Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: PS2 20th anniversary memories
GameCentral readers celebrate 20 years of the PlayStation 2 and games ranging from Final Fantasy 10 to Silent Hill 2.
Since last week was the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation 2, this week’s Hot Topic asked you to share your memories of Sony’s second console. Did you own a PlayStation 2 at the time and which games were your favourites?
You can probably imagine the most popular games already, with lots of mentions of GTA and Final Fantasy, but the most common comment from people was praise for the console’s diversity of games and how it’s never really been matched by any other format.
It’s got to be GTA 3 for this. San Andreas and Vice City are better games but when GTA 3 came out it was probably the most important video game since Super Mario 64. You can still see its influence today and GTA itself is still the biggest game in the world (that people pay for anyway).
I have actually played the game relatively recently and it’s kind of unbelievable how bad it looks, with a terrible frame rate and ridiculous looking characters. But at the time there’d never been anything else like it and as far as I’m concerned Rockstar deserve all their success.
The sheer ambition of the game, running on such primitive technology, is amazing. But it’s also the production values, with the radio stations and the licensed music, and the relatively serious storyline that isn’t sci-fi or fantasy but something close to the real world. No wonder the PlayStation 2 was so successful.
Never the final fantasy
Ah, the PlayStation 2. My first Sony console, having never had a PS1, or indeed any console from that generation. I bought my first PlayStation 2 in 2002, not too long after launch, and picked up Summoner – the excitement was real and I actually really enjoyed that game. Then came Final Fantasy 10 which I initially borrowed from a friend. This game absolutely blew me away, igniting my love for Final Fantasy, Japanese role-playing games, and Squaresoft (Square Enix) as a developer.
I knew of Final Fantasy but had never played one; following 10, which I devoured over the space of a month or so, I went and bought 7 to 9 and played those also. 10 still remains my favourite and I own it on PS Vita and PlayStation 4, as well as still having the original. I even enjoyed 10-2. Hopefully one day they will make 10-3 as they hinted at years ago!
The PlayStation 2 library is still, to this day, the best games collection I’ve ever seen and there are too many games/series to mention. I still have my PlayStation 2 hooked up and play it regularly and when I do I’m flooded with nostalgia and memories from that time. Of course, few hold up graphically but in terms of gameplay, wackiness, story and enjoyability a lot of them not only hold up but surpass more modern games for me.
I even bought a US one so I could play all of the Xenosaga games without having to mess around with mods or disc swap tricks. There are some series on PlayStation 2 that should be brought back; I won’t bore everyone with a list but it is a crying shame that there have been no Shadow Hearts games since the PlayStation 2.
Maybe it’s the talk of the series coming back via Sony, but Silent Hill 2 is the first game that came to mind for this Hot Topic. I think the reason they’ve had so much trouble making sequels is that it’s just so good, with the most perfect atmosphere and a story that is far more complex the more you look into it. It’s scary, sure, but not in the jump scare sense. It’s more of an existential horror, as you really James is stuck in a hell of his making that he may even deserve.
I hope they do bring it back, but if they do they remember that Silent Hill is not Resident Evil, it’s not an action game at all. What it is though is one of my favourite games ever and the PlayStation 2 was filled with a mountain of other classics. Although I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already…
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The PlayStation 2 was a great console and I’d say the perfect mix of Japanese and Western games. I played tons of SOCOM on it but I also played stuff like Disgaea and Okami which I loved just a much. The PlayStation 4 has something close to that mix but the PlayStation 3 absolutely did not and that was easily my least favourite generation of console.
As for my favourite PlayStation 2 game, I would say Psychonauts was up there, along with Burnout 2 and Persona 4. The recent remaster of Devil May Cry 4 on Switch also piqued my interest, as that was another great PlayStation 2 game. So many great games really, and you can tell that simply by the fact that they’re all still around, being remaster, remade, or getting sequels.
SOCOM isn’t though, which is a bit a weird, I wonder if Sony will be bringing that back on the PlayStation 5. I do approve of their focus on single-player games but the thing about the PlayStation 2 was the variety and the PlayStation 4 doesn’t have quite the same range.
The spice of life
So many great games on the PlayStation 2, it really was a classic console. SSX Tricky, Burnout 3, Gran Turismo, R-Type Final, Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (not the other ones!), Ratchet & Clank, Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus, Silent Hill, and GTAs… and those are just the obvious ones off the top of my head!
The secret to its success is pretty simply really: variety. Variety of game types and also of Japanese and developers. That’s something Microsoft couldn’t offer (too many American games) or Nintendo (not enough American games). Sony got it just right and were rewarded for it. You could argue their rivals didn’t put up that much of fight but that’s not their fault.
The PlayStation 2 is absolutely one of the best consoles ever made and as usual it’s all because of the games.
Worst game ever
PlayStation 2 was a great console, no doubt about that. But what surprises me is that my favourite PlayStation game of this generation was my most hated of that one. I couldn’t stand the God Of War games when they first came out, as Kratos was such a loathsome character and all the violence was so childish and over-the-top.
I’m shocked that I ended up loving God Of War 4 so much, which shows how much things can change I guess. My actual favourite game was Gran Turismo 3, which, err… doesn’t exist on the PlayStation 4 (no, I don’t count GT Sport).
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I remember GameCentral’s review of the year with the PlayStation 2, which went ‘At the dawn of the year, a great black monolith appeared on the horizon’ or something like that. Basically, this slab was instrumental in kicking off an era which would be groundbreaking and then progressing the games industry into something bigger that it was before.
When you played games like Final Fantasy 10, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Persona 4, Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer’s Call, God Of Wars 1 and 2, and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, you get a good indication of how graphically dynamic future gameplay experiences were going to be.
This was definitely my most played console I reckon, because even when the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 came out I was still using this machine for awesome gaming moments in Silent Hill 2, the Project Zero series, and the remarkable and emotional Persona 4. All of these games, plus Medal Of Honor: Frontline and Rising Sun, proved the diversity and pure games choice we had for this console icon.
The memories were great and the endless amount of banter and discussions at work we had about our PlayStation 2 gaming experiences are very nostalgic to think about. This was a console which so many third parties loved to develop for, that the other consoles were just blown out of the water. Did I mention Grand Theft Auto 3?! Wow, I think I’ll end on that and say thanks to Sony for the gaming freedom for designers and players back then, it was a pleasure – thanks again for the memories.
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