ith over 100 million units sold worldwide and a lifespan stretching far beyond any other console to date, the PlayStation 2 is the most successful video game platform of all time. As they say, a system is only as good as its games, and the PlayStation 2 provides a library fit for its 100 million players. As we compiled this list, we found hundreds of games that we would love to play again. Paring down to just 25 proved to be difficult, as the PlayStation 2 wasn’t graced by just great individual games, but entire series worthy of playing. Here is Game Informer’s selection for the Top 25 must-play PlayStation 2 games or series.
1. Grand Theft Auto series
Grand Theft Auto has proven it can sell millions of copies on any system it touches, but its true rise to power began on PlayStation 2. The first installment to grace this console was Grand Theft Auto III. Its revolutionary open world gameplay changed the landscape of gaming, and its exclusivity to PlayStation 2 (at least for a time) helped cement this console as the generation leader. In the United States, Grand Theft Auto III has sold 5.7 million copies on PlayStation 2. Its sequel, Vice City, which allowed players to tower over society like a kingpin, significantly expanded the series’ fan base with 6.8 million copies sold. The third entry, San Andreas, blew the doors off of what we could expect from the sandbox experience with not one, but three cities, and was handsomely rewarded for its innovative gameplay with a staggering 7.6 million copies sold in the States. There was no bigger event in the PS2 era than the release of a new GTA. It was truly the Grand Theft Auto generation.
2. Metal Gear Solid series
Hideo Kojima is the gaming industry’s consummate auteur. As a writer, director, and designer, he has crafted a series frequently cited as a work of video game art. Both PS2 Metal Gear titles, Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, feature epic storytelling, cinematography, and gameplay. They paved the way for action games in multiple genres, and showed us that games can be just as much fun to watch as they are to play.
3. Resident Evil 4
This next statement will likely make you tear up a little, but if you’ve played Resident Evil 4, you know it’s true. This series is better without zombies. The one game not featuring brain-eaters is the series’ most impressive act. In all fairness, however, this is a complete departure for the series. RE 4’s revolutionary over-the-shoulder targeting system, heart-pounding pacing, and inventive enemy designs make it nearly impossible to put down.
4. God of War series
In an afternoon, you could say that you toppled a giant, dethroned a god, and wowed the ladies. Both God of War games turn you into an unstoppable wrecking machine, and you can feel Kratos’ fury with every brutal slash of his blades. In addition to a well-oiled combat system, this series uses mind-bending puzzles and cinematic flair to create a classic Greek tale of vengeance.
5. Final Fantasy X & XII
Forget about the side-stories and massively multiplayer forays; these two Final Fantasy titles are the best role-playing experiences you’ll find on the PS2. Whether it’s through the touching stories, fantastic visuals, or innovative gameplay mechanics, these games exemplify why Final Fantasy is the industry’s most trusted name in console RPGs.
6. Guitar Hero series
It may not have been the first music game, but Guitar Hero is certainly the one that popularized the genre. By mixing the best of rock music with a control scheme that scales remarkably well for beginners and long-time music aficionados, the game couldn’t help but blossom into a worldwide phenomenon.
7. Gran Turismo series
Hundreds of photo-realistic cars all tuned to mimic their real-life counterparts set the bar for the racing simulation genre. Thanks to Gran Turismo, we expect our racing games to not only offer a wealth of real-life cars, but also test our racing abilities and push our engine to the limit.
8. Ratchet & Clank series
Who says the platforming genre has grown stale? Who says cartoon graphics can’t look fantastic? Who says you shouldn’t turn your enemies into farm animals? Not Insomniac. The company consistently combined action, platforming, and RPG elements to create one of the funniest, most polished video game series on the market.
9. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
The PS2 was gifted with a new Tony Hawk title every year, but only one is deserving of skating immortality. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 introduced the revert maneuver, which allows a combo to be continued after a vert trick. This move opens the way to lengthy million-point runs that we dedicated hundreds of hours to perfecting.
10. Devil May Cry 1 & 3
Swords and guns are nothing new to gaming, but Devil May Cry combines them in a fast and fluid combat system that essentially created the “stylish action” genre. Using crazy combos and lightning quick reflexes, this series pushes your skills to the limit while dishing out hardcore thrills – providing you overlook the second game..