Adieu, PlayStation 2 – Aaron Sirois

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.

1.Ratchet & Clank
3.God of War
4.Guitar Hero
5.Kingdom Hearts II
6. Smackdown vs Raw 2k6
7. God of War II
8. Kingdom Hearts
9. Shadow of the Colossus
10. Twisted Metal: Black

I’m a little late to the party with this list, but I’ve finally gotten around to finishing it. Getting a PS2 was a dream I had for years until I finally got one. There were so many titles I wanted to play, and the more I saw, the more I wanted. When I got my first job back in 2006, I spent a good portion of each paycheck on games for the system. It wasn’t long before I ended up with over a hundred games, many of which I haven’t even played yet. Still, I’ve gotten thousands of hours on the system, and it helped widen my gaming horizons. It also introduced me to several franchises that rank in my all time favorites, such as God of War, Ratchet & Clank, and Kingdom Hearts. You could probably add Guitar Hero to that list as long as we pretend that the series ended after Guitar Hero III.

If you’re wondering why I have two God of War and two Kingdom Hearts games on the list, I’ll explain. I don’t believe in limiting lists to one game per franchise. I find some undeserving games get on lots of lists that way. I also couldn’t come up with any games I like more than these, at least when it comes to exclusives. There are plenty of great ones out there I have yet to play, so the list may still change, but I’m happy with it as is.

Oh yeah, and the old fanboy in me has one last thing to say…

The rest of you consoles can suck it. We won bitches!

#10 Twisted Metal: Black
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Incog Inc. Entertainment
Genre: Vehicle Combat
Release Date: 06/18/2001

My family got a PS2 sometime around 2002. Now, we were really poor at the time, so it wasn’t really used for gaming. We used it mostly to watch DVDs. I was relegated to PS1 games mostly because they were getting dirt cheap. In fact, the system would end up broken before we even managed to get a memory card for it. As such, I was only able to get two games. I had Crazy Taxi and Twisted Metal Black.

I had been a fan of the Twisted Metal series ever since I played the second game at my cousin’s place one weekend. After that, I was always on the lookout for the series. About the time we got the PS2 was when TMB became a Greatest Hits game, and I used its lower price in order to convince my mom to spend the cash. I was well rewarded for my efforts.

There is a reason Twisted Metal fans, like me, consider it to be one of the best if not the best game in the series. David Jaffe returned to the series after two less than stellar entries by 989 Studios and brought with him much of the old development team. He also set out to change the image of the series. As such, Black is a much darker game. All of the drivers are escaped asylum residents with murderous tendencies. Each had a gruesome story that you unlocked as you played the story mode. I didn’t have a memory card, so I often had to resort to using cheats in order to see the endings and unlock the hidden characters. More than in any other TM game, I was addicted to seeing everything, finding every secret, and getting as skilled as possible at the game.

TMB was my first PS2 game, and it was one that I loved, so it had to make this list.

#9 Shadow of the Colossus
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Team Ico
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: 10/18/2005

I remember reading nothing but good things about this game for the longest time before I finally decided to buy it. The reviews were nothing but positive and I remembered hearing good things about Ico, the game’s predecessor, as well. I figured it would be a safe buy if nothing else.

What I ended up with was an experience truly like any other. You played as a young warrior named Wander who wanted nothing more than to restore his love to life. To that end, he was willing to do anything. He’s told by a dark presence that she will be revived if he can manage to slay 16 colossi.

Talk about easier said than done.

With just a bow, a sword, and a horse, you had to locate and take down huge creatures that were bigger than anything ever seen in video games. The ground shook with their every step, and you literally had to climb up them like a bug on a mammoth in order to get to their sweet spots. The problems arose in trying to figure out how to get to those spots. Each fight was like a puzzle more than a boss fight and it made the game stick out. I pretty much played straight through it and to this day I get can’t help but sit and watch when others give it a try.

SOTC was a game that made you think even while immersing you in tension filled battles against monsters that were bigger than the screen. It was and is a landmark of gaming.

#8 Kingdom Hearts
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 09/17/2002

I think the only person on this site who can rival my love for the Kingdom Hearts series is Sean Madson. That sucks for me, because he always seems to call the games before I can, leaving me without the chance to review Birth By Sleep or Re:Coded. That’s OK, I stole Dissidia from him. Mwa Ha Ha!

Anyways, I got into the KH series because I grew up on Disney films and as such the game held a lot of appeal to me. Here was a chance to visit Disney worlds, interact with them, and play a pretty darn good game to boot! What kind of person would say no to that?

Sure, the series has never had what you’d call a coherent storyline, but that was half the fun for me. The first game was something I’ll always remember in regards to when I first played through it. I loved battling in the coliseum, teaming up with the Beast to kick some Heartless butt, and battling Jafar over the lamp. There’s no other game out there that offers the kind of experience this series does, and I’ll never forget that this was the game that made it all possible. There’s no way it wouldn’t make my list.

#7 God of War II
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Genre: Action
Release Date: 03/13/2007

I used to work at a desk job. I was new, so I didn’t get vacation until a couple of years into the job. And then, I only got one week. That’s one week for the entire year. Those days were precious. They could be used for anything, but there was only one thing I cared about.

I had to have God of War II on the day it came out.

So, I used up one of those vacation days and had my step father drive me to the mall. I had preordered the game, so as to guarantee myself a copy. Then, disaster stuck. Gamestop didn’t have the game in, and they had no idea when it would arrive. There was a further development. I was inside the mall, having told my step father that I would be right out. I thought I’d have the game, you see. Now, a good person would have gone back out, explained the situation, and asked nicely for the other person to wait. That’s what a good person would do.

I just waited in the damned store.

You see, the original game defined epic to me. It combined my love for Greek Mythology, action adventure gameplay, and boobs, and tuned it into something spectacular. God of War II promised to be bigger in every sense of the word, and I had to have it. The hype was enormous, the expectations were through the freaking roof, and my excitement was pretty unparalleled.

It was all justified.

The game kicks ass.

#6 Smackdown! vs. Raw 2006
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yukes
Genre: Wrestling
Release Date: 11/14/2005

I’ve put more hours into wrestling games than I can count. Weeks of my life have been spent on games like Attitude, Wrestlemania 2000, Royal Rumble, and countless others. After all, I’ve been a WWF/WWE fan since I was a toddler, and a video game fan since not much longer. The two kind of had to meet.

But, if I were to chose my favorite wrestling game, it would have to be 2k6.

I’m not sure what the reason is. It featured Batista and Cena on the cover, neither of which I liked at the time. I wasn’t a fan of the GM mode, mostly because it rewarded players for playing out the same tired feuds over and over again. It isn’t the best wrestling game by far, having been surpassed by later titles in the series. (I still think 2010 was pretty good.)

What I do know is that I played the game to death. I played it for hours on end, fighting exhibition matches, creating new wrestlers, and perfecting the art of winning the Royal Rumble from the number one spot on Legend difficulty. Heck, my love for the game is so high that when my file got erased, I spent dozens of hours rebuilding everything I had lost. I don’t do that kind of thing. Usually I just say to hell with it and give the game up, beaten or not. But, for 2k6, I took the time.

And I’m glad I did.

#5 Kingdom Hearts II
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 03/28/2006

When it came time to choose what Kingdom Hearts games I was going to rank higher, it was a tough decision. For starters, the original game was the one that started it all, and was a much more challenging game. KH II built upon what had been established and took it to the next level on nearly every front, but the game was a cinch to complete. The challenge level might not seem like that important of a factor here, but for me, it was something that always stuck with me. In the end, KH II won out, because of how I played it.

In fact, I pretty much played the twenty plus hour game straight through. I took two real breaks. The first one was to sleep only because I was dead tired. The second was unfortunately during the final boss fight. I had to go to a job interview which I couldn’t afford to miss, and the damned fight was so long that I simply didn’t have enough time to finish it without being late. Still, it was the first order of business when I got home.

Everything was bigger in KH II. There were a plethora of new Disney worlds to explore and each of them had a distinctive feel to them. The game went black and white for Steamboat Willie, went digital for Tron, and even took a foray into the live action world of Pirates of the Caribbean. These were some bold choices for levels, and it turned out great. The only level anyone, myself included could possibly complain about is Atlantica, where instead of another fun underwater level, we got a rhythm game with mostly dreadful music accompanying a couple of actual songs from the movie. “Finny Fun” is about a big of a misnomer as it gets.

Anyways, until Birth By Sleep, KH II was the pinnacle of the series, and one of the most underrated games on the PS2 in my opinion. That gives it the number five spot on my list.

#4 Guitar Hero
Publisher: RedOctane
Developer: Harmonix
Genre: Rhythm
Release Date: 11/08/2005

The first time I tried this game was at a friend’s house. I picked up the guitar, felt like an idiot and quickly failed out of a song. I laughed, shook my head, and headed the controller back to my friend. The game wasn’t for me.

Then I bought the thing.

Once I sat down and started playing this game without worrying about looking like an idiot, I couldn’t stop playing it. Sure, the music was mostly covers of songs I hadn’t heard much of or were never than fond of, but the game was undeniably addicting and fun. I worked my way up the ladder, beating every song on every difficulty except for expert. There are a few stragglers that I just can’t beat no matter how many times I try. The finger dexterity just isn’t there.

The game kick started a genre into prominence. Guitar Freaks may have come first, but there is no denying that Guitar Hero was the game that turned the genre into the most dominating force in the game’s industry until Activision took over and started releasing a game every ten seconds. It is such a shame that the series is now dead, and that the games took such a large decline in quality once Harmonix left. Still, I can still go back to the first two games and have a blast, so at least the legacy the game left behind hasn’t been completely destroyed.

#3 God of War
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Genre: Action
Release Date: 03/22/2005

This game was the final straw.

I mentioned how my family had a PS2 that got wrecked. We never replaced it, no matter how much I begged. By 2005, the price of the system was starting to look a lot more manageable. I was able to convince my father to pick one up for me for Christmas. One of the reasons I was so adamant in my pursuits was a demo for God of War that I had played. The game was everything I was looking for. It was big, loud, featured a story based off of Greek mythology, and stellar combat that was amazingly fun to play. I probably played through that demo a dozen times, longing to put my blades into the giant hydra.

When I finally got the game, it was all I could do to stop playing it. I played it pretty much while I was moving out of my house and into my new apartment with some friends. The first thing that was packed up was my PS2, which I took with me so I could keep playing God of War. And, when I had to go back for some things, the PS2 came back with me so I could keep playing.

More importantly, this was the first game in what has quickly become one of my most favorite franchises if not my most favorite. I take days off of work when I have a job to play new entries, I’ll drop over a hundred dollars to get the game, a strategy guide (for the art, I swear) and a new controller. Heck, I bought a PSP when they announced Chains of Olympus, despite the fact that at the time I couldn’t think of too many games I wanted for it.

This game was a serious contender for my top spot, and only when I thought about it long and hard did I put it back a couple of places at number three. The issue here is that the game doesn’t have the best replayability. In fact, I haven’t ever beaten the game more than once. Sure, I pop it in and play for a while, but I never seem to be able to commit to finishing it again. The same can not be said for my next two entries.

#2 Bully
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: 10/17/2006

I hate GTA.

I know. No one hates GTA, right? It is was of the biggest selling, most critically acclaimed, greatest series of all time! Well for me, I just have never been able to get into the settings. I don’t take pleasure in building an empire based off of drugs and prostitutes, even in a game setting. That might seem hypocritical, since I have no problem slaughtering innocents in God of War, but the difference to me is that something like GoW is more fictionalized, whereas GTA, over the top as it may be, always struck me as being a little too close to home.

Another reason is I think the gameplay, as in the driving and shooting, is pretty crappy.

Anyways, you might think that Bully would be the kind of thing I would avoid. Normally, you’d be right. I didn’t buy into the supposed controversies that called the game a “Columbine Simulator”, but at the same time, Bully appeared to strike that same chord that GTA did. It would be a little bit too much like real life for me. Then I saw some of things they were doing. The game wasn’t about crime, but rather mischief. The main character wasn’t some horrible person out on a murderous rampage, but rather a troubled kid trying to survive in a harsh environment. I decided to give it a try.

This game quickly became one of all time favorites. Yes, it had some of the control issues of the GTA series, but it balanced that out with a extremely colorful cast of characters and a wide list of things to do. You could race bikes, tackle classes, get into fist fights, woo members of the opposite sex, or take on missions that had you defending a nerd from bullies, pulling the old “flaming bag of dog poo” trick on a lousy gym teacher, and even helping the disgusting lunch lady get supplies for a big date. Sure, there were moments when you were the bully yourself, but by the end of the game, you realized that Jimmy was a pretty good kid at heart, and that the game is more about standing up for yourself than taking over.

In either case, I have an absolute blast every time I play Bully, which is why it made it on my list. I hope the rumor of a sequel in the works is right on the money.

#1 Ratchet & Clank
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Platformer/Third Person Shooter
Release Date: 11/04/2002

The Ratchet & Clank series already has a special place in my heart. I’ve looked forward to and enjoyed every entry in the series. Heck, the announcement that A Crack in Time would be the last proper game in the series was a blow unlike any other. Then All 4 One was announced, so I don’t really know what’s going on there. What I do know is that my love of the franchise started in the summer of 2005. I was spending a week with my father during summer vacation. While he was at work, I was on the PS2. I played a number of games that week, but I made it my mission to beat Ratchet. From the moment I booted the game up, I new I was hooked. It was the first PS2 game I beat to completion and I’ve played through it multiple times since.

There’s nothing quite like the series in all of gaming. It was the perfect mixture of platforming and shooting with a Saturday morning cartoon feel that truly worked. Who can forget the first time we met Captain Qwark? What about that blessed moment when you finally saved up enough bolts to purchase the RHYNO, a weapon so powerful it made mince meat out of the final boss? Let us not forget Clank himself, the straight man in the buddy cop duo who always tried to keep Ratchet on course and had an air of blissful naivete that made him a perfect sidekick. Ratchet himself was no slouch, proving in the end to be a true hero indeed. These characters are a huge part of what makes the game work, and the reason that each entry in the series is so beloved by the fanbase. The fact that the gameplay is flat out awesome doesn’t hurt much either.

Anyways, when it came down to it, I couldn’t put any other game on this list. It was not only a defining game for the platform, turning Insomniac into one of Sony’s most important partners, but also a defining game for me as a gamer. It was a perfect bridge from the old to the new. I loved 3D platformers in the PlayStation/N64 era, and I love action games now. As such, Ratchet & Clank will always have a special place in my heart and in my game collection.



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One response to “Adieu, PlayStation 2 – Aaron Sirois”

  1. Sean Madson Avatar
    Sean Madson

    Looking forward to that Dissidia review you ninja’d! XD

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