In a time before gaming headsets, live streams, and overly caffeinated kids team killing everyone online. There was the PlayStation 2! Now this console was the genuine deal. No other system has ever done better, or even come close. Released in October of 2000, the system had a thirteen year lifespan before it was discontinued, that was just five years ago!
While we were playing Grand Theft Auto 5, The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite, this little guy was still kicking! For good reason though, since its original release it has sold over 155 million units worldwide. With such a long lifespan and such great success, almost 4,000 games have been published for the system. I won’t be able to even come close to making a genuine list that most agree with, but all I can do is point out my favorites and here they are!
10. Guitar Hero
Released: November 8, 2005
This game done changed the game! Or whatever... Regardless of if you hated it or loved it, it was very popular. Around the time Guitar Hero II and III were at their peak, anyone who was anyone was playing this game franchise. It was just something fun to do on the weekends after hours when everything else was closing down.
Giving non-musician peasants an opportunity to perform in front of a “crowd” and not have to purchase $2000 in gear and spend countless hours practicing and writing their own music that will eventually make their significant other “take a break” was more than enough to sell to players. And sell it did! It was an unexpected hit and made over 45 million dollars in sells by the end of 2005, not bad for a little under two months.
In the game you are a customizable character who travels the country playing at various fictional venues acquiring money that you can spend to unlock songs, guitars and finishes.
The game had 47 total songs that you could unlock. The main set of 30 covered songs ranging from the 60s to the early 2000s consisted of:
Ace of Spades – Motorhead
Bark at the Moon – Ozzy Osbourne
Cochise – Audioslave
Cowboys from Hell – Pantera
Crossroads – Cream
Fat Lip - Sum 41
Frankenstein - The Edgar Winter Group
Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult
Heart Full of Black - Burning Brides
Hey You - The Exies
Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Love Rock ‘n Roll - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
I Wanna Se Sedated - Ramones
Infected - Bad Religion
Iron Man – Black Sabbath
Killer Queen - Queen
More Than a Feeling - Boston
No One Knows - Queens of the Stone Age
Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top
Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
Spanish Castle Magic - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Stellar - Incubus
Symphony of Destruction - Megadeth
Take it Off - The Donnas
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan
Thunder Kiss ’65 - White Zombie
Unsung - Helmet
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ - Judas Priest
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
9. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Released: October 28, 2001
This game was crazy good at release, like CRAZY good! I remember all of the lead video game websites and magazines going apeshit over this game. There was a lot to live up to given the success of the first two installments of the franchise, but this game did just that and then some. Selling 2.1 million copies by mid-2006 and ranking 14th as the highest-selling game for PS2, it also retains its incredibly high scores on numerous websites, including one of eleven games to receive a perfect score on Gamespot.
This game was released on everything: PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Color/Advance, GameCube, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64 and Mac OS. Those of us who were coming out of the 90’s with our 32-bit and 64-bit consoles thinking things couldn’t possibly get any better, saw this game on PlayStation 2 knew it was time to throw that gray piece of crap out along with our Sony Walkmans.
Same as the games before it, you do lots of tricks, get lots of scores, find secret tapes, collect letters, but this one was different. It felt more “alive” since you could freely roam around and talk to random skaters and folks trying to get you to help them out. This game also introduced the Revert, a trick that enabled vert combos to be tied together with manuals. Previously if you hit a quarter pipe you would end the combo, but not anymore! You could string together some insane stuff!
8. Silent Hill 2
Released: September 24, 2001
Remember when gaming consoles made scary games? Now they just release expansions and add-ons that are scary expensive.
This was Kanami’s follow up to the original Silent Hill, which gave us hours of cold sweats, tingly spines and real anxiety. Remember when the simulation of being stabbed to death by a faceless demon in a cold, dark bathroom was just a little bit more unsettling than talking to someone on the phone?
In this game we follow our lead character James “Iron Nuts” Sunderland as he attempts to contact his dead wife after he mysteriously gets a letter from her. Determined to get some closure he decided to visit Silent Hill. Where the rest of us would cry, gouge out our own eyes and run away peeing, James just keeps on going. This game introduced some very creepy individuals that people still enjoy and even cosplay to this day, including the “Bubble Head Nurses” who were designed to be sexually suggestive and a reflection of James’ subconscious sexual desires during his wife’s hospitalization.
All scariness and shenanigans aside, this game had a very good storyline and you felt for poor James, you wanted closure for him and even though he jumped into some ridiculously sketchy situations, you were there by his side, unless you’re someone who gets easily scared and hits the power button when a jump scare occurs.
7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Released: November 13, 2001
I don’t know who wasn’t anticipating the release of this game? Probably people who were in a coma or no longer with us, but even then, maybe…
A bunch of terrorist jerks calling themselves “Sons of Liberty” hijack “Big Shell” a massive offshore clean up facility and demand a huge ransom or they will destroy the facility causing a cataclysmic environmental disaster. Oh, and they are also threatening the life of the President of the United States… Remember when bad guys would use that as leverage? Could you imagine anyone saying that today?
This game simply could not fail. I mean, unless they used Super Man 64 and just pasted Solid Snakes face onto Super Man and… No, that would still be an improvement. Regardless, this game was a smash hit and praised worldwide for excellent graphics, epic sound, and awesome attention to detail. It sold over 7 million copies worldwide and has a Metacritic average score of 96%, making it one of the highest-rated games of all time.
6. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Released: October 29, 2002
I could have chosen Grand Theft Auto III, I could have chosen Grand theft Auto: San Andreas, there were pros and cons to each, but I felt this game was the one I enjoyed the most.
How can anyone not like these games? You can pretty much do whatever you want, be a law abiding citizen or steal and attack helicopter and see how many innocent people you can blow up before the police take you down in a blaze of glory.
Vice City puts you in the shoes of Tommy Vercetti played by Ray Liotta after his release of a 15 year prison sentence. He is promoted by a crime boss and ambushed during a drug deal gone wrong. There is a bunch of 80’s style drug/gang trade craziness that ensues. I mean, there is a good story and all, but that can all wait when there are old ladies to be shot with RPGs from the tops of buildings in broad daylight, amirite?
5. Final Fantasy X
Released: December 17, 2001
Oh was this a great game or what? I remember seeing demos and teasers for this game that were almost too much for me to handle. In North America this game was highly anticipated, but in Japan this game broke records for preorders totaling over 1.4 million.
You play as Tidus, a young cheerful teenager who is a start blitzball player from Zanarkand. He is attacked by Sin a giant evil being that destroys things, in the encounter with Sin, Tidus is transported to Spira, a large landmass divided into three subcontinents, surrounded by small tropical islands. Here he meets Wakka who is impressed with his blitzball skills. They shortly join Yuna a summoner who is on a journey to obtain the Final Aeon and defeat Sin. They also meet Kimahri Ronso, a feline-like body guard of Yuna’s and Lulu a black mage who is close to Yuna and Wakka. Along their travels they also encounter Rikku, Yuna’s cousin and Auron a former warrior monk who worked with both Yunas’ and Tidus’s fathers to defeat sin 10 years prior.
This game has a lot to explore and find. Unlike other Final Fantasy games that would have a top-down perspective in a world map, where miniature representations of the expansive areas were used between towns and other locations for long-distance traveling. You could pretty much walk anywhere and everywhere.
Another unique part of this game was the “Sphere grid” where you pretty much got to customize what abilities you earned and how you distributed many different character buffs. All I know is this thing confused the crap out of me the first time I saw it and I didn’t even use it for quite some time, big mistake…
The game got amazing reviews and made the company a lot of money. There is also a HD remake for PlayStation 3 if you decide to go back and play it.
Anyone remember dodging 200 consecutive bolts in the Thunder Plains? Talk about patience…
4. Hitman: Blood Money
Released: May 30, 2006
Now this entry isn’t the best when it comes to ratings or reviews, but it sure was a fun! I enjoy games that reward you for being as stealthy and professional as humanly possible.
In this game you play as our favorite hit man: Agent 47. You can use many unique weapons or techniques to eliminate your target(s). Getting used to your surroundings in each level and paying close attention to detail, will help you sneak past guards and into of limit areas undetected.
I really enjoyed the “Liveliness” of the levels and feeling like I was really a part of the crowd, just waiting for my moment to strike! You could use unique costumes and uniforms to trick others into thinking you are who you aren’t. You could take out targets from a far with sniper rifles, get up close and personal with knives, syringes or you fiber wire or make it look like an accident by manipulating your surroundings and causing your target to fall into a timely trap.
I remember taking out every single person in the level: A New Life, house by house until it was just me. I tossed them all in an opened manhole. I mean, I just wanted some peace and quiet while I watched TV by the pool.
What about the ending to this game! Credits rolling, you’re are the deceased at the funeral, or are you?
3. Resident Evil 4
Released: January 11, 2005
I was a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise. I was overly excited at each new release. Till about Code Veronica, then things kinda died off for me. Then there were these terrible spin offs and whatever the hell that on rails shooter one was? That crap made me dry heave just thinking about it! I felt one of my favorite games was old and senile, barking about the Vietnam War and how the government puts robits in the drinking water… I just wanted to remember Resident Evil as a fond memory from my youth, but now I was embarrassed to be seen in public with it.
My brother was working at a local fast food chain and one of his buddies let him borrow Resident Evil 4, because he “had to play it!” I remember seeing it there on the table and thinking “Well, if I survived this long, even after being vaccinated, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” With little knowledge of what I was about to witness, we slapped the bad boy in and hit the lights.
Immediately we knew things were different. The game had a creepy feel again, we didn’t know what was going to happen next? We quickly discovered the town’s folk were extremely violent and something was not right with them. We were hiding, shooting and trying to simply survive, and then a giant dude kicked the door down chased us upstairs and obliterated us with a chain saw… I was in love!
You follow Leon Kennedy as he is sent on a mission to rescue the President’s daughter in an unknown rural village in an undisclosed part of Spain. The villagers referred to as Los Ganados (“The Cattle” in Spanish ) in the area were once just simple farmers, but are now infected with a mind altering parasite that is plaguing most of the inhabitants.
This game had an awesome aiming system with an over the shoulder view, that had laser sighted weapons which could be upgraded and customized. It was easy to hit specific areas on the targets, and finding “weak spots” was part of the strategy of this game.
There was plenty of treasures to find and many things to unlock among completing the game or completing certain criteria. All I know is this game wasn’t officially over until Ashly was wearing a full suit of medieval armor and Leon had on his zoot suit with his trusty “Chicago Typewriter.”
2. Gitaroo Man
Released: November 14, 2006
Oh man! Don’t even get me started on this game… Wait, that’s why I’m here. Most of you probably don’t even know what the heck this junk is? You’re not alone. This game was produced in very low quantities in both North America and Europe, making this game fairly rare. It was a featured demo in the Official PlayStation Magazine, well one of those demo disks you would get attached to one. That’s where I first played this game. The first few times I didn’t understand the controls too well and thought it was a bit difficult. All we knew was you were a crying boy with a robot dog who grabs a crazy guitar and powers up to fight a dude in a bee suit playing the trumpet… The song they played in battel was super catchy and played really well. You just dueled the bee man and shot a power beam out of your guitar at him and dodged his power attacks fired at you from his trumpet. One night we decided to load up on orange soda and try our damndest to beat that stupid bee man! After playing for like 4 hours straight we finally got him! And I was more addicted to that game than the caffeine we were ingesting two litters at a time!
In this game you play as U-1 a legendary guitarist who has the power to wield one of a few Gitaroo that help you fight against enemies also trying to collect the Gitaroo. You fight various opponents by depleting their life bar while trying not to run out of life yourself before the song ends. All of these fights include different styles of music in these unique songs.
Gameplay consists of players following a “trace line” hitting and holding notes until the not changes. Then you must hit assigned buttons when they hit the center crosshair in perfect timing to dodge attacks. I could try to explain this all day, the only way to truly understand it is to watch this video:
As you can see many things have to be taken into consideration to be properly executed. You have to hit the buttons at the right moment, guide the note in different directions and let go of the button at the end of the note at the right time. Then you have to dodge the incoming attacks with button patterns. The real tricky part is when it goes back and forth from the button dodging to the guided notes… Trust me, if you’re one of these kids that think building in Fortnight is a skill, this game will give you a nosebleed and make you wish you weren’t born…
This game is the reason I still have my PlayStation 2. It never leaves the disk drive. Introducing it to new friends and watching them fail and fail and fail again is what this game is all about. You get a large amount of satisfaction when you finally understand it and beat the final boss!
1. Shadow of the Colossus
Released: October 18, 2005
I can’t do this game any justice with just words… But I’ll try.
Once again, we got the demo of this game and had no idea what to expect, we had never heard anything about it. With so many different games and not really knowing what you were getting into you would occasionally stumble upon a gem. At first I thought this game was going to be some kind of turn based RPG (I don’t know, I just got that from the art and feel), but the game was very vague and ambient. You could hold your sword to the sky and a beam would reflect to where it wanted you to go. You followed its lead right to the first “Colossus.” Seeing how enormous it was and using your battle techniques to climb on it and hit its weak spots was incredible.
You had no idea what monsters you were going to face and each one had you planning crazy strategies on how to defeat each one.
The game wasn’t about a big flashy storyline, learning about a history of many characters or acquiring flashy weapons and upgrades. You were just under the impression you needed to resurrect a princess and only you (Wander) and your trusty horse (Agro) can accomplish that. Some clues to what is going on are slowly revealed, but there are many more questions than answers in this game.
If you have not played this game yet, I strongly urge you to give it a try! It really is something else. A remake for PlayStation 4 was released on February 6, 2018! I would love to see it again with today’s graphics and capabilities, but I still think the PS2 version is still faaaantastic!
That’s my list. There were way too many other games to mention, this was definitely a groundbreaking system and was a big part of our gaming lives. I think I’ll go fire that bad boy up and get my Gitaroo on! What was your favorite game? I would love to hear in the comments and thanks for reading!