Crispy Gamer

Your Console and Handheld Guide: PlayStation 2

The mighty PlayStation 2 was released with great fanfare but an anemic list of games. Sony, however, had a crucial head start on Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube by virtue of having built on their market-leading PlayStation console and having a year at market all to themselves. The result is that the PlayStation 2 is not only the best-selling game console of the last generation; it's among the top-selling consoles right now, as well. Looking at the number of terrific games that have come out over the past year, we're just not ready to call Sony's console dead.

Models


At retail you might be able to find the older, clunky PS2 model, or maybe a refurbished one at a store like Game Crazy or GameStop, but Sony has concentrated its efforts on producing the PS2 Slim Line model. It's smaller, sleeker, cooler-looking and plays both original PlayStation and PS2 games equally. Sony also makes the 'multitap,' which lets four players join in the fun.

The graphics power of the PS2 is roughly equivalent to that of Nintendo's Wii.

Peripherals (first-party)


Over the years, Sony has made countless PS2 peripherals, like a broadband adapter, various memory cards (necessary on this system), and all kinds of controllers. Sony's EyeToy helped change gaming by experimenting with motion control before Nintendo's Wii came out.

Peripherals (third-party)


There are probably more peripherals made for the PS2 than any other console on Earth -- everything from racing wheels, fancy controllers and memory cards to skins, vertical stands for the console and more. We recommend looking into upgrading to wireless controllers and a big memory card.

Top Games


God of War II: This game is a legitimate Game of the Year contender for 2007 -- even against next-generation fare from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Has the PlayStation 2 got legs? This powerhouse of graphics and violent gameplay proves this and then some.

Guitar Hero I, II and III: Most people got their first taste of Guitar Hero on the PlayStation 2 and that's why GH III is selling so well for the platform. Hey, you've already got the extra guitars right? Why buy that stuff all over again when you can rock out on the PS2?

Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2: What happens when you mix Final Fantasy and Disney characters? You get spiky-haired anime guys hanging out with Winnie the Pooh and Goofy. Not as childish as it sounds, these role-playing games are clever, stylish and a lot of fun.

Okami: An enchanting mix of Japanese mythology, calligraphy and Japanese classical artwork makes a strong argument for games as art. Okami is a modern classic not to be missed.

Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas: GTA, the poster boy for violent and controversial gaming, was born and raised on the PS2. All three games contain superb writing, acting, music and both mission-based and open-ended gameplay.

Shadow of the Colossus: A beautiful and slower-paced action/adventure/puzzle game, Shadow of the Colossus challenges players to hunt down and take down massive ancient monsters by figuring out their weaknesses and striking them down.

EyeToy: Play: The EyeToy camera looked promising, and though the peripheral basically turned out to be a novelty, this is the best game for kids this side of the Nintendo Wii. The motion control is a bit primitive now, but the game is accessible and fun for the whole family.

Amplitude and FreQuency: Harmonix burst onto the scene with these two clever, now classic, rhythm games, and little did we know at the time that they'd go on to tweak this very formula (hit colored buttons in time with music) to dominate gaming with Guitar Hero. You might not feel like a rock god while playing, but FreQuency and Amplitude are both finger-twisting fun.

Gran Turismo 4: One of the best and certainly most beautiful racing series makes its home on the PS2. If you're a car nut, it's worth finding out why.

Final Fantasy: The last few Final Fantasy games have been PS2 exclusives and -- particularly VII, IX and X -- are bona fide classics for the ages. Pick one and find out why this series is so beloved and popular.

Conclusion


If you just got a PlayStation 2, you're a bit late to the party, but don't let that get you down -- the PS2 is easily the best value in gaming today with lots of budget classic games and peripherals. Plus, the platform has such a large installed base, we predict that they'll be making new games -- A-list games -- for a few more years at least. The PS2 may not look like much, but it's still got it where it counts.