Even though the latest generation of consoles offer amazing graphics and mechanics, digging out your old machines is always a blast.
Sure, some of those games from a bygone age might not live up to our memories of them, or hold a candle to anything produced today, but they’re still a joy to play. Is it just nostalgia? In some cases, yes, but many games are so well-made they lose little of their brilliance over the years.
The PS2 is a well-loved console with a great catalogue of titles. It may not have been home to as many revolutionary classics as the PS1 (which boasted Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, and Tekken 3, to name just a few), but there’s a whole heap of gems nonetheless.
If you have a PS2 still sitting in your loft or under your bed, check out these 15 unforgettable games still worth your time …
Okami is a beautiful, original, dynamic game you’ll still love today. Released way back in 2006 by the mighty Capcom, Okami is based around ancient Japanese myths and folklore. With its cel-shaded graphics, Okami is gorgeous to look at – and the Celestial Brush makes it feel unique.
Being able to draw onto the virtual world and interact with it ensures Okami is more engaging than your average game, providing a rich experience to try again and again.
Psi-Ops might not have sold quite as well as it should have, but players who took a chance on it found an exciting game like few others.
Playing as a PSI-Operative, a badass agent with powerful psychic powers, you get stronger and stronger throughout the game. Telekinesis, mind-draining, remote viewing, pyrokinesis, and more are all up for grabs.
This might not be the best game you’ll ever play, but it’s definitely a neat twist on standard action games.
God of War 2
The first God of War is a great game, but its sequel remains a stone-cold classic – despite its high difficulty and frustrating moments.
Kratos’ second outing is filled with gore aplenty, and its linear gameplay keeps this a simple, no-fuss action adventure you’ll want to plough right through.
After a few upgrades, Kratos really does start to make you feel like a Greek legend, and facing off against many iconic figures from ancient myths is just as epic as you’d expect: the first level’s terrifying Colossus kicks things off with a bang, and the game rarely lets up after.
Shadow of the Colossus
Getting tired of waiting for The Last Guardian? Well, in the meantime, dive back into Shadow of the Colossus.
Like Okami, Shadow of the Colossus looks and feels unique, with a gripping story you’ll fall for all over again. Playing as Wander, you’re tasked with destroying sixteen massive beasts to bring a young girl back to life. It’s a simple, stripped-back experience that loses nothing with its lack of characters and side-quests.
This is still regarded by its fans as one of the best games ever made, and here’s hoping Fumito Ueda can pull off a similar trick with The Last Guardian.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This may not be everyone’s favourite Grand Theft Auto game, but it’s the most advanced the series got on the PS2. Even if you prefer the cold urbanity of GTA III or the colourful 80s goodness of Vice City, San Andreas is still an absolute cracker.
Even though you can download this on your phone or tablet today, there’s still something to be said for slipping the disc into your PS2 and playing it as it was intended to be. There’s more to see and do than you’ll likely get around to, seemingly endless locations to explore, and plenty of customisation to enjoy.
And remember that dating mini-game? This involves such outstanding moments as a rhythm-based dance-off, romantic drive-by shootings, and … well, the rest depends on your wooing skills …
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
There were several Ratchet & Clank games on the PS2, but the cheekily-named ‘Up Your Arsenal’ is remembered as the best by its many fans.
This features the platforming the series is known for, but tosses in plenty of shooting and action too, keeping the R&C experience fresh. The in-game world is bigger than ever, the presence of Captain Qwark will put a smile on your face, and the upgradable weapons are irresistible. It’s just a shame the online multiplayer is no longer available!
Resident Evil 4
While the Resident Evil series has gone way off the rails in recent years (though the upcoming reboot looks set to take it back to its scare-tastic roots), Resident Evil 4 is one of the strongest latter-day entries.
Playing as Leon, you’re faced with countless freaky enemies to fight and plenty of creepy locations. This is the point at which the franchise started to lean more towards action and a faster pace, but this is nevertheless a must-play.
The first time you see a masked, chainsaw-wielding psycho creep towards you, you’ll be glad you gave the game another spin.
And the Merchant’s chirpy accent is always a joy!
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
This is one of the most impressive, original RPG titles ever released on the PS2.
Players take on the role of a teenage high-school student coming to a new town, and get to enjoy various gameplay styles: while you’re free to explore the dungeons of the ‘TV World’, you can also take part in after-school clubs or even get a job. As with the best role-playing games, you can spend hours and hours losing yourself in Persona 4’s world.
With its titular Personas (a kind of inner-self armed with various abilities) and supernatural themes, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a deep, engrossing experience. It may not be for you if you’re after a fast and furious adventure, but for everyone else it’s a must.
Tekken 5 is an absolute beast of a game.
Many of your favourite characters return (Jin Kazama, Marshall Law, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix, Bryan Fury, King) alongside new ones too. The gameplay is fast and smooth, and there’s plenty of additional content to keep you occupied.
Outside of the standard Story, Time Attack, and Survival modes, you can delve deep into Devil Within. This mini-game is a 3D evolution of Tekken Force, and is a great standalone adventure in its own right, following Jin on the hunt to answer questions about his history.
Still want more? Don’t forget about the ability to customise your characters, or the inclusion of Tekken, Tekken 2, and Tekken 3. A high-value package at any price.
Final Fantasy X
There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Final Fantasy X, being the franchise’s first instalment on the PS2. Did it meet everyone’s expectations? Not necessarily. Some fans found the inclusion of Blitzball annoying, and the revised fighting system left a few cold, but overall it’s still a terrific game with lots to offer.
On a visual level, this is leaps and bounds beyond the PS1’s Final Fantasy games: everything looks and feels far more real and polished (not to detract from FF VII, VIII, or IX, which are beautiful in their own way).
Give it another try today – you may just rediscover a gem.
Beyond Good & Evil
This is a favourite of many, but could easily have been missed back in the day.
This original adventure casts you as Jade, a photojournalist on a quest to crack a deep-rooted conspiracy. The gameplay is a mix of puzzle-solving, stealth, and exploration, with a cast of lovable characters to keep you engaged.
While this might look like a fairly lightweight adventure, Beyond Good & Evil actually tackles some powerful themes. The HD remake may look sharper, but the PS2 original has lost none of its charm.
Well, this game was no stranger to controversy. Of course, much of this came from concerned parents and organisations who feared Bully would glorify bullying – before the game was even released!
Created by Rockstar, the genii behind the GTA series, Bully is a fun, deep, diverse game with a gripping storyline. It’s also original, transplanting the Grand Theft flavour to an academy: players upgrade their skills and attributes by attending classes; the open-world setting can be explored on-foot or by bikes and skateboards; and hero Jimmy can even build romantic relationships with other pupils.
We never did get a follow-up, but if you haven’t played this in a while, you might be surprised by just how well Bully stands up today.
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is still an unsettling game, filled with atmosphere and freaky imagery that gets under your skin.
To be fair, Silent Hill 2isn’t one for players with a faint heart: there’s dark material at the game’s core, with elements some people might find a little too much (such as child abuse), though the plot never feels in bad taste.
Pyramid Head is always good value for a scare or two, and the six possible endings give you plenty to come back for. Just don’t play it alone, in the dark, past your bedtime!
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Where could the MGS series go after the insane chaos of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty?
Well, with Snake Eater, we went into the past. This is set during the Cold War, and ditches Solid Snake for Big Boss (then known as Naked Snake).
Sneak Eater’s a deeper experience than its predecessor, asking players to hunt for food, use field-surgery to patch yourself up, and use the environment to take down enemies. The jungle setting also makes a nice change from the more industrial, grimy locations seen before.
The first PS2 game created by Fumito Ueda (the brain behind Shadow of the Colossus), Ico is a beautiful experience filled with stunning graphics, an unusual story, and lovable characters.
Playing as horned hero Ico, you’re tasked with helping Yorda, the daughter of a queen planning to use her body to stay alive past her time, escape from an ancient castle. The platforming and puzzle-solving manage to feel original, and you’ll care about Ico and Yorda right up to the end.
What are your favourite PS2 games? Let us know!