Happy Birthday, PlayStation 2!

Today marks a very special day. October 26th, 2000 marked the debut of the PlayStation 2. Virtually every game, first-party or third-party, have graced the system. It can play DVDs, which changed the perception of consoles forever. It became a trailblazer for being more than just a console.

A lot of games in that generation had established their fanbases on the PS2. Within a year, Nintendo and Microsoft entered the console race with the GameCube and Xbox. Here are some of the best of the best that I’ve had the honor of playing through.

Grand Theft Auto III

When I first got the console, This was one of the first games I’ve gotten with it. I was blown away by the cinematic presentation of the story. It had shades of The Sopranos, Scarface, The Godfather. The utter mayhem you can unleash on the streets of Liberty City. In 2001, this game became the reason to go out and get a PS2 and it paved the way for all the other great sandbox titles today and every parent’s worst nightmare 😛

Devil May Cry

Resident Evil was in development hell and Capcom was at a crossroads. What started as a RE game became something else entirely. Devil May Cry is a lot like Resident Evil, but faster and more fun. It revolves around Dante, part human, part demon and all around demon-slaying, gun-slinging badass. The gameplay is centered on an awesome combat system that highly emphasizes swords, guns and style and the difficulty is enough to give the most hardcore gamers nightmares. it became a must-play title during the PS2’s infancy and a series that paved the way for modern-day hack-n-slash.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Any PS2 owner’s collection would be incomplete without GTA: San Andreas. It built on the foundations of GTA III and improved on it dramatically. A whole state of three cities is at the player’s fingertips. The parallels to Las Vegas, L.A. and San Francisco are fantastic and it also allows customization to the character’s appearance and stats. Wanna get in shape? Go to a gym. Wanna be a better wheelman? Go to driving school. The possibilities are endless. Another high point in the epic, controversial series.

Tekken Tag Tournament

Tekken Tag Tournament came out the same day the PS2 launched. It was essentially Tekken 3.5but instead of one-on-one battles. the emphasis is on two on two battles. Twice the fun, twice the experimentation. A stacked roster, terrific visuals and an overall fun multiplayer package. It’s a sentimental classic among the Tekken fans. I played the Arcade version first.

God of War 

Nintendo had Mario. Microsoft had Master Chief. But in 2005, just as the PS2 was on the precipice of it’s twilight years. Sony had found it’s new mascot. His name is Kratos. The Ghost of Sparta. This game blew my mind when I first played it. The graphics were cutting-edge, the combat system is so, so fun with copious amounts of blood and it had a gripping story. Pretty cool that a pissed-off Spartan became one of the many faces of PlayStation. One of the best action titles ever made.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3

DBZ’s track record in games is mediocre. When the Budokai series was introduced, it became a revelation. The presentation is identical to the show but the gameplay didn’t hit those same highs. Budokai 3 was the point where the presentation and gameplay were in perfect sync. The combat is layered and intense and it’s bolstered by an RPG-like single-player campaign that spans across the series and the films. This may sound subjective, but this is the best DBZ game ever created. I don’t think any DBZ game that came out after that has come close to it’s greatness. A forgotten gem in the PS2’s extensive library.

Bully

At first, Bully was perceived to be a GTA set in a high school. Columbine, this is not. It follows Jimmy Hopkins, a juvenile delinquent who’s been shipped to Bulworth Academy. the roughest boarding school in town. The gameplay is so varied. The classes (English, Chemistry, Biology, Art, Shop, Gym) are minigames, but the real fun happens outside of class where Jimmy has to navigate around the social minefield of boarding school. It’s basically the sandbox fun of GTA fused with a John Hughes film. It graduates with honors as another classic from Rockstar.

The Warriors

Let’s be honest, most movie-based games on the market suck. This, thankfully, did not. The Warriors is based on the cult classic where it follows a gang from Coney Island that are framed for murder. This game expanded on the mythology and it takes place three months before the film and it took a two-hour film and stretched into a 12 to 15 hour game. It hearkens back to old-school beat-em-ups. I can dig that!

God of War II

Back when the PS3 just came out. Sony gave PS2 owners a good reason to hang on to their consoles a bit longer. God of War II is the perfect sequel. Everything that made the original great is turned up to 11. More boss fights, more blood, better graphics. The last great PS2 game.

SSX Tricky/SSX3

I want to collectively put these two games together, because I had such a blast with both games. Tricky, in particular, was the one I played first and it oozed personality. The characters are awesome and I get such a kick out of landing a string of tricks when i get some crazy air. SSX 3, is the peak (pun intended) of the series, instead of tracks. it’s three peaks on one HUGE mountain. once you unlock everything. Go to Freeride and you’ll feel like you’re there. Such a joy to play.

It’s Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time It’s Tricky…it’s Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)”

Okami

Any naysayer who says that gaming can’t be an art form. Show them this game. Okami is a cel-shaded masterpiece. It’s reminiscent of Zelda but with a sun goddess. It didn’t sell well and Clover Studio had shut down and the future of the series is uncertain. Thankfully, An HD remaster came out on the PS3 and it looks even better now than it did in 2006. It’s a fantastic game that deserves another look.

Tekken 5

Tekken 3 is the best in the series. Tekken 5 is the 1A in that conversation. It took the gameplay back to basics. It’s faster and more fluid and it got rid of the clunky switch maneuver from Tekken 4. It plays like Tekken 3 but with awesome graphics, deep customization and it features arcade-perfect ports of Tekken 1-3. It’s a fighting game classic.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

After falling to the sophomore jinx in the previous game. Dante got his swagger back in DMC3: Dante’s Awakening.It takes place prior to DMC1 and it features a younger, and ballsier Dante. The heart of the story is his bloody feud with his twin brother Vergil. The combat system got a dramatic facelift with four different styles (offensive, defensive, evasive and firearms). It encourages a lot of experimentation and it cements DMC as the Street Fighter of the hack n slash genre.

The best of the rest:

NBA Street/ NBA Street Vol.2

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

Def Jam Fight for NY

Jak and Daxter trilogy

Comment below if you remember any classics 🙂

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