We obviously shouldn’t make light of the COVID-19 pandemic, nor trivialise it in relation to anything else “benefitting” from it. However, it is interesting to note some of the positive spins taken on the gaming industry of late. A slew of media reports has extolled the virtues of gaming, keen to highlight it as a means of escaping the ennui of lockdown. Even the World Health Organisation has called it “a healthy social pastime” during the pandemic.
Of course, everyone has a different concept of what gaming should be: Some might pull the Wii out of the loft space to keep fit. Others might have a PS4 or Xbox One or some might sign up to a subscription service like Apple Arcade or Google Stadia.
However, we thought we might look at five classics from the PS2 era. After all, the iconic console is celebrating its 20th birthday. Below are five PS2 games that are worth dusting off for a few sessions over the coming weeks:
Pro Evolution Soccer 2
Still sitting with a proud 93/100 on Metacritic, PES2 was the gamers’ choice for soccer games in the early 2000s. It did not have the stylish nor the official stamp of approval like EA’s FIFA; you didn’t even have the proper names for the teams or players. But, boy, did PES2 nail the gameplay. Yes, it all feels a little rudimentary when comparing to modern soccer games, but it still felt perfect at the time. If you do have the inclination – and you are likely to have the time – you can tinker with the game to make everything official.
We are trying to highlight some underrated games here, rather than go for the usual list that features GTA: San Andreas and MGS: Snake Eater. Transformers by Melbourne House really fits that bill, offering arguably the first good Transformers video game (there aren’t many, to be fair). It does feel a little bit dated, but the gameplay (allowing you to switch between robot and vehicle) is plenty of fun. A fine game with a decent storyline and simple controls.
Beyond Good and Evil
Transformers is fine, and PES2 is a cute nostalgia trip. But Beyond Good and Evil is a great game that did not get the love it deserved at the time of its 2003 release on PS2, although it did get a Game of the Year nomination. Anyway, let’s say this little masterpiece has been forgotten about, although it has some very dedicated fans. But it’s worth a run-out, with plenty of depth to keep you entertained. Of course, it might whet the appetite for Beyond Good and Evil 2. The prequel has been postponed several times, and it does not look likely that we will see it in 2020. Stick with the original until you get some concrete info.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Arguably, the only excellent Lara Croft game released on PS2, Anniversary was a rebook of the original 1996 game that launched a behemoth franchise. The series felt like it was going nowhere before the release of Anniversary in 2007, lagging behind better alternatives. But Crystal Dynamics saved the day with Anniversary, and much of it still holds up today. Much credit should go to Tomb Raider’s creator, Toby Gard, who came back on board here. You can really feel that this was a labour of love.
Midnight Club: Street Racing
As we are being nostalgic here, why not try out the very first game released for the legendary console? Midnight Club: Street Racing came out in October 2000 as the launch game for PS2, and it’s bags of fun. Starting with a slow vehicle – the Taxi – you work your way up the street racing scene with faster and better cars. Look, it’s not going to dazzle you in the same way as something modern like The Crew on PS4. But it’s a window into a transformational era of video gaming.