reputation on consoles because consoles lacked the hardware to run them properly. You would have poorly rendered worlds and choppy framerates, instantly ruining the experience. Plus, online multiplayer wasn’t a thing on 5th gen consoles so you were stuck with local split-screen.

All that changed with titles such as Goldeneye and TimeSplitters. TimeSplitters 2 is like the first game, but with more of everything. You have more playable characters, levels, weapons, game modes, etc., plus there’s an excellent map creator feature that lets you make custom levels of your own.

Ratchet & Clank

  • Developer: Insomniac Games
  • Release Date: November 4, 2002

Platforming as a genre had seen everything by the 90s, and it was starting to get stale at the end of the 16-bit era. You had new platformers that added little gimmicks but didn’t actually change much. Poor camera angles, repetitive level design, and boring collectibles were commonplace.

Then we got Ratchet & Clank in 2002. This felt more like an action-adventure game with a solid story than another bland 3D platformer. Each level in this game is a different planet, and the focus is placed on combat instead of how well you can jump around obstacles. 

Madden NFL 2004

  • Developer: EA Tiburon
  • Release Date: August 12, 2003

Most sports games don’t have enough of an improvement in the feature set to justify a new purchase every year. However, Madden NFL 2004 adds enough to the formula that it stands out over its predecessor. Take for example the Playmaker system and Owner mode.

While previous Madden games let you manage your team, you can now become the owner of your franchise. There are minigames you can play during Training Camp which will improve stat points for players. You can even set prices for food and merchandise while in Franchise mode, adding an economy management aspect to the game. 

Devil May Cry

  • Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
  • Release Date: October 16, 2001

Did you know that the first Devil May Cry game was actually a Resident Evil 4 build? It was canceled because the team thought there was too much action and goofiness instead of horror. They were right, Devil May Cry would never have worked as a horror game.

But it’s one of the best action games you will ever play. The story follows Dante, son of Sparda- a demon who rebelled against his own kind to protect humanity. The highlight of DMC is its combat system which focuses on sharp, fast-paced melee action with you wielding a bunch of different weapons. 

Odin Sphere

  • Developer: Vanillaware
  • Release Date: May 22, 2007

Is it a role-playing game? Is it a beat ‘em up? Odin Sphere arrived extremely late into the PS2’s life cycle, during a time when the Xbox 360 and PS3 were prioritized by game developers. Still, its hand-drawn artwork and vibrant colors make this game stand out from any other PS2 RPG.

The entire world of Odin’s Sphere is set within a storybook for kids which explains why it looks cartoonish and colorful. It follows a typical fantasy story about kings, mages, etc. without feeling cliché. The main attraction is its real-time brawler-style combat system that merges magical spells with weapon attacks. 

ESPN NFL 2K5

  • Developer: Visual Concepts
  • Release Date: July 20, 2004

It’s similar to the previous ESPN NFL game, but with a few minor tweaks. It fixed one major complaint players had with NFL Football. Which was the ease with which you could simply rush the ball since runners could change direction almost immediately.

Now you have to slow down first before turning, thanks to the momentum system. Another issue prevalent in the previous game that has now been fixed is the high rate of dropped passes. The defense system has also been changed, you can now alter defensive back and linebacker schemes using the right stick and L1 + R1.

Suikoden III

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: October 24, 2002

Suikoden was released during a deluge of JRPG games coming out for the PS2. Yet, this classic franchise managed to stay its course despite heavy competition. Thanks to mechanics and storytelling themes that are unique to Suikoden, the 3rd game stands out ahead of most other JRPGs.

It focuses on both personal stories and socio-political themes in a world with several warring factions. Suikoden also has a massive cast of over 100 recruitable characters, and lets you have up to 6 people in an active party. And what’s unique to this game is the fact that your party of 6 actually functions as 3 pairs of two people each during combat. 

Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: August 27, 2002

It’s a simple fantasy tale about a lone samurai on his mission to slay demons and defeat a corrupt warlord. The story is told via cinematic cutscenes that are filled with detail and references to feudal Japanese culture. The game has fast-paced hack ‘n slash combat but doesn’t use an analog control scheme.

Instead, you use the D-pad to rotate your character and make him run forward or back. The controls are similar to old Resident Evil games, and they can be a huge obstacle for modern gamers. Combat is fun because you can counterattack and use precise timing to land critical hits, plus you can infuse your weapon with magical powers.

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec

  • Developer: Polyphony Digital
  • Release Date: July 10, 2001

A racing sim that is easy to get into, but difficult to master. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec is one of the most ambitious and detailed racers for PS2. There are endless tuning options for each vehicle and a wide array of actual tracks such as Silverstone and Spa.

Some tracks are fictional, based within cities such as Tokyo and Seattle. However, all of the 150+ cars are licensed copies of their real-life counterparts. There are two primary game modes- arcade (for having some fun) and simulation (for serious competitive driving). 

Twisted Metal: Black

  • Developer: Incognito Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2001

Every Twisted Metal game is like a monster truck destruction derby, but with ridiculously over-the-top modifications and WWE-style character storylines. Twisted Metal: Black is perhaps the finest example of this design philosophy.

Because its story literally has a mystery man seeking out the most insane mental hospital patients to compete in a car fighting tournament. There are several enemies within each stage who you must beat to advance into the next stage. It’s like Quake mixed with Death Race. 

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

  • Developer: EA Black Box
  • Release Date: October 2, 2002

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is the classic NFS formula distilled to its essence. You’ve got exotic cars, some of the best driver’s roads surrounded by beautiful scenery, an amazing soundtrack, and cops on your tail. What’s not to like?

It’s one of the best arcade racers ever, with cars such as the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F50. Even the cops drive Lamborghinis. And there is a huge selection of tournaments + game modes. 

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

  • Developer: tri-Ace
  • Release Date: August 31, 2004

A story set in the distant future, where humans have become a space-faring civilization. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time follows the story of a young man on vacation with his family. Suddenly the world is attacked by a rival race from a different sector, thrusting our protagonist into the middle of a massive territorial conflict.

Combat is real-time and fully 3D, you have 4 basic attacks at the start. There are light and heavy attacks with short-range and long-range versions of each respective attack. You recruit new party members over time and gain skills by winning battles.  

Rogue Galaxy

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Release Date: January 30, 2007

Sometime during the early to mid-2000s, the PS2 became a platform for cheaply designed JRPG shovelware and endless sequels to existing JRPG franchises. Then in 2007, well after the glory days of the PS2 were already over, comes this new IP called Rogue Galaxy. It was created by people who had worked on Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud 2.

Instead of old-fashioned JRPG turn-based combat, Rogue Galaxy uses a much more action-centric real-time combat system that feels faster. There are plenty of colorful and upbeat characters you’ll meet, along with visually stunning places to explore. 

Conclusion

While the PS2 was not as revolutionary as the PS1, it built upon the foundation laid by its predecessor. Thanks to its impressive features combined with excellent 3rd party games, Sony’s PS2 became the best selling console ever. One of the reasons behind this success is the fact that it could play DVDs like any regular DVD player.

Many households purchased a PS2 simply to play movies and music. The Nintendo GameCube lacked this ability, despite its hardware being more powerful than the PS2 on paper. Finally, the PS2 had backward compatibility which meant you could play your PS1 game disks on it.

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Jacob

As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

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