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PlayStation 2 tribute - Our fondest memories and favourite games

4 January 2013

With news this week that Sony has stopped manufacturing the PlayStation 2 in Japan, it’s an ideal time to reflect on our most memorable moments with the world’s best-selling console.

All the staff at PSU and many of our community members have fond memories of PS2, so over the past few days we’ve gathered our thoughts and combined them to pay tribute to this magnificent gaming machine. Without further ado, here are some of the memories that we hold close to our hearts. We have to admit that some staff actually got a little teary.

                        

Kyle Prahl – Staff Writer and Editor

Words can be fickle things, for the memories I hold of my time with the PlayStation 2 are too profound to adequately express. Despite the undeniable quality of current-gen titles, the years during which my PS2 was constantly running are still the best gaming years of my life. Playing hours upon hours of Star Wars: Battlefront with a dear friend; being brought to tears by a video game for the first time midway through Final Fantasy X; perfecting insane combos on long Sunday afternoons in Tony Hawk's Underground; that time a friend and I came THIS close to winning a CTF match against Godlike bots in Unreal Tournament. The list goes on and on and on, as it does for many of you, but one singular memory resonates with me above all others.

On Christmas morning in 2002, I ripped open wrapping to reveal a brand-new PS2, and (moments later) a game that would change my life. Kingdom Hearts was the first game disc to ever enter my PS2, and on that fateful Christmas morning, my eyes were opened to what the new generation of consoles would really mean. Vivid colors and crisp animation brought characters and settings to life that looked right out of a movie, and there was nary a technical limitation to be found. The touching journey of Kingdom Hearts not only forever changed the way I think about friendships, success, and failure, but perhaps to an even greater degree, it set the stage - through gameplay, storytelling, and the very best kind of RPG ambition - for me to become the gamer I am today. To this day, I value most of all the profound emotion, introspection, and growth that only the greatest single-player experience can elicit, and I don't need to tell any of you that the PS2 was (and is) the greatest console ever made for fans of such adventures.

             

Kingdom Hearts - the game that spawned the popular series is one of the best RPGs on PS2

Mike Harradence – Managing Editor

I have vivid memories of the PlayStation 2, as it was one of the only consoles that I didn’t get on launch and needed some convincing to actually invest in one – after all, I was a massive Dreamcast fan in the early 2000s. I eventually took the plunge in summer 2001 and purchased one alongside Final Fantasy X, but my first experience with the PS2 was via a friend, who bought it on launch. I can recall going down to our local EB (R.I.P) and picking up the machine with a copy of Tekken Tag Tournament and TimeSplitters, and playing the hell out of both; more than anything, I was impressed at the sumptuously smooth visuals of Tekken, and the flawless multiplayer of Free Radical’s FPS.

Truth be told however, it wasn’t until late 2001 – after a few months of owning the console for myself – that I really got stuck in. At this point, Devil May Cry and Silent Hill 2 showed up, which easily rank among my favourite games of all time, let alone on PS2. I can remember being totally engrossed in DMC’s intuitive, visceral combat and addictive gameplay, and utterly terrified and compelled by the psychological tapestry weaved by Silent Hill 2’s twisted narrative. Then Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty showed up. At that point, I never thought I could be blown away by something as innocuous as rain fall and exploding bottles, but the realism afforded by PS2’s extra technical muscle really was a sight to behold.

Of all the games however, Okami and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater stand out as the defining moments of that era for me. I admittedly never experienced some of the PS2’s other gems such as God of War, Shadow of the Colossus or ICO, but Snake Eater and Okami blew me away. Okami is a masterstroke (no pun intended) of interactive entertainment, offering a beautiful, evocative world to explore and innovative gameplay mechanics that differentiate it from the likes of Zelda and Final Fantasy. MGS3 on the other hand is the ultimate stealth experience that IMO has yet to be topped, with one of the most memorable videogame stories ever told.

PS2 offered some of my fondest gaming experiences to date, and many of them have yet to be eclipsed even by today’s standards.

Steven Williamson - UK Publisher

I put money aside for months to ensure I had a PS2 at launch. I think it cost around £300. As with the PSOne and the PS3, there’s something magical about unboxing a new console for the first time, booting it up and familiarising yourself with the dash before testing out some of the launch games. I can remember unpacking the PS2 with the enthusiasm of a 7-year-old at Christmas; I even ripped the box in the process.

My most potent memory comes from one of those launch games. The frantic first-person shooter gameplay and futuristic comic-book style setting of Timesplitters was right up my street and I spent hours upon hours in Arcade mode against bots and real players and then trying to complete all of the challenge modes. Timesplitters 2 was even more fun, and such are my fond memories of the franchise that I’m one of the many that has signed the petition to try and convince Crytek (formerly Free Radical Design) to bring the series back. Even if it does, I doubt it will ever be the same as those fantastic PS2 days.

Ernest Lin - Staff Writer

Looking back at the PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater easily stands as my favorite game on the platform. Here is a game that became one of the system's last technical achievements and an overall masterpiece. MGS3 brought an emotional and interesting experience to which no game I played before brought me. The boss designs made the battles against the Cobra Unit not only memorable, but meaningful. It still amazes me to this day that the game came out on the PlayStation 2, as its graphics and gameplay hold up well to this day.

Lastly, MGS3 stands as one of the few games to move me to tears. The last battle against The Boss was the first time in gaming that I became so reluctant to fight. So hesitant to finish a game I had come to love. This summer, I had to compile some video footage from the game for a university summer course project. When I arrived at the ending, my reaction was the same as the first time I experienced it: my heart sank and tears streamed down my face.

Ghost-Rayne – Staff Writer and Editor

Sony's 6th generation console has sold alongside its 7th. As we stand at the doorstep of the 8th generation, the behemoth that is the PlayStation 2 takes its first steps towards retirement. Even now the legend had support with Pro Evolution Soccer 13 and FIFA 13 among other titles. With some of the truly amazing titles coming out in 2013 like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, God of War: Ascension and 3rd party titles like Bioshock Infinite, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain, I can't help but cast my thoughts back to titles that came out near the end of the 6th generation on PS2.

Games like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Zone of Enders 2, Okami and God of War 2 blew my mind back then. I felt like they were gen 6.5 type games, it was then that I had my first taste of what next-gen might be like. MGS3 will forever stand as the best MGS game in the franchise in the hearts of many seasoned vets; it needs little mention here. Konami's mech game Zone of Enders 2 however was the most visceral experience I had on the PS2. It was so bright and colorful and looked amazing with all the lasers and futuristic fire-power. God of War 2 blew many people’s minds too with its scale and graphical fidelity and animation. These games really pushed the hardware and showed its true colors, much like this year’s blockbuster hits are doing for current (soon to be last) gen systems.

             

Stunning production values and powerful gameplay elevated the action genre to a new level

Fijiandoce - Dedicated PSU Community Member

I wasn't all that bothered with PS2 to start off with. Most of my friends had a PS2, but I was more interested in 'other' things to care. However, one Christmas day, a cousin of mine bought me a PS2 bundled with GTA: Vice City and I wasn't seen again until dinner. I had so much fun running around this fictitious city just doing 'stuff'. I was totally amazed at what could be done in a little black box.
This is where my love for the Sony brand began.

In retrospect, whilst Vice City was a phenomenal game, it wasn't 'THE' game I most remember. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is a game I have extremely fond memories of. A friend and I lived in the same village in the UK, we were in high school at the time, and not all that up-to-date with our game libraries. He owned the game however, and I owned the memory card. We'd go round to each other’s houses with our respective pieces and game all day. I was fond of magic, so I played as the female mage. He liked to be a trickster, so he played the male dwarf.
Many, many times we ended up breaking "curfew" playing until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning trying to beat the game (on its hardest difficulty) there was so much to do, so much to customise, so many dungeons to crawl through. We'd crash on the couch and rage, curse, and laugh at the puzzles and obstacles the game presented.

When the sequel came around, we switched roles. He had the memory card, and I had the game. However, at this point, we were getting older and it didn't have that spark that the first had. It was quite a bit easier, and a lot more confusing. We enjoyed the game nonetheless but it couldn't compare to the first.
Primal, and Summoner 2 are also standout games from that period. Both were quite difficult games, with surprisingly deep stories for their time.

              

Cruising the streets in GTA Vice City is one of the most memorable gaming moments from the PS2 era

Red Devil – Staff Writer

My greatest memory of the PS2 is probably my first, Christmas Day 2001. I previously asked for a PS2 for Gran Turismo 3 which had come out a few months prior, I remember the advert which had the Aston Martin Vanquish stopping during a race and the voice-over 'with graphics so good you'll stop and enjoy the view'. I got the bundle which had a nice red box and was named 'The GT3 Racing Pack'. Playing it for the first time, I remember driving a blue Subaru Impreza WRX STI through the tunnel and up the hill in Trial Mountain, with the lighting coming through the trees and hitting the car. It was mind blowing. It was a huge step up from the PS1 and I knew then that the PS2 was something special.

My favourite games on the PS2 were Gran Turismo 4 and Metal Gear Solid 3, both of which came out within a week of each other here in the UK. What a week, playing both back to back was one of the best times ever in gaming and will probably never be beaten.

Dane Smith – Staff Writer

Ah, the Playstation 2. To quote Bret Hart "The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be." Sure, I had a lot of fun with my SNES but the Genesis also had my attention. The PS2 was so good to me that there were a combined total of 5 games I wanted to play on the Gamecube and XBOX combined. Hell, there were more games I liked on the Dreamcast than the Gamecube and XBOX combined. My wallet would always curse at me when I walked into a game store as I'd always be coming out with new RPGs to play on a weekly basis.

There were two continuous moments of greatness for me with the PS2 that had me constantly glued to the screen. The first was the return of Romance of the Three Kingdoms to a console. We didn't see five on the PS1. 6 was there but was so different it didn't feel like 4 and there was too big of a time gap between the SNES and the PS1 when it was released. But when 7 hit the scene my life was over for weeks, and soon 8 came out, and suddenly there was 9 a year later and then 10. 4 ROTKs in as many years? Joyousness was too weak of a word to describe how much fun I had.

The second moment was the showdown of my two favourite gaming series trying to be #1 in my heart and mind. Suikoden 2 is my favourite game of all time. I also loved Persona 2, and both of them were on the PS1. Suikoden got in the first jabs coming out with Suikoden 3, 4 and Tactics before Persona 3 hit the scene. But Suikoden 5 and Persona 4 blew me away. I wait for a Suikoden 6 and a Persona 5 to blow my mind, but if they never come I'll just relive the joy and experience of their adventures on the PS2.

Tim Nunes – Staff Writer and Editor

My standards, expectations, and drive for gaming all stem from my first PlayStation experience: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. I missed the boat, and I didn't even know it. I visited my cousin for a week in 2002, and he brought out his PlayStation 2 and booted up what I now consider the fundamental experience of my gaming career in MGS2. The long and situationally-specific codec calls and detailed cut scenes built characterization on an icon that I hadn't even met, and the intrigue nearly suffocated me with delight. I went on to buying that very game a total of seven times in my life (regular, Greatest Hits, Substance on both PS2 and original Xbox, and the HD Collection for both PS3 and PS Vita), and the experience has never aged through my 40+ playthroughs. Without it, my love for Hideo Kojima would never have happened, and the sheer spontaneity of coming across it has made my world that much greater.

It's not hard to believe that my love for PlayStation wouldn't have grown so strong without Sons of Liberty. Up until I was introduced to this title, I had been in the exclusive worlds of Nintendo 64 and Xbox, making bad decisions. Once the magic of the PS2 graced my eyes, I all but disregarded whatever else was in the gaming world for a very long time. My once-beloved games like Super Smash Brothers and Knights of the Old Republic had been dwarfed, toppled, and crushed by what ultimately became a series that changed my life, and the PlayStation 2 was the magical device to bring my current life into fruition.

After MGS2, titles like Final Fantasy X, Odin Sphere, Snake Eater, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, and Dragonball Z Budokai took their fair share of time in my everlasting old PlayStation 2. The greatest generation of gaming took place on the PlayStation 2, and the generations to come will have to topple a great piece of hardware in order to claim such an honored title.

             

Universally acclaimed Final Fantasy X introduced beautiful 3D arenas. A breathtaking production.

PhillyFreak – Forum Elder

I still remember the PS2 launch like it was yesterday. I was 15 years old, it was summer, and I needed money to buy one. My cousin-in law was able to get me a job working at her employer. I worked for a couple months and saved up enough money to pre-order a PS2. After my last paycheck, I went to a local EBGames to pre-order the system, an 8MB memory card, DOA2: Hardcore, SSX, and Madden '01. I was very fortunate to have been able to pre-order the system (Sony had slashed the initial NA shipment by half a million); two people had taken their name off the pre-order list so paid for everything in full right then and there.

On launch day, my mom and I went to the EBGames to pick my system. I was pumped as heck, as was everyone else in line. The store clerks made announcements to people lining up that they only had systems for people who pre-ordered. That didn't go over too well with some people in the back of the line. I watched two idiots get arrested for being disorderly because they were angry about the pre-order policy. Good times.

It was a great system, easily my favorite console of all time. I can't believe it's finally going the way of the PSX.

Frasmataz – Staff Writer

Thinking all the way back to that wonderful beast when it took its rightful place next to my TV, you can't help but think that an era has well and truly gone. I remember buying all sorts of titles for it and gaming into the small wee hours of the night.

Perhaps my fondest memory would be the countless and quality RPGs like Grandia 2, Hack, Final Fantasy X and Star Ocean. I spent many many hours playing all of these and didn’t regret it. Oh, and let’s not forget about the awesome Ratchet and Clank who are some of my all-time favorite videogame characters.

It is sad to see the titan head soon head towards its final resting place, but it has done a damn fine job of showing us what a console can truly do for generations of gamers.

Adam Dolge – PSU Executive editor

There are plenty of happy memories that stem from my PlayStation 2, but what stands out the most is the time and place, not the actual console or games. It was the first game device I bought as an adult. Out on my own, paying my own bills, and making those tough adults decision, I saved up for a PS2 and a few games to help make a lame situation not so terrible. It worked! This was a year or two after college and I was definitely out of the game, so to speak.

I can't say I put that much time into gaming as a college student (I was busy doing everything else but studying!), so buying a PS2 as an adult out in the workforce was sort of a mental reward. I'd come home from a long day at work--covering local school board and town government meetings--and pop in a Final Fantasy game and enjoy the bachelor life. A lot has changed since then, but I still have that same PS2. I've given away just about every game I originally bought, but there are a few tucked away in case the bachelor life ever catches back up with me.


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