This week we are celebrating the birthday of one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time – the PlayStation 2! Now, while I may be a Sony console fanboy, I think it’s pretty universally known in the gaming community that the PS2 was a pretty impressive console – and what better way for me to honor its legacy than to break down my five favorite PS2 games.
Now, this is one of the harder lists I’ve put together because there are just so many games from the PS2 era that I loved. As a 13-year-old gaming fanatic, I had quite a bit of free time between math homework and learning about World History – so let’s just say it was easy to devour the best games that the PlayStation 2 had to offer. Heck, I even played a ton of fighting and racing games back then too, which are genres that I’m not too fond of now. Anyway, the point I’m making is this list was really hard to come up with, you guys! But, without further ado, here’s the Josh Ball list of the week: My top 5 PlayStation 2 games:
#5 NBA Street: Okay, hear me out… Some of the games on this list might just be about pure nostalgia factor – and NBA Street is one of those games. But the NBA Street series, and specifically Volume 3, will always have a spot in my heart. As sports games go, certainly not the most realistic game you’ll ever play, but man was it fun. I spent more hours than care to admit with one of my best friends in his dorm room in college breaking ankles and slam dunking from half court in the most preposterous of ways. “We’ve got class in thirty minutes, should we go?” Nick would ask me. “Nah man, one more game…” Ah, good times!
#4 Silent Hill 2: I don’t think there has ever been a game that I had a love/hate relationship with more than Silent Hill 2. I have some fond memories being a 16-year-old hunkered down with two of my cousins fighting over who would pick up the controller to play next. The atmosphere of this game, the soundtrack, and the monster design is not only one of the best to grace the PS2 generation, but the second entry in the Silent Hill series is up there as one of the best horror games of all time. Despite the fact that 2001 was a helluva long time ago, this game still holds up when you play it today (so long as you can overcome the SUPER clunky controls…)
#3 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: The entire Metal Gear Solid series is probably one of my favorite video game series I’ve ever played and Sons of Liberty, the first of two PS2 entries in the storied franchise, was a pretty masterful use of the new hardware that the PlayStation 2 had to offer. I will always remember marveling over the incredible graphics, the huge set pieces (dude, when Metal Gear Ray is tearing through the hull in the opening chapter? I was so hyped), and the overall immersive storytelling was pretty impressive for the time. Now, I (like many others) wasn’t a huge fan of Raiden as the protagonist for most of the game, but MGS2 was still an incredible game and easily one of my faves on PS2. Plus, the fun easter eggs around Solid Snake hiding in plain sight as Iroquios Pliskin, a nod to the John Carpenter character Snake Pliskin, was pretty neat as well.
#2 Final Fantasy X: Anybody that knows me and my gaming tastes, knows that I’m a pretty big Final Fantasy snob, and I have some pretty strong opinions on the franchise as a whole (Final Fantasy IX is weak sauce, come fight me!). But Final Fantasy X is not only one of my favorite PS2 games ever, it’s in my top 3 of favorite Final Fantasy titles overall. I agree with most that the primary characters aren’t the greatest (but honestly, aren’t most of the main protagonists in the FF series kinda lame?), but the supporting cast was, in my opinion, stellar. Combine that with a really cool new take on the combat system, impressive character leveling options with the new Sphere Grid, some awesome summons to take control of, an incredible soundtrack and a deep, immersive story? Well, that’s a recipe for some good times right there!
#1 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: I know, you’re probably thinking “Wow Josh, two Metal Gear Solid games on one list?” Yup, that’s right, imaginary person I was talking to while I wrote this article! Look, the entire Metal Gear Solid series is filled with some of the most incredible story-driven content I’ve ever seen in a video game. Sure, some of it is super wacky and fantastical, but the way that Hideo Kojima and Konami were able to craft these grames was really something special. MGS3 really turned the whole series on its head introducing a step into the past as you play as Naked Snake (aka Big Boss) in an origin story of sorts set in 1960s Soviet Russia. It is an absolutely beautiful game with an incredible story, amazing characters, and one of my favorite soundtracks (and best “theme songs”) ever – no wonder it’s considered one of the greatest games of all time!