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Playstation 2 at 20: Some of Our Favorite PS2 Games

Twenty years ago this week the PlayStation 2 was launched in Japan (with an October release following the same year in the US) and the best-selling gaming console of all time - it still holds that title, with over 155 million units sold - flew into the home of gamer nerds everywhere.


Spoiled as we now are by the Xbox 1 and the PS4 (with their successors on the near horizon) it can be hard to remember just how amazing the PS2 seemed when you first got your hands on it (or to imagine if you happen to be younger than us)


One of the reasons (we think) that the PS2 has managed to hold on (thus far) to its bestselling title (it bests its closest rival, the Nintendo DS by 5 million units and the others can't come close) is that it hosted - and still hosts for those of us who still have our unit up and running - some of the best games of all time.


                                                          Still going, two decades in


Which is why we thought that, to celebrate Sony's big milestone we'd take a look at some of them here.


So make yourself a nice cup of (Nerdfuel) coffee - or tea - and come with us as we look back at some of those games, the ones that look old now but blew our nerdy minds at the time, and are still worth the occasional play now.


Grand Theft Auto Vice City


Of all the games that stirred controversy in the PlayStation 2 era none of them upset people the way that Grand Theft Auto Vice City did.


The game was blamed for acts of real world violence, racism and Rockstar was even sued in 2017 by the Psychic Friends Network over the similarities between Auntie Poulet and their then big star, Miss Cleo (which there were, as the actress who 'played' Miss Cleo, Youree Harris, did indeed voice Vice City's character, but the suit was dismissed)


Controversy aside, the mechanics of the PlayStation 2 allowed Rockstar to take their already wildly popular series to new heights. Grand Theft Auto III had already successfully turned the franchise into a 3D open-world game, but Vice City refined the formula, and its 'just outside Miami' open world offered one of the best gaming experiences to be had on the PS2, and still does.


Kingdom Hearts


The premise sounded nuts. Take Final Fantasy like Square Enix created characters. Mix them up with iconic Disney characters. Have them wander off together exploring and battling, all while meeting with other Disney and Square Enix peeps.


It sounded nuts, but then once you started controlling the decisions of a team that consisted of Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy, who were on a mission to stop the 'Heartless', it was far too easy to get sucked in for hours at a time. And happily so. The subsequent sequels - including 2019's Kingdom Hearts III - are all good too, but the novelty of battling baddies as Goofy for the first time back in 2002 is hard to top.


God of War


Yes, 2018's PS4 based 'God of War' was amazing, but let's not forget that when it came out in 2005 so was the very different PS2 version. Featuring colossal boss fights and the ridiculously cool Blades of Chaos, God of War was action game bliss like we'd never really experienced before. It hasn't quite aged as well as some other PS2 games but it's still worthy of the term 'iconic' when discussing them.


Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening


Fight us if you like, but in our opinion, Devil May Cry 3 remains the best of the now long-running series by far. Some call it a hack and slash game, but DMC3 had more nuance than a standard button masher — especially because it proved to be very challenging, requiring you to master stringing together pretty combos to stay alive. Packed full of brooding and great music to help you get in your combat groove, we still get a lot out of this one today.


TimeSplitters 2


So it’s 2002. Standing in GameStop, everyone's very excited about something. “Have you played TimeSplitters 2? It’s from the people who made Goldeneye and it’s full of film references and it’s brilliant. You have to play it." So we did, and it was. And although the world had just been introduced to Halo and the Xbox around the same time, TS2 still deserves to be in any conversation about what the real best shooter of the era was.


TimeSplitters 2 let you mow down the Gingerbread Man, Undead Priests, Monkeys, and a clown named Stumpy (among many others.) It was zany and silly and we got hours and hours out of it and it still stands up well even in an era of mega graphiced FPS games.


This is, of course, a personal list. We're pretty sure yours would be very different. So why not share it with us on our Nerdfuel Facebook page? We'd love to see it.