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Why PS2 was the best console ever

And that’s where its success lies. Having become an integral part of every living room, PS2 is responsible for so many treasured memories. For me it’s the Pro Evolution Soccer 2 tourneys and Burnout 2 Crash Junction high score battles I had with my housemates at uni. Then there’s the 2am single-player sessions on Kingdom Hearts (pictured), the unforgettable weekend I spent completing Ico and the elation at getting all the Gold awards in GT3’s license tests. Every gamer has a fond memory of something they played on PS2.

With the install base closing in on 100 million, the simple fact was PS2 could not be dismissed despite technological advances in newer consoles, so it became the base standard for pretty much every game made outside Nintendo and Microsoft’s first-party studios. Even exclusives for rival machines like Resident Evil 4 ended up being ported to PS2 (surviving almost completely intact, might I add), and even adding extra content.

So what if the graphics were a little less crisp? In standard def it doesn't really matter. And it's tantamount to PS2's capabilities that HD re-releases of its best games still look excellent, namely Okami, God of War and Metal Gear Solid.

Back when PS2 was still Sony's lead platform, if you wanted something a bit more deluxe, you could buy an Xbox. But there was no need to, not really. Even some of Xbox’s most visually impressive titles like TOCA Race Driver 2 and Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions were ported to PS2, with TOCA even retaining its brilliant online play. These ports were graphically inferior, yes. But PS2 was always there ready to have a go.

Of course, by the time the next-gen machines came round, it got a bit embarrassing as the likes of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames got ported (abysmally), leaving PS2 suddenly staring at its previously devoted userbase disappearing off into the distance with thier new loves, many with Xbox 360s in the passenger seat.

The final years of the PS2 may well have seen it become everything it set out not to be, as it lost its vultures and became a dumping ground for cheap, licensed kiddy-fodder. But that's understandable. It's a business product, after all. And one that sold one heck of a lot of units. Over 155 million at the last count. I can't even imagine that many PS2s.

The first evolution of PlayStation may not have delivered on all of Sony's wild promises, but it most certainly delivered on its potential. It's annoying that modern TVs still make PS2 games look dreadful because it's not fair that so many people will grow up thinking its games always looked bad.

Considering its superb catalog, uncluttered feature set, massive third-party support, flawless controller and the phenomenal cultural impact it's had, I don't dwell on its current, awkward 'too-old-to-be-current, too-new-to-be-retro' dilemma. It sits there in my mind in a little spotlight, next to a label I cannot justifiably change, which says, simply: ‘Best video game console’.

Want further proof? Check out our list of the Best PS2 games of all time.

Topics

PlayStation PS2

28 comments

  • emeka-skerritt - March 23, 2014 3:13 p.m.

    It's definitely the Super Nintendo. I've got nothing against the PS2 but when people say it's the best selling console I wonder sometimes in what way?? The population is always growing so the latest console is always likely to be best selling ever. Before the super nintendo came out, kids were actually spending a BIG proportion of their pocket money on arcades. That is simply unthinkable now so it goes to show how important gaming was to kids at the time. The Nintendo simply stopped all that and by bringing out an affordable console that rivaled the arcades for the first time in history.
  • Cyax - February 7, 2013 3:34 a.m.

    Could you guys please leave your opinion on consoles you like here? http://yourfavoriteconsole.com/
  • matthew-stoddard - January 23, 2013 2:45 p.m.

    The greatest system was the Dreamcast and it's a shame that the thing didn't get more support. It was the first console to do many of the things that consoles now are doing. I did love PS2, but the Dreamcast was just amazing. Overall, I've enjoyed 360 more than the PS2 as well..the whole online set up makes XBox better than PS. I play both, but use more PS3 for more exclusive games and the XBox for everything else simply because the online is much better.
  • michaelkaramas - January 12, 2013 8:04 p.m.

    Dualshock 3 still has pressure sensitive buttons.
  • shawksta - January 11, 2013 7:12 p.m.

    It is, along with SNES, but the rumble is another story for another article. PS2 was awesome, had awesome first party, had Shovelware but also had Mainstream 3rd Party, which, basically, made the Wii an inferior PS2 with no mainstream/Major 3rd Party
  • sk8r7 - January 11, 2013 6:25 p.m.

    many fond memories, some of the best i've ever had with friends, and making companions. my favourite console of all time
  • CommandantOreo - January 11, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    The PS2 went out with a fight, still coming out with good games even in it's later years. Pretty impressive, I must say.
  • Pruman - January 11, 2013 11:04 a.m.

    I was a senior in high school when the PS2 came out, and at the time, I could have cared less about it. Thanks to my family getting our first Windows machine at the beginning of '99, I had just gotten into PC gaming in a big way. I was also still hooked on Perfect Dark and Goldeneye, and after two crushing disappointments on the PS1 in as many years (Final Fantasy VIII, and then Chrono Cross), I wasn't willing to ever trust Sony with my money again. Even Final Fantasy X, which looked kind of neat after I had skipped IX, didn't grab me enough to get me to buy a system. Three factors worked to change that mindset once I left for college: 1) I went to a school that issued every student a laptop, which was fairly revolutionary at the time and tickled my techno-nerd fancy. Once it was in my hands, I was crushed to find that it had NO DEDICATED GPU, causing games with any kind of 3D to put up slideshow framerates, at best. Since buying or building a decent gaming rig was beyond my meager resources at the time, I had to make a trip back to the console well if I wanted to play anything new. 2) When I got back from winter break, one of my friends down the hall was playing Grand Theft Auto III. I sat watching him play it, totally transfixed by what I was seeing, for at least half an hour. Then I decided that I had to have this game. 3) At around the same time, a friend of my roommate's ran into some legal troubles, and, needing to raise some quick cash, offered me his launch system, a memory card, and 9-10 games for $300, which is what the still-tough-to-find base model was going for in stores. Needless to say, I jumped on that. I'm glad I did, too. The PS2 might have been my least-played console of that generation, but I got some pretty solid entertainment out of it. GTA III, then Vice City, both God of War games, Final Fantasy X (which ended up being awesome and is in my personal top 3 for the series), Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Gradius V (second best shmup ever after Ikaruga, and definitely the best horizontal one)...the list goes on and on.
  • Elix - January 10, 2013 11:44 p.m.

    PS2 didn't save the video game industry, nor did it revolutionize the industry.
  • taokaka - January 10, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    I still play my ps2 every now and then, even for the first one or two years after I got my PS3 I still played the PS2 more than it. Some of my best gaming memories orientate around my ps2 and it was also the console I first got into serious gaming on instead of just playing tekken, tony hawks or digimon games almost exclusively. Fantastic job on the article, however tekken tag was easily the greatest launch game for the ps2 and possibly the best installment in the franchise.
  • brickman409 - January 10, 2013 9:20 p.m.

    I never liked the dualshock controller, I don't know it just doesn't feel comfortable to use, it has a nice build quality to it, but when I hold it, it just feels awkward. Idk maybe its cause I was used to the more ergonomic GameCube and Xbox controllers.
  • talleyXIV - January 10, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    Still sticking with SNES or maybe the Gamecube...
  • TheDudeFromNowhere - January 10, 2013 5:37 p.m.

    Home of all many memories..
  • ertywerty - January 10, 2013 3:05 p.m.

    Ps2 was special becausofmtheir exclusive games... For me it was the R&C series, Jak and Daxter and Sly cooper series that I'll remember the ps2 for, it's not that the game were as complicated but were more substance over style which I think many games try too hard to include all of the great graphics but miss the story and connection to the characters and because of that many of those games are better than games in recent years on ps3 and have loved what thise companies have done since. I think uncharted series are a perfect blend of both as the graphics are amazingis and you feel that connection to the characters
  • jackthemenace - January 10, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    Aside from a couple of GBC Pokemon games, I'm too young to have really played anything before 2001 or so. So the PS2 was literally the machine that got me into GAMING. Not Pokemon-ing, GAMING. And I love it for that. I insanely regret selling my PS2, even if the PS3 I bought with the proceeds is backwards compatible, purely because of the memories I have from it- even though I still have all the games, and even my memory card. Thanks Justin- This little bit of Nostalgia has really rounded out a pretty good day :D
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - January 10, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    So many memories. One of the best is when me and my friend marathoned Red Dead Revolver to unlock all the multiplayer characters, then had a bunch of other friends come over to play. The resulting games spawned catch phrases and in jokes we all still spout to this day. Also our multiplayer matches in Freedom Fighters were so awesome. We got our Red Dead follow up where is my Freedom Fighters 2!?
  • runner - January 10, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    I what think PS2 did was similar to SNES did with 8-bit console. The predecessor console before them was somewhat of an experimentation with technological limitation and they were developed base from that. Power up, trim the excessive fat while, as in your article, still focused as a gaming machine. Sadly, also with the success of it, the market became a hell lot bigger with much more money and business involved. Now gaming machine can't be just a gaming machine, new and risk ideas are hardly come into fruition, the developer and publisher somewhat lose their focuses and the market is saturated. Something not unlike Hollywood films.
  • dcobs123 - January 10, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    Sums up my thoughts exactly.
  • brickman409 - January 10, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    gamesradar needs a like button or something
  • Cloudiology - January 10, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    That brought a little tear to my eye.. Excellent eulogy (type thing) to the system that I will forever treasure. Nice one Justin!

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