Staff Picks: Top 10 PlayStation 2 Games

Friday, August 10th, 2012

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So, as you can probably guess from the Top 10 PSOne Games list, we really liked its JRPGs. What many of you might not know is that most of us haven’t had a lot of exposure to the PS1. What exposure we did have was mostly to JRPGs, hence why the list featured only a handful of franchises. When conducting the poll for the PS2, however, the results were very different.

The sheer number of games submitted in that poll simply blew my mind. Not just JRPGs, either, but a whole mess of genres. So, to make sure this poll a bit more manageable, I’ve added something I call the Franchise Clause: only one representative from a franchise can make it to the Top 10. This made writing the list much easier, and was totally not done as a way to appease angry readers who accused us of being biased…what are you talking about?

I’m sorry, but you didn’t make it.

It seems every time I vote in one of these things, I always end up choosing games that nobody else has ever played. It happened to Viewtiful Joe in the Gamecube list and it happened to PaRappa the Rapper in the PSOne list. Because of the sheer number of entries for this list, it seems that everyone voted for something nobody else has played. So I’m going to make this list a little longer than usual.

  • Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
  • Gitaroo Man
  • Psychonauts
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
  • God Hand
  • Odin Sphere
  • SSX
  • Viewtiful Joe  (Yeah, I already mentioned it, but this game needs a little more recognition.)

Okay, enough screwing around. On with the show!

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10. God of War

Yeah, I know. This game isn’t even remotely Japanese. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the Japanese games soon enough. God of War was released on the PS2 back in 2005 to glowing critical reception and dozens of Game of the Year awards. This lead to it becoming one of Sony’s most popular franchises, having spawned several sequels to this day.

“God of War is the game that introduced the world to the always angry “Ghost of Sparta” known as Kratos. It provides a story that captivates the audience and will keep you going to make sure you see Kratos’ revenge through.” – Richard Ross

9. Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

So after losing Crash and Spyro, Sony needed to think of a new platformer mascot for the PS2. So Naughty Dog came up with a game called Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and released it at the end of 2001. While it might not have gotten to the same status as Crash or Spyro, this game was critically well received. Its sequels were also pretty good despite having the franchise being changed drastically, but the staff seemed to agree on which Jak game was the best.

“Jak & Daxter is Naughty Dog’s response to what they were up to after losing Crash. It’s the start of an amazing trilogy.” – Dan Lyons

8. Grand Theft Auto III

I’m honestly just as surprised as you are that this game made it onto this list. I mean, this is about as opposite to a niche JRPG as you can get. But, believe it or not, some of the staff members really liked this game. Despite how controversial the series is, the game was a sales juggernaut and was a critical darling. In fact, it’s one of the highest rated PS2 games of all time, outside of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. But it only made 8th place on our list. Oh well.

“Grand Theft Auto III is gritty, violent, sexualized, masochistic, snarky, sandbox game that had you working and killing the Mafia, Yakuza, Cartel, and pretty much anyone that got in your way. And I loved every minute of it.” – Jeff Neuenschwander

Continue to Page 2!

About Kyle Emch

Kyle has been studying music at college for about three years now. He's played the piano since he was 6 years old and has been recently been learning how to write music. He has followed the Operation Rainfall movement on Facebook since it started and was happy to volunteer for the website. Just don't mention Earthbound or the Mother franchise around him.


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  • Glad to see all the little mentions of Viewtiful Joe. So sad that a third game will probably never come out.

    • YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, CAPCOM!! D:

  • At least this list has a little more variety to it than previous ones. But still, it seems like every time one of these is compiled, the game I’m most in-love with on a particular system goes unnoticed. 😛

    • I agree. I have particular tastes. Can’t say I’ve played more than half of the games on this list. There are some good ones though. And I think it’s time for me to dig into FFX finally. Now, just waiting for SE to release that HD port.

    • Welcome to my world. :/

  • The great thing about these lists is that it’s THERE opinion. I absolutely love Final Fantasy X, but Even I can admit I don’t think it deserves the top spot, then again, I thought a couple of the games (Grand Theft Auto III) shouldn’t even have been on the list. Regardless it was interesting to see a list where both of the games I mentioned were together as they are usually enjoyed by completely different types of gamers.

  • No honorable mention for Valkyrie Profile 2? Sadpanda :

  • Man, that honorable mentions list. I feel the same way about half of those games: I’ve played them and they’re great, yet no one I know has any idea about these games (Gitaroo Man, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand) or they know of them and haven’t played them (the rest of the list).

  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time deserves an honorable mention at least, so here it is from one lonely editor. This was the most memorable game I played on PS2. I enjoyed the world, the graphics, the difficulty and also the usual Star Ocean tropes. While not as memorable as Star Ocean: The Second Story, it was a very solid game and sticks more fondly in my memory than a lot of other games.

  • No Persona 4 on the list at all? No SMT: Nocturne? Final Fantasy X as the best game on PS2, really?… I know it’s the staff’s opinion, but I disagree with nearly this entire list. Also, I’m curious as to why you guys think Persona 3 is superior to Persona 4.

    • Richard Ross

      Don’t blame me for that one, I voted for Persona 4! But if I had to take a guess why it worked out that way, we only allow one game per series, the number of people who actually played it as opposed to heard it was good (which can in turn can be affected by the fact that it was late into the ps2’s life), and perhaps because persona 3 put the persona series on the map for a lot of people…even if there were 3 games prior to it (I count 2 as 2) most peoples first experience was probably persona 3…. If it’s any consideration, Shadow of the Colossus is my number 1 🙂

    • Yeah, I played Persona 3 FES, which is pretty excellent. The game does have weak points, like the simplicity of the battle system, but its a great game. I haven’t played Persona 4 actually.

    • SteveThompson1

      I think persona 4 is superior to persona 3. I voted for all the megaten games but I’d have to say that I think that 3 was the weakest between Nocturne, persona 3 and persona 4. Nocturne had that lovely philosophy that dictated its story and the psychological torment of the cast of 4; along with the fact that all of your party members can have social links brought them alive and gave me a stronger connection with them. 3 had Junpei which is my least favorite character in any mega ten game. I couldn’t wait till I could replace him. I felt that Youske was the better “best friend” character. I honestly don’t see what the rest of the staff sees in 3 that marks it better than 4, I did enjoy 3, I just feel that 4 improves on nearly every aspect of the persona formula and has a more interesting cast.

    • Part of the votes came down to what people actually had exposure to. Unfortunately, we don’t get the same kinda cash as IGN. And considering the sheer amount of awesome games on the PS2, it would have been impossible to play all the games that were submitted to this poll. And there were a lot of games, I assure you.

    • I think Persona 3’s story is a bit better really I mean 4 had a great story but at time I felt like scooby and the gang. P4’s combat system was far better the P3’s though.

  • I love FF:X, but I’m not sure about it getting top spot. Still a great game though.

    Great list too.

    • SteveThompson1

      I liked X however I felt that the world was far too closed. You only get the airship at the very end of the game after all. I’d rather see persona 4 or Nocturne at the #1 spot.

  • SteveThompson1

    Bit of a shame the original monster hunter didn’t make it either; Have yet to play it but I enjoyed 3 quite a bit.

  • John Ellis

    Top 10 PlayStation 2 Games yet the GTA 3 screenshot is from the IOS version

  • RyanOPR

    Despite the “only one game in a series” rule, FF XII should be on this list.

  • Zimmer Remmiz

    MEH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Final Fantasy X being better than Shadow of the Colossus, what’s wrong with you people…

  • I think there are a lot of more games which deserves mention or to be in the list, I also wonder why GTA San Andreas is not in the list but GTA 3 is o.O