Adieu, PS2 – Michael O’Reilly

With no new titles in development on scheduled for publication in 2011, we can now officially declare Sony’s Playstation 2 dead. It becomes one of the longest lasting systems of all time, outlasted only by things like the Neo*Geo and its original arch-rival, the Sega Dreamcast (which still has games on tap for 2k11). To celebrate the life of the Playstation 2, a different Diehard GameFAN staff member will be presenting their list of their ten favorite games for the PS2.

The Playstation 2 was a magnificent machine. I remember standing outside in the middle of the console’s “second” launch to grab one of the last remaining systems in my city. I mean literally last, as my buddy and I were last in line. Had there been one fewer, well, I would have had to trip him. The Deuce was a bit of a slow starter, with the console suffering from bitter comparisons to the Dreamcast’s stellar launch line up. Thankfully the games did come, and they continued to come for years. I had a difficult time narrowing down my list, but I present it to you now, the 10 best games I played on the best system in first console war that didn’t have a number.

1: Guitar Hero 2

The first Guitar Hero was a great game, and truthfully if I had a top 100 instead of a top 10 it would probably be in my top 10. However I tried to limit myself to the best game of the series on the console to save myself some space, and so I chose Guitar Hero 2, which was a mild improvement over the first that managed to keep me playing for a very long time. The guitar was clunky and loud compared to it’s Rock Band descendant’s, but those five buttons and strum bar made for one fantastic game. FREEBIRD!

2: GTA Vice City

GTA III introduced me to the world of organized crime and manufactured chaos that GTA would become known for, but it was limited. No voice acting for the main character and a city that was always dark and dreary. Vice City corrected those flaws in a huge way. Transplanting the game from New York to Miami allowed for more color, and the main character was given a voice,a voice that was entertaining to listen to. Combine all of that with a further refinement of the gameplay found in GTA III and you had a real winner on your hands. San Andreas would take that even further, giving you jets to fly and state lines to cross, but Vice City did it better.

3: Metal Gear Solid 3

Konami had a problem on their hands after Metal Gear Solid 2. Namely, Metal Gear Solid 2 was crap. And their fans were letting them know about it. What was supposed to be the triumphant return of what many considered to be the best game series of all time turned into the biggest disappointment since The Phantom Menace. So in order to make good, they went back in time to tell the story of how it all began. How Snake’s dad became Big Boss. Back to the height of the Cold War, when nuclear weapons were always just over the horizon and fingers were anxiously hovering over launch buttons. Metal Gear Solid 3 was a tour de force of gameplay, artistic beauty and story telling that made me care about Metal Gear again, setting up the eventual Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PS3.

4: Sky Odyssey

What’s that now? You never heard of it? That’s OK. I did. And I loved it. Think of it as the PS2’s version of Pilot Wings. You in a plane flying through ever more perilous locations, trying to get to the end of the course. Some of the courses were down right brilliant too. One of the few games that I keep my PS2 around for these days.

5: God of War 2

God of War 2 took all of the excellent gameplay mechanics from the first game and ditched the parts that were just too annoying and frustrating. What resulted was a terrific game that felt epic. The only way to top it was God of War 3, and that would have to wait for the PS3.

6: Ace Combat 4

The first of the PS2 Ace Combats and also the best. Truthfully all of the Ace Combat games had the same gameplay, the same planes and the same AI. What separates this one from its sequels was the story, how it was presented and how it didn’t smack you across the face with the anti war sentiments of the developers.

7: Sly Cooper and The Thievius Racoonus

Sly has always been the least appreciated of the mascots Sony developed for the PS2. But for me he’s the man…or rather the Raccoon. Here was a game that had all those little touches that made you know the developers cared. Here was a game that made you feel like you were playing a Warner Brothers cartoon at points and yet at the same time also made you feel for the characters. The writing was a bit childish but you could see how Sly cared for his friends, and how he was in love with Carmalita, the agent of Interpol who was assigned to catching him. The sequels expanded on the gameplay a little, tried to cash in on the open world concept a bit too much. But the first Sly, The Thievius Raccoonus, that was a brilliant game.

8: Medal of Honor: Frontline

MOH has seen its ups and downs. The first two games were fantastic for PS1 games. And Frontline, the first of the games to appear on the then next gen console Playstation 2, was equally amazing. The levels were well thought out, the sound effects were excellent, and the game was both tough yet entertaining. It was also the last good Medal of Honor game. Nothing since has been anywhere near as good. Frontline was the pinnacle.

9: Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry‘s main character Dante had style in spades. He eventually became so worn out that the developers at Capcom decided to remake him entirely, but when he debuted with this, the first Devil May Cry, he was a very refreshing character in a new and exciting game. Part Tomb Raider, part Gambit from the X-Men, part demon, the character was entertaining and the game made use of him. I don’t think I ever actually finished DMC, but the game is on my list because of how refreshing it was to play.

10: X-Men Legends

The PS2 was a system known for it’s dungeon crawling RPGs, so I have to include one here. Legends was one of the first, and one of the best. With a team of X-Men using their mutant powers you went about defeating enemies all over the world. The game would spawn a number of sequels, first a second Legends game that stuck to the X-Men, and then later on the new consoles the rest of the Marvels got involved with Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Alliance 2. I would also say the game somewhat inspired the co-op trend we have today, with games like Left 4 Dead making use of the dungeon crawling motif.



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3 responses to “Adieu, PS2 – Michael O’Reilly”

  1. CMaddox Avatar

    MGS2 = postmodern masterpiece
    MGS3 = generic spy thriller

    still a fun game, but lets face it, MGS2 hate was about raiden and thats it. too bad raidens inclusion is the backbone of the game’s theme.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Yeah, good games on list, but MGS3 was shallow Hollywood-esque trash by comparison to 2. Barely broke any mental surface, flashy cutscenes and ‘Ooh you have to kill your mentor’ being rubbed in your face was tiresome. And the gameplay required you to pause every few seconds to change camo, facepaint, backpack items, weapons, cure yourself or eat food.

    MGS2 WAS a postmodern masterpiece. Most gamers sure as shit didn’t get it, but the critics? Hailed it.

    Read up on the ending analysis at, that article on the ending alone is deeper than the whole of MGS3.

    That said, mgs3 is still a great game and would make top 10 on my ps2 list. Mgs2 is just much much better and ahead of its time.

  3. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    I kind of take umbrage at the suggestion that someone not liking MGS2 in turn dictates that they didn’t get the game on the expected level, for two reasons.

    First, I took away from the game exactly what the game expected me to take away from it. I understood the purpose of the interface screw, I understood the concept of information being a powerful tool and memetic mutation and such when the game presented the concepts to me. I just didn’t happen to think that they were presented in a way that indicated that Kojima had anything interesting to say on the subject. Congratulations, you’ve read some of Dawkins’ work and a few philosophy texts, that doesn’t excuse the fact that your game spent fifty percent of its time talking to me instead of allowing me to interact with it, nor does it excuse the fact that a better writer could have condensed these concepts into something more palatable and easier to enjoy.

    Second, I don’t think it’s a fair condemnation on the part of the player to imply that they are in some sense wrong for not “getting” the game in the same way you did. While it’s fair to say that the person playing the game likely bears some of the fault for being incapable of understanding the purpose of the product, it also falls on the writer to take responsibility if their product cannot convey the appropriate message they intended. If your dialogue is too wordy, or windy, or poorly written or expressed, or what have you, who is to say that it’s the fault of the reader that they couldn’t take your intent away from your product?

    In the end, MGS2 failed in the long run as a product and an artistic statement, but sold well enough that it ultimately doesn’t matter. Kojima has shown that he CAN write a great story, as MGS1 and Snatcher have proven, but MGS2 doesn’t work outside of the sort of massively overthought analysis of that JunkerHQ article you mentioned. I can go on Gamefaqs and read a fifty page plot analysis of Silent Hill 2 and come away from the game with a newfound respect for the elements presented in the theme and concept if I want to, but I can also just play the game and take away something from it that makes me pleased with the end result just as easily. MGS2 doesn’t work so well in that regard, partially due to the Raiden factor, but also due to the fact that it was too much. I saw what the JunkerHQ article claimed about what the writer thinks the game was TRYING to do, but I don’t know anyone who walked away from that game feeling any of the things the writer suggests, myself included. Does that speak ill of me? I don’t think so. But I do think that it speaks ill of a product that failed to inspire me, and millions of others like me, to feel the same way as the writer.

    Just a thought.

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