March 16, 2007 -
Okay, so at least we got the backwards compatibility...
All joking aside, the PlayStation 2 has been an incredible success. It was the most popular home console of the last generation -- selling well over 115 million units worldwide with the numbers rising every day. Moreover, it helped popularize the DVD format and introduced some of the most successful franchises on the market today. Not a bad resume at all.
At the end of the day, though, the games are what made the PlayStation 2 what it is. Its library is as impressive and diverse as any other out there, and choosing the best 25 titles among thousands is not an easy task. We were forced to make some tough decisions about what would be included and how we'd pick the winners. We looked at how good the game was in general, what kind of impact it had on our industry, and how fun it is to play by today's standards.
Another element we had to keep in mind was the wealth of strong franchises. Some of the PlayStation 2's greatest series meant that some games from the same series would have multiple entries on the list -- forcing other titles off. To keep this to a minimum, we decided to limit the number of sequels in a series to one unless the follow-up was such a jump in technology or gameplay, that it would be impossible to leave it off.
It's a given that our list is going to generate both kudos and revulsion among our readers. With so many great games already released for the PS2, it was inevitable that we'd have to leave some off (much to our disappointment). This doesn't mean that we're forgetting such classics exist, it's just that we didn't find them important enough to make the list.
If you disagree with our list or would simply like to bitch about one of your favorite games that was left off by the time the countdown has ended on Friday, go ahead and write in to the PlayStation Team.
In any case, we're beginning the countdown today with our lowest five picks and will be revealing five more each day of this week. Enjoy!
If you want to skip ahead and see which game took number one, then check out our special episode of IGN Weekly! We've gathered all the editors together to reflect on what truly made these games great on not just the PlayStation 2, but other platforms as well. Sit back, turn up the volume, and click play. We guarantee not only some of the industry's most respected nerds, but also pretty girls. How can you resist?
Synopsis: When it comes to rhythm games, a lot of them are simple knock offs of previous titles. Sometimes, a developer simply comes up with a formula that works and pumps out sequel after sequel, knowing that the fans for that title will always be around. But it takes significant innovation to come up with a game that appeals to rhythm fans and the beat challenged.
Amplitude managed to encapsulate this with the ability to mix and remix songs from a large number of genres, such as techno and alternative, pushing the gameplay established by its predecessor, FreQuency. Amplitude also took advantage of the PS2's online adapter, letting players create remixes online for other players to explore, as well as a surprisingly good chat and ranking system. Hitting notes on a descending track with a DualShock was never fun, until Amplitude landed on PS2s.
Synopsis: In some games, it seems like the hierarchy goes: graphics, gameplay, lunch and storyline. Suikoden III said "Screw that."
In 2002, Konami dropped this RPG and introduced the world to the Trinity Sight System -- a game device that let players experience the same story from three different perspectives. It might sound boring, but trust us, it isn't. Each character's tale expands the overall story while filling in the holes from your previous 15 to 20 hours as somebody else. Although you'll be working on the bigger picture for some time, the smaller conclusions keep the story moving and you happy.
An expansive environment, easy to navigate battle system, the franchise's first use of a skill set, a Barbarian Prince, a Captain of the Zexen Knights and Harmonian undercover officer help this RPG coast to being one of the greatest PS2 games of all time.
Now go find all of those stars of destiny.
Synopsis: If you walked through a college dormitory in the early 2000s, you probably saw -- or at least heard people bickering over -- Tekken Tag Tournament. Although the title was just a port of the popular arcade game, its stiff kicks and stinging punches established the fighter as a pillar of the PS2 launch lineup and saw its way into millions of systems.
Not a bad pick, kids.
The game featured more than 20-fighters, a simple control scheme, 3D backgrounds and lots of secrets to unlock, but the meat of the title was the multiplayer. Grab a friend (or a Multitap and lot of friends) and duke it out in battles ranging from standard arcade, versus, team and one-on-one versus mode.
Good textures, new moves and more made this one an instant classic.
Synopsis: The premise behind the game was completely absurd: Disney cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse thrown in with Square Enix characters to make a new kind of action RPG. However, as strange as it sounds, these two dissimilar franchises came together incredibly well.
Sora's massive adventure to find his friends Kairi and Riku took him through numerous Disney inspired worlds, such as Wonderland and Olympus. Along the way, he befriended famous characters like Aladdin and Ariel, fought alongside Donald Duck and Goofy, and captured the hearts of various RPG fans. There seemed to be something for everyone, including secret endings and bosses, fighting tournaments and hidden collectables. Even if you hated Disney or Square Enix titles, you couldn't help but be impressed by the massive impact this title had on the PS2, which spawned a popular sequel and mid-franchise card battling game.
Synopsis: If one man brought skateboarding to the masses, that man is Tony Hawk - and it's products like Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 that made it cool for suburban kids to talks about trucks with their fathers.
The previous PlayStation installments of the game of Hawk were masterpieces in their own right and raised the bar extremely high for the 2001 release and PS2 jump of THPS3, but Hawk and his Activision cohorts wowed the gaming world with eight levels of bustling traffic and annoyed people, a career mode that allowed more diverse customized characters and the first online game specifically for the PS2.
Even if you didn't like skateboarding, you respected and played this game. If for some reason you missed it, break out your board and go ollie.