Of late there has been a huge upswing in retro-gaming. With the advent of awesome websites like GOG.com and GameTap, and the inclusion of older games on the Wii and PSN, gamers can revisit the games they grew up on. This opportunity also enables people to play some great, older games that they may have missed; and they get to play them at a fraction of their original cost.
I believe that many people, as they should, are paying a lot of attention to the games of yesteryear, but there is one inherent problem with that. They are looking too far backwards.
The Playstation 2, a landmark system, featured state-of-the-art equipment. For its time it had the most stunning graphics we had seen up until that point, a lightning fast processor, and a group of some of the greatest games that were ever made. This list accumulates the best Playstation 2 games of all time, and if you are lucky, then they are all at your local Gamestop for under 10$. (Almost all of them anyways)
1) GTA: San Andreas
Most lists make you wait until the end to figure out what their top choice is. I don’t play that shit. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is one of the best games of all time. It is an action game, it has incredible plot, it is an RPG in the truest sense of the phase, and there has yet to be a game as wholly epic as GTA: San Andreas. I don’t really know WTF RockStar was thinking when they came out with GTA4. Yeah it’s fine, but cmon, San Andreas was on PS2 and you could fly jets, planes, helicopters, boats, a friggin jetpack, and just about any other vehicle known to mankind. I was actually surprised that they didn’t include like a UFO or something with the amount of vehicles that were present. Flashforward to GTA4, and what-do-you-know?! Basically the same plot as San Andreas, and though the graphics improved, the game itself was a significantly dumbed down version of itself.
San Andreas featured something for everyone (except maybe girls…) Guns and cars and hookers are in every action game, but this has a system of muscle building, the creation and maintenance of a gang that could very helpfully assist you in your missions and sidequests. GTA:SA even had co-op in some sections. The story was well-developed, and I truly felt a connection with the character himself. I love this game so much in fact that I was almost done (at about 86%) when the power in my house went out. When I loaded up my PS2 I realized my save had been corrupted. I took a break for about a week to get over the loss and started immediately. I have played through that game multiple times, getting 100% multiple times (which is NO easy feat). Also, a small aspect of the game I loved, was the hand-to-hand combat system. Your character has the ability to learn different fighting styles, so if you like down and dirty street fighting, or if you like masterful martial arts, you can learn either and beat your way through the mean streets of San Andreas. Also, the voice acting is sick, it’s a hilarious game, and if you have a couple bucks, and a PS2 you are in for one hell of a joyride. Buy this.
2) The Thing
Yeah it was a John Carpenter sci-fi/horror film from the 80s but so what? It was an awesome one; in the era of sci-fi epics like The Abyss, and the Alien Quadrilogy, The Thing managed to hold it own. The Ps2 game is a survival-horror game that actually takes place after the events of the movie. This was a bold (and very welcomed) idea. Many films-turned-games suck big time. Iron Man, Jaws: Unleashed, Street Fighter: The Movie…you get the picture. The Thing stands apart from those shitty games by implementing a stellar plot and very unique gameplay. There is a fear/trust system that enables you to gain the trust of your allies, or turn them into your enemies. I thought that was a great touch to the survival-horror formula we have grown accustomed to. Also, they didn’t half ass the storytelling. It is very coherent with the movie, and ties in characters from the original movie smoothly. This was not a lame attempt to capitalize on the success of a cult-classic film, this was a homage to the fans who also happen to love games. If ya like video games, and ya like movies, then I see no reason not to purchase this game.
3) SSX Tricky
Without question the greatest extreme sports game of all time (other than Tony Hawk 1,2,3). Seriously, there is not one single flaw to this game. The characters are amazing and unique, the music is stupendous, the levels are so fun, and the difficulty is tuned perfectly. If you love getting big air and doing crazy tricks, then there is something for you. If you love racing at tear-inducing speeds, then there is something for you too. This is one of those games you can play by yourself and feel like you are playing with other people. The AI in this game is so awesome, and the commentary made by your player is so funny. Also, I have to take a second to mention the music and the graphics. The music is enough to recommend purchasing this game. As soon as you take off from the starting line you feel the heavy bass and drums accompany your extreme journey to the finish. Each track has been masterfully mixed and combines hip-hop, club music, and dub to provide a soundscape that pleases the ear. Now lets discuss graphics. Pull out your PS2, dust it off, and plug it in. Now put in SSX Tricky. It looks so amazing. It has such incredble graphics and this game came out well into the PS2 cycle, but nowhere near the current gen cycle. This game is also so cheap. Recap: Amazing Music, Amazing Gameplay, Amazing Price. You make the decision.
4) Kingdom Hearts
Final Fantasy? Yeah thats cool. Disney? Yeah thats cool too. But why should I care about some stupid little kid running around with Donald and Goofy? Because games perpetually half-ass their stories as well as their storytelling techniques, and Kingdom Hearts doesn’t in any way shape or form. I cannot stress enough, if you want to experience an incredible story then you need, NEED to play KH. For the average player, first time through, I’ll say it’s between 60-70 hours to beat the game. I played the shit out of this game; I mean seriously just did stupid things to make sure I got every single aspect of this game completed, and it took me like 92 hours. My second playthrough of just the story took like 42 hours or something. In any event, a game that lasts more than 12 hours and manages to tell a compelling story that doesn’t make you want to turn away from it is nothing short of amazing. When I first starting playing KH I was not a huge Final Fantasy fan. I had only played FF7 and though I loved it, it wasn’t enough to make me a true FFFan. Later I played FF8, FF9, and FF2. When I revisited KH I had a newfound appreciation for the game, and understood many more of the references that are made. Just to clarify, this game isn’t for Disney fans or for Final Fantasy fans. This game is for people who love a good story, and love a great game with memorable characters and amazing gameplay.
5) Spider-Man 2
My favorite games are open-world games that give you a variety of large and small choices. When I say “small choices” I am referring to the methods by which the player can beat individual challenges. For instance, when you are fighting a large group of enemies in Spider-Man 2 you can do it in a very straightforward manner. Punch, kick, and combo your way through the baddies. Or, you can swing around, jump off buildings, carry baddies through the streets of Manhattan, pummeling foes with the limp bodies of other foes. When I say “large choices,” I mean choices that allow you to alter the course of the game; ones that provide you with different endings and totally different pathways to the end of the game. Spider-Man 2 doesn’t have any of those large choices, but the whole game is built upon the foundation of thousands of small choices.
The most mundane task in Spider-Man 2 is fun as hell. Basically Spidey2 is split into Main Quest Missions, Side-Missions, and Petty Crimes. Petty Crimes can include everything from purse-snatching to a child letting go of a balloon. Trust me when I say trying to catch a balloon is so fun. Also, swinging is just about the most fun I have ever had in any video game. Close your eyes and think about this:
6) Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
Where do I begin with this one? Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a.k.a. MvC2 is hands down the best 2D Fighter ever created. It also, in my opinion, is one of the best fighters of all time. The character selection is rich with classic characters from both franchises including: Cable, Wolverine, Iceman, Spider-man, Venom, Mega Man, Jill Valentine, Guile, Ryu, Ken, and even Rollbot…who sucks. The weird thing about this game is its bugs and glitches. MvC2’s bugs and glitches have become very controversial due to the hardcore players using them to their advantage. Some games are marred by terrible glitches; Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s glitches enable you to perform infinite combos and block-breakers of epic proportions. The learning curve on the game is STEEP, but due to the team building element (you choose three characters to fight with) there is an enormous depth to each battle. No two battles will ever be the same, regardless of skill level of either opponent. This is a game that grows on you fast, despite its learning curve. It’s available for 14.99 on PSN and XBLA, and that is a great price. You will spend hours upon hours playing this game. If it were 9.99 I think every person in America would own this game, but in the meantime spend the extra 5 bucks and get the game. You will not regret it.
7) God Of War I & II
With the recent release of GOW3 people have been forgetting about GOW I & II. GOW as a franchise didn’t really change much as far as the action adventure genre is concerned. I mean it’s essentially a mash-up between Devil May Cry, Max Payne, and Prince Of Persia – disagree if you may, it’s just my opinion. I think where God Of War really shines as a franchise is its visceral approach to the genre. Kratos is the anti-hero of anti-heroes. He’s a douchebag with a heart of…not gold, maybe something cheaper. His weapons are dope as sh*t – the standard weapons (my personal favorite to use) are two blades that are chained to his forearms. Once you have played a while and mastered the techniques to using these puppies you are pretty much unstoppable. I mean even on the hardest difficulty, in GOW2 you are just mowing down baddies left and right. They paid attention to detail when they made this franchise, and GOW3 is an absolute gem. It’s an extremely solid series, and there is a reason it has received so much attention. I don’t think it’s genre-breaking, or even bending for that matter, but in an age where 95% of all entertainment sucks ass, God Of War shreds the competition by producing fun, replayable games that make the players smile. It’s not the best game ever, but you will have one hell of a weekend playing it.
Honestly the first time I played this game I thought it sucked. I had no clue why everyone was ranting and raving about it until the second time I played it through. Essentially it’s this super artsy-fartsy game where you are like this demigod wolf creature and you have to figure out all this bullshit with puzzles and blah blah. Thats the first playthrough. When you take your time to actually appreciate each element of the game (my second playthrough), it really stands alone in a genre by itself. It takes the best action-adventure elements from games like Shadow Of The Colossus, or Zelda or something, and makes you feel like you are really participating in this deep adventure. The difficulty level is staggeringly easy, which at first I hated, but once I realized its not about the difficulty I started to enjoy it. The story is great, the art direction is obviously beautiful, and the gameplay is extremely unique. I reccomend this to anyone who enjoys a great story and isn’t afraid to be open-minded. I learned a lot about Japanese art from playing Okami — the use of space, creating time, and deliberation — all are extremely important elements of traditional Japanese art. Okami is a game for people who want a mix of great story, unique combat, and a dash of culture.
9) Shadow Of The Colossus
If you don’t know what this game is, then muster up all your strength and push that rock out from over you. This is the b-all end-all of games for the PS2. It pushes the limits of the PS2 to its fullest potential, and manages to look as good if not better than many of the games that are out today. Incredible platforming, unique gameplay, and an incredibly deep moral to the story make Shadow Of The Colossus one of the best games probably of all time. There has not ever been a game like this, and I would be shocked if there ever is a game like this again. I would buy a PS2 just to play this game.
10) Steambot Chronicles
This is kind of a weird random game many people don’t know about, but it’s awesome. I’m pretty sure this is the only steampunk game ever, and it rules. You have an opportunity to traverse an incredibly vast world on the back of a very customizable steam-powered machine. There are tons of side-quests, the main quest is enormous, and you will never run out of sh*t to do. It’s a full fledged sandbox RPG, but I have yet to see anything similar to it, and if you want to pick up a cheap game that will keep you interested, it’s definitely worth checking out Steambot Chronicles.
Yakuza is one of Sega’s quickly growing IPs. The title basically sums up the whole game, but Yakuza is a linear Beat ‘Em Up that brings many elements of Okami to mind. Yakuza and Okami are completely different beasts, but the foundation of both games is Japanese culture. You will travel throughout many districts in Japan and see the hustle, bustle, and flow of a busy district in Japan. There are many ways to play despite the linear nature of Yakuza — you can power up the protagonists fighting moves and dropkick your way through the story, or you can take your time and really listen in on the dialogue and the various fighting options that are available. Yakuza is very reminiscent of Shenmue for Dreamcast (which also kicks ass).
12) Rogue Galaxy
Do you like great video games? Good. Buy Rogue Galaxy. I am an avid sci-fi reader, and when I played Rogue Galaxy, I found myself thinking back to all those great sci-fi adventures I had read. There is a diverse cast of characters in this game, and each character provides not only a great balance to your party, but a great depth to the scope of the game. I am a huge fan of long games that keep you interested, and Rogue Galaxy defines that concept. It’s an inexpensive buy that will keep you entertained for weeks to come (months if you aren’t hardcore). The battle system is very unique; rather than it being passive or active turn-based, it’s in real time, kind of like Kingdom Hearts, but there are elements of strategy involved. I don’t like to give things away, so I’ll let you see what I mean…it adds a huge element to the game and you should see for yourself. This is one of the top recommendations on the list, it’s one everyone can enjoy..
13) MGS 3: Snakeater
MGS. Well, if you know ANYTHING at all about games, then you know that MGS has sick gameplay, and just about the craziest most out there plots of all time. Whether or not you are into the MGS “lore”, you will enjoy this game. It is not for the feint of heart however. Some parts are just downright bullsh*t, but a bit of trial and error will get you through the majority of this game without too many setbacks. If you are into the MGS storyline and timelines, well this is the game for you. It is arguably the best in the series, and really ties many aspects of the series together. I think this is probably my favorite MGS game as far as plot is concerned (gameplay: MGS4 takes the cake).
14) Resident Evil: Code Veronica
RE is one of the hardest, most annoyingly challenging games to beat. That being said, you can beat this game in one night, or over the course of one weekend and feel like you have truly accomplished something. This game is dirt cheap right now, so it’s a great purchase of a classic game. The story is convoluted as ever, but it’s awesome. Though the difficulty is abnormally high you will be able to beat it, just don’t give up. This is one of the best horror games that has ever been created hands down, so don’t overlook it. It is a great place to start your trek down the path that is Resident Evil. After Code Veronica the whole Resident Evil series changed its gameplay elements, so this preserves the classic style of RE.
15) Jak & Daxter
Jak & Daxter is one of the most versatile platformers ever. Seriously, how many games can you name that are open-world non-linear platformers? I can’t think of any other than Jak & Daxter. I love this series, the first and third games are sick as hell. The second game is randomly the hardest game of all time. I don’t know why, because 90% of it is fun as hell, but the 10% that is really difficult sucks balls. If you can stomach the random difficulty of Jak 2, then you can probably purchase this whole series for 15$ or less and enjoy the hell out of a great IP that will challenge you and remind you why you love playing games.
16) Ratchet & Clank
I have not laughed at a game in a very long time. Ratchet & Clank never takes itself seriously for a second, but also manages to introduce bad ass characters inside a bad ass plot. This is such a fun game — it is definitely difficult, but the odds are in your favor. The newest series for PS3 really is the best part of the franchise, but the PS2 games are really a great introduction to all of the characters and how the series works as a whole. Similarly to Jak & Daxter you can purchase the whole PS2 series for under 20$, which, I mean cmon that’s like 4 games for basically nothing. If you look hard enough you can find 20$ lying around on the street everyday. BUY THE GAMES AND PLAY THEM.
17) Dragonball Z: Budokai 3
Greatest 3D fighter ever. Fastest pace, greatest depth to the characters, an excellent single player mode, tons of minigames…etc. I can’t think of a single fighting game that provides the player with more options, most importantly, DBZ Budokai 3 provides a shitload of characters with completely different ways of fighting and customizing to play as you see fit. This is a classic, and should not be missed. It’s also cheap as hell, and if you have a couple people playing and getting into it it will become an OBSESSION.
Fuck this game. It is the hardest game I have ever played in my entire life and I hate it. But for that reason I love it. There is no game like Siren, there will never be a game like Siren. Good luck and that is all I have to say to you. It’s survival horror, it’s scary as shit, and you will not beat it no matter how hard you try. Also, don’t even think about using walkthroughs because they are useless. Like I said, good luck.
And that’s Sh*t L*st #2. Remember, each of these games are for the Playstation 2 game console, they are all cheap as hell, and will provide you will endless fun across many different genres. There is something for everyone on this list, so enjoy!