GameCentral readers celebrate 20 years of the PlayStation 2 and games ranging from GTA 3 to Guitar Hero.
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.
There’s a good reason the PlayStation 2 is the best-selling console ever and for me it will always the best. Sure, there’s a lot of nostalgia in that when I say it but also I genuinely think it had the highest variety of game types there’s even been. Because the GameCube and Xbox were so far behind it everyone made games for the PlayStation 2 and that meant every type of game ended up appearing on it.
My personal favourite would probably be GTA: San Andreas, but since I bet everyone is going to mention that or one of the other GTAs, my other more obscure favourites include Gradius 5, Gregory Horror Show, and Gitaroo Man. See what I mean about variety? A 2D shooter, a music game, and… I don’t even know how to describe Gregor Horror Show.
They say that one format dominating is not good for consumers as competing consoles brings out the best in companies, but I’m not sure that works in the real world. The PlayStation 2 was absolutely dominant and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best console ever made. And the PlayStation 4 has walked away with this gen too, and it’s had Sony’s best line-up since then.
The Twin Snakes
As a big Hideo Kojima fan the PlayStation 2 was a great console. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 were mind-blowing to me back then and even now I consider them the high point of the franchise. I’d say that 3 is overall the best game, although 2 has the most iconic set pieces, but together they are two of the greatest games ever made. Not even that but two of the greatest pieces of art, including movies and music, that I’ve ever experienced.
That’s what the PlayStation 2 means to me and I haven’t even mentioned any other games. Although I always had a soft spot for Ape Escape and We Love Katamari. That was back when the Japanese games industry was still in its first golden age and while it’s recovered now we still haven’t go back to how things were in the PlayStation 2 glory days.
Wrestling with choices
While the timed exclusivity of Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City certainly got my attention, what sealed the deal for my choice of a PlayStation 2 was the same criteria I used when picking a Nintendo 64 the previous generation: which console had the best wrestling game?
But while I have fond memories of Brock Lesnar-ing my way through WWE’s then-glittering roster one-by-one in a Royal Rumble (which he kindly tried to recreate for me on telly this year), the game I’d most recommend from that era is The Warriors.
Though it came out for Xbox as well, and even PSP, Rockstar’s extended recreation of the Walter Hill classic made me a fan of the movie, combining a 3D Streets Of Rage with petty crime and well-handled teamwork between your gang members, as you made your way across – where else? – New York against an army of rival gangs on their turf.
It’s available on PlayStation Store (not sure about Xbox) for those who missed it or want to relive what for me was the height of the PlayStation 2 days.
PS: If you’re seeking it out, don’t confuse The Warriors: Street Brawl for Rockstar’s game. They received vastly different review scores…
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A thoroughly modern console
There’s so many games you could talk about with the PlayStation 2 but for me the fondest memories was playing Guitar Hero with my friends at the time. A lot of them had never really considered video games as something to do before and strumming that plastic guitar got a lot of them interested and while most still only played Guitar Hero it was a great social thing and a very good memory from that time.
The PS1 may have bene Sony’s first PlayStation and changed a lot in the industry but the PlayStation 2 feels like the start of the modern era. It’s when 3D graphics become something that wasn’t completely compromised by the technology and game types started to expand out to things like Guitar Hero but also EyeToy if you remember that.
Just like this gen, Sony was handed victory on plate but they really made the most of it.
I think the PlayStation 2 was the first point at which I realised that gaming was something that was really for me. I’d played games before that, of course, but never with any real passionate interest. But on the PlayStation 2 I remember being wowed by the graphics and suddenly keen to try all kinds of different genres, from Japanese role-players to driving sims.
I bought one eventually, rather than just using my brothers, and it feels like I must’ve had it for five years or more. We definitely had it at uni and would play all sorts of games, from Need For Speed to Prince of Persia.
I’m not sure what happened to the console at the end, I’d like to think it’s maybe up the loft or somewhere but I have a very soft spot for it and will happily name it as one of the best consoles ever made and the most influential to me.
All roads lead to PS2
Nowadays I realise it’s better on GameCube and Wii but at the time Resident Evil 4 blew me away. That game was so far ahead of its time it’s crazy, as it basically invented the whole concept of the modern third person shooter (Gears Of War wouldn’t exist without it for a start).
It’s maybe a good pick though as it shows that all games eventually ended up on PlayStation 2, whether they originally meant to or not. Resident Evil Code: Veronica being another good example, loved that one too.
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Trip of a lifetime
I bought a platinum PlayStation 2 when Final Fantasy 10 entered the platinum range. Unfortunately I did not think much of Final Fantasy 10, which felt significantly inferior to Skies Of Arcadia, and the PlayStation 2 was quickly demoted to third choice behind my Xbox and GameCube. I pretty much only used it to play Disgaea and a few other exclusives like Shadow Of The Colossus and Dragon Quest 8.
My PlayStation 2 remained fairly unloved until I was preparing for a business trip in China. At this point in time I already owned an Xbox 360, but I was not sure it would work on a Chinese hotel TV. So, I traded the PlayStation 2 in for a PStwo and bought an LCD screen for it.
That Chinese business trip kept being extended and ended up lasting over seven months. Fortunately, I had amassed a sizeable collection of highly rated PlayStation 2 games which I had not played. That business trip ended up being the best period of gaming I have ever had. Highlights included Final Fantasy 12, Rogue Galaxy, Bully, Makai Kingdoms, God Of War 2, and Devil May Cry 3.
The PlayStation 2 had a very broad range of games and remains the golden era of Japanese role-playing games (even if the most famous entry was from the PS1). In fact, the PlayStation 2 was the peak of Japanese game development in general and it coincided with the rise of Western developers like Rockstar. The PlayStation 2 was there to take advantage of this and i’s success was increased by Sega’s collapse, Nintendo being very insular and Microsoft being late to the party.
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