A wolf with a burning shield on her back stands gloriously in "Okami"

The 10 Best Games of the Console That Made Modern Gaming: PS2

Here’s what I think: The PS2 did for gaming what the talkies did for cinema. I don’t make the hot takes; I just enforce them.

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You wanna know the best movies of 2023? BAM. HERE’S A HOT TAKE LIST. You wanna know the most baffling hot take about the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate? BAM. HERE’S ONE STRAIGHT FROM FOX NEWS. See, I’m not smart enough to formulate hot takes all on my own. My takes are room temperature at best. You can microwave them, maybe even stick them in the toaster oven, but they ain’t gonna taste the same.

Every once in a while I come up with a take that’s lukewarm perchance, but that’s really all that I’m able to do with my measly critical eye. I ain’t Roger Ebert. I’m like Roger Squeebert, a smaller, cuter, less threatening version that you can take with a big ol’ grain of Himalayan sea salt. But this is the one take I have that I believe is spicy. A broken clock is right twice a day, and like that clock, my time has come.

I can hear the Nintendo fans screaming with rage now. “BUT WHAT OF THE GAMECUBE?” they cry. The Gamecube was brilliant. I love the GameCube. But the PS2 provided a true level up (pun intended) to the idea of game-as-art more than any other console did at the time. And I will die on that molehill.

These games are not only the best that the PS2 has to offer, but arguably some of the greatest games ever made.

10. Shadow of the Colossus

A boy faces off against a towering giant in "Shadow of the Colossus"
(Team Ico)

Shadow of The Colossus is both simple and simply a masterpiece. You play as a nameless hero who journeys to a forbidden land in order to resurrect his lost lover through a dark ritual. After laying her on the altar of a ruined temple, you are told by the voice of an ancient god to slay towering giant beings known as Colossi, which wander through the lonely lands. Armed with a stolen sword, a horsey, and grip strength to make Alex Honnold jealous, you climb up these towering monstrosities, poke their nethers full of holes, and claim their magical power. A spooky story, beautiful graphics, thrilling gameplay, and a goosebumps-inducing soundtrack make this game tower above the rest.

9. Metal Gear Solid 3

Naked Snake stands in a field of white flowers in "Metal Gear Solid 3"

Created by video game auteur Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Solid 3 serves as a prequel to all of the critically acclaimed Metal Gear titles in the franchise. Including the arcade games! You take control of Naked Snake, an American super spy tasked with infiltrating Soviet Russia in order to take out your former commander, who defected to the side of the commies! While it seems like a hoo-rah America game at first, Metal Gear Solid 3 turns the notion of patriotism on its ear with one of the most shocking, tear-jerking, die-for-your-country twists in gaming history.

8. Okami

A wolf with a burning shield on her back stands gloriously in "Okami"

Many games have tried to imitate The Legend of Zelda series, but few have managed to improve upon its form. Okami is one of those few. You play as Amaterasu, a wolf goddess who is tasked with the divine mission of ridding evil from a fictional version of Japan. As if being a sword-swinging wolf weren’t cool enough, your skills are augmented by the use of a “celestial brush” that lets you draw on the screen in order to launch attacks against enemies! It’s perhaps one of the coolest combat mechanics ever made and has never been successfully imitated since.

7. Kingdom Hearts

(Square Enix)

For those of us without the patience to sit through the turn-based combat of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts served as a way into Square Enix’s magnum opus franchise for millions. You play as Sora, an average 14-year-old (with size 15 clown shoes) who obtains a magical keyblade and has to journey to Disney worlds with Donald and Goofy in order to seal away the Hearts of the Worlds from heart collection monsters called The Heartless. They ALSO create these beings called Nobodies that … look, the story of Kingdom Hearts as a franchise is far too convoluted for one article, but trust me, hitting Disney villains with a giant key is the experience you never knew you needed.

6. The Jak and Daxter Collection

A monstrous looking man shoots purple lightning while an ocelot looks on in "Jak 2"
(Naughty Dog)

Jak and Daxter began as a cute little platformer starring a silent protagonist and his ocelot best friend, but then a grimdark series reboot saw Jak turned into a foul-mouthed, gun slinging lab experiment gone wrong who is working to overthrow a dystopian city’s tyrannical dictator. The series goes BONKERS and is one of the few instances where a “jump the shark” moment was successfully, inexplicably landed.

5. The God of War Trilogy

A man stands ready for battle wielding swords in "God of War"
(Santa Monica Studios)

Before Kratos was the strong, sensitive father figure that all of us didn’t know that we needed, he was a bloodthirsty murder god bent on toppling the pillars of Olympus. Done dirty by the Greek Pantheon (because what mortal isn’t?) Kratos decides to carry out his revenge against the heavens personally with two whip swords strapped to his arms. Violent, gory, and viciously cinematic, God of War is the video game trilogy that your parents warned you about. And by gods is it worth it.

4. The Ratchet and Clank series

Ratchet and Clank PS2 box.

Ratchet and Clank is everything a child wants in a game. A sci-fi buddy comedy about a gun-toting space cat and his sarcastic robot pal who take on the galaxy’s baddest with trillions of rounds of ammunition? Yes, please. Ratchet and Clank is a game series that is arguably responsible for making the whacky third-person shooter what it is today. Without this series, there would be no Fortnite. No Uncharted. No nuthin’.

3. Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil box art.

Beyond Good and Evil is a game that came … entirely out of nowhere. On a faraway planet called Hillys, a young photojournalist named Jade takes a stand against a race of alien invaders along with her humanoid pig uncle, Pey’j. While fighting off the DomZ, she uncovers a greater conspiracy around Alpha Sections, an interplanetary defense force that is supposed to be protecting Hillys. Part action, part stealth, part puzzler, Beyond Good and Evil was a left-field addition to the PS2 canon. Its crown jewel, however, is its protagonist, who provided a three-dimensional female character in a medium where women were too often only included for … well, boobs in order to appeal to teenage boys.

2. Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X box art.

Of the 15+ games and plethora of spinoffs in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy X is arguably the cream of the crop. The game centers around a professional athlete named Tidus, whose world is turned upside down, inside out, and then sucked into a parallel dimension after it is visited by a giant monster named Sin. Yikes. Waking up in a distant world, Tidus has to team up with a party full of adventurers in order to rid the world of Sin like some sort of JRPG Jesus. Through forgiveness? No, through turn-based combat!

1. Resident Evil 4

Leon S. Kennedy stalks his way through the woods in Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is arguably one of the greatest horror games ever made. Set in rural Spain, a police officer-turned-government agent (and also playable character in Resident Evil 2) named Leon S. Kennedy is sent to rescue the U.S. President’s daughter from a bizarre cult. Is it the kind that wears white and chants about spaceships? No, they ingest ancient parasites and contort their bodies into genetic monstrosities as part of a freaky religion. Gross. The gameplay is harrowing, where precision-based shooting and keen tactical positioning is rewarded. Just don’t try to get anywhere near the guy with the chainsaw; that’s a position you don’t wanna be in.

(featured image: Capcom)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.