The PlayStation 2 has a history filled with mostly highlights. Sony’s second home console eclipsed its predecessor in arguably every way, and that extends to the library. In 2002, the platform was at its peak of relevance, producing dozens of games that have been regarded as all-time greats. Two decades later, titles such as Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet & Clank, Wild Arms 3, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Grand Theft Auto Vice Cityand Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is not only fondly remembered, but also continues to be discovered and experienced.
Naturally, hundreds of PS2 games were released in 2002, most of which have slipped through the cracks of time. While projects such as Dino Stalker and X-Men: Next Dimension should be erased from memory, some titles deserve a better fate. These forgot 20 year old PS2 games is still outstanding.
7/7 James Bond 007: Nightfire
Each James Bond the game exists within Golden eyeits shadow. Rare’s Nintendo 64 masterpiece is undoubtedly one of the most important console first-person shooters of all time, arguably close behind Hello. While the 1997 release is far more influential, Night fire has aged better than Golden eye. Self released to coincide with Die another daymakes this game its own thing, even as it echoes the lavish acting synonymous with latter-day entries from the Pierce Brosnan era.
Night fireits campaign goes through different mission types to ensure things don’t get stale quickly. Some of the more open levels can even be tackled in a variety of ways, allowing players to decide whether their Bond prefers the quiet or explosive approach. Although old fashioned in some ways, Night fire is still a blast.
6/7 The escape
The escape was well regarded around the time of release as an alternative to GTA which focuses on British gangsters. However, an underwhelming sequel halted the series’ momentum, reducing its predecessor to a mere footnote in PS2 history.
As an early adopter of open-world design, The escape cannot measure up to modern entries in the genre, both in terms of scale and gameplay. That said, the PS2 game does an admirable job of bringing London to life, creating an immersive world considering the hardware it’s on. The story, which has two main characters, is also quite good.
5/7 Death to rights
There are four Death to rights games, and only one of them is worth revisiting. An over-the-top shooter that plays like an action movie version of the 80s Max Payne, Death to rights is unapologetically stupid, in the best possible way. The game revolves around bullet time, with each part of the campaign tasking players with mowing down an army of enemies. They can even say a dog on a target, which is always satisfying to pull off.
All things considered, Death to rights has aged shockingly well. While repetitive and prone to occasional difficulty, the gunplay is still a lot of fun. The story is entertaining in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way, which works for a game that seems to be aping B-movies.
4/7 The thing
A licensed game released two decades after the film’s debut, The thing is one of those projects that seems like a fever dream. John Carpenter’s horror film is nothing short of a masterpiece, and while the adaptation doesn’t quite reach those heights, it’s a well-above-average survival horror game.
The thing replicates the film’s nail-biting tension through a trust system that determines an NPC’s willingness to follow the player’s instructions. This concept is interesting and adds to the excitement of the game, even if the overall package isn’t particularly scary.
3/7 WWE SmackDown! Close your mouth
PS2’s best WWE wrestling game is Here comes the paina title so wonderful that it echoed its predecessor, Close your mouth, Outdated. The 2002 release deserves better as it laid the foundation for Here comes the painits success, and the latter’s strengths are largely present in the former.
Close your mouth has accessible and fast-paced arcade style that is still a blast more than two decades later. Aside from an unnecessary backstage area, the season mode is plain old dumb fun and reasonably long. If Here comes the pain is the gold standard of PS2 wrestling, that is Close your mouth takes the silver.
In an alternate reality, Stuntman is currently on its seventh entry as people argue whether the franchise was better before or after the Ubisoft acquisition. Unfortunately, this timeline only has two Stuntman game. If anyone wants to try this series in this day and age, they should go for the 2007s Stuntman: Ignition as it is prettier and more polished than its predecessor.
Having said that, the 2002s Stuntman everything is wonderful. As the title suggests, players take on the role of a movie stuntman tasked with completing (and surviving) brilliantly absurd movie sequences. Taking inspiration from various real movies, Stuntman features six films that all bring something fresh to the plate.
The PS2 is a haven for obscure hack-and-slash games, and Shinobi and its sequel, Night shadow, certainly falls into that category. Originally intended for the Dreamcast, the death of Sega’s console led to the game’s PS2 debut, and it was a worthy alternative for anyone looking to fill a devil may cry-shaped holes in their lives.
Shinobi prioritizes speed and efficiency, as the game actively encourages players to constantly push forward in search of new objectives. The combat system is easy to understand but punishingly difficult to master, and players must understand the game’s combo system correctly if they want to survive. While there is no Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi is a must-try for hack-and-slash fans looking back at the PS2 era.
MORE: PlayStation 2 games turn 20 in 2022 (that you should replay)