Five years after the PlayStation changed the way video games were made, the PlayStation 2 came out. When it went up against the new Microsoft Xbox, the console wars got even worse. The way the two systems competed, outside of hardware and specs, was with exclusive video games that one system carried and the other did not.
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Even though not all of the PlayStation 2 games were big hits, many of them went on to become some of the best-loved games of all time. Based on ratings from Metacritic, here are the best PlayStation 2 games ever made.
God Of War (94)
In March 2005, the PlayStation 2 was the only place to get the first game in the now-iconic God of War series. Players met Kratos for the first time in the hack-and-slash game. Ares tricked Kratos into killing his own family, so Kratos went on a quest to kill Ares.
God of War is definitely showing its age now, but it was a game that deserved its 94 Metascore when it came out because it had fights with a scale that many gamers had never seen before.
Virtua Fighter 4 (94)
Virtua Fighter 4 first came out in arcades in August 2001. The next year, it came out on PlayStation 2. The fighting game is still seen as one of the best of its kind because it is so well-balanced and has a tough AI that makes it fun to play over and over again.
Sega clearly tried to make Virtua Fighter 4 easier for new players to learn than previous games in the series. Its new training mode and streamlined gameplay are the best examples of this.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (94)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence came out first in Japan in December 2005. The next year, it came out in North America and Europe. The game is an expanded version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It has a new camera angle and a few new features, such as online multiplayer.
Snake Eater is thought to be one of the best Metal Gear Solid games of all time, if not the best. It is also thought to be one of the best stealth games ever made.
Madden NFL 2002 (94)
Madden NFL 2002 was the second game in the Madden NFL series to come out for the PlayStation 2. Even though the graphics don’t look like much now, when the game came out in August 2001, they were a huge step forward for the series. Some people even thought it was the most visually impressive game of all time.
The game’s gameplay has been greatly improved in the many versions that have come after it, but the game will always be remembered for the big jump it made in terms of graphics and player immersion.
Madden NFL 2004 (94)
Whereas Madden NFL 2002 took huge strides in visuals from its predecessor, Madden NFL 2004 significantly raised the bar for the series’ gameplay, as it felt like EA had finally perfected the immersive, simulation style that they had been building for many years.
The game is also remembered because it was the first to have a franchise mode and because the quarterback, Michael Vick, was known for being too good. He had a speed rating of 95.
Devil May Cry (94)
Devil May Cry was one of the first games for the PlayStation 2, coming out in 2001. It was going to be part of the Resident Evil game series at first, but that changed, and all connections to that series were cut. Devil May Cry, on the other hand, was about a demon hunter and private investigator named Dante who wanted to get even for the deaths of his mother and brother.
Many of the reviews on Metacritic said that Devil May Cry was much better than Onimusha Warlords. People also liked the controls, saying that they were better than the “cumbersome” controls of the Resident Evil series. Over three million copies of the game were sold, and the fifth game in the series came out in 2019.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (94)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 came out in 2002 for most of the major consoles, such as the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo. This version of Tony Hawk was different from the ones that came before because there was no longer a time limit to reach goals. Because of this change, players could play each of the 190 levels at their own speed and try out different tricks.
Metacritic reviews of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 say that the levels are more immersive and have more things to do than in previous games. Also, the tricks are better and the graphics are better. Most critics’ best-of lists for the PlayStation 2 put this game at the top because the timer was taken away.
Madden NFL 2003 (95)
The football games that EA Sports made for the PlayStation 2 were out of this world. Both of their Madden games from 2002 and 2004 were rated 94, as was their NCAA college game from 2004. But when it came to football, Madden NFL 2003 was the best game of all.
This was the 14th game in the Madden series. It was the first one to have the minicamp mode, and Al Michels took the place of Pat Summerall on the commentary track. Reviews on Metacritic say that it’s the best Madden game ever made and that there’s a lot to like about it, like the fact that it has a strong franchise mode.
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (95)
Gran Turismo was a video game that helped make the original PlayStation a must-have console. Gran Turismo was first released in 1997, and it went on to become the best-selling PlayStation series ever. Metacritic says that the third version of the PlayStation 2, which was called “A-Spec,” got the best reviews.
This version adds two more new courses and some of the most sought-after cars in racing. The reviews say that this is one of the most realistic racing games ever made. Even the physics of driving a racecar are “dead on,” they say. It is called hard and challenging, but getting things done is the best part.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Since the Grand Theft Auto series is still very popular, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a few of its games are on this list. The action-adventure game Vice City came out in 2002 and was made by Rockstar Games.
Since Grand Theft Auto III, this is the first main game in the series. It has an open world that lets players explore all of Vice City. Many of the events in the game are based on real people, events, and movements, such as glam metal, the crack epidemic of the 1980s, biker gangs, drug lords, and more.