25 PlayStation 2 Games You Shouldn’t Be Without (#20 - #16)
We continue our countdown with some truly phenomenal PS2 games. Even though they're amazing games, they didn't quite make it to our top 5. Make sure to check back everyday to see which games made it into our list.
Missed our previous post, get caught up here:
#25 - #21
20. ESPN NFL 2K5 (2K Sports)
Here’s the thing that will probably bring out the ire in football fans – there isn’t a single Madden game on this top 25 list. The series fared well, of course, and the sequels managed to get better, but nothing could top gridiron glory in our minds like ESPN NFL 2K5. Featuring the best graphics you could possibly get out of a football game at the time, along with terrific gameplay, a number of season and exhibition options, every single NFL team and player, solid commentary and even a few surprises (like the ability to play…David Arquette?), NFL 2K5 really came through in the clutch – and for $19.99 even. (It’s much cheaper nowadays – you should be able to snag it for a buck or two. Well worth it.)
19. Rez (Sega)
It’s very seldom you see two genres intertwine so well in a video game, but that’s exactly what Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team at Sega did with Rez. Combining the finer elements of a lock-on shooter with music/rhythm cues, it became a phenomenal experience, one that spread across many stages and introduced a number of unforgettable virtual situations. The graphics were mesmerizing for the time, and the gameplay manages to get past the gimmicks that usually doom a shooter once they sink in, making it fun to play through each time. This one’s been out of print for a while, but it should be fairly easy to track down a copy on eBay, or be smart about it and download REZ HD on XBLA. It’s most certainly worth it.
18. Gran Turismo 4 (SCEA)
Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec helped raise the bar for realistic driving games on the PS2, with a knockout presentation and a number of great cars to choose from. So what did you expect Gran Turismo 4 to do, de-evolve? Get with the times. This sequel features even MORE official cars, along with a number of breathtaking circuit races, extra modes (take some photos!) and the kind of realistic handling that Polyphony Digital is known for – especially with a steering wheel peripheral. You could spend hours perfecting your racing style while tooling the countryside across the globe, becoming a true circuit racer. Nowadays, you can do that for a few bucks, which is all it takes to pick up the game. We highly recommend doing so.
17. Beyond Good and Evil (Ubisoft)
Michel Ancel and his team at Ubisoft could’ve stayed content just making Rayman games (sort of like the one they’re releasing later this year, the engaging Rayman Origins)but instead they opted to create a completely unique adventure with Beyond Good and Evil, a game that effortlessly combines puzzle solving with excellent action scenarios. You play as Jade, an unexpected heroine who tries to unravel a conspiracy with the help of her pig buddy Pey’j. It’s a task that’s easier said than done, thanks to some extraordinary boss encounters and some interesting twists. This one’s got a story that fully backs up its beautiful presentation, and it’s fun to play too. If you missed it, though, don’t worry – you can download an HD version of it for $10 through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. Stay zen!
16. Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix)
What exactly did Disney and Square Enix have in common before they paired up for this fantastic action/role playing game? To be quite honest, not much. But we’re sure glad they did, as they formed a union that has paid off over several games. Still, the first one is quite unforgettable, thanks to a story that sticks with you well throughout the game’s numerous hours in length and the kind of gameplay that all ages could get into – an important factor considering the Disney influence. Plus, seeing so many characters and worlds involved in the game (Donald and Goofy actually fight alongside you) put a childhood memory-induced smile on our face. Check out this one, and be sure to pick up Kingdom Hearts II and Re: Chain of Memories as well. Maybe, just maybe we'll see the release of Kingdom Hearts III at some point