Originals

10 Best PlayStation 2 Games Ever Made, Officially Ranked

From Resident Evil 4 to Shadow of the Colossus, here are the best games ever to release on the PlayStation 2.

July 18, 2022

On March 4, 2000, the PlayStation 2 was released. This iconic and incredibly successful system offered countless classic titles, many of which continue to be fondly remembered by nostalgic fans today.

This top ten will not only include exclusives to the PlayStation 2, but also games that felt great to play on the system: the best of the best of the classics. Some of them will surely be known by almost all gamers, while certain others will be more familiar to PlayStation 2 connoisseurs in particular. Regardless, though, they’re all fantastic titles and essential additions to any library of the beloved console’s games.

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10. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus introduced stealth into the platformer genre. It also established a story that, even with its generic plot points (the master thief protagonist, Sly, is driven by revenge), will feel fresh because of the witty dialogue between Sly and his partners. It has an easy-to-follow yet enjoyable plot composition.

On top of that, the gameplay is creative and enjoyable from the moment players hit the start to the final boss. The reason this platformer sits at number ten is that even though it has a unique take on the platformer genre, the game mechanics can feel stiff. It also feels like it ends as soon as it begins with its short seven-hour run time.

9. Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero was one of the first games that made players feel like rock stars from the comfort of their very own homes. The music selection had 30 original songs, two hidden songs, and 17 bonus tracks. It included music from an eclectic mix of bands and artists, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ozzy Osbourne.

The game arrived with that iconic guitar peripheral, which has come to define the series. The game’s mechanics were as simple as strumming and clicking some colored buttons, yet complicated to master (some of the harder songs, as always, are a true test of mastery). This added numerous hours of replay value to the experience, yet the limited song library compared to its successors is what somewhat held it back.

8. Kingdom Hearts

No one ever expected that a Square Enix and Disney collaboration could ever have existed. Then, out of the blue, the world was given Kingdom Hearts. The game offers a brilliant blend of fan-favorite Disney and Square Enix characters. There’s also interplanetary travel and combat in space, given the experience a great sense of scope. Primarily, though, it’s about the characters, and as series fans know, the first installment is a game with a story full of heart.

As the debut release, though, the title does have its shortcomings. Kingdom Hearts’ combat might be the most limited in the series, as attacks feel slow and magic progression is nowhere near as flashy as it is in other Square Enix titles. It was a truly innovative experience, however.

7. Jak II

Jak II was a triumph, offering something entirely different to the original, Jak and Daxter. This game comes in swinging by taking the same platforming concepts from the first Jak and Daxter game while adding a large dose of grit.

Jak II is a mix of Grand Theft Auto and the platformer genre, adding the ability to turn Jak into a super-powered version of himself to proceedings. Altogether, going through each level with fluid control of Jak’s movement while shooting enemies and stealing futuristic vehicles was a revolution. The main gripe with Jak II is that the hub world can feel empty, unlike Grand Theft Auto games which are loaded with life. The weapon variety is also much smaller and a little more uninspired than newcomers may expect.

6. Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank was a platformer with a lot of humor, unique level design, and matchless weapon choices. Players start with a wrench and can get a gun that turns enemies into chickens. That’s not something you see every day.

The story’s a real blast, as every character introduces a different form of humor into the mix. Aside from the story, the gameplay is where the game stands out. Traveling through the different planets keeps the scenery fresh, and combat meshes well with each planet’s unique platforming challenges. In this way, the game offers constant progress while maintaining a manageable difficulty curve. It’s a relentless, laugh-out-loud experience, but its story is nothing very creative.

5. God of War

The God of War series has risen to become one of PlayStation’s most popular since its introduction in 2005. The intriguing premise and setting, coupled with its visceral and engaging action, made it a surefire winner from the off.

The combat is quick and visceral, staying varied and exciting throughout by allowing players to upgrade protagonist Kratos’ different abilities. There are also quicktime minigames that allow fans to finish off each enemy and boss in unique ways. For a game that focuses on combat, it isn’t a one-note experience: the puzzles players encounter are intuitive and break up the action without compromising its flow too much. The reason this game sits at number five is that the story is nowhere near as gripping as the 2018 God of War story. A fantastic formula, but one made even better by later refinement.

4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

No other PlayStation 2 game does a better job at encapsulating the struggles of life than GTA: San Andreas does. The setting is captivating, trying to get five stars by causing wanton destruction is as fun as ever, but the experience is deeper than that: San Andreas has a story that catches players off guard with its emotional depth.

At the time of its release, the customization options were fairly expansive, and the package was truly remarkable is size. It has been eclipsed since, naturally, but all of the Grand Theft Auto fun fans are familiar with was present and correct here, and it’s still a blast.

3. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 was originally a GameCube exclusive that was later ported onto the PlayStation 2. The Sony system’s long-awaited release added the Separate Ways mission, which added a playable character, extended the original storyline, and an exclusive battleship mission was thrown in too.

The game is still considered one of the finest survival horror experiences ever. It revolutionized the series by adding precision aiming and enemies that react to players’ shots. Resident Evil 4 provides the player with limited ammo and resources (though certainly not to the extent its predecessors did), which makes for heart-throbbing situations when taking on the different enemy types. Altogether, it’s an unforgettable experience that leaves players on the edge of their seats, but it also makes them never want to leave that edge until they finish playing through the story.

2. Psychonauts

Psychonauts is a hidden gem with a large cult following. It’s a platformer that takes on the genre in a different manner. The main character, Razputin, uses psychic abilities to engage with different enemies. Though the mechanics are fluid, the level design is the true highlight.

Each level in Psychonauts takes place in the mind of a troubled character. Nevertheless, the game deals with heavy, vitally important topics of mental health struggles, depicting them through colorful artistic backdrops that are particular to each character’s mind. The protagonist is always in another’s mind fighting their trauma, and with the guidance of Razputin, these NPCs are able to triumph. All in all, Psychonauts feels like an ode to mental health, a topic that games can be a great help in tackling.

1. Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is a constantly moving art piece. The story unfolds in a mysterious way, mirrored by the beautiful and enigmatic region the protagonist explores. The only enemies players encounter are the colossi, and each represents a titanic and unforgettable battle.

The gameplay sees players desperately scaling giant beasts in an attempt find their weak points and kill them. The game mixes stamina management and parkour mechanics to make for tight situations. As a whole, Shadow of the Colossus is an experience that sets itself apart with its remarkable, tragic and beautiful storytelling.

Originals
Elias Rodriguez
@dokidarth

Elias Rodriguez graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and got his Master's Degree in Secondary English while serving two years in Teach for America--a program to help children in low income communities get educational equity. He is is an Evergreen Specialist with a love for everything from FPS games to indie games and everything in between. Elias began playing video games on the Nintendo 64 when he was four years old and has devoted a lot of his life towards different gaming pursuits since then. From High School into his adult years he's made skits and reviews on different games that he's loved. Once he finished his Teach for America Corps time and a third year of teaching, he decided to follow his dreams and work with video games which is what led him to DuelShockers.

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