The games that shaped a generation: PS2

24. Dynasty Warriors 2
Omega Force | Koei | 2000

An at-the-time jaw-dropping strategy-brawler that became the template for the largest number of shameless rehash "sequels" in console history

What made it so great?
When the PS2 first hit stores, what it really needed more than anything else was something that showed just how hard it could kick the last generation's ass. Sega's Dreamcast had already been pumping out sweet Soul Calibur visuals for over a year, so that wouldn't be enough. No, the PS2 needed crowds, it needed overwhelming power, it needed something nobody had ever seen before. It needed Dynasty Warriors 2.

Think back to the first time you saw a PS2 running. If you're like many of us, your initial glimpse of the new hardware was a huge mob of sword-swinging Chinese troops rushing you all at once, crowding around your spear-toting hero to get in a good stab. In frantic desperation, you jammed on all the buttons at once, kicking off a roaring combo that sent half the horde flying and instantly transformed you from cowering wimp to hardened badass.

Sure, it looks dated now, and the roughly three sequels per year that it's spawned since then have all been essentially the same game. But at a crucial moment in the last-gen console war, this massive historical brawler was the game that convinced millions that Sony's black box was going to be something special.

Get ready to play
There's not much you need to know here, especially not if you've played one of the dozen or so other Dynasty Warriors games. Once you've chosen your general and started a battle, just jam on the attack buttons and follow the onscreen prompts to whatever objective you're supposed to undertake next. And try not to linger in one place for long, or your allies will be routed and you'll probably have to start the battle over.

Been there, done that?
If you like your hack-and-slash action a little more intimate, then Onimusha: Warlords is still an excellent way to explore a haunted castle filled with demons and monsters. It's basically Resident Evil with samurai, but nobody seems to care.