Going out on top
Last week Sony quietly announced
that the very last Playstation 2 was manufactured and shipped from their facilities in Japan. Over the course of twelve years the PS2 sold 155.1 million units making it the best selling and longest lasting video game console of all time. New games were being released for the PS2 as late as 2012, twelve years after its initial release. For gamers this is like when Volkswagen ceased making the original Beetle in 2003.
When the console was first released on March 4, 2000, its main competitors were Sega's last console, the Dreamcast, and the Nintendo 64. Microsoft had not yet even finished developing the Xbox. Since then Sega left the console wars and both Microsoft and Nintendo have released two and three new generations of consoles respectively. Even after the release of the Playstation 3 in 2006, the PS2 continued to outperform its far more expensive successor for several years. Even as late as 2008, Neilson ratings have shown that the PS2 was the most played console that year.
What follows is my personal tribute to the Playstation 2 and the many games I enjoyed playing on it.
I got the PS2 that I have today as a Christmas present in 2001 and eleven years later it still works as well as the day I got it. The first truly great game that I remember getting and playing on it was Final Fantasy X.
Also the last great game in Square's flagship Final Fantasy series.
Another early PS2 game I have fond memories of is the first installment of Devil May Cry. I was a big fan of the Castlevania series on the Super Nintendo and this was the first of those types of games to really take advantage of 64-bit graphics.
Though that logo looks like it could be the sign for a trashy strip club.
Another game from this era I'd like to recognize from this time is Silent Hill 2. Still to this day many still consider it one of the best survival-horror games ever made. I'm not a big fan of that genre but I will give credit where credit is due with this one.
This series is the main reason I would never want to go to West Virginia. No offense to anyone from West Virginia.
This brings me to what I think is the most influential video game of the last decade (and Jack Thompson's favourite boogeyman) Grand Theft Auto III. This game featured a truly open world that was unprecedented at the time. It was a game where you can have all sorts of fun just messing around while completely ignoring the main story. This type of sandbox format would go on to influence countless games like the Elder Scrolls series, the Fallout series, the Saints Row series, and the Fable series among others. Its PS2 successors Vice City and San Andreas were both worthy prequels to an amazing game.
Oh yeah there was some violence in it too.
The next game I'd like to pay tribute to is one of my personal favourite sports games, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. In my opinion this game hit the sweet spot in terms of improving on its predecessors while not going too far like later games in the series. The simple addition of the 'revert' allowed the user to extend combos in a way that made the game much more fun. Still the levels were simple and the game stayed grounded to its roots. I had tons of fun playing this with my friends.
Tony Hawk has been one of the pioneers of skateboarding bringing it to where it is today starting in the 1970s. Today he is only 44 years old.
Sticking with the same company, the PS2 was the main platform that gave rise to another incredibly fun game series: Guitar Hero. This game was incredibly innovative for its time. It allowed people who aren't musically inclined to feel like they're performing some of their favourite songs. This series would go on to give rise to the Rock Band series and later begin to include drums and vocals as well. When I first went to college, games like Guitar Hero and Mario Party served as social lubricants to help our floor get to know one another and make friendships that last to this day.
This series also had the side-effect of giving me a great deal of disdain for Dragonforce. "Through the fire and the flames WE CARRY ON!!!"
Those games gave me some of my best memories of the Playstation 2 and those are only a few of the 10,828 games that were made for the console. Everyone knew that this console was going to die eventually, but it died years later than anyone ever anticipated and we should not let its death go by unnoticed. I'll put this out to the gamers here, what were your favourite titles on the PS2?