gaming

The 50 Best PS2 Games of All Time

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Loveleen Kaur / ONE37pm

Many old head gamers look to the PlayStation 2 as one of, in not the greatest video game console ever made.

The mega profitable and critically acclaimed successor to the first-ever PlayStation made waves due to its overwhelming library of quality titles. Each and every genre you could think of was properly represented - a good majority of the finest fighting, RPG, sports, action/adventure, etc., games can be found on the PS2. With such a staggering array of amazing experiences to look back on during the PS2's reign of greatness, it does become a bit difficult to narrow down its best games to just 50 selections.

But somehow someway, we did it! So without further ado, it's time to get all nostalgic and recant all the warm memories we have for the 50 best PS2 games of all time.

1. ‘God of War’

Before the 2018 series reboot matured Kratos and turned him into a caring father, the 2005 original introduced him as a rampaging God-killer. The very first God of War kickstarted a reign of terror for Kratos that presented amazingly brutal combat mechanics, a captivating storyline involving the Greek pantheon, and some of the craziest setpiece moments gamers have ever seen. God of War's QTEs (Quick Time Events) are responsible for jaw-dropping moments we're alluding to.

2. ‘God of War II’

You also have to recognize just how amazing God of War II ended up being as well! Kratos was relinquished of the godly powers he attained during the first game and was forced back into being an always pissed-off brutalizer. The new array of weaponry, magic, and big bosses featured in this sequel took everything over the top for the better. The newly added Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny, and the Blade of Olympus opened up the battle mechanics, even more, to make each clash with mythical beasts such a joy.

3. ‘SOCOM II U.S. Navy SEALs'

SOCOM II U.S. Navy SEALs is one of those definite online multiplayer experiences that fans have been dreaming of returning to in a new PS5 entry. That's because this highly strategic third-person shooter offered limitless bounties of fun thanks to its competitive multiplayer component. The SEALs vs. Terrorists matches this game produced never failed when it came to keeping its fans addicted. And hey, the single-player campaign for this game was also pretty strong.

4. ‘Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec’

Polyphony Digital is considered masters of the craft when it comes to the racing simulation sub-genre. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec marks another high point for the development studio's PlayStation exclusive franchise. The debuting presence of Formula One cars added another vehicle class to master alongside the other automobiles this game contains. The slick graphical presentation and overwhelming delivery of content this racer features places it among the very best racing sims ever made.

5. ‘Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy’

Before Naughty Dog started veering off into more mature experiences, the development studio was most known for creating platforming adventures that starred lovable protagonists. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is one of those PS2 classics that gave the console its very own rendition of Nintendo 64's best 3D platformers and collect-a-thons. This whimsical game is so great due to its beautiful locales, light-hearted approach to storytelling, and quality gameplay that focused on collecting Precursor Orbs & several other collectibles.

6. ‘Jak II’

The switch to the darker tone for Jak II is so uncanny. Jak grew a beard, started going ham with a newly acquired gun, and adopted a new sinister transformation thanks to his "Dark Eco" powers. The Grand Theft Auto vibes can't be ignored here. And thankfully, they do an awesome job of making the shocking change in theme and gameplay work shockingly well. Getting familiar with the denizens of Haven City and taking on all types of missions inside & outside of it made up a lot of the high fun factor for this quality Naughty Dog sequel.

7. ‘Devil May Cry’

It's pretty insane that the original Devil May Cry originally started out as a Resident Evil game. But the development on it moved so far away from what the survival horror series is about that we ended up getting a super influential hack & slasher out of it. Dante's sword & guns-assisted crusade against Mundus' hellish army blew everyone's minds at release - the evolutionary ability to send a demon into the air and keep 'em up there with repeated gunfire. Capcom kicked off a strong franchise here thanks to this strong series debut.

8. ‘Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition’

The original Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is marvelous in its own right. But the newly upgraded Special Edition truly perfected its formula. One of the coolest villains in all of gaming, Vergil, became a playable character and offered an equally thrilling companion to Dante's playstyle. The newly added survival mode, welcome return of the"Bloody Palace" side challenge, and "Turbo Mode" gameplay speed increase breathed so much more life into a game that was already great beforehand.

9. ‘Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution’

We have another case here of an updated version of a revered game that's superior to the original in every way, shape, and form. Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution added in the super rewarding single-player mode "Quest Mode" and offered an even better version of the last game's "Kumite Mode." The roster expanded due to the additions of the Judoka-assassin Goh Hinogami and the Muay Thai boxer Brad Burns, who are still Virtua Fighter series regulars to this day. The well-tuned combat mechanics are still intact here, which makes this welcome update one of the Virtua Fighter games to date.

10. ‘Tekken 5’

Tekken 5 is one of the most celebrated fighting games ever made. And one of the reasons for the game's long legacy being kept intact is due to how feature-rich it is. On top of the legacy modes and retooled gameplay, Tekken 5 features a side beat 'em up mode and even arcade versions of the first three Tekken games. Now did Jinpachi infuriate everyone when it came to actually getting every character's ending? Of course (that final boss is so OP!). But we quickly got over our rage since Tekken 5's gameplay is top-tier and it offers so much to do for single-player and multiplayer-minded fighting game fans.

11. ‘Ico’

Sony's in-house Japan Studio is responsible for crafting some of the most iconic games for the PS2. One of those is the heart-wrenching, puzzle-laden action/adventure game known as Ico. Playing as the horned savior as he fought off sinister shadows, solved challenging brain teasers, and held Yorda close by his side was such a fulfilling experience back in the day and still is to this very day. The effective use of silence applied to the majority of Ico's trials and tribulations does so much for the game's amazing presentation.

12. ‘Shadow of the Colossus’

Japan Studio's other PS2 epic is this literal boss rush game that's held up by an immensely unforgettable storyline. Shadow of the Colossus follows a wandering warrior named Wander, who sets out to eliminate a line of massive beasts in order to revive his deceased lover. There's still so much awe to be felt in locating each creature and figuring out the proper tactics needed to bring them down in battle. And the ending? If you haven't played this game yet and have managed to avoid any & all spoilers, prepare to have your mind blown by its shocking conclusion.

13. ‘Twisted Metal Black’

The Twisted Metal games have always been super dark and full of some wild endings for its maniacal participants. But Twisted Metal Black is where Sony PlayStation's signature car combat series got even darker. The art design and character motivations played well into the game's deep dive into more mature themes & insane vehicular mayhem. The gameplay itself produced so many hours of fun due to the balls-to-the-action that ensued between all the cars on a single map and the secret control inputs you had to put in to send out devastating projectiles.

14. ‘Sly 2: Band of Thieves’

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus kicked off the anthropomorphic thief's career on a very strong note. But it's the sequel that truly made the Sly Cooper series a beloved PS2 staple. Sly 2: Band of Thieves expanded its roster of playable characters by throwing Bentley and Murray into the mix, who each came with their own fun attributes and gameplay segments. And as expected, Sly's sneaky segments remained as fun as ever (pickpocketing all those dumb goons never gets old). As far as the Sly Cooper series goes, Sly 2 is at the top of the list.

15. ‘Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance’

Once most folks got over their hate for the bait and switch that made them play with Raiden for most of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, they eventually looked back on it as one of the best titles in Hideo Kojima's legendary stealth-based series. This updated version of the game threw in a dizzying amount of VR missions that gave all those longtime fans even more challenges to overcome. Plus the newly added Boss Survival and trippy Skateboarding segments made this game's feature-rich package worth venturing through. The subtle changes made to the original campaign were also pretty neat as well.

16. ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence’

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater put the masterful stealth operative Naked Snake in the spotlight as he looked to save a weapons designer and halt the usage of an experimental weapon during the Cold War. This entry in the long-running Metal Gear Solid series is regarded as one of the very best and Subsistence is definitely the best way to play it. Some of the most worthwhile additions to this updated rendition are Metal Gear Online (MGO), a new third-person camera option, and the super quirky Ape Escape minigame Snake vs. Monkey. And of course, the excellent main campaign is still worth making your way through here once again.

17. ‘Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King’

The other highly-rated JRPG series besides Final Fantasy is the decidedly old-school Dragon Quest franchise. And one of its most prominent entries is the PS2 installment Journey of the Cursed King. The cel-shaded art style presented this game in all its anime glory, while the turn-based approach to combat and medieval fantasy themes present within the story do enough to make its journey enjoyable from start to finish.

18. ‘Kingdom Hearts II’

Ask anyone who adores the Kingdom Hearts series which entry sticks out as the very best and they'll most likely choose this one. Kingdom Hearts II greatly expanded upon the battle mechanics introduced in the first game by giving the series protagonist Sora new super forms to tap into, a bunch of new Keyblades to master, and plenty of new Disney characters to summon during battle. Taking Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy to recognizable Disney worlds based on Mulan, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and even Tron was pretty mindblowing at the time of this game's release.

19. ‘Final Fantasy X’

The 10th entry in the mainline Final Fantasy series truly pushed the JRPG genre forward and made the franchise look & sound its very best at the time. The usage of characters actually being able to speak was so monumental, plus the huge uptick in visual fidelity brought the game's varied environments within Spira to life. The "Conditional Turn-Based Battle" system made managing one's party tactics way better as you could see who was next up to make their move. And the story itself? It hit on every emotional note possible (the stuff that goes down Tidus and his pops Jecht is some pretty deep stuff...).

20. ‘Final Fantasy XII’

Final Fantasy XII returned to the series' roots of more fantastical themes by transporting players to the magical world of Ivalice. The departure from turn-based combat to a system that's comparable to MMORPG combat was pretty shocking, but it eventually became easy to wrap one's head around. The "Gambit" and "License" systems also did a great job of helping players get the most out of every character within their party as well. While the characters themselves arent' super memorable, the story being told within Final Fantasy XII is engrossing enough to be regarded as one of the very best in the series.

21. ‘Grand Theft Auto III’

Grand Theft Auto III's footprint can still be felt through every facet of current-day gaming. When it hit the streets in 2001, it revolutionized gaming as a whole as it gave players the freedom to do whatever they wanted in a vast 3D metropolis. Making your way through Liberty City was and still is one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming - being able to get into some outlandish crimes and raise your Wanted star level to the max will never get old. Rockstar Games rose to legendary status because of GTA III's monumental contributions to the video game medium.

22. ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’

A year after GTA III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came out and fully embraced the neon-lit era of mid-80s Miami. This major theme/hub world change provided a different flavor to embrace that worked extremely well within the series' newfound open-world formula. Vice City's soundtrack is the perfect companion to all the wild shootouts, club hangouts, and other high-octane activities Tommy Vercetti found himself embroiled in. It feels so good to be a mobster in sunnyside Vice City.

23. ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Adreas’

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas took players on a West Coast journey that evoked memories of films such as Boyz n the Hood and South Central. As Carl "CJ" Johnson, players got all caught up in some wild gang activity alongside the Grove Street Families gang. This game's light RPG mechanics truly made a difference as they impacted CJ's physical appearance and stats, which was pretty monumental at the time of release. The wealth of new gameplay features (gang wars, car modifications, brand new minigames, etc.) added even more content to a series of games that was already jam-packed with so many other things to do.

24. ‘Silent Hill 2’

Konami's competitor to Capcom's Resident Evil series hit a supremely high note on its second attempt. The mist-filled town of Silent Hill trapped James Sunderland within its horrifying confines as he was forced to search for his dead wife. The hideous creatures that attempted to keep you from finding her are still supreme nightmare fuel (that Pyramid Head scene still shakes us to our core!). Silent Hill 2 is one of the greatest survival horror games ever made thanks to its creative monster designs, haunting setting, and mindblowing plot revelations.

25. ‘Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal’

Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank series got its start on the PS2 and managed to bring in tons of acclaim. One of the most highly reviewed entries in the series on that console is most certainly this one. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal put the franchise's titular duo front and center once again for some fun third-person running, gunning, and jumping. The game's improved control scheme, a vast array of old & new weapons, and highly refined gameplay all make Up Your Arsenal a quintessential part of the massive PS2 software library. Side note - we totally miss this game's awesome multiplayer mode!

Honorable Mentions

26. ‘TimeSplitters 2’

27. ‘Resident Evil 4’

28. ‘Burnout 3: Takedown’

29. ‘Soulcalibur II’

30. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3'

31. ‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’

32. ‘Viewtiful Joe’

33. ‘Okami’

34. ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

35. ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4’

36. ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3’

37. ‘NBA Street Vol. 2’

38. ‘ESPN NFL 2K5’

39. ‘Katamari Damacy’

40. ‘Dark Cloud 2’

41. ‘SSX Tricky’

42. ‘Black’

43. ‘Maximo: Ghosts to Glory’

44. ‘The Mark of Kri’

45. ‘Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil’

46. ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’

47. ‘Bully’

48. ‘Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus’

49. ‘Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition’

50. ‘SSX 3’

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