The 36 Best PS2 Games
A comprehensive look at 36 of the greatest video games available on Sony Playstation 2.
- October 26, 2010 11:25 AM PT
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater / Subsistence
When you've experienced the ultimate in modern stealth combat, where else to go but back in time? Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater tells the origin story of Big Boss, the original NES baddie, who bares a striking similarity to Solid Snake. With camouflage-based stealth and survival techniques mixed with the series' standard combat, Snake Eater is a delightfully delicious new taste of stealth.
- God of War
An epic narrative, an iconic main character, intense action, and amazing gameplay--that was the golden formula that creator David Jaffe hit upon for the first God of War. Released nearly five years into the PlayStation 2's lifespan, the first God of War proved that the console still had a lot of life left in its black plastic shell. Recounting the vengeful tale of Kratos, a blood-thirsty Spartan warrior who rebels against the gods who rule from Mount Olympus, God of War was a fantastic game that left a lasting impression on the action genre. The combat was amazing, with a deep combo system, enemies galore, and eye-popping fatality animations that delivered a satisfying and visceral thrill. The game was also unabashedly mature, and its production values and gameplay hold up to this day.
- Final Fantasy XII
The twelfth installment in the world-famous Final Fantasy series was revolutionary for a number of reasons. One was the birth of the Ivalice Alliance - Square Enix's attempt at creating actual continuity in the Final Fantasy universe. Another was the end to random battles, with the player able to size up a foe before you take 'em on. Lastly? An epic story that spanned the entire world of Ivalice, and over 100 hours of play time. Final Fantasy XII is the series' grand exit from the PlayStation 2, and it exited in style.
An under-appreciated classic, Okami was more of an experience than a game. Featuring an unusual story firmly rooted in Japanese mythology, the player took on the wolf form of the sun goddess Amaterasu in a mission to restore color, life, and prosperity to the world. With breathtaking visuals that appeared painted on your television screen and a gameplay system that blows the concept of "innovation" out of the water, Okami was an all-around masterpiece. Pity it didn't sell more copies - it's a classic.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
MO< The amazing open-world sandbox gameplay of Grand Theft Auto III made it one of the PS2's biggest hits. What could possibly be added to the sordid tale of mob crime to make it more appealing? The surprisingly simple answer: a ton of 1980's nostalgia. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City oozes retro charm, gave its lead character a voice and a personality, and made subtle improvements to the cherished gameplay of the GTA series. Though it was followed by the bigger San Andreas and the prettier GTA IV, many series fans still consider Vice City to be the pinnacle of the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Shadow of the Colossus
The concept of Shadow of the Colossus is so simple, it's amazing nobody tried it before. In this adventure game, you'll explore a massive landscape and fight a series of massive bosses. By trimming out the fat of extraneous enemies and other tiresome challenges, the game is able to focus on the greatest parts of any videogame-the boss battles! Shadow of the Colossus is considered a modern-day classic, and when you see the titular Colossi in motion, you'll instantly understand why.
- Resident Evil 4
Widely regarded as the best game in the series, Resident Evil 4 proved that you can, in fact, take a good thing and make it even better. With Resident Evil 2's Leon Kennedy back in the lead role, Resident Evil 4 was revolutionary for a number of reasons. The first surprise was the biggest: There were no zombies! That's right-the Resident Evil franchise was turned on its head when introduced to the Las Plagas, a deadly parasitic life form affecting a small Spanish village. Add in Resident Evil 4's over-the-shoulder targeting system and heart-stopping quick time events, and you have an instant classic on your hands. This is one of the most important games of the decade, and the PS2 version is a must-own.
- God of War 2
How do you improve on a game that was almost universally hailed as being one of the best action games ever created? You make the sequel bigger and better. With new weapons, more godly powers, and larger levels, God of War II was everything its little brother was and then some. Continuing where the original God of War left off, the second installment in the God of War saga brings Kratos' one-man vendetta against Mount Olympus to a thrilling cliff-hanger ending that left gamers everywhere clamoring for the third and final chapter (soon to be revealed on the PlayStation 3). Oh, it also features one of the most epic opening levels ever created: an awe-inspiring fight against the Colossus of Rhodes that, in lesser games, would have served as the final boss fight. With expectations high after the success of God of War, new director Corey Barlog and his team had to deliver a masterpiece to live up to the hype. Luckily for PS2 owners, they did just that. God of War II is a PS2 high point.
Be sure to also read: The 24 Best PS3 games, The Best PC games, The 10 Best PSP games, The 28 Best Wii games, The 31 Best DS games, The 32 Best Xbox 360 games, The 36 Best iPhone games, and The 25 Best iPad games.