So as you may already know, I’ve now started collecting for the PS2. The reason for this is that it’s one of my favourite consoles of all time. There are just so many absolutely amazing games out there for it!
However, therein lies the problem… There are thousands of games for the PS2 (literally), and knowing which ones you should get and which you should avoid can be really hard to work out. Especially if you have a wide and varied taste in games. So I thought I’d help out a bit and list off my personal top 7 games for the PS2 that you absolutely must play, if not own! Shall we?
Sequel to the absolutely outstanding PSX game Koudelka, Shadow Hearts is a very dark and foreboding J-RPG with both horror and fantasy elements. Taking place in China, mainland Europe, and Wales, the story follows a group of people trying to stop a powerful warlock from summoning God to destroy the world. The main character, Yuri, is a “harmonixer”, who can transform into a variety of different monsters/demons, and has been tasked by a mysterious voice in his head to protect a young woman with immense healing magic called Alice.
Obviously, Shadow Hearts is a very deep and complex game, dealing with the effect of war and espionage between nations, religious beliefs and a twisted tale of redemption. The gameplay is also really fun, with battles being very involved through the use of a Judgement Ring system. The story is amazing, and the characters feel real. All in all, if you’re a fan of RPGs this is one you do not want to miss out on!
Silent Hill 2
This one was pretty much a given when I decided to write this post. You see, to this day Silent Hill 2 is still my favourite horror game ever. Focusing more on psychological horror rather than flat out jump scares, this is a game that will really get under your skin. Every second of your time in the town of Silent Hill, you’ll be wondering where that next monster is going to come from. And speaking of the monsters, once you’ve seen Pyramid Head, you’re never going to forget him.
The plot itself deals with everything from bullying and guilt to depression and lust. Almost everything you see in the world, from a seemingly random painting on the wall to the hideous monsters chasing you, all relate to the plot in some way. It is such an intricately designed and written game, and is definitely a work of art!
Final Fantasy XII
My all-time favourite Final Fantasy game is Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSX, which is set in the world of Ivalice. So, imagine my joy when Final Fantasy XII was announced and turned out to also be set in Ivalice! And not only that, but was a sort of prequel to Final Fantasy Tactics, taking place centuries before it. The hype was real!
Now, the game itself got a very mixed reaction, with some people absolutely loving it (me included) and others really disliking it. For me, personally, I loved the change in the battle system to a more MMO style system, whilst that annoyed a lot of people who wanted more turn-based combat like the previous games. But most people will admit that the world of FFXII is one of the most amazing things they have ever seen. I mean, it is huge! Seriously… Even by today’s standards, it is really big.
Plus, if you can get the “International” version, rather than the standard version, the level of customisation for characters is immense. You can always tell how good a game is by how much time you spend playing it whilst still enjoying it. I clocked well over 300 hours in FF12, and I’ve now gone back to play it again a decade later!
Devil May Cry 3
Moving into action orientated games now, the next on my list of PS2 games you must play is Devil May Cry 3. Whilst I could have put any of the DMC games on here, the third is easily my favourite. Oh, and it’s a prequel as well, so you don’t need to have played the others to understand what is going on! So yeah, that’s a bonus. But more importantly, this is one of the most enjoyable action games on the console, if not in gaming history.
You play as Dante, a half-human half-demon who is trying to stop an actual demon from turning the world into a type of Hell. Along the way, you will be fighting hordes of monsters in lightning fast sword and gun combat, yet the controls make the whole thing feel natural.
Oh, and for those of you out there who like a challenge (on the level of Dark Souls), there is always the Dante Must Die difficulty setting. That is the hardest difficulty setting I have ever played! Why? Because the enemies all die in one hit, but so do you. In other words, to complete this masterful difficulty level, you need to go through the entire game without being hit once!
Another sequel now, and another where the first game was on the PSX; Galerians: Ash is a direct follow on from Galerian, so if you get a chance to play the first, I would highly recommend it! Once again, the story of Galerians: Ash is rather dark, following a young man with psychic abilities who needs to have regular injections of a specific drug in order to not go insane. Oh, and did I mention it is a Survival Horror Action RPG? So there’s a decent amount of tactics involved in everything you do.
It almost means that it’s a pretty creepy game, with some very unique and twisted supporting characters. There are puzzles involved, exploration helps in finding much-needed items, and the combat revolves around your psychic abilities. Whilst it may not have aged well, I can tell you know, this is a truly amazing game that you should not pass up!
Returning to the action genre now, Onimusha: Warlords (not to be confused with the last entry on this list) takes place in feudal Japan as an army of demons is trying to conquer the land. You take the role of Samanosuke, a samurai with a magical gauntlet used to trap the souls of the demons he slays. The story itself is, especially for a downright action game, rather deep and compelling. The characters are easy to relate to, meaning you end up caring what happens to them, and the combat is slick and easy to pick up.
This is not just so mindless brawler, either. You need to upgrade your skills and weapons using the souls of the demons that you have captured. So you can play the game how you want to play it! Oh, and for the time, it looks beautiful as well.
Kingdom Hearts 2
I was really torn about which of the PS2 Kingdom Hearts games to put on this list, so really, I’d say get both. But in the interest of keeping the list to 7, I went with Kingdom Hearts 2. The first one is a classic, but the second just improved on every aspect of it in every way. The combat felt more fluid, with the Reversal system adding a must speedy level of fighting. Oh, and the rather annoying Gummi Ship sections were removed.
In their place, we got a thoroughly planned and brilliantly executed story with some heavy and very dark connotations. This may be a game with Disney licensed characters in it, but it also features characters from Final Fantasy and is directed by one of the guys behind the Final Fantasy series. Therefore, you just know that the game is going to be beyond words, and the story is going to be harrowing in places. And it is! Yet it is also really emotional.
If you get the chance, I would definitely pick up both the first and second Kingdom Hearts game… But definitely get the second!
And That’s All Folks
Those are my top 7 PS2 games that you must play! Even if you don’t own these games, find a way to try them out. You’ll be in for a lot of smiling or fear afterward, and it is most definitely worth it!
Are there any PS2 games I must that you think anyone should own (yourself included)? Let me know in the comments below!