Did you play them all?
Action-adventure classic Ico was a huge hit among critics in 2001 but it didn't exactly fly off the shelves. The game puts you in control of a horned boy named Ico, who was locked up in an abandoned castle for his deformity and now needs to escape.
Here's how it works: you're supposed to escape with Yorda, a comely lass who's also imprisoned in the castle. To do this, you'll need to hold her hand as you pull her along with you. You'll solve puzzles along the way, get Yorda past obstacles, and protect her from shadow creatures.
The puzzles in Ico are pretty good, but they're not what make the game outstanding. Its genius is in the hand-holding mechanic, which gradually forges an emotional bond between you and Yorda.
If you haven't played Ico yet, make sure that you do. It has no explosions or gore, but it's one of the best experiences that the PS2 has to offer.
When speaking of Shin Megami Tensei, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the superb Persona JRPG series, which recently expanded into 2D fighting and rhythm. However, many seem to have forgotten or completely missed out on the equally brilliant Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, a moody, post-apocalyptic JRPG that uses notable concepts like:
What's refreshing about Nocturne is that it isn't like your typical JRPG. The tone is mature; the monster design is unusual since they're based on actual cultures and religions; and you're not out to save the world. Here, you shape how the next world would be like with your decisions.
Nocturne sold pretty well in Japan, but wasn't a big hit in the west, which is possibly why you haven't heard of it. Fortunately, it's available as a downloadable PS2 classic at the PlayStation Network.
Other than its PS1 predecessor, there was nothing quite like Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil when it was released for the PS2 in 2001. The Klonoa games are 2.5D platformers, meaning you control the titular Klonoa on a 2D plane, but the environments are rendered in 3D graphics.
While the gorgeous, cel-shaded visuals are unmistakably enthralling, it's Klonoa 2's gameplay that propels it into the stratosphere. Klonoa 2 hones the platforming formula with smartly designed puzzles, imaginative levels, and clever mechanics such as:
Despite its critical acclaim, however, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil didn't get the impressive sales numbers that other PS2 platformers like Ratchet & Clank or Jak and Daxter enjoyed, which is a shame.
Forget The Force Unleashed. If you want a satisfying game that lets you move objects with your mind; produce flame with a wave of your arm; and hurl foes off cliffs or into exploding barrels, play Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, a third-person shooter made more exciting with psionic powers.
What sets Psi-Ops apart from other games that provide similar abilities is execution. In Psi-Ops, all powers remain useful throughout. Viewing adjacent rooms psychically, for instance, lets you plan your approach. Burning enemies to a crisp is a great alternative to shooting them so you conserve ammo.
More importantly, Psi-Ops is filled with inventive obstacles that make great use of those powers. As a result, the game never feels monotonous or easy; Psi-Ops is fun from start to finish.
Unlike The Force Unleashed, however, Psi-Ops had disappointing sales, so it's likely that fewer people were able to play it. Nevertheless, you shouldn't let this stop you; getting a copy of Psi-Ops is definitely worth the trouble.
At first glance, Drakan: The Ancients' Gates may seem like a generic medieval-fantasy action RPG. It has dragons, sorcerers, dungeon crawling, and many other elements familiar to the genre. But if you can look past its conventional motif, you might be surprised with how the game actually plays.
The Drakan gameplay is divided into two parts: when you're on the ground, you control the warrior Rynn, who gets to combat nasties using a variety of melee weapons (e.g. swords, axes, maces), bows, and spells.
There are also times when you'll be riding Arokh, your dragon, who can soar through the air, traverse large distances with ease, and land anywhere, provided that there's enough space. Your reptilian companion is a joy to use: he breathes fire, casts spells, and is quick to maneuver.
The game's most enjoyable feature is its ability to switch between on-foot sections and dragon-back whenever and wherever you want, provided Arokh can fit in it. Sometimes it's hard to believe that Drakan: The Ancients' Gates is a PS2 game.
Clover Studio's God Hand is an unusual brawler: its characters, plot, and dialogue are ridiculous; and the controls are unconventional (e.g. dodging is mapped to the right analog stick; there's no block). Odder still is the game's use of a behind-the-back camera, which can obstruct your view.
And yet, God Hand is clearly one of the best PS2 games, because of its marvelous, over-the-top combat. There's literally over a hundred moves in the game, which you can string together into a seemingly endless chain of attacks. You can also map any attack you want into the Square button to make your combos easier to execute.
The rest of the game isn't as easy though, which may be one of the reasons why it didn't sell well in 2006. But make no mistake; while God Hand is notorious for its toughness, it's still fair, because of its difficulty system, which automatically adjusts depending on how much damage you inflict or receive.
God Hand may be a couple of console generations behind, but if you enjoy challenging, sophisticated gameplay, it must not be missed.
Before Pacific Rim became a thing, the PS2 had Robot Alchemic Drive (or RAD), a 2002 mech game that pays homage to robot anime shows of the 1970s and 80s.
RAD basically mixes giant robots, absurdly large monsters, hilariously bad dialogue, and destructible environments in one mind-blowing game.
RAD is in this list because it's one of the most entertaining mech games ever created. Unfortunately, there's a good chance you haven't heard of it due to lackluster sales.
Instead of thrusting you in a robot's cockpit, RAD lets you switch control between the pilot and robot. When you control one, the other is left vulnerable so you'll have to balance your attention between keeping the pilot safe, looking for a vantage point, and controlling the robot as it fights giant aliens. This mechanic makes RAD tense in many stretches, and rewarding when you survive them.
It gets even better: smashing the face of a 100-foot tall monster with an equally massive robot feels satisfying, thanks to the game's believable sense of weight. When either behemoth reels from an earth-shattering blow, any buildings in the way get utterly demolished.
Do yourself a favor and play RAD on the PS2. It has yet to arrive on the PSN, so look for a physical copy today.