The original Playstation was quite the beast in it’s day, and I was still getting some regular play out of it when the PS2 came knocking on my door. I wasn’t too into Final Fantasy X; the voice acting bugged me, and the characters were all fairly bland and a bit shite. MGS2 didn’t grasp me the way the first one did, mainly because the main character, Raiden (no relation to Mortal Kombat’s god of thunder) was a whiny little man-bitch. Luckily enough, the Playstation 2 was backwards compatible, so I could just lob a copy of Tomb Raider: Revelations or Rollcage Stage II, along with a PS1 memory card in there and just jam away until I found some PS2 games worth playing. This was the first time I’d ever seen a proper backwards compatible console. Sure, the SNES had the Super Gameboy, so you could play Pokémon and Tetris on your TV screen, but this was nothing more than an attachment, a paid for add-on that arrived half ways through the SNES’ life. With PS2 though, all you had to do in order to play golden oldies was open the goddamn disc drive. The hunt soon began for PS2 titles worthy of a place in my collection, and when I started finding them, it was like I’d opened some kind of floodgates, or pierced a vein, because they just kept coming and coming! Wave after wave of classic games, in every genre imaginable. I soon found myself awash on a sea of interactive goodness. Entire worlds opened up in front of me, adventures awaited, and I was armed with nothing more than wits and a Dualshock 2 controller.
Where to even begin when thinking about the classic games that have graced the PS2 over the last thirteen years? The list is longer than Dhalsim’s arm! There are the obvious blockbuster titles that every gamer should have in their collection. Grand Theft Auto 3 falls into this category. This game managed to do what I genuinely thought could only be done once in a series’ career; that’s redefine a genre. The originals may have looked worse than a wet tongue licking shite off a stick, but they played brilliantly. They were hailed for boldly going where no game had gone before. GTA3 was the first PS2 outing for the series, and it not only redefined itself and set itself apart from it’s top-down predecessors with it‘s third person perspective, but it also became the pinnacle of open world driving games. It added an element of flare and character. The city felt like it had real life in it, as people went about their daily business, the weather changed around them, and time passed by bringing about night and day in regular cycles. Still to this day, it’s what most games in this genre are weighed against.
The Playstation 2 also proved to be a great necromancer. Raising dead franchises from their graves, and breathing new life into their dusty-ass lungs. A perfect example of this is the Prince of Persia trilogy. When was the last time he had a good game before the PS2? I’ll be brutally honest here, and say fucking never! I scoffed at a friend of mine when he bought Prince Of Persia: Sands of Time. I was convinced that, it was going to be a god-awful remake and quite simply a laughable experience. I never in a million years would have predicted that it would be the start of one of my favourite gaming trilogies of all times. The Prince could rewind time. This was a mind-blowing mechanic that, not only looked cool as fuck, but also save you a lot of frustration. There were a lot of sections that forced you to run long lines of acrobatic combos by wall-running, chimney-jumping, sliding down slopes, and running across tiny beams of wood. These sections were often over insta-death pits, and usually had plenty of hazards along the way, like spiked pillared and moving buzzsaws to fuck up you day. You cherished each grain of sand in your possesion, and this meant one more rewind. The whole game had been built around this idea. The fights were crazy, as you could rethink your last move and strategise while on your toes. Of course you could also slow time down to get the upper hand on your opponents.
The two following Prince Of Persia games were even better, as the story became darker, and the Prince himself became more believable. The second instalment, The Warrior Within, saw old Princey being chased by The Dahaka. This was a fierce, silent beast, looking to knock the royalty out of the Prince for fucking around with the timelines and the sands themselves; a crime punishable only by death. In the third game, the sands had an even stranger effect on our hero, as they gave life to the “Dark Price” inside him, who would take over his body from time to time. There was some fantastic banter between the two inside the Prince’s head, and it all got a little bit Hulk as the two boys spent the game fighting for control. The story, action, puzzle solving, and fluid acrobatics made this trilogy nothing less than stunning. Even Lara Croft began ripping off the Prince’s moves after the success of the Sand Of Time series. I was quite wrong with my attitude that day when my friend bought that fisrt instalment, but I was right about one thing, it was a laughable experience… mainly because he was shite at it.
Play was a bit of harmless craic, but it didn’t have much in the way of variety, so it was soon replaced with another party game- Buzz: The Music Quiz. This was a fun little title that played the role of a gameshow, complete with your cheesy host, Buzz! He looked kinda like he'd just escaped from The Muppet Show. The game came with a set of four buzzers, to get the full authentic 90’s Saturday night gameshow experience. It was packed with a handful of rounds, and a fuck-load of music related questions. The rounds would see the players trying to rack up as much post as possible, and occasionally getting to punish others by stealing points from them. A game of buzz would usually last about 30 minutes, and the winner would wind up with a random prize like cheeses from around the world, a moped, or if you were lucky, maybe even a fridge. I had a lot of good nights locking horns with my friends as we all tried to prove our musical dominance with a few games of Buzz.
The ultimate party game though, was Guitar Hero! My friends and I went the whole motherfucking hog when this bombshell landed. Gangs of lads would pour into the house, as we set up for a night of drinks and GH. We all thought we were fucking rock stars with our tiny plastic guitars which allowed us to play along to a set-list of Rock songs in this rhythm based game! Each player would need something to rest one foot on, so we could instantly enter our power-stance position for the intense riffage we were sure to endure. We would stand back to back while jamming on the harmony in Boston’s More Than A Feeling, we would sway like ZZ Top during Sharp Dressed Man, and stroke our beards in victory afterwards. We even had a fucking strobe light! Like all party games though, the novelty faded by pretty quick. Guitar Hero passed by quicker than most though, because with that much messing it was only a matter of time before something fucked up. One of the boys (which may or may not have been me) tripped across the cable which yanked the axe from around one of the players, snapping the strap. On the other end of the wire the carnage was much worst, as the PS2 came crashing down to the ground, sending the Guitar Hero disc to it’s early grave.
And then, of course, there was the half Grand Theft Auto rip-off, half medical marvel- The Getaway, where in order to heal, you had to lean against a wall, and the bullets would simply fall out of you. I realise that most players have a place in their heart for this game, and hold it in fairly high regard, but I completely disagree. It was a very poor attempt to invent a British GTA. The streets were too tight, the cars were unresponsive, the wall-leaning craic was a load of my bollocks, and the weather was constantly shite which added more gloom to the already gloomy game. It had gloom coming out it’s arse. Just because you were unlucky enough to own a copy doesn’t mean it wasn’t shite!
Another overlooked classic was The Suffering. That name alone had me intrigued and desperate to play it. What kind of game would it be to have such a bold name, and a cover which simply showed a man, covered in blood, screaming for his life, but being held back by prison bars as an inhuman shadow lurks behind him? A dark, demented, intense game that probably says more about the human mind than it actually intended too. You play as Torque; a silent, mullet wearing motherfucker who’s lobbed into prison for murdering his wife and kids. The prison gets overrun by grotesque demons, and you find yourself running round darkened hallways, engaging in shootouts with these beasts, the prison guards and other convicts too. A projection of a deranged 1930’s doctor appears throughout the prison, analysing you, and constantly reminding you that you’re insane. All this, and you can hulk out into an crazy monster to cut through your foes as if they were paper. No matter how hard he fights, Torque’s worst enemy is always himself, and he can never atone for his sins. The Suffering leaves so much up to the player’s imagination that it’s impossible to truly understand what is happening. This is one of the reason that it’s such a fantastic game.
I could just start listing games that need to be played on the Playstation 2, but to be honest, the list would go on forever. There are countless classics that have graced this console, both huge well known monsters like Silent Hill II, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and God Of War, which are sitting among most gamers’ top titles of the last generation, and lesser known cult classics such as Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Turok: Evolution, and Primal which would stun any gamer worth his salt. Apparently it is the best selling video games console of all times. I guess this means it’s also the best selling DVD player of all times, which is odd because that function on the PS2 is complete ass. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite console. I currently have more than 120 titles on Playstation 2, and I still haven’t managed to acquire all my favourite games for it. There are just that many great games to play. Production is being stopped on it this year, which means it lasted thirteen years in full. It not only outlasted the original Xbox, but it almost outlasted the Xbox360/PS3 era too. That’s a pretty fucking outstanding feat! There are not enough good things that I can say about it. It’s been a world of entertainment for me over the years, and these days, it sees just as much playtime as my current gen consoles.
… And so the mighty Playstation 2 stands above it’s competitors, with more titles, more variety, and just more balls than any other console. We, the players, can sit back and remember the good, the bad, and the Financial Fantasy X. Should the PS2 gain a place in the gaming hall of fame? Hell, this behemoth of a console is a hall of fame! The real question is which games have the right to be played in it, and which should be cast atop the mountain of unwanted, outdated FIFA titles? Playstation 2, we salute you!