A look back Finale: Sony fights back

This one is no easy task. As of writing this, I still have no clue which game will be number one in my top 5 PlayStation 2 games. I know which five made the list, yet it seems like each and everyone of them deserves to have the top spot. My heart is divided between three titles, all of them being RPG’s. I’m very tempted to make it a three way tie, but screw it, those are boring. Just know that the PlayStation 2‘s library is the most kick-ass one to ever grace our consoles. By far my favourite system I’ve ever owned.  You should know that depending on the time of year, the order of this top 5 could be reversible. Alright, let’s get this show on the road!

Honorable mentions:  Xenosaga, Radiata Stories, Gran Turismo 4, Resident Evil 4, Onimusha 3, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

5. God of War

I bought my PlayStation 2 when Gran Turismo 4 came out. After that came a truckload of AAA titles. God of War was one of those and what a game it was. It was pure non-censored action! The visuals were stunning also, leaving us with one of the most epic games to this day. The original will always be my favorite of the bunch, simply because it was something I hadn’t played. Sure, it borrowed heavily from the Devil May Cry series, but the greek mythology and the storyline added so much to the genre (Editor’s note: I can’t believe Steven said genre instead of ‘genra’). I was glued to the screen during every single cut-scene, each one revealing another cliffhanger. It’s one of the greatest betrayal tales I’ve seen.  I was a tiny bit disappointed by the sequel as it was just a bit too puzzle-heavy for my taste. However, I can’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd part. I’ve heard many great things about it.

4. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid is one of my favorite videogaming series. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is my favourite game out of the whole series. I even bought the spectacular remake (Subsistence) to master it again. To explain why this game is so awesome, I have to give my thoughts about the other games. The original is a classic, truly spectacular in every sense of the word. My only nitpicking is that a few codex scenes were too long. The second one I also really enjoyed. One of the few who actually liked Raiden. However, there are codex scenes which take up to 45 minutes of reading…. and the ending, well. Somehow, everybody double-crosses everyone in one scene, yet apparently, this was all a grand scheme by the first guy who got crossed who had planned that everybody would double-cross themselves. Confused yet? Yeah, no kidding. Metal Gear Solid 4 was a great looking game, yet my least favourite one in the series for two reasons. I hated the gameplay, thought it was un-metal gear-ish. The storyline was terrible, Snake was on his death bed a bazillion times only to be perfectly fine at the end and Raiden also died too many times to count. It was so anti-climatic that in the end, I didn’t care anymore. Still a great game though, and many consider it one of the best games of all time. I don’t.

Snake Eater however perfectly combines both gameplay and storyline into an epic masterpiece. The ending made me cry (Editor’s note: sissy!). This 20 hour adventure is worth playing just for that ending. The game itself is a blast to play. The jungle elements added so much to the stealth tactics. Changing your cameo to blend in was crucial and fun. Some might bitch about the surgeries you had to do to yourself after every injury. I found it refreshing. My only complaint is that the game doesn’t use the side-villains that well. They all have very cool MGS style gimmicks, but they could have been a bit more present in the game besides the boss fights. We have next to no back story on those. Still though, I never thought a cut-scene lasted too long nor did I find myself bored at a codex scene. If you haven’t yet, you might also want to check out the remake as it was the first MGS to be fully playable with a 3rd person camera. It actually changes a lot as you could imagine and is well worth playing. Bottom line, Snake Eater rocks!

3. Kingdom Hearts

Before I start, I have to mention two things. First, like I said in my first A look Back article, I used to be a huge Nintendo fanboy. Back in the day, Mal and I rented this game to try it out. As we played, I was ripping this game a new one. Everything about it I was dismissing. Today, I realize my errors and it makes me laugh when I see others around me do the same thing with games on other consoles. Anyhow, my second note is that I thought I would never enjoy a game with Disney characters in it. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. Believe me guys, you will love the characters, you won’t care that it has kiddy elements. It’s one of the most epic games out there. See it this way, it’s characters from your childhood (Disney) mixed with characters from your teens-early adult years (Final Fantasy) made by one of the best RPG company out there (Square). Stop being stubborn already and try this game out! (this goes to you Mal…. who I know is still convinced today that a game like this is not worth your time…. it is damm it!)

I knew this game was the real thing once I first entered Wonderland. I never really liked that movie when I was a kid it freaked me out. I realize today that that’s what was the beauty of Alice in Wonderland and playing that level got me to finally get the movie. I also always remember the epic fight against Cloud. It’s one of the toughest optional-bosses I’ve ever defeated. It took lots of grinding, and a bit of luck, but still is one of my favourite gaming moments of all time. Now since the original, the series has not been treated well.  Kingdom Hearts II was disappointing (even hard mode made a game like The Wind Waker look like Ninja Gaiden) and there’s been no mention of a Kingdom Hearts III yet. What are you waiting for Square? We’re tired of spin-offs.

2. Dragon Quest VIII

Man this is hard. This game deserves to be in the number one spot. It should be. Sometimes it is. As of right now, it ain’t, might feel differently next week, I know I’ll look at this list in a year or two and be like “wtf” was I thinking. Dragon Quest VIII is my favorite RPG of all time, yet my top PS2 pick is another RPG. It doesn’t even make any sense but that’s what my gut is telling me.

DQ VIII was the first Dragon Quest I really got into. This game completely adapted itself to the North American market. I’m sure if I would have played the import, I would have thought the game was crap. Square-Enix went to great lengths to insure North American gamers would enjoy this. And enjoy it they did. They added full voice-acting to the game, completely redid the menus so it doesn’t feel like a SNES game and added some new visuals to complete the formula. DQ VIII is an adventure….. like I said in my review, Dragon Quest VIII drops you into a world and lets you figure out everything by yourself. This is like a real adventure. From the get-go, you can head anywhere you want, anywhere. The problem is, monsters will kick your ass if you’re not careful and the game doesn’t apologize for it. I was completely immersed in this world. The fact that it’s one of the most beautiful games ever created helps too. You see with RPG’s back then, the dungeons would be kick-ass, yet the overworld would look like shit (think of FF VII). In DQ VIII, there is no difference. The overworld is as huge as any RPG, yet every single part is bombarded with details. It looks phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it when I played this back in the day. The game is hard as nails too, and like I said, doesn’t care if you die. It’s an adventure and it ain’t suppose to be easy. Damm it… why didn’t this crack the number one spot. Oh wait, this is why….

1. Shadow Hearts

Yeah that’s right. I don’t care what anyone else says. Shadow Hearts is fantastic! I think this was a PS2 launch game or close to it and it bombed (IGN gave it a 5.5 on 10). I have no clue why. This is the most kick-ass RPG I’ve ever played. The storyline rocks, the battle system is fun on its own, it has everything. Ok, I’ll give you one thing. It looks like crap. I don’t care. It felt nostalgic to me. I actually got into the series by watching Mal play the sequel: Shadow Hearts Covenant. The game was bad-ass and I knew I had to find myself a copy.

What followed was pure luck. Shadow Hearts: Covenant at the time was one of the rarest game out there. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I called stores after stores and none had it. I finally decided to check out a pawn shop near by and actually found the original for like 20 bucks. Decided to give it a try. No need to tell you I was not disappointed. I was hooked from the very beginning. To this day, I still don’t understand why the media loved the sequel so much, yet hated the original. The story was a lot darker (the first and only in the series with an M rating), but still had the humorous parts the sequel is famous for. The oh-so loved battle system from Covenant made it’s grand debut in the original. The only thing that gives is the graphics (it kinda looks like a PS1 game) but still, I’m calling a bluff here. I’m pretty sure most didn’t bother with the game and never gave it a fair chance. That’s why I’m here to resolve a great injustice! Shadow Hearts is my favourite PS2 title, and that’s saying a tremendous lot when you factor in the system’s library. Plus, if you ever want to check this game out, pick up Covenant too. The sequel is also one of the best RPG’s you’ll find out of last generation. The 3rd one (From the New World) wasn’t as good but is still well worth your time if you get addicted to the series like I did. When all is said and done, the Shadow Hearts series were sadly overlooked by gamers back in the day and seems to have been forgotten. Join me in this cause! Shadow Hearts deserves more praise. For crying out loud, this game has God as the final boss! Nuff’ said.

Well there you have it folks. Comment below with your very own list.

20 thoughts on “A look back Finale: Sony fights back”

  1. Shadow Hearts, I completely forgot the name. I knew you would have it here, but never imagined it would rate so high. Those are some pretty convincing words you have to say about the game. Perhaps I will check it out one day…maybe not given the way my current gaming patterns are.

    Excellent list, which is obviously extremely close to mine. I’d really like to hear what others have to say about this. I’m sure ICO, Shadow and others will place high. Then again there are those that will list Jak, Ratchet and the slew of other hits that made PS2 one of the very best consoles in history.

  2. I’m surprised you guys forgot to even mention Shadow of the Colossus. I would also mention FF X.

    Great lists though. I would’ve forgotten about GT3 if not for Steven mentioning GT4.

  3. I mentioned Shadow of the Colossus in my article before talking about my top ten. I never mentioned FFX only because of how much better I enjoyed the other games on my list, but I fully understand why people loved it.

    So what are your picks Manu and Pat?

  4. Man… This IS a hard list to do. I really respect you for your lists.

    Well, to make this a little easier for me, I will list the games I enjoyed the most and experienced myself. In other words, games like Shadow of the Colossus and Dragon Quest VIII won’t be on there cause I didn’t actually play them.

    5. Gran Turismo 3

    I’ve put a lot of time into that game. I wasn’t even really into cars and especially not into racing games back then… It was just really well done and fun!

    4. Metal Gear Solid 3

    Although I didn’t finish this game (back on the PS2) I really enjoyed it! It saved the MGS series for me as 2 had killed it. (not playing as Snake) Only reason I didn’t finish it was because of FFXII being released while I was playing it. Oh and the reason why I gave it a try was because Steven insisted :)

    3. God of War:

    Another Game that was suggested to me by Steven. I enjoyed it so much I didn’t wanna stop playing and wanted to play all night long even if I had to work in the morning! Became a huge fan ever since and even named my cat Kratos :)

    2. FFX:

    That is probably the game I put the most hours into. To make a long story short, I lost my save file because of a friend and put 100 hours total. (Nothing compared to Marc and Steven who’ve put over 200 hours in every Pokemon version that exists!) After putting 100 hours into this game, I had an epiphany that my time could be spent more wisely than playing video games. (I know, I know) I stopped playing for 2 years.

    1. Resident Evil 4:

    The biggest reason why I’m putting this game as my #1 is cause this is the title that saved video gaming for me. After not playing any games for 2 years. Steven (yet again) FORCED me this time to play this game even though I didn’t wanna play games anymore. Never stopped playing games again :)

    Honorable mentions: Silent Hill 2, Jak & Daxter, Devil May Cry

  5. ok…. I think that no matter how hard we try and say that we are open minded to all games… we are not. Me and Steven touched on the subject today a bit while chatting on xbox live (while playing halo).
    There are a couple reasons I think we make ourselves believe awesome games aren’t so awesome… ugh this could be long… and confusing. :)

    Before I go on I will say this LOL!! at your explanation of the end of MGS2. It was the best. GTA lll and its successors master’s FUN. Thats what it master’s DAMN IT! :P R.I.P. Steven’s excuse, forevar! R.I.P.

    We have real physical constrains in games. Those for me are time and money. We cannot play every good series or game out there. Even if you did nothing else you could not play every good game out there.

    So when asked if we play Y series or X games, we don’t like to say no and see our street cred go down (YO COE! Represent Mothafuka, Respect) so we make up ridiculous excuses why we don’t play a certain games(or consoles) and look like fools in the process (looking at you guys Steven and Pat for GTA!, and me for… Kingdom hearts?)

    Who else make up crap excuses for not playing cool games?

    P.S. this post is 200% more garbage then I thought it would be lol. I make the most sense in my head :) It is also late… :/ MERRRRY CHRISTMASSS HO! HO! HO!

  6. You’re one insane mofo Mal lol. It’s true that not everyone can play every game, but I’d hope people can be openminded to some degree. That is except you Pokémon fanatics. I honestly don’t get that one, but whatever.

    I’ve been hooked with the GTA series since 3. I didn’t like the camera angle in the first two parts, but 3 was just wicked in almost very way. Then when Vice City hit, they took things t the next level. San Andreas will likely remain the best in the series though only because of the freedom offered. You could do virtually anything you wanted to, it was crazy. The whole Area 51 jetpack was amazing too. I could go on and on about that game.

    So what are your top five Mal?

    Pat, great list there. Believe it or not but Ahmed wasn’t a big fan of X. He actually thinks it’s highly overrated. I can understand that to some degree given the amount of quality RPGs released on the PS1. That bad boy had a hit RPG released virtually every month or every two weeks at one point.

  7. I think Mal has a point with his comment. Although he didn’t explain it correctly I think I understand. And it’s too bad…

    @Steven
    Yeah I might not have bought my crazy sound system if I hadn’t picked up gaming again. But then again, Mal is more directly to blame for making me wanna buy a sound system. He’s the one who showed me a few years ago that I wasn’t actually playing MGS4 in surround sound! Thank you Mal! :D

  8. Np Pat. Does Marie still hate me for it?

    And you are right that I didn’t explain it well at all. I realized I could make it a 10 page essay to really explore the subject. I wanted to go to bed so I vomited that lol.

    Where you come from, what you do, the kind of person you are, the time of day, the time of year… all can have an effect on your experience with a game.

    BED now :)

  9. Nice lists, Jarrod and Steven. Man…it’s hard to wind up the top 5 PS2 games because the library is so vast and there’s just so many good games for the system. I’ll be looking at it from a point of view of which games stood out to me the most. Not necessarily my best PS2 games, but certainly unique experiences which I’ll never forget and still stand out to this very day.

    Honorable Mention: Onimusha: my first ever PS2 game. Had so much fun with this one and Onimusha 2. Love the Japanese mythology mixed with fantasy elements. Action was great and the graphics were incredible at the time.

    Honorable Mention: Odin Sphere: the last great PS2 game released. While I haven’t finished it, I loved what I played. The 2D sprites look beautiful even on an HDTV. The gameplay feels like an evolution of Zelda II which had me hooked for a long while.

    Other Honorable Mentions: Dragon Quest VIII, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy XII

    5) Devil May Cry: never been a huge fan of action games, but this one really kept me engrossed ever since I tried out the demo. It was just so cool and stylish, not to mention fast-paced. It’s still the best installment in the series in my opinion. It just got too complex, repetitive and difficult with each entry. The first one had the perfect balance.

    4) Radiata Stories: vastly underrated. One of the last PS2 games I’ve enjoyed from start to finish. Nice story with quirky humor. Great cast of characters and a unique battle system to boot.

    3) Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: ties up with Baten Kaitos as the most unique RPGs I’ve ever played. The concept of having the game end despite not reaching the ending is just too good to be true. I got stuck towards the end of the game because of the system in place, yet I still found it compelling. Excellent battle system, great music, addicting integral mini-game.

    2) ICO: took me by surprise. The bloom lighting was the first of its kind in a game…had such an artistic presence. Since then, many games started using bloom lighting but nothing came close to ICO. Love the fact that the platforming/puzzling seemed so open…nobody held my hand as I played it.

    1) Kingdom Hearts 2: Man…this one was one hell of a ride. Sure, the original was excellent stuff….but this is one of the few times I adore a sequel a lot more. The story got really complex and I loved every second of it. Gameplay was a lot more fast-paced and action-oriented despite taking the linear route. Disney characters were taken seriously at times. Worlds like Tron and Steamboat Willy fit the overall plot perfectly.

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