5. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is still easily the best in the Silent Hill series. It has nearly everything you could ask for in a psychological horror game: an unrelentingly suspenseful atmosphere, disturbingly grotesque enemies and imagery, and a mature and nuanced story that surpasses 98% of Hollywood's horror/suspense movies. It manages to deliver all the scares of the horror genre while still maintaining intelligent and often subtle themes about love, personal guilt, and misogyny. Not many games have touched on as many taboo topics as this, from child abuse to mental illness, while still somehow never seeming in poor taste.
4. Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus looks so empty at first glance. Players are dropped into an wide open world thats devoid of almost any living thing. There's very little spoken dialogue, and no enemies beyond the 16 giants you're tasked with destroying. And yet such a barren sounding set up has gone down in history as one of the most universally acclaimed games on PS2.
The game creates such an extraordinarily deep experience with those few elements. It tells a story less through words than through gameplay, where each fight against a Colossus is a mystery to be solved, one that slowly builds the tragic narrative with each clever use of the simple mechanics in the brilliantly realised world. More than any other entry on this list, Shadow of the Colossus shows how a game can tell a story unlike any other form of media. And it's a story that every gamer should experience at least once.
3. Resident Evil 4
Whenever Resident Evil 4 comes up in a list, the focus is always on how it revitalised the series with its lack of true zombies, the innovation of its over-the-shoulder cam, and blah, blah, blah. Let's focus on the really important part: the game was just flat-out fun to play. Its manual aiming mechanic (with an actual laser-pointer reticle) made shooting angry villagers in the face so much more satisfying than the combat in earlier Resident Evils. Let's not forget the never-gets-old melee combo attacks that let you shoot a guy in the kneecap and then roundhouse him into a crowd of angry infected.
It influenced nearly every third-person shooter that came after it, but when we think back on it, we don't focus on mechanics so much as take time to grin and remember moments like when all the villagers were storming that farm house, or fighting regenerators. In the end that's what makes it worth playing no matter what the system.
2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Vice City improved on GTA 3 in every way, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas widened the scope incredibly. You didn't just have a city to explore - you had an entire state, complete with little towns and long stretches of wilderness that were rife with interesting geography to drive through. You weren't just some Mafia errand boy either - you were Carl CJ Johnson, a fully realised character with a family, a personality, and the need to exercise and eat (to bulk up or slim down accordingly).
More than just a crime game, this was a full-on criminal-fantasy simulator that began with petty turf wars on the streets of Los Santos and eventually reached the bizarre heights of stealing a jetpack from an Area 51 stand-in on the orders of a CIA drug pusher. GTA hasn't done anything quite this ambitious since; in fact, its hard to think of any other game that has. This was the high-water mark for one of the PS2's most defining series, making it easily worthy of ranking high on this list.
1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was a unique step forward for the PlayStation defining series. A 1960s-set Cold War sequel starring Solid Snake's near-identical father, Naked Snake (aka Big Boss) it moved the action into a vast jungle. The setting forced you to manage your camouflage, kill animals for food, and heal your wounds with field surgery. The stealth gameplay was top-notch, as was the emotionally wrenching story built around unforgettable and hugely iconic boss fights. For all those reasons and more, Snake Eater is arguably yet to be overshadowed by any subsequent MGS sequel.
The PS2 was a truly great console. If you're hungry for more PlayStation, here are the best PS4 bundle deals available right now.