Cody's Top 15 PlayStation 2 Games

Nowadays a very big part of the gaming industry is the "Console Wars", as they have been dubbed. Bossman wrote an awesome non-bias blog titled "Navigating the Console Wars" back in May that really summarizes the market of modern consoles. I think despite what consoles are selling the best, people will always have their favorite companies and consoles, whether it's due to exclusives, specific features or even nostalgia based loyalty. This loyalty sometimes runs really deep, and people acquire a hatred for their favorite console's competition. In other cases, players have their favorite consoles but are also willing to game on almost anything. For the most part the LAN Mob employees don't have REALLY strong loyalties, but we certainly have our favorites. Aaron is a huge fan of the Nintendo Switch, noting the system's incredible versatility. However, if the HTC Vive counts, Bossman would certainly have a loyalty towards virtual reality. Rob noted his favorite systems are all some of the older retro systems and it's a three way tie between the Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1 and Sega Genesis. Clearly Rob doesn't care what company made the system, he just wants to play good games! When I asked Enrique the same question he promptly told me "we're basically buying the same games with different buttons. Stop being sheep!" I respect that! Then there's me. I've gone through phases of life where I play various systems pretty aggressively, but I think Sony exclusives keep me pretty loyal to their chain of consoles. However, in the PS3/Xbox 360 era, I was all about my Xbox 360. That being said, I can answer the question "What is your favorite game console of all time?" without taking any time at all to think it over. It's the PlayStation 2, hands down.

   Sony's PlayStation 2 released in 2000 between March & November based on the region.


There's a lot of reasons why I love the PlayStation 2, and I'm not the only one. The PlayStation 2 is the best selling game system of all time, it included full backwards compatibility, the controller was simple and effective and the end all be all...the game library is top notch. The PlayStation 2 library is absolutely massive, sitting at about 2500 games. I'm not saying every single one of them is even a good game, but the number is impressive nonetheless. The PlayStation 2 era was basically when I started my deep delve into the RPG genre, outside of a handful of PS1 gems. Thanks to backwards compatibility I even got to experience some of the best PS1 games I missed a few years earlier. However, for this list I'll be focusing on my favorite PlayStation 2 games, and not necessarily exclusives, simply the games that I loved the most. So that would mean no PlayStation 1 games, obviously. Besides I'm not sure if I'm even capable of picking my top 15 PS1 games...So without further ado, here's my Top 15 PS2 games of all time! (in no particular order)


Kingdom Hearts 2

When the original Kingdom Hearts came out back in 2002, I honestly didn't really care about playing it. Not only did I not have a PlayStation 2 of my own at the time, but on paper the game sounds ridiculous. Square meets Disney! (?) I'm extremely glad to say that all changed when I got to try Kingdom Hearts for myself at Slooze's house, and despite the odd formula, the game managed to be an exceptional RPG. By the time Kingdom Hearts 2 dropped in 2005, I had my own PS2 and I was absolutely infatuated with the game. In my opinion, KH2 is an improvement to the original game's formula in every sense of the word, and added in some of my own personal favorite Disney worlds like Mulan, Lion King and even TRON! I think the Kingdom Hearts fandom can be a little intimidating, especially when you start discussing the plethora of prequels, side stories and deeper lore, but I promise you no matter how you slice it the game series is a shining example of the action RPG genre, and Kingdom Hearts 2 is my favorite title in said series. 


Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven

I've mentioned my love of the stealth genre in previous blog posts, and Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is one of my favorite titles in the entire genre. Wrath of Heaven, like all other titles in the Tenchu series, is a (very good) game about ninjas. If that isn't enough to make you want to play it, then I don't really know what else I can say...I suppose I could mention the unique style, badass main characters, smooth gameplay, multiplayer modes, creative level design, smooth as silk framerate and solid AI. That's all great too.


Psychonauts

When I was a lot younger a paid much less attention to the development team behind games. Even if it was a game I absolutely LOVED I honestly didn't care to look too much into the team behind those games. Psychonauts changed that. The witty, charming, hilarious and deceptively complex examination of what makes somebody tick kind of blindsided my 13 year old self. Ironically enough I wanted to find out what the inside of the mind of the dude who was behind Psychonauts looked like, but first I needed a name! Oh look it's on the cover...12 years later and I'm still a huge fan of Tim Schafer, and Psychonauts in general. I'm seriously hoping we get the sequel in 2018, I can't wait to spend some more time with Raz. 


Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening

Oooo boy, DMC 3 is one of those timeless games for me. Dante's struggle with his brother Vergil is easily one of my favorite grudges in gaming history, and Vergil makes one hell of a foe. The DMC series in general has a very distinct style to it, but Dante's Awakening stands out even among its own series. It absolutely bleeds style. Back in 2005, Gamespot's Greg Kasavin noted how in each cut-scene of DMC 3 Dante usually goes out of his way to show off, even in perilous positions. He's a god dang badass, and it almost feels like Capcom is challenging you as a player to properly fill the shoes of their ridiculously over the top protagonist. Back in the day I even managed to beat the game on Dante Must Die mode, which is easily one of my proudest achievements in my own gaming history. 


Dark Cloud 2

When I decided to put this list together, Dark Cloud 2 was one of the first titles to hit the page. As far as JRPGs go, Dark Cloud 2 has some of the most unique content and systems I've ever seen, and I can still easily stress that same point in 2017. Dark Cloud 2 kept me interested and engaged from start to finish, and Max is one of my favorite JRPG protagonists of all time. I only hope someday in the future we see Level-5 revisit the series.


Blood Will Tell

This is probably the most unheard of game on this list, and easily one of the strangest. Based on a 1960's anime, Blood Will Tell has players taking control of a young samurai named Hyakkimaru on his quest to regain his 48 body parts. They were stolen by demons. Damn demons. Everytime you regain a body part (usually by defeating 1 of the 60+ bosses), abilities are unlocked. Sometimes these abilities are related to combat. but the most interesting of these actually deeply effect the way you interact with the game. When players regain Hyyakkimaru's left eye, for example, it is the first time they actually get to see the game in color. Outside of the Kojima-esque, out-of-the-box progression, the gameplay and narrative are great too. Definitely one of those games that deserved more attention then what it got, even though the camera was sometimes the hardest boss in the game...


Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain

The Syphon Filter series is pretty hit or miss in terms of reception, but I absolutely loved the first 3 games on the original PlayStation. I was hooked on the political wars and Mission Impossible esque story telling, and Gabe Logan, the series' main character, felt like nothing less then the bad ass hero the world needs. When I heard Syphon Filter was making its way to PS2, I was so disappointed I couldn't go on another adventure with Gabe Logan (I didnt have a PS2 at the time). A year or so later, I was finally able to get Omega Strain, I was pretty excited to try out the new direction SIE was taking with their series. For the first time, players wouldn't be playing Gabe or Lian, and they would be creating their own character employed in Gabe Logan's anti terrorist team - the IPCA. On top of that, the game took a huge turn into the RPG side of things, allowing a whole bunch of customization and creativity. Unfortunately, the narrative was pretty lacking in comparison to the rest of the series, and that earned Omega Strain the title of "my least favorite Syphon Filter game", but it still inched it's way into my top 15 PS2 games. That really says something, yeah?


The Red Star

I don't really have a ton to say about The Red Star. I picked it up somewhere for dirt cheap, saw that it had co-op, and made Slooze play with me because we enjoy the occasional hell shooter. The Red Star is apparently based on a graphic novel, and takes place in a futuristic Soviet Union. It's pretty stylish and scratches that itch for a fun local co-op game, especially if you like hell shooter/fighting/shooting/RPG games. It's a tough one to explain, but I'd recommend playing it with a buddy, Slooze and I love it.


Persona 3

I strongly believe the only people who don't love the Persona games just haven't played them. We've mentioned the latest title in the series, "Persona 5" on the blog a few times, in fact it's currently in the running for my personal GOTY. The Persona series is best described as part JRPG and part high school sim, but what makes the series so damn good is the flawless blending and synergy between both sections of the game. High schooler by day, attending class, forming relationships, working jobs, etc etc is matched with being a supernatural investigator by night, combating a multitude of shadows, demons and creatures that go bump in the night. As much as I LOVED Persona 4 + 5, Persona 3 still stands out as my favorite due to some character arcs that hit home, the stellar plot twists and JUNPEI IORI.


Shadow of the Colossus

I'm not sure what I could say about Shadow of the Colossus that hasn't already been said. The game is nothing short of a masterpiece and shining example of what video games can be. Bossman believes that, for the most part, people accept that video games are indeed a form of art nowadays. I genuinely believe Shadow of the Colossus helped the masses arrive to that conclusion.


The Mark of Kri

The Mark of Kri is another one of those games that seemed to fall under the radar, despite its excellence. Mark of Kri is similar to God of War in the sense that you get to aggressively beat down some fools in some fast paced action sequences. However, it also can pull back from the violence and offer some really peaceful and spiritual moments. It's a relatively simple game, but remains an adventure I still take every few years.


God of War 

What would any Top X PS2 games list be without God of War on it? God of War released as this huge AAA big budget action blockbuster game with an absurd amount of hype and it honestly lived up to every bit of it. I know most people prefer 2 over the original, but I was definitely more obsessed with God of War 1. That Hydra opening is easily one of my favorite openings of all time. This is hack & slash gameplay at it's finest, and killing gods really helps the game reach that next level of hype. 


Metal Gear Solid 3

Ahhh MGS, Hideo Kojima's weird, abstract, weird, deep and weird stealth adventure series. Kojima purposely released the series in an abstract order, opting to fill in some of the plot with later games in the series. Before Metal Gear Solid 3, players certainly knew there was a whole history of events that took place before the original MGS, and when 3 dropped we finally got to experience them. MGS3 is chronologically first in Kojima's tale, and gives some serious insight into a few events that helped shape the world state in the games we loved leading up to it. The game may be first in the narrative, but it is a testament to Kojima's ability to learn and adapt, fixing a plethora of gameplay issues from the earlier games. This not only helps deliver the best narrative in the entire series (in my opinion), it also makes the game so much easier to play, which certainly got some non-MGS fans to try the game out, considering it became a golden standard for stealth mechanics. Outside of the narrative, I think the boss fights help make MGS3 my absolute favorite game in the series, and one of my favorite games of all time. That final boss....oh man.   


Radiata Stories

A lot of RPGs can be seriously heavy. Whether it be some critically deep gameplay, such as the Divinity series, or some complicated narrative like in the Witcher series, usually this genre leaves a lot to be digested. This is totally fine, in fact the reason I love the genre so much is because of this level of complexity. However, if you're looking for something a little bit lighter, Radiata Stories is the game for you. The off the wall humor mixed with some genuinely interesting and well-crafted characters makes for hilarious interactions. Even though the game can have some dark moments, it's quick to get you laughing again. Combat is similar to some games from the Star Ocean series, which helps make the game more hack & slash and less perplexing, which only helps with the game's accessibility. Radiata Stories is charming, witty, colorful and most importantly - fun. 


Beyond Good and Evil

This year's E3 was pretty exciting, and certainly something caught everybody's attention. For me, the reveal trailer of Beyond Good and Evil 2 was the pinnacle of the event. After E3 and my blog post of impressions, I had a lot of regulars asking me about the original game, saying they never played it or even saw it played before. All I can tell you is - play it. We have a copy of the PS2 release right here in the shop, and honestly you could probably complete the entire game in a single day pass. Just do it. I couldn't do the game justice without spoiling a billion things. The narrative is top notch.


Welp, there you have it! This list was brutal to put together. It pained me to leave off games like SMT Nocturne, Ape Escape 3, Jak 3, Sly Cooper and God Hand (oh god the list goes on and no) but hey, there can only be 15. Keep an eye out for Rob's Top PS1 games, which we'll be posting relatively soon! Someday I may attempt a PS1 list, but it would be almost all RPGs and picking a top 15 would probably be more challenging than this was. Thanks for reading everyone!

PS - After putting this blog post together I've come to realize...I think Box Art is generally getting worse as time goes on? Any thoughts?
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