DAR Games Retro: 5 Underrated PlayStation 2 Classics

By @Peagle05

And here we are, a week later than promised but we have my PS2 list. Now before I get into this, let me just say from jump: THERE WILL BE NO GTA GAMES ON THIS LIST. These haven’t been best of lists for these consoles. I’m just talking about some classics on each system and a couple that may have been overlooked. However, given that GTA has such a high number of mentions in articles I’ve written in the past, I’m leaving them out. Let's take a look at 5 classics, including 3 that might be slightly underappreciated.

*Final Fantasy X

I’m going to get this one out the way because it’s the only RPG on my list but this game here is a top entry in the series with the standard occasionally questionable voice acting we’ve all come to expect from the series (though 15 was better). This was the FF series’ entry into the new generation and with it came a new battle system. Gone was the Active Time Battle system we had become so accustomed to. We were introduced to the Conditional Turn Based Battle system and it made fights a bit more challenging and strategic as your characters weren’t guaranteed an equal number of turns. It was the shake up the series needed and with the graphical power of the PS2, the story beats the series had become famous for had even more weight. It’s tough to evolve, especially for a series as long standing as this, but Square Enix seems to always be up for the challenge.

*God of War 1-2

Looking back at this series, it is by far one of the most simplistic classic games of this era. I mean it’s basically hack and slash Zelda (with markedly better boss fights). Still, something about this series just clicked for me and millions of gamers around the world. You follow Kratos in his quest to kill Ares after he was tricked into murdering his family. That’s really how this story got started. Along the way, we got treated to an incredible battle system that revolves around Kratos’ swords attached to chains burned onto his arms AKA the Blades of Chaos. These swords were so fun to use and the added abilities and weapons that made use of the combat system only enhanced the gameplay. God of War was also known for its incredibly detailed environments. I’ll never forget my first play through and seeing titanic characters in the background moving and interacting with the world as I was playing. Sony deserves a world of credit for what they accomplished graphically with this series and I can’t wait to see what the PS4 entry in the series brings us now that they’re focusing on Norse Mythology.

Okay, so here’s where we get into slightly underappreciated territory. Yes, these next three are considered classics, but they don’t get mentioned enough today and we all know the platformer isn’t dead, it just has to be done right.

*Jak and Daxter 1-3

This was the next evolution for Naughty Dog, the team that gave us Crash Bandicoot. They were moving on from their beloved marsupial and beginning work on an ambitious third person adventure that mixed elements of platforming, racing and puzzle solving. In a way, I always looked at this particular series as Sony’s answer to Banjo-Kazooie. It had the same feel when it came to world-building and exploration...also the wise cracking sidekick thing might have had something to do with it. But the versatility of gameplay was something we hadn’t really seen done successfully in a platformer since the bear and the bird teamed up and it was refreshing to see it with this level of polish and graphical fidelity. I’ve always felt that this series doesn’t get the shine it deserves and hopefully when the original trilogy is re-released on PS4, (looking like sometime in the coming weeks) it will.

*Sly Cooper

Another game that does not get the recognition in this era that it should. The third person stealth action game featuring an anthropomorphic raccoon that steals things, was without a doubt one of the best and most technically sound platformers I’ve ever played. I don’t think I’ve played a game where the protagonist controlled as well as Sly did. Not to mention that in all reality, Sly was a bad guy. He was an antihero in the sense that you wanted to see him succeed in his goal of recovering his family’s secrets but he was also on the run from Interpol. It was an interesting story choice for a game that chose the graphical style that it did, as the cel-shading style that had become so popular in that era lent itself well to the humorous parts of the game and in retrospect, even enhanced the more serious beats only because they were just so unexpected. This series has been remastered on the PS3 and I’m not sure if the same will happen on the PS4, though I hope it does. Personally, I don’t have remaster fatigue like most people, these games are classics for a reason and I don’t mind revisiting them without having to plug up the requisite console. Just another classic for Sony’s most classic console.

*Ratchet and Clank

This is the last game on the list and the one that most recently got a remaster with the PS4 reboot of the original that coincided with the movie of the same name. Ratchet and Clank is a third person platformer with shooting elements created by Insomniac Games (the same people that gave us Spyro). THIS game and its successors are the ultimate in classic on a classic console. The gunplay, the gameplay, the humor, everything was top notch. It was here that we saw Insomniac’s talent for creating incredibly unique guns with unusual purposes and they all seemed to have a personality of their own. I honestly don’t know what I can say about this game that could properly convey how much I enjoyed it other than to buy the PS4 version and enjoy yourself.

It’s funny to do this look back and realize that 3 of these 5 games were platformers. And each of them spawned classic sequels. Looking back, Sony revived platform gaming for a time before the First Person Shooter took over. The PS2 itself is without a doubt one of the greatest consoles ever. My personal pick for that top title comes next week but I can’t be mad at anyone that says Sony’s original black box is the top dog.



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