Good morning all.
Its time for the second and final part of my list detailing a selection of PS2 games, in the hope that you might find something you'd like to play.
The first part can be found here:
Havnt played this one yet! The subject of much controversy upon its release for its graphic violence, it should be noted that this was developed my Rockstar, a company known for its Pedigree and high release quality, suggesting that Manhunt is not just a one trick pony.
THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO
Havnt played this yet guys... Third person brawler (with an alleged 600 fighting moves to perform) where you play as neo in key points of the Matrix trilogy. It also features a new ending to the trilogy which is hopefully more fulfilling than the theatrical version. As movie tie ins go, this one is actually meant to be quite good!
MEDAL OF HONOUR: FRONTLINE
One of the older games on the list, this was for a time the pinnacle of Console FPS. Set during World War 2, the opening Omaha Beach level is remembered by gamers as one of the most engrossing experiences of all time. Although it wouldnt play as well as it once did, especially in the shadow of current FPSs, this is still a highly enjoyable game
MEGA MAN X7
Granted ive only played the first few minutes, but it seems like another example of how NOT to make the transition from 2d to 3d. The characters seem to move pretty sluggishly, detracts from the megaman experience.
In essence, its one of the many GTA clones that tried to ride off the established series success. In practice, whilst a lot less than the GTA package, its still a very good game- playing as a mercenary sent to North Korea to earn a huge paycheck, you carry out misssions of destruction for various factions, using a wide variety of vehicles weapons and airstrikes to achieve your goals. The driving is just a teensy bit iffy but otherwise the game is very solid- it features some very nice explosion effects, graphics are solid, and an orchestral score helps set a mood that is sometimes 'chest-thumping military', and at others 'War is futile'.
The main hook of the game is that all of the buildings in the landscape can be destroyed- using hard earned cash to order weapons or air strikes from the russian mafia on a whim, and enjoying the pleasures of effortlessly levelling an NK fortress shortly after.
The games pretence sounds very shallow, and in many ways it is- but similar to GLOBAL DEFENCE FORCE, a game like this isnt meant to be taken seriously- its just very, very fun...
METAL GEAR SOLID 2
One of the finest games on the system, MGS2 is a wonderful stealth action game with a deep, twisting, storyline and superlative production values. Once again the legendary Solid Snake is back to battle his old enemies (along with new character Raiden) through an ocean tanker and an offshore oil rig. Off course, thats really oversimplifying things- in typical fashion producer Hideo Kojima has produced a multi layered, philosophical tale that whilst isnt as realistic as some other games in the genre, is as compelling as they come. The graphics are still gorgeous to look at even to this day, the music is pitch perfect and the cutscenes are cut and delivered to a level that has rarely if ever been beaten in a video game. Countless little flourishes, graphical touches and easter eggs have lovingly and seamlessly been integrated into the design to both add to the interactivity of the environments, and add to the sheer joy of playing the game. To try to describe the intricacies and brilliance of the Metal Gear series in a paragraph like this doesnt nearly do it justice. Meal Gear Solid 2 is still very easy to get a hold of- theres no excuse for any self respecting gamer to miss it!
METAL GEAR SOLID 2 SUBSTANCE
A directors cut of MGS 2, this one includes the full game, but also numerous trainng missions, extra story sections and numerous other goodies that dedicated fans of the series would enjoy.
METAL GEAR SOLID 3 SNAKE EATER
Another excellent Metal Gear title, this time taking place in the 60s. Another fantastic twisting storyline goes into the history of the Metal gear universe- telling the tale of what set the events of previous games into motion. Gameplay has evolved once more- taking place in a russian jungle, camouflage is a major part of the stealth experience. Also included is the need to hunt for food in order to maintain health and stamina. The production values are as usual, through the roof, and the cutscenes (whilst some consider them overly long) are innovative, cinematic and packed with genuine emotion. Goes without saying that graphics are top notch too. Its hard to believe that Kojima and Co improved on MGS 2, but they most certainly have. Definitely a game that should not be missed.
Again I havnt played much of this- designed mainly for online co-op play, the single player is somewhat lacking and at times frustrating. Great visuals for its time though. The game sees you as a hunter in a primitive era where you use swords, daggers and crossbows to hunt both common and rare game to complete missions for your villagers. A large part of the game involves foraging for raw materials to make better weapons, tools and equipment. (FYI, the monster hunter games are HUGE in Japan, particularly on PSP.)
Fantastic! Adventure game by capcom, set in ancient Japan- you play as the sun god Ammaterasu, on Earth in the form of a white wolf who os tasked with restoring life to the land and destroying many a great evil. Many features separate this from the rest of the bunch- the art style perfectly emulates old Japanese paintings- everything is colourful and is outlined with bold organic brush strokes. The celestial brush system- where the world is affected and enemies fought, by painting directly onto them is not only incredibly unique and well implemented, but also perfectly complements the games aforementioned art style. Music is great, and along with the art direction evokes an atmosphere which is at once one of desperation, but at the same time one of hope, magic and playfulness. Gameplay itself is basically that of a Zelda game, but the originality of the setting and your abilities makes it so much better. Additional little touches such as flowers blossoming at your feet as you run, and being able to feed the animals dotted around the landscape show the care and skill that went into producing this game, all of which compliment each other and combine to produce a whole that is worth much more than the sum of the parts. This is one of the few games where I had fun simply just running and jumping through levels.
Another excellent series from Capcom- similar in style to resident evil, but with a greater focus on action, this game tells the story of a samurai tasked with fighting the armies of an evil demon lord. Graphics are attractive but distinctly old school- 3d characters on 2d backgrounds, whilst the swordplay is first rate (once you get used to the controls- also quite old skool!) This game is very cheap and easy to obtain, and can be completed in just a few hours. If you enjoy hack & slash, there is no reason not to give this one a try.
An improvement over the first game, this game features a longer campaign, more weapons and charactrers and branching storylines. Graphics are improved. Again highly rated and easily obtained.
Another great Onimusha game, this time taking place in both ancient Japan and modern day France- You may remember this as the game which also starred Jean Reno as a second playable character. Again, well worth playing
ONIMUSHA DAWN OF DREAMS
A distinctly different feel of Onimusha, with fully 3d levels, five new playable characters and a mission based structure. First impressions are that it has tried to immitate Devil May Cry, and that without familiar characters it may have jumped the shark. Further playing reveals however that this is still a fine game, on par if not better than previous entries- with excellent depth and replay value, and characters who you can actually care about and enjoy playing as. Shopping for items and weapons, and larger numbers of enemies gives this a more actiony feel compared to its survival-horror predecessors.
PERSONA 3 FES
Particularly good RPG from the Shin Megami Tensei series- Part dungeon crawler, part dating sim(!) your combat abilities are augmented by developing relationships and friendships with people in the town you inhabit. This is good- when you want to fight and explore the games randomly generated dungeons you can, and when you dont you can spend time with friends or doing other activities to improve your skills. A clever clock system means that each activity can be done at certain times of the day- everything happens to a strict schedule with no to-ing and fro-ing, or backtracking. This means the game is (refreshingly) fast paced during activities that can become mundane in other RPGS. Credit must also be given to the music and interface design- music is cool and well suited to the atmosphere of the game, whilst the menus are sharp and modern, complimenting the upbeat high school demographic portrayed in the game.
Only just released, I havnt played this yet. Supposedly better than the previous game- tweaking several features, and proving that the PS2 can still deliver alongside its more graphic savvy successors.
PRINCE OF PERSIA SANDS OF TIME
Highly enjoable platform adventure set in ancient Persia and a perfect example of how to reboot a franchise. Death defying acrobatics are the order of the day, with time manipulation powers available for when you make mistakes! Generous ammounts of hack & slash combat are thrown in too! One of those games where all the elements blend perfectly together- the art direction, the level design, pacing and setting all add up to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
PRINCE OF PERSIA WARRIOR WITHIN
Another winner, though often seen as weaker than the first game. This maintains the first games sublime acrobatics, whilst giving the combat system a complete overhaul. The major difference from the first game is in the art direction- a much darker, 'emo' experience this time around (coupled with an anachronistic metal soundtrack), probably given the go ahead by a commitee sitting around a table trying to capitolise on what youngsters supposedly liked those days (see also- JAK 2)...
PRINCE OF PERSIA TWO THRONES
The weakest of the three games, caused by the many bugs and glitches that werent ironed out. The tone reverts to the more colourful lighthearted feel of the first game, whilst the acrobatics and combat are given a few tweaks and improvements. Despite a few hair pulling moments, this is still an enjoyable game and good finale to the series.
Havnt played much of this one yet. Seemingly very similar to Second Sight- both are third person action games featuring a blend of firearms and psychic powers. Many of the powers seem more or less identical in both games, as with the design and general feel of the game.
RATCHET & CLANK
I havnt played much of this, but reviews have been very positive. Another competent 3D platformer for the system, this one with a strong emphasis on weapons based combat (as opposed to Jak And Daxters more traditional approach)
RESIDENT EVIL 4
Everything that needs to be said has been said before hundreds of times- this game is GREAT! Great graphics, great weapon dynamics, great gameplay. A great evolution of the Resident Evil franchise. By removing the action from Racoon city the story is made fresh whilst still maintaining the classic RE flavour. The excellent
Havnt played this yet but am looking forward to it- developed by Level 5- the people behind Professor Layton, Dark Chronicle and DQVIII. An RPG with colourful cell shaded graphics, and a real time battle system, and lots of extras and minigames (somewhat of a Level 5 trademark!)
Whilst never recognised as a triple A title, this is more than just a solid third person shooter. (And Kudos go to developer Rebellion- It also pioneered the cover based combat system long before GOW!) Whilst mainly just a run and gun, a good spread of weapons and gadgets stops it from ever becoming a bore. Whilst the plot is far from epic, the game sticks well to the source material (seeing you play as the last remaining genetically modified, blue skinned soldier 'Rogue', waging war for control of a toxically polluted planet.)
R TYPE FINAL
Enjoyable side scrolling shoot-em-up. Over a hundred ships to unlock which enhances replay ability. Graphics are good but a lack of music means the adrenaline never really gets pumping.
From the makers of Timesplitters- Third person shooter where you play as an amnesiac scientist infused with psychic powers. Switching perspectives from before and after you gain your powers, it offers up an interesting story. The only problem is that its often easier just to use bog standard firearms than to try to use psychic powers during combat, rendering the whole concept a bit moot. Still enjoyable though.
Technically quite mediocre, this RPG is still worth playing through for its dark, horror themed story and gloomy atmosphere- set in early 20th century Japan, this features a more unique and original setting than most RPGs of its era. Graphics were bad even upon release, and some of the story is a bit tongue in cheek, but this is definitely one of those games that despite its flaws you cant help but admire. Play time is quite short at around 20 hours, so its well worth investing a little time to play something truly different for its time.
SHADOW HEARTS COVENANT
Brilliant RPG, with much higher production values than its prequel. The story is a continuation of the first, so many of the likeable cast return. The atmosphere is less foreboding overall due to more colourful art direction, but this would allow the game to appeal to a broader audience. Combat is still turn based, but enough has been done to make it more enjoyable, whilst still remaining faithful to the original. It helps if you play the first game before playing this.
SHADOW HEARTS FROM THE NEW WORLD
This is a very solid RPG. lets get that straight. The gameplay is good, the mechanics well rounded and improved from the previous games. The problem is that i dont care about any of the characters or the overall plot, so i dont feel compelled to complete it. The original Shadow Hearts was an offbeat, weird horror RPG. The second one was less horror, still quite offbeat. This game has got the balance all wrong- overdoing the 'wacky' too much so that the whole thing seems farcical. It plays like a kids pantomime- characters include a russian/brazilian ninja and a giant effeminate cat. Play it if you're an RPG fan, but dont expect to have your socks blown off...
SHADOW OF MEMORIES
Havnt played this yet, An adventure game where the player has to prevent the main characters death from occuring throughout a series of chapters. Have heard good reports about this, though the graphics have dated rather badly.
SHADOW OF THE COLLOSSUS
Not quite a sequel to ICO, but sharing many of its traits, this is a fantastic game Where a lone adventurer must explore a massive, desolate, but beautiful landscape in order to find and slay 16 giant beasts, in the hope of returning his deceased lover to life. This game takes all that was great about ICO and magnifies it by a factor of 10- the scenery, the graphics, the atmosphere and the music are all flawless. The battles with the giant Collossi are awe inspiring and highly innovative- many games have since taken a leaf out of this ones book. Somewhat like the GTA games, much of the pleasure here comes merely from exploring the landscape, this time on horseback. With only your horse as a companion, the pitch perfect feelings of isolation and lonliness that evoked such emotion in Ico is once again present here, this time the stakes and the scale have been upped- creating a game that can truly be described as Epic.
SOUL CALIBUR 2
Excellent fighting game from Namco. Fighters are all armed with weapons, of which several can be bought/unlocked for each character. Moves are plentiful and easy to pull off, making for a game enjoyable by both the casual and hardcore fighting crowd. Lots of characters/weapons/extas to unlock making the single player modes worth playing, and the graphics are top notch too.
SOUL CALIBUR 3
Pretty much more of the same, but with an added character creation mode, and a full single player adventure featuring said creations among other new extras, this is again an excellent game. Sharper graphics and a few new characters as well.
SILENT HILL 2
Havnt played too much of this- survival horror game from Konami. Tense atmosphere and genuinely creepy enemies are used to successfully create scares in place of more blatant 'in your face' shocks.
SPLINTER CELL 1, 2, 3, 4
The thinking mans stealth game- grounded in reality a LOT more than the likes of Metal Gear Solid, splinter cell carries Tom Clancy's brand of complex political intrigue and gritty realism in a game where going in all guns blazing will almost sertainly result in failure . Main character sam fisher is an older, more cynical kind of hero, but can still pull off some impressive acrobatic moves to get the drop on enemies. Light and sound are the main factors influencing stealth in these games, and patience is required during play. Each game is similar to the last, with some tweaks to the gameplay, equipment and move sets. Later games also feature impressive co-op and multiplayer modes. The third game Chaos Theory is probably the strongest in the series.
SWORDS OF DESTINY
Third person Hack and slash, taking inspiration from the likes of Onimusha and Castlevania, but with the quality of neither. Distinctly average in every way (with particularly bad dialogue), but worth a punt if you see it cheap and are a fan of the genre. Of note is the fact that the main character is practically a photocopy of Soki from ONIMUSHA DAWN OF DREAMS. One thing I do enjoy is how zippy the main character moves, not to mention you can double jump with more tenacity and verve than most other games- always an extra point in my book.
The original Tenchu on PS1 was fantastic. Tenchu 2 was better, introducing many new features to the game. Tenchu 3 took most of these features and threw them right out the window! The game isnt bad, honestly, and its a damn site better than the bile that FROM SOFTWARE (God but I hate them) have been spewing out recently. But its worth noting it is more like the original game, rather than an evolution of the second. Basically this means that the game (and to their detriment- most Tenchu games since) are based on a system that made its debut on the PS1, and has been redundant for years now. The core mechanics havnt changed. When you see how other series have adapted to new generations of hardware- Metal Gear etc, you appreciate how primitive the Tenchu series remains.
TENCHU FATAL SHADOWS
Tsk tsk... From software could turn gold into lead. Replacing main character Rikimaru with a whiny little girl, throwing out all conventions of camera control, leaving us with unresponsive controls and enemies who can block...every... single...attack... are just a few of this games many many foibles. Worth mentioning is that Ive never seen less coherent cutscenes and plotlines in a game. Avoid.
THE RED STAR
A strange one this- Old skool brawler (a-la streets of rage), meets shoot em up (a-la warning forever). The game itself isnt particularly deep or memorable, but the constant mixing between the two play styles keeps it enjoyable. The whole thing just seems a bit cheap though- it makes little or no use of the original graphic novel source material and features relatively simplistic graphics. Characters also move a little too slow and clunky, which slows down the pace of progression just a little too much.
Very good third person shooter- you play an inmate on an isolated island prison who must escape after an army of hellish monsters somehow surface. Not so much 'survival horror' as 'action horror'. Combat is quite good, and the viewpoint can be shifted between 3rd and 1st person. The game is very well paced- the story itself isn't a prizewinner, but it is told well enough in game without ever breaking the flow of things.
THE SUFFERING TIES THAT BIND
Sequel to The Suffering, and continuing the story from the first game. Doesnt change too much from the originals formula, apart from reducing the number of carriable weapons to 2. The story is quite skillfully told in game and the whole thing moves at just the right pace- you're never shooting for too long, but nor are you left standing around watching cutscenes- it really draws you in. This comes with its price though- the game has a habit of occasionally freezing at certain places- frustrating given that there is no autosave!
TIME CRISIS 2
The ultimate light gun game! Feelings of nostalgia from playing this in arcades as a kid means that no matter what anyone says, this one will always be good! Cheesy, fast paced and adrenaline fueled, this is just the perfect stress relief game! It wont work with new flatscreen TVs though, and its only one player unless you have an extra tv, console, game and lightgun. (And it goes without saying that without a lightgun accessory, this one isnt half as good!)
First in the excellent timesplitters series, designed by some of the minds behind the excellent Goldeneye on N64. The story mode is basically just a series of fetch missions- the multiplayer is where the real joy lies. Though good for its time (very early on the PS2 timeline), this game has been eclipsed by its sequels.
One of the finest FPS on PS2, this has the perfect balance of single and multiplayer, with various arcade and campaign modes used to unlock trophies for bragging rights, and characters for multiplayer. It even comes with a full level creation mode! You again play a futuristic soldier sent to various eras in time to stop an alien race- the Timesplitters from destroying mankind. The game doesnt take itself too seriously- the art style is colourful and cartoony, and a good sense of humour is prevalent throughout. Definitely worth a purchase
Similar to Timesplitters 2, featuring a few tweaks to graphics, gameplay, and a new story campaign. Hard to say which is better of the two, but if you enjoyed the earlier games this one is also a must. The level designer has been improved, and there are some truly funny moments during the campaign. Difficulty seems to be a little lower though- trophies were easier obtained in the challenge mode than previous games.
TONY HAWKS PRO SKATER 3
An enjoyable skating sim for both hardcore and casual players. This is the oldest game on PS2- there have been many more since!
A mix of the open world crime sim GTA, and the acrobatic bullet-time gunplay of Max Payne, against a mexican gangland backdrop. Fun, but not as good as the series it takes its inspiration from.
XENOSAGA PART 2
Havnt really played this yet- Futuristic RPG spanning 3 volumes. This was the only one released in Pal territories though...
Boring tedious RPG from SquareEnix. Colourful, and comes in a nice box. Thats all I can really say is good about this game. The graphics are designed to resemble a board game and are lacking in any kind of flair, and the music is very laid back. You could say this game would be relaxing except its actually very difficult.
Very good FPS- it doesnt try to be big and clever, its just really good fun! As a riot response officer, you must make your way through missions defeating members of a gang intent on destroying your city. The action is fast paced and visceral, and the combat never gets dull. Levels are mostly in a quite similar urban setting, but are all very well made. A riot shield which can soak up enemy bullets and projectiles is one of this games unique features, separating it from others in the genre. Medals awarded after each mission unlock progressively better weapons and equipment- a surprisingly compelling aspect that makes repeated playthroughs worthwhile.
Making a quite succeful leap to 3d, the worms francise manages to maintain its colourful destructive scenery, sense of humour and broad range of weapons. The move to 3d has allowed for a few innovations but gameplay is still similar to its 2d predecessors. The biggest difference is in the level design- even with its random level generator, the levels are basically all islands, meaning tactics basically boil down to blasting worms into the sea as quickly as possible.
Similar to Shenmue, you play the role of a Yakuza soldier just out of jail who gets caught up in a plot to steal 10 billion yen. The plot is strong, and the ocassional hammy dialogue actually helps- this game features a LOT of cutscenes, very well shot and acted, which successfully portray the atmosphere of the old yakuza films. On the gameplay side, its a third person exploration/ adventure game, with a lot of martial arts combat along the way. A lack of proper targeting makes the combat a little clunkier than it needed to be, but excellent animations and teeth clattering delivery keeps it exciting and engaging throughout the game. Can be picked up cheap these days and is easy to find, and still very playable by todays standards. Recommended!
Released in 2006 in Japan, but only just reaching our shores a few months ago, this one still looks and plays well compared to its next gen contemporaries. The same high production values return- the graphics are good, the cutscenes are still commendably well acted/animated, and the combat has been improved. Doesnt stray too far from the originals formula. Ive only played the first few chapters so far, but i genuinely look forward to playing the rest.
ZONE OF THE ENDERS
Mech game from Hideo Kojima, creator of MGS. This is a very different game from the likes of Armoured core- you pilot a single mech in a linear, story driven game. Somewhat lacking in depth, I couldnt bring myself to complete this one- i got lost at one point, and not knowing where to go, and not particularly interested in the story i just gave up. I would only recommend this one to fans of the genre.
And thats it. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and can once again appreciate the contribution that this great console made to the Videogame industry! There still plenty of great games that I havn't included on my list, and hopefully i can track down some new titles in the future.. In the meantime, I hope you might go out in search of some of those more obscure titles already mentioned, and help give tehm the recognition they deserve!