The PlayStation 2 still holds the title of the best-selling video game console of all time, with over 150 million units sold in its lifetime.
It managed to stay in production for over a decade, from 2000 until 2013. We took a crack at the impossible task of whittling its massive library down to just 10 of its best platform-exclusive games, but had to eventually expand that roster to 12 so we didn't hurt too many people's feelings by excluding something — though we are still almost certainly going to get a slew of angry emails for what we left out.
So, without further ado, here are the 12 best PS2 games of all time:
The "Gran Turismo" franchise has always been a game for people who actually know things about cars, so much so that Jeremy Clarkson, formerly of "Top Gear," wrote about it in The Sunday Times, saying:
"They’ve even managed to accurately reflect the differences between a Mercedes SL 600 and the Mercedes SL 55, which is hard enough to do in real life. There's more, too. If you take a banked curve in the Bentley Le Mans car flat out, you’ll be fine. If you back off, even a little bit, you lose the aerodynamic grip and end up spinning. That's how it is."
He does lament that the BMW M3 CSL "brakes much better on the road than it does on the screen," but a video game can't be perfect, I guess.
But for a game that came out in 2004, "Gran Turismo 4" came pretty close.
"Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus"
Most games strive for hyperrealism, attempting to render every pore and wrinkle on someone's face, as if you were actually standing in front of them in the real world. It's a futile pursuit, because the following year, games promise to look even better and more realistic than ever before.
That's part of what makes the "Sly Cooper" series so great: Rather than try to replicate reality, it puts players in a decidedly Disney-like world, like an interactive Saturday morning cartoon.
That, mixed with the series delightful mix of stealth and platforming challenges, makes "Sly Cooper" a game worth remembering.
At first glance, it's pretty easy to see why "Okami" had to be included on this list. It has an amazing aesthetic, like a Japanese ink drawing come to life.
In practice, "Okami" plays a lot like "Legend of Zelda," but its aesthetic is more than just for looks. In place of Link's items, like the Hookshot or ice arrows, you'll learn different brushstrokes that modify the game's world.
At any time, you can freeze the game and actually draw specific patterns on the screen — a slash, for example will damage enemies, a circle will cause the sun to rise, and you can even fill in the gaps on a broken bridge, causing it to be magically repaired.
In short, "Okami" is not only one of the PS2's most beautiful games, but also one of its most innovative.