Playstation 2 - The casual gamer's (like me) PS3?

I find that the PS2 is extremely cheap and a lot of games are between 10 and 20€ (and often even under 10€). I never owned a console (apart from a DS) but I’m tempted by games like Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, maybe Silent Hill. Main reasons for a PS2 would be: cheap console, cheap games, good game library. Of course I know that it’s an old system, but there seem to be a lot of good games out there for the system and my gaming habit has changed so that I don’t want to invest a lot of money into a new console and its games.
Anything I’m missing (I’m way too late to the party for having any clue about the quality of a ps2. Maybe it’s a complete stupid idea.)? And/Or: Any must-have games?

If you’re on a budget, then why not? I had a lot of good times with my PS2. Definitely pick up the GTA3 series including Vice City and San Andreas if you haven’t already played them. You can get PS2 games for pennies in the UK, and I doubt its so different where you are so you won’t run out of great games.

All of these games have been remade in HD on PS3. And they’re fairly cheap.

I have no idea what conditions are like in the EU, but here in the U.S. there are a bunch of really good PS3 / XBox 360 games that cost less than 20€. We’re late enough in the current generation that there’s no real need to go back a full generation for bargains.

Yeah, but if you ask me there’s a lot more worthwhile gaming on PS2 than has ever materialized for PS3, provided you can deal with the last-gen technology. And I say this as someone who has never particularly regretted his PS3 purchase.

What kind of TV do you have? PS2 doesn’t output HD except on a handful of titles. Some televisions do a terrible job displaying SD content. If you’ve got a CRT, you’re fine, otherwise it would be worth looking into before going this route.

If that’s not a concern, I’d say go for it - the PS2 has the best library of titles of any console so far imo.

The library’s too large to easily say what’s a must have title, there are literally multiple must haves in most genres. What do you like?

If you’re interested in JRPGs, the PS2 still has by far the best library of them. That’s one genre that just hasn’t transitioned well to the current generation.

First of all thank you for the replies. I’ve got a CRT, so no problems there. Regardings game types: RPGs and action stuff like Beyond Good and Evil (action adventure?). What got my interest about Ico and SotC was that everybody said they were something completely different. So, I’m open for that, too.

Must-have PS2 games: Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet & Clank Up Your Arsenal, God of War 1 & 2, Disgaea.

Everything else is optional.

Availability is going to vary widely but strong contenders include:

JRPGs:
Shin Megami Tensei games, any and all (variants include main-series title Nocturne, social sim fusions Persona 3: FES and Persona 4, action/investigation set in the 1920s Devil Summoner 1 and 2, and finally Digital Devil Saga, which is more futuristic and while the two games are separate releases, there’s direct save importing and they form one complete story).
Final Fantasies X and XII (possibly also X-2, but opinions diverge sharply on that one).
Dark Cloud II (the first one is apparently also good, but easily surpassed by #2.)
Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant (opinions vary on the third, From the New World)
Steambot Chronicles (free-roaming goofy steampunk mecha RPG)
Rogue Galaxy
Possibly the three Xenosaga games - I adored the first one, hated the little I could tolerate playing of the second, and have heard the third is a return to form but never got around to it.
Odin Sphere
Dragon Quest VIII
Various Nippon Ichi SRPGs including 2 Disgaea games, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, etc.
Kingdom Hearts

Action games:
Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3.
God of War and God of War 2.
God Hand.
Bully
Metal Gear Solid 3 (preferably Subsistence edition). Optionally, also MGS2.
The Ratchet & Clank series.
Viewtiful Joe
Resident Evil 4 (though the PS2 version is probably the worst of the console versions)
Ico
Shadow of the Colossus
Okami

Quirky, unusual, or lesser known/niche games:
Disaster Report and Raw Danger (kind of like survival horror, but the threats are natural disasters and knock on consequences - earthquake in Disaster Report, flooding in Raw Danger. Raw Danger also sports multiple characters, each with their own storylines)
Robot Alchemic Drive (pilot a mecha around and fight giant monsters and whatnot. Except you’re not inside the mecha. You’re piloting it by remote control, and the pilot is an actual game entity that can die and must move around to new vantage points to escape danger and be able to see what they’re doing.)
Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (It’s a JRPG, but built around losing repeatedly - the mechanics are such that you’re unlikely to be able to win on the first go, but there are things that carry over from run to run and changing events, etc.)
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (dating sim/mecha SRPG with demons. Possibly a little too harem anime for many.)
Everblue 2 (a scuba-diving RPG. Search dark, possibly shark-infested wrecks for valuables to finance better equipment and more explorations.)
Global Defence Force (PAL only - would require a swap disc or similar, but Earth Defense Force 2017 is a prettied up remake of this one’s predecessor. GDF’s much more varied and has a second character class with a jetpack and a suite of energy weaponry that’s quite imaginative and fun.)
Katamari Damacy (and We Love Katamari) - you’ve heard of this, right?
Mister Mosquito (yep, you play as a mosquito flying around a house, trying to suck blood from the inhabitants without getting noticed and swatted)
The Red Star (cooperative shooter (and I mean more like, say, Smash TV when I say shooter) based on a very cool pseudo-Soviet SF comic by the same name)
Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked (crazy licensed brawler by Grasshopper Studios, based on the Samurai Champloo anime. Super-stylized with combos following rap rhythms, and a touch of Grasshopper’s usual madness.)
Shadow of Destiny (time travel adventure game)
Warship Gunner 2 (unexciting name, but action packed and full of weird impossible megaship bosses and such. Huge amount of ship customizability, too.)

I can’t even look at malkav’s post without getting dizzy, but if he didn’t mention the Jak games, the Ratchet and Clank games and the Sly games, then they are primo action adventure titles on the PS2.

I didn’t mention Jak because I didn’t like those, and the Sly games seemed good but a little too old school platformy for my tastes. Ratchet and Clank’s on there, though!

Edit: Old school is not a sensible descriptor considering that there are plenty of old platformers of the model I prefer. I guess I should differentiate it like this. Jak and Sly both appear to have fixed character movesets that don’t grow or change through the game. (I admit to not pursuing later games in those franchises.) The focus is on mastering the mechanics you’re given, and/or contending with the novel challenges in subsequent levels. This is what I would consider most archetypified by the core Mario games. This is not a gameplay model I particularly enjoy. Ratchet and Clank, on the other hand, has a steady flow of new weapons and gadgets to play with, with additional upgrade mechanisms like levelling weapons later on in the franchise. I can dig that. (It’s also a significant part of what I like about Metroid, and while not a platformer, per se, Zelda. Though the illusion of free roaming and exploration is also a big factor in those games.)

Are we allowed to mention… conspiratorial whisper emulators?

If so, you should look into `em.

If not - I SAID NOTHING REMOTELY INAPPROPRIATE AND AM APPALLED AT ANYONE WHO SUGGESTS OTHERWISE

Do those work very well? I wonder because I have stacks of PS2 games and no PS2 to play them on (the DVD unit on mine went out).

PCSX2 has pretty decent compatibility and is super easy to setup. I’ve played a bunch of different games with little to no problem (they’re also much easier to look at). Some games work better on older versions but that’s not too much of a hassle to get working correctly.

As far as must-haves are concerned, my favorite PS2 games are:

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter
Robot Alchemical Drive
God Hand
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

I definitely wouldn’t recommend any of those without knowing your tolerance for jank.

If you have a decent PC there’s no reason to have a real PS2. It’s almost perfectly emulated, and when it is, it’s much better.

If you’re using a CRT, the arguments in favor of a current-gen console are diminished, but I would still recommend getting a PS3 or Xbox 360.

Obviously, you know how much discretionary spending you can afford, and I don’t know that. But the experience of gaming on a current-generation system really is a superior experience to gaming on a PS2. Not only are all sorts of little things taken care of (no need to buy memory cards, wireless controllers) but there’s real value to being part of the current generation. You can download demos, and experiment with cheap Xbox Live / PSN games, which are one of the really neat developments in console gaming this generation.

And if you read about an interesting game on Quarter to Three, you will have the option of buying it!

I think I’ll try it out.

Two more games in my stack that I recommend are the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance games. They were both solid action-RPG’s, and co-op was a blast.

It’s a budget thing. After reading some of the replies I ordered an used PS2 starter pack (w/ controllers, memory card etc) for under 40€ and a bunch of games. This would have been quite an investment on a current gen console.
Regarding emulators: At the moment I’m rather glad if I don’t have to turn on my computer and sit at my desk at night. I’m doing that way too much in my working days.
Thanks for all the help.

I’ve got a sandy bridge laptop with the hd3000 integrated video. It’s enough to run PCSX2 with only a smidgen of up-res. BUT, laptop is hooked up to awesome receiver via HDMI, then to giant-ass TV, and then to a 360 pad via USB. This lets me play Persona 4 on the couch, and then bring it with me to bed to continue!!!

It’s not a cheap solution, but one day, you can look forward to doing this too!

Some of the more demanding ps2 games do require a pretty good computer to run.

These days i’d think trying to find some of the better, older ps2 games would cost around the same price as buying some of the better, older ps3 games.

Ps2 does have a TON of really good games though. current generation games really aren’t that much more impressive unless you value graphics a ton. I still have a ps3 though.