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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 (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), God of War (opens in new tab) and Metal Gear Solid (opens in new tab).

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 (opens in new tab) and Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).

Justin Towell
Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine, Traxion.gg, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.