A Shortlist Of Great PS2 Games

Okay, so here’s the story: I’ve been out of the gaming loop for a while now. My computer is an aging Celeron 450 with a GeForce 200, which still runs well enough to play all my old favourites (Civ III, Fallout, Deus Ex, Planescape, etc.) Console-wise I still have my old Playstation, because I am the bitch of any game that has the words “final” and “fantasy” in the title.

But recently, my DVD player went on the fritz, which I’m going to assume is a sign from God telling me to buy a Playstation 2. My wife, who also has a Final Fantasy monkey on her back, is salivating at the chance to get her mitts on FFX and Kingdom Hearts (she’s also got a thing for Nightmare Before Christmas, which is another story).

So, the big question is: What games should I be most stoked about playing on the PS2? Are there any good turn-based games, a la Final Fantasy Tactics? Is Grand Theft Auto 3 all it’s cracked up to be? I’m big on RPGs (obviously), strategy games and action games, but I’m willing to give any genre a chance for the sake of a really great gaming experience.

Vaporizer guide

-GTA3 Collection
-Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
-Beyond Good and Evil
-Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
-Final Fantasy X
-Ratchet and Clank 1 and 2

I’d add Fatal Frame II and MX Unleashed to that list.

Mark of Kri
Dark Cloud 2
Beyond Good and Evil

Xenosaga. Just for the subtitle, really. Every game should have incomprehensible foriegn subtitles.

Dark Cloud 2. It’s so much fun for the first 8 hours that you can pretend that you beat the game and it was short but good.

Mark of Kri. Short, fun little action/stealth/birdhandling game. The best part is when you stab the guy right in his stupid head.

Metal Gear Solid 2. Plot is really stupid. Gameplay is fun, and even today it still has just marvelous production values.

Gran Turismo 3 is a great racing game(and can be had for cheap), but I dunno if you like those.

People mentioned most of the other good ones.

Oh, Tenchu is a must if you like stealth games or ninjas.

In addition to some of the above, and in ascending order of title length:

Guilty Gear X2
Dynasty Tactics
Zone of the Enders 2

Dynasty Tactics is turn-based strategy, but not so much like FFT. It’s almost a puzzle/strategy game and it’s a ton of fun. If you use your units in the right order you can chain up some devastating combos.

Guilty Gear X2 is the prettiest 2D fighter ever made. Lots of wacky fun moves and crazy characters, definitely worth checking out.

ZoE2 is a 3rd person mech game, the best looking game on the PS2 (along with MGS2) and a lot of fun. Fast action, spectacular effects, and all kinds of ways to smash the bad guys to pieces.

Amplitude is the best game of all time. No, really, it’s been scientifically proven. It’s a rhythm shooter where you assemble songs one instrument at a time by hitting targets in time with the music. Owning this game gives you +2 to awesomeness. Completing Insane difficulty gives you +10.

Rez is also a musical shooter, but it’s about as different from Amplitude as you can get. It’s a third person shooter on rails with techno music where shots that you take and enemy explosions are actually part of the music. The major knock against it is that it’s short (can be played in 4-5 hours), but it does have a decent amount of replay, especially if you like techno music or great games.

Ico is a cool adventure/puzzle game. Save the girl from the puzzle-filled castle. Really cool art style and amazing atmosphere (very little music, it’s a cool effect).

Sorry for not being very descriptive, but I have to get back to being pissed off at Planetside.

War of the Monsters if you’re looking for a fun, mindless two-player game.

Ratchet and Clank (along with the sequel)
Jak and Daxter (i haven’t played the sequel yet)

Dark Cloud 2
Dynasty Warriors 3 or 4
Gran Turismo 3 A Spec
Tekken Tag Tournament
GTA 3 and VC (since your pc likely cant run them)
Ratchet and Clank
Jak and Dakster
Klonoa 2
Gauntlet Dark Legacy

Only Dark Cloud 2, GTA 3/VC and Gran Turismo 3 are the ones I would wholeheartedly recommend.

I would also add Champions of Norrath but I dont have it yet… but it looks real good!


Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter
Ratchet and Clank 1 or 2
The GTAs
Ape Escape 2

For fuck’s sake, don’t get Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts is plenty fine for someone who likes the genre and is a casual gamer. It’s certainly not flawless, but my wife (as an example) got a great deal of enjoyment out of it.

Most of these are repeats, but I’m adding them for EMPHASIS:

Culdcept - turn based mix of Monopoly and Magic, get this one NOW! Read the review on the holiday guide here if you need to.

Ico - although not completely like the old Out of This World, the game seems to have the same spirit. Not particularly long, but it makes up for it in quality.

Wratchet & Clank 2 - I’ve taken a short break from it, but this is one worth beating twice.

Simpson’s Hit & Run - If you like GTA3, and you like Simpsons, you owe this one to yourself. If you aren’t fans of either, you can skip it (but you shouldn’t!).

Dark Cloud 2 - If you can get past the first 20 or 30 minutes, you will open up several hours of fantastic and relatively varied gameplay. You may not make it to the end, but finishing all the towns and the challenge of each one is fantastic!

DDR - if you are a fat bastard, or are looking to keep in shape, give this a shot. Best yet if you pick up a couple of dance pads to either compete or to workout dancing to both pads at once.

Kingdom Hearts - You already mentioned this one, and I will second it. A couple of the levels sucked (Little Mermaid stands out), but the enjoyment of the game, the quality of the animation and voicework (not counting when Donald Duck says ‘fuck you’), and the pace of the game make it a must have.

Just be aware that you might not like Kingdom Hearts that much. Sure, it’s cool to see all the Final Fantasy characters in a game together and yeah, the animation is great, but when you get to the game part of it, well… plbtbtbtbtbtbt…

Oh, and no one said Maximo. That game rox. Also, if you have any interest in soccer or even just sports games in general then you absolutely should buy Winning Eleven 6 or the newly released WE7. It’s the best simulation/action style sports game ever made IMO. Nothing compares when it comes to accurately representing the sport AND being a blast to control and play.


The reason I defended KH was that he mentioned his wife was anticipating it (as opposed to him, who seemed the more serious gamer). To a more casual gamer, KH doesn’t suffer as much from gameplay issues.

A bit redudant, but I have to recommend:

Frequency & Amplitude

All four are brilliant, can’t miss games that I think are the best console titles in the last 5 years.

Others games I recommend that aren’t exclusive to the PS2:

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Beyond Good & Evil
TimeSplitters 2


Just because no one’s mentioned them yet, I’ll throw in
Tony Hawk (Pro Skater 3 and 4 can be had for cheap)
SSX/SSX 3 (I didn’t like Tricky as much)

I’m not really a sports gamer, but I got many, many, many hours of entertainment out of those two series. They both have good combinations of RPG-lite character development along with action gameplay and solid space designs.

Just my two cents.


D’oh! I can’t believe I forgot Maximo! One of the best action games this generation.

Oh, and Devil May Cry (the original). You might get sick of DMC before the end and give up on it, but until then it is an amazing action game with a terrific battle system. It takes a long time until that sword uppercut/shotgun combo gets old.

I’d like to echo what Mr. Fitch says. Whether you like sports games or not the SSX series is incredible. Like many, I initially said “Who gives two shits about a snowboarding game?”, but the trick system and scoring system and crazy track layouts make for a great ride.

NBA Street I and II. Better than NBA Jam ever thought about being and I loved NBA Jam.

I need to second Culdcept. Most addictive game I’ve ever played on any system, even if the computer does seem to cheat from time to time.

Also Virtua Fighter 4. As a former kickboxer, Virtua Fighter 4 : Evolution seems to be the deepest and most sophisticated fighter out there. Huge learning curve if you want to beat the game on normal difficulty, but what a sweet learning curve it is. :D






Gradius 5 (not out but it is fuuuuun unless they messed something up since last may, more reminiscent of salamander ][ than gradius IMO, but thats a good thing)

That is pretty much all I’ve found that I liked enough to own and not trade or sell. Oh, Ring of Red was really really interesting. Not much fun but I really liked it anyways.