There's a reason the Playstation 2 is the best selling videogame console of all-time (and by a rather wide margin), and it's because it was the first videogame console that felt like it was for everybody. The fact that it doubled as a DVD player certainly helped, and I would wager that it was probably the first DVD player that many of us owned, because it certainly was for me. The system did have a very weak launch lineup, so the DVD player may have been its saving grace, but after it was given the time to warm up and dig its heels in a bit, it wound up as one of the most beloved pieces of hardware in the world.
The PS2 was the first system I ever bought with my own money, so it holds a special place in my heart for that reason, among several others, which I'm going to talk about now.
If memory serves me correctly, the original Jak may have been the first game in the era of memory cards that I ever beat in less than one day, I was just captivated by it. I didn't play it when it was originally released, but when I saw a preview on G4 for Jak II, that motivated me to go back and play the original.
While they went more of the Ratchet & Clank route for the subsequent titles, The Precursor Legacy had a greater emphasis on lightheartedness and platforming, and for those reasons it remains my favorite game in the series, and I would love nothing more than for Naughty Dog to return to Jak after the release of Uncharted 4. It likely won't happen, but a man can dream.
I was obsessed with the Guitar Hero series for the better part of three years. I still hold the first three entries in the series in high esteem, though I think the series was never better than it was with Guitar Hero II. I was good at the games, too. Darn good. I took great satisfaction in knowing that I was undoubtedly better than my Error Machine cohort, Luke Roberts. For those of you who don't know, I'm not better than Luke at many games, but he had no chance against me when we were holding fake, plastic guitars.
GHII also had my favorite soundtrack of the series, with songs ranging from classics like "War Pigs" and "The Trooper" to modern rock with songs from Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots to straight-up current-day metal with Lamb of God and The Sword. And I spent almost two weeks trying to beat "Free Bird" on expert before I finally managed to pull it off. That was a definite fist-pump moment for me in gaming if there ever was one.
If ever there were a game tailored specifically for a gamer like me, it's this one. I remember picking it up used for about $15 back when I worked at Blockbuster after hearing the glowing reviews. The Sands of Time rekindled the long dormant love I have for platformers, and I haven't looked back ever since.
While I didn't find the combat to be anything to write home about, it was still serviceable, and there were certainly some fun enemy encounters, but what made the game so memorable for me (and likely everyone else) were the time manipulation aspects and the way the story was told. The ability to rewind time was such a great tool for helping you get through those long, difficult platforming sections, enabling you to give it another go if your timing was off.
And since I'm pretty sure the spoiler grace period is over, I loved the way the prince would back the story up if you happened to die, saying things like "No no, that's not the way it happened." The reveal at the end was also a nice little touch that I appreciated. The game is still worth playing today if you've never tried it, and if you don't want to go back to the PS2, you can buy the Sands of Time trilogy on PS3.
God of War wastes no time getting the action started, a trend that has continued throughout the series. I'm not sure if this would be a compliment or an insult, but the opening Hydra sequence in this game is still probably my favorite thing in the entire God of War series. That's not to say that I don't love the other games, because I certainly do, and I even liked Ascension, as unnecessary as it was.
If there's anything negative I can say about God of War, it's that there aren't enough boss battles. Outside of the Hydra, there's only the temple guardian and the final sequence of battles with Ares. I was big into Greek mythology back then, and I was hoping I would have seen other characters like the Kraken, Apollo, or a chimera, all of which would appear in later games, but I didn't realize it was going to be a series at the time.
The combat is very satisfying, and I love mixing the Blades of Chaos combos with the magic abilities you gain on your quest. The game has a fixed camera, and for the most part you'll never have much to complain about, but sometimes it does get a bit annoying while confined in close quarters. Many people consider the sequel to be the high-water mark of the series, but I still prefer the original.
Oh, Shadow of the Colossus, my only regret with you is that I waited so long to realize your majesty. Despite the love that this game commanded, I didn't play it until the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection became free on Playstation Plus a couple of years ago. I decided to play Ico first, and I wound up playing for about an hour before I got stuck and gave up. That wasn't a great first impression, but I went ahead and started SotC anyway, and was absolutely hooked from the beginning. It became one of those games I wasn't allowed to play unless my wife was watching, and she fell in love with the game as hard as I did.
The word "epic" gets thrown around a lot in videogames, but if I was going to attach it to only one game, it would be Shadow of the Colossus. The fact that there are no enemies in the game outside of the titular colossi leads you to feeling so very insignificant while also making you feel like the world's only hope. While I'm not the kind of person to explore in a game without a good reason, it's a credit to Team Ico that they crafted an entire world that very few people are going to take the time to search through.
Taking down each colossus is a puzzle and sometimes requires you to think outside the box, and one wrong move could result in you doing several more minutes of setup for another golden opportunity. It can be frustrating, but the thrill of victory is much greater than the agony of defeat. Despite the fact that I knew the twist at the end, I couldn't help but feel a significant amount of rage after what happened to my equestrian companion near the end of the game.
I say this with zero hyperbole, I've never been more impatient about a game's launch than I was with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I consumed every single bit of coverage I could possibly find on that game and would constantly search for more. A single screenshot, an article that had one sentence from Hideo Kojima revealing more about the game, a small piece about a new character, anything, just hook it into my veins! On release day, I went to the local GameStop I had the game pre-ordered at as soon as they opened...and they didn't have the game yet. I sat at the Dayton Mall waiting for two hours before the UPS guy finally showed up. So, was the wait worth it?
To me, the answer is a resounding yes, and I played the game nonstop for several months straight. There were so many different ways to play the game, and I wanted to see every little thing it had to offer. Defeat the bosses by knocking them out rather than killing them? I did it. Killed The End before you're supposed to fight him? I did it. Cause The End to die of old age? Did it. Scared enemies with trapped animals? Yes, sir. Shot enemy radios so they couldn't call for back up? You better believe it.
A while down the road, they released the updated Subsistence version of the game, which gave you full control of the camera as well as the MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. The game may have been too great of a change from the previous two MGS games, but I welcomed the camouflage and healing systems, immersion-breaking as they may be at times. Despite the recent announcement that series mastermind and all-around crazy person, Hideo Kojima, won't be involved in future installments after The Phantom Pain, I may be just as hyped for that game as I was for this one.
Resident Evil 4 may not have been a PS2 exclusive, nor was it originally intended to be on the system at all, but it's the system that I played it on and was without question the game that saw the most play time on my Playstation 2. It was a game that Luke and I would spend every evening playing, and would trade the controller back and forth for hours on end, eventually turning every stone in the game. There was nothing in the game that we didn't get/find/do. Every unlockable, every shooting gallery trophy, S ranks with every character on every map in Mercenaries, you name it, and we did it.
Resident Evil 4, love it or hate it, changed the way we play survival horror games, giving us plentiful ammo (or adequate ammo, at least) while still giving us reasons to sweat. It finally got away from Raccoon City and the Umbrella corporation, though it certainly has its ties to those earlier titles. It's really quite amazing that the game turned out as well as it did when you consider just how many times the game changed. The fact that Devil May Cry originally began life as an early version of Resident Evil 4 is something that's still hard to wrap my head around, and even watching early footage of the more paranormal version of the game is hard to watch when you compare it to the finished product.
Even though a great deal of the game is an escort mission, it's a sin that can be easily forgiven after all the narrow escapes, white-knuckle enemy encounters, and various other memorable moments you find throughout Resident Evil 4.
There's my list. I know I didn't exactly break any new grounds or blow any minds, but it's my list, so deal with it.
Hey, thanks for reading. Here's all the other places you can find me on the internet.
And in case you missed it, here's the latest episode of the Error Machine Podcast for your auditory euphoria.