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
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.
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!
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.
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….
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.
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