Remember way back at the beginning of October when I wrote about wanting to revisit Silent Hill 2 in that month’s editorial? No? …hmmmm… anyway, the whole thing got me hankering for some PlayStation 2 action, after all the PS2 was the last console that I was heavily invested in. Sure, I have a Switch now, and it’s great, but most of my gaming is firmly in PC territory. The problem is that I couldn’t track down my PS2 games; for younger readers you may have yet to experience your belongings being scattered between various places due to moving from ‘home’, maybe away to study, some tiny flat somewhere, or a house that you’re trying to decorate and fit a loft hatch in. The crouton-on-the-soup was that I was pretty sure that I had packed up my favourite PS2 games and brought them with me to our new home (well, almost four years ‘new’ now) and stashed the remainder safely with my Brother. Sure enough my Brother did (and still does) have some of that collection, but many of my favourites were missing and no amount of searching repeatedly in the place that I knew they were could change that.
Finally, last week, my Mother and I (quick shout out here because I know that she reads this; “Hi Mom!”) delved into the depths of the attic cupboard at my old family home and revealed yet more of my belongings that I neither remembered putting there or have space for in my house, but we did find that elusive box of PS2 games, my original PS1 and 2 consoles, the guitar hero controller … and an EyeToy…
The games (aside from a few, including the Guitar Heroes that are safely still with my Brother) made it home and, after some gentle persuasion, my Wife agreed that we could clear one of the shelves on our board gaming bookcase for retro games, so I now feel like we’ve really moved in to the house. The featured picture (at the top there) shows the current collection of my PS2 games that are sat on that shelf and I’ve enjoyed flicking through the boxes and firing up the odd one of them it that great nostalgia filled way that resonates whenever we rediscover something that we once knew so well. As I’ve not been doing much else gaming-type this week I thought I’d briefly just run through the pile (in no specific order) and say something about each one, you in? Cool! I’ll get started!
Note: This doesn’t mean I won’t talk about some of them individually in the future…
Ridge Racer V
This was the ‘other’ game that I was gifted with the system that fateful Christmas day not long after the console launched. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play it on Christmas day because my original PS2 was one of the defective first batch that had a “single use” power switch. As one of the first games I had for the system, I played the heck out of out, unlocking all the races, cars, and modes, but can’t say that it is anything more than arcade racing action.
Hey? what? I don’t even remember this game having that subtitle! I guess this is just .. erm… Onimusha 1… This was the second Onimusha game I played, and I certainly wasn’t as enamoured with it as I was with…
Now this is where Onimusha games peaked for me. This was the first one I played and I think I was pretty much won over by the simple fact that it was CAPCOM. I was hoping for Resident Evil with a Samurai and from what I remember Onimusha 2 delivered. It tied together demon slaying Samurai action with some lite RPG elements and pretty challenging gameplay at times. I don’t really remember much of the plot other than Gogandantess (I’m just guessing at the spelling there) who you face down on a beach at some point and was tough to the point that I remember his name from the preceding cutscene simply because of the amount of times I had to restart the fight.
On paper this was an instant win, more Onimusha, Jean Reno… erm… France? Honestly I lost interest pretty quickly with this. The modern setting just didn’t work for me and it remains uncompleted.
Tekken Tag Tournament
Taking the fabled spot as the “prime” release title, Tekken Tag Tournament has a delightfully alliterative title. The original trilogy of Tekken games for PS1 were some of the most iconic fighting games that the system had to offer so it seemed fitting that we’d get an updated version for the new generation. Whilst TTT wasn’t groundbreaking, it had graphics that blew everyone away at the time and formed a sort of “Greatest Hits” game that picked characters from all the previous games and sat outside the numbered series. It still has one of my favourite bonus modes in “Tekken Bowl”; a bowling minigame where players have a quick game of ten-pin using the Tekken trophies in the place of pins… oh, and let’s face it, everyone enjoyed knocking over Dr. Bosconovich.
Sonic Mega Collection Plus
… because re-releasing games was just as effective as raking in cash then as it is now! In reality though, it was a pretty complete anthology of the original Sonic games including a few unlock-able obscurities that were annoying locked behind a playtime wall for some reason.
I’ve had PC gaming in my life since our family got our first PC, and as far as FPS gaming goes, I’d never understood why people would play them on consoles. It just didn’t make sense to me… but Timesplitters 2 was the first FPS that made me appreciate the genre on console. I’ve always enjoyed short stories and the single player campaign is a collection of mini-fps scenarios covering a pretty healthy array of subject matter and settings. On top of this there are a boatload of different multiplayer modes which I indulged with alongside my uni housemate (actually I played it way more on his gamecube than my PS2) in split-screen mode. Our favourite late night gamemode was teaming up to face a team of murderous ducks on a shotgun only loadout, we’d just look at each other and say “ducks with shotguns?” and start it up!
Timesplitters: Future Perfect
Mostly more of the same, although I was never quite as taken with the single player campaign as I had been with its predecessor. To me the charm of TS2 was that, like Sam Beckett, each scenario put the player in a different character’s shoes. In Future Perfect you only play one character as they traverse time. Not that it is a bad game, there’s still all of what I loved about TS2, it just wasn’t quite the same.
When I got this collection home, SSX 3 was the first game I popped in the drive. My maxed out Kaori character still ready and waiting on my memory card, the gradual uber-trick progression, combo holding tactics, and timing needed to maximise trick time whilst still sticking the landing all returned to my fingers within minutes. SSX 3 is in my opinion the pinnacle of that age of extreme sports games (please don’t send me letters, I was never in to Tony Hawk). I spent many happy hours exploring Big Mountain, I loved the way that the player could freeride the whole thing, the ridiculous jumps, the dramatic set pieces, the fluid gameplay, and the soundtrack. It all comes together to form such a great package and anyone not familiar with this genre could do far worse than starting here… just wait there while I show you how to do the Crow’s Nest Big Air Event!
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
I’ve already written about the weirdness that is MGS2, but I think what I missed out in that post was just how much I played and enjoyed this title. Yes, it’s silly, convoluted, and pulls the old Raiden shuffle on the player, but it was also graphically impressive, had some solid gameplay sections (hidden in there somewhere), and is cemented in Metal Gear lore as a classic. I bought the game at release and didn’t think that I’d abandoned my original copy, but I guess I have at some point. Substance includes the full game alongside a heap of additional content (in the same way that the VR missions did with the original MGS) most notably extensive VR missions, the consolation prize “Snake Tales”, and of course Skateboarding.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
What a thrill,With darkness and silence through the night,
What a thrill,
I’m searching and I’ll melt into you,
What a fear in my heart,
But you’re so supreme!I give my life, not for honour, but for you,
In my time, there’ll be no one else
Crime, it’s the way I fly to you,
I’m still in a dream, Snake Eater!
Are you spotting a pattern here? My PS2 gaming phase could probably be sub-titled “The Capcom Era” if it were the sequel to a 2000’s action movie. Almost half the games in the stack are Capcom titles and this is without considering the other Capcom titles that I sold or traded over the years.
Chaos Legion falls in the category of “games I thought I’d like because of the style and publisher” (ok, it’s not a catchy category name), at the time I love Capcom and especially Devil May Cry so Chaos Legion’s ‘Hack’n’Slash’ presentation won me over. I guess if I’d looked closely I would have realised that there is a little more to it than that and I didn’t revel in the “legion management” aspects. This, coupled with fiendish difficulty, left Chaos Legion unfinished.
Resident Evil: Dead Aim
Dead Aim is a bit of a hidden gem of a game in that it successfully manages to do what the first two Survivor games attempted; i.e. merge Resident Evil style gameplay with a light gun shooter. The game was best enjoyed with the G-con2 and sadly you’ll need to find a CRT TV if you want to give it a shot now. The G-Con2 has a d-pad conveniently located under your thumb on the back of the gun which allowed the game to control in a traditional 3rd person RE style, but a quick pull of the trigger swoops the camera in to 1st person allowing you to blast away at the undead hordes. The plot is thin, and it’s not a complicated game, but considering that most light gun games were on rails at the time, this is something pretty unique.
Resident Evil Outbreak
As I mentioned last week in my review, this game I picked up very recently, but did own it (and file 2) at some point in the past. Sadly finding the box of games did confirm my suspicion that I had parted company with it some years ago.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica X…
… Complete, super dash turbo edition Y? Ok Capcom, we get it! It’s different to the Dreamcast version! Code Veronica is often considered the last of the traditional Resident Evil titles before everything went over the shoulder and President’s Daughter. Whilst it’s not a numbered entry in to the series, it is often considered amongst the core family of games due to it’s inclusion of core characters ‘The Redfields’ & ‘Wesker’. From what I remember it is a solid title that has a classic Resi-feel despite moving to fully 3D environments and has a particular standout moment where the player finds themself in a recreation of the main hall from the Spencer Estate… also the intro sequence is epic!
Before playing this, games had made me jump, but until this I don’t think I’d ever been so scared playing a game that I would play in bursts of maybe ten minutes at a time. Project Zero is undoubtedly the most scared I’ve ever been playing a game; not only are the ghosts unsettling, but they’re coupled with a sense of helplessness at having a pretty flimsy form of defence that in itself has a constrictive view meaning that enemies can easy sneak up on you. I recall at the time that this was an impulse purchase that turned out to be a horror gaming classic.
Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly
Taking a more plot-heavy approach than the original I’d have to say that this is the better game. The environments were more interesting and the game just seemed to handle a little better. Crimson Butterfly presents a dark and chilling tale seated in a horror infused Japanese setting which is excellently executed and deeply unsettling.
… is a game that I really wanted to like, to the point that my online moniker is derived from it. The idea of a 3D ‘Streets of Rage’ style brawler with a strong plot sound pretty cool but from what I remember combat handles terribly and I spent the entire game assuming that I was still playing an introduction section. Reaching the end credits was a shock.
Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition
What’s that Capcom? another few years has passed and you haven’t re-released Street Fighter 2? I wouldn’t even say that I’m a huge fan, but I’ve brought at least five different versions of SF2 across 4 systems. The Switch itself has 2 different version already! What more can I say? it is Street Fighter 2… again…
Devil May Cry
I was introduced to this epic hack’n’slash from the demo disk included with the aforementioned Resident Evil Code Veronica and was almost instantly hooked. Looking back it’s a game that hasn’t aged so well being a product of the slightly edgy late 90’s. Having said that the fast paced combat is great fun and if you can overlook the cheesy characters and dialogue then there’s loads to discover here. At the time I was particularly taken with the backgrounds and detail in the setting; if Gothic and creepy architecture are your things then this is the game for you.
It’s pretty weird to think that this game, with it’s interwoven sword & gunplay, aerial acrobatics, and fantasy setting started life as the next Resident Evil title… I would love to have seen how that turned out…
Devil May Cry 2
This is a game that was just a solid miss. So much of what made the original great and good fun was missing and for some reason there was a tie-in sponsorship with Diesel clothing. I could write an entire piece on how this missed but they key problems were that the amulet system failed to capture the charm of the original’s possessed weapons and combat arenas were far too large. In the first game players needed to fight tactically to make space and guide enemies around the combat zone, here you could just move far away from them and blast at them with guns which made using the all important melee weapons both difficult and pointless. On top of this Dante’s character moved from “funny sarcastic and over the top” to “sullen and a bit crap”.
Devil May Cry 3
Luckily developers were self-aware enough to realise that they had made a mistake and the third outing was much more inline with the original in terms of gameplay and presentation. It ramped things up with even more ludicrous moves and is often considered the best in the series. It is also immensely challenging game and one game that defeated me before I could defeat it.
Ico is one of the first games that I played where I really thought “Ok, this is a work of art”. Everything about it is gorgeous from the simple themes, language-less friendship that builds between Ico and Yorda, to the overgrown and enigmatic ingame architecture. I could ramble on about different aspects of it, but I’d probably like to revisit the game before I do that… Ico does feature my favourite saving system, just sit down on a couch together and fall asleep only to gradually wake up in the same spot upon loading.
Shadow of the Colossus
Unsurprisingly an equally beautiful and ethereal game considering that it is the spiritual sequel to Ico. Not only did it posses the same impressive and captivating setting, but it introduced me to some of the largest creatures I’d ever encountered in a game. Each one a puzzle that often required the player to scale in order to find their unique weakness. It’s a tough sell to say that you’re going to make a game with essentially 12 boss fights and horse riding sections to link them, but this game pulls it off beautifully and is something that every gamer should experience.
Silent Hill 2
Finally! Here it is! The game that started this whole “Where are my PS2 games?” thing. Silent Hill 2 manages to be unsettling, engrossing, and full of sadness all in one package. I’m currently replaying it and, despite a few camera angle niggles, it is so far living up to the bizarrely fond memories I have of it. At its core is the masterful way in which the player is taken with the protagonist as they experience their own warped reality in the mysterious town of Silent Hill. It’s a descent in to the unknown that I’m struggling to say more about without spoiling the overall plot. If you have a chance to play it then I strongly recommend it.
*phew!* and there we are… wow… sorry, that “brief comment” on each of the games turned out to be way longer than I anticipated!