Top 10 best selling ps2 games of all time
top 10 best selling ps2 games of all time
Top 25 PS2 Games
We count down the best games to ever hit the system.
by IGN PlayStation Team
Trying to come up with just about any ranked list of games for the PlayStation 2 when it’s enjoyed such ridiculous success has to pass for cruel and unusual punishment. It’s not so much that we couldn’t come up with 25 games — that much was cake — it was having to plug them into the ranking. As with all lists of this nature, it’s going to come down to personal preference. Sports gamers, for instance, are obviously going to throw quite a few more of their favorites on the list. Likewise, RPG nuts have been uncommonly blessed with some wonderful examples of the genre.
As a result, we can’t claim that this list is anywhere near comprehensive, but out of hundreds of possible games, we tried to whittle things down to the titles that most of us agreed on. It’s neither perfect nor definitive, but hopefully you’ll agree with most of the games and our reasons for adding them, though we’re positive there will be no end to the complaints about their actual placement. But hey, this is an interactive and at times intensely personal kind of experience; people are bound to have emotional investment in their personal favorites.
Now let’s get this party started.
The first SSX game was a revelation, while the third was a mind-blowing experience that let you take a full half-hour ride down a series of ever-rising peaks, but it was Tricky that served as the ultimate example of PS2 snowboarding goodness. It was still a race, like the first game, but it upped the focus on tricks (hence the name), provided an absolutely killer (and interactive, thanks to the work of Johnny Morgan and the EA Canada audio team) soundtrack that put Run DMC at the forefront and offered some of the most amazing and imaginative tracks ever seen in a so-called extreme sports title.
Man was it good, and though the series was fantastic all the way through, it was Tricky that holds a special place in our hearts.
Some have called it the greatest sports game ever made. We’ll certainly admit that 2K5, the last of Visual Concepts’ officially licensed NFL games before EA took their exclusive pigskin ball and went home, was amazing. No doubt fond nostalgia always plays a part when it comes to these games, but we’re not discounting the impact of 2K5 by any stretch of the imagination.
Solid playbooks and animation, tighter integration with ESPN and a more professional, broadcast-like presentation all won plenty of people over. It also served as the first salvo that SEGA had fired at EA when the two were still competing head-to-head, debuting at under $20 new. It was a move that may have worked out, if only the NFL license hadn’t gone exclusive.
It’s rare that most classic games get updated in such a way that the original gameplay still comes through. It’s even less likely that moving the game from 2D to 3D would preserve the charm and challenge of the original, but Maximo did both. Developed not in Japan like the old 8- and 16-bit games, it was instead helmed by an internal US development studio.
It was, in a word, brilliant, and still stands as one of the best 3D updates of an old-school classic ever made. It was challenging, offered tons of depth and proved that, yes, you can in fact make a game every bit as hardcore as the original while updating things to keep it fresh. For those that whine about how easy games are these days, throw this one at them and watch the magic happen.
Strategy role-playing games have been around for decades now, but it was Nippon Ichi Software’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the macabre land of demons and angels that truly perfected the grid-based setup of classics like Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics. Plus, let’s face it Disgaea superfans, the first game still has the best characters (and Prinny voice actors, d00d!); no offense to Adell and Mao, but Laharl, Flonne and Etna are where it’s at.
It wasn’t just the cute, dark world that NIS created though, it was the ease in which players could move their units around and make tag-team attacks. That you could cancel out of moves or stack multiple actions in quick succession lent itself far more to setting up ridiculous tag team strikes. The first game’s then-ludicrous numbers have since been surpassed thanks to people that power-leveled through the game and influenced NIS to make its own adjustments to things, but for sheer amounts of depth, grind-ability, story and relatively newbie-friendly approach to executing actions within turns, nothing beats the original.
For developer Sucker Punch, the second time was the charm. Its first game, Rocket: Robot on Wheels was an underappreciated gem on the N64, but their follow-up caught the attention of Sony Computer Entertainment America and with a little first-party backing, more people finally got to see what the Bellevue, WA-based development house was capable of.
Turns out, it was a rather magical traditional platformer that mixed a stunning amount of detail on animation and character design with gorgeous art direction and gameplay that was almost constantly being changed up. There were mini-game-like boss battles, time trial runs on all the levels and, if you beat said time trials, you were taken on a little audio tour by the developers for each of the levels, detailing how the flow and layout changed over the course of development. Rarely does a game offer such pristine controls, gorgeous visuals and enjoyable characters right out of the gate, but Sly Cooper most certainly did it.
Though Enix had taken a couple of stabs at updating its classic RPG formula to be properly digested in 3D, it wasn’t until developer Level-5 stepped in to take a stab at it that everything just clicked. This was old-school Dragon Quest, but done up with Level-5’s trademark cel-shading. Upon being dropped into this world, old-school fans of the series got an overwhelming (and entirely welcome) sense of déjà vu. This was Dragon Quest in fine form, aided by a lengthy quest, all the classic trappings of the series (turn-based battles, series favorites like slimes and imps, familiar spells) and presented beautifully.
Everything about Dragon Quest VIII played like a tribute to the original games, a labor of love that was plain to see from the moment players fired up the game and were greeted by the bombastic symphonic intro (and if they were American gamers, they got a completely re-recorded score with a live symphony too). Any and all fans of the original Dragon Quest games would be well served by picking up this meaty little epic.
No best-of list on the PS2 is complete without the inclusion of Keita Takahashi’s brainchild, the irresistibly charming and utterly easy-to-pick-up Katamari series. Though he quickly soured on the idea of milking his little charmer and left subsequent projects after tackling the sequel, Takahashi nevertheless created something that had universal appeal, remaining uniquely Japanese (a credit to Namco and their decision to bring the game over just as it was) yet still entertaining anyone who picked it up and got to grips with the tank-like controls.
It was also an incredibly easy game to explain. The usual “how do you play?” question was answered as succinctly as, “just roll stuff up.” Throw in one of the most quirky, varied and undeniably Japanese soundtracks ever released overseas and the King of All Cosmos, who straight up wrecked the entire universe while on a bender, and you had a cast of characters and simple game mechanics that anyone can fall in love with. If for some reason you don’t have this game yet or haven’t played it, stop reading, run (don’t walk) to your nearest game store and get yourself a copy. The rest of the list will still be here when you get back.
Though Insomniac Games hit pay dirt instantly with the first Ratchet & Clank game, it wasn’t until all the concepts of a platformer, a weapons-based shooter and the lightest of RPG elements that let all those weapons and health level-ups come to a head that the series really became a must-have. Make no mistake; if you own only one of the Ratchet games on the PS2, make sure it’s Up Your Arsenal. The sequel, Deadlocked, lost much of the charm of the first three games, and earlier efforts just didn’t gel as completely as Up Your Arsenal, nor did they sport its online modes.
The game’s length, storyline, weapon variety, different modes and ability to re-play the story through a second time, were all a hoot. As if that weren’t enough, you could unlock a neat little peak behind the scenes of the game’s underlying tech in the Insomniac Museum (a returning feature from the previous game).
There can be no discussion of Ratchet & Clank without also mentioning the Jak and Daxter series. The twin developers of the games, Insomniac and Naughty Dog, respectively, had long enjoyed career parallels, both rising to fame as Sony-focused development houses before Naughty Dog was eventually acquired by Sony. Naughty Dog’s first Jak game was, true to form, a fantastic platformer, with tight controls, some great characters and a massive world to explore.
The sequel bit the style a bit too hard off the GTA games and tried to go open world — perhaps too ambitious for the development timeline. Jak 3. however, mixed elements of both games; Jak talked, but he wasn’t a whiny, brooding emo figure like in the second game (well, not as much), but weapons were brought back to mix more with the platforming of the first game. The scale of the world and the storyline were both widened and everything was brought more or less to a close. It represents the height of Naughty Dog’s considerable production values on the PS2 and like our Ratchet pick, is not to be missed.
Yeah, so we’re putting two games at the same spot in our countdown, what of it? It probably helps that the two games, both the brainchildren of the folks at Harmonix Music Systems before they hit it big with Guitar Hero and later Rock Band, were equally good — but for different reasons. They both pushed the idea of music rhythm games well beyond the realm of Konami’s Bemani series thanks to one very important ingredient: licensed tracks. Frequency locked in the electronic side of things, while Amplitude was a little more mainstream and brought with it the advancements to the interface that would eventually become Harmonix’s future endeavors.
For the truly hardcore (many of us in the office included) Frequency had a far better soundtrack, and one that leant itself to being built one section at a time. Amplitude, on the other hand, ran better (making it easier to hit the patterns) and bumped up the patterns’ difficulty. Both stand as not only a history lesson on what Harmonix did first, but represent one of the true gems of the PlayStation 2 catalogue. If rumors of Sony’s reluctance to continue the franchise are to be believed, we may never see a proper sequel, so snag both of these before it’s too late and dream of what could have been.
If Frequency and Amplitude were Harmonix’s idea of rhythm action games in germination, Guitar Hero was the culmination of those ideas into something that resoundingly clinched the developer’s spot as the new kings of the genre, dethroning the mighty Konami in the process. The first Guitar Hero was addictive, sure, but the second added bass lines, true multiplayer battles and a track list that some feel may never be beaten.
In a word it ruled. and became nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. In dorm rooms and bars (to say nothing of inter-office throw-downs), it became the de facto standard for substance-fueled, clicky plastic instrument war, catalyzed by a generation of YouTubers throwing their accomplishments up onto the web for all to see. Future games may have improved on the ability to play against others and have certainly widened the track list, but Guitar Hero II was the perfect sequel at the perfect time; it capitalized on the success of the craze while adding a few new things here and there. It was and still is the prime example of instrument-driven videogames at the height of their boom. Sure, future games have enhanced the formula, but none of them will have the same kind of charm and freshness that Guitar Hero II had back in the day.
The first game scared the holy living piss out of anyone who actually played through it, but much of the debut’s fear-inducing moments were born out of technological deficiencies. The sequel, on the other hand, was running on the PlayStation 2, and with a few years of R&D under its belt Konami managed to craft one hell of a fright-fest. It preserved most of the original game’s what-might-be-out-there fear, but with major advances to the graphics and sound, the game was able to deliver a far more immersive, frightful and compelling storyline.
Leading man James had more at stake, more involvement with the town and far more demonic, powerful and, uh, pyramid-shaped skeletons in his closet. The soundtrack was incredible too, showcasing why some of Akira Yamaoka’s songs are played at those fancy-pants new video game concerts out there. There are few iconic moments as strong and utterly terrifying as the sound of Pyramid Head dragging his massive sword around the dilapidated hospital — and it’s only made worse when you actually see him from afar just a bit later. When it comes to horror games, there’s creepy, there’s boo-I-just-scared-you and then there’s the sinking, persistent, endless dread that comes over you as you try to make you way out of Silent Hill, and the second game absolutely nailed that kind of terror.
Virtua Fighter 4 surprised the hell out of everyone. It wasn’t that VF3 on the Dreamcast (or, if you’re a purist, the arcade) was a bad game — far from it. It was just that few expected SEGA to continue one of its most innovative and technical (both in terms of visuals and gameplay) fighters. Both Virtua Fighter 4 and VF4: Evolution didn’t exactly blow up the sales charts, but they represented something sorely missing from the raft of fighters on the PlayStation 2 at the time: a tight, balanced, technical fighter that favored gamers that would practice and learn a character’s moves and timings more than just a simple button masher.
If Virtua Fighter 4 was solid, Evolution elevated things even more. Yes, there were the requisite rebalances of characters due to feedback and how they did in tournaments, but there were also two new players added, which necessitated that everything be leveled again. It made an already great game even more compelling — at least for those who were freaks about learning timing and damage — and introduced a deeper single-player mode that made decking out your characters in ridiculously stupid outfits and throwing their AI ghosts (which you trained, of course) online that much more entertaining.
Wash away all the bile and pain of that laughing scene in Final Fantasy X. Go ahead, just do it. Let it all go. Better now, isn’t it? Oh, sure, the scene was borderline offensive to some crowds and the storyline wasn’t terribly amazing either. But you forget, silly little boy/girl/whatever you are, that the battle system in Final Fantasy X has yet to be bested in terms of delivering the core turn-based Active Time Battle stuff we’re looking for, while allowing you the freedom to finally swap out units and tackle enemies with the obvious weaknesses.
No more shuffling the party around outside of battle, you just swap in whoever needs to go to work and let the magic happen. It was surprisingly efficient for Square-Enix and we’re a little puzzled as to why more games couldn’t do something similar, but we’ll take what we can get. In this case, it’s a cute story with some epic consequences at stake and a cast of characters that, while good enough to get the first proper sequel in the series’ history, took a back stage to the fact that Final Fantasy X made random encounters fun again.
See? See how bugs can actually make for some cool stuff? Had there never been an Onimusha and all the funky enemy-juggling bugs therein, Hideki Kamiya would have never thought to turn said bug into the enemy juggling, guns-and-swords deliciousness of Devil May Cry. The first game was awesome, no doubt, introducing Dante and his blasé attitude toward seemingly overwhelming numbers of enemies, but the sequel was. “disappointing.”
Most, however, will speak longingly about Devil May Cry 3. which was easily the most hardcore and finesse-based of the games on the PS2. Fittingly, it was the last of the PS-exclusive games, widening to a more general multi-platform audience when the series hit current-gen systems. This Devil May Cry, however, was infinitely more technical, requiring something that felt, to a degree, like a Ninja Gaiden game in that you had to perfect your moves, upgrade combos and even grind a little, RPG-style, to upgrade abilities. It still stands as the most intricate and merciless of the games.
Luckily for some of us, the game’s difficulty was tweaked a bit and a few more concessions taken with the continue system to allow less insane players to dive into Dante’s world with the Special Edition, complete with plenty of tweaks and additions. Both are worthy additions to any library, though we’ll go with the fancy new one because of the extra goodies and toned done challenge.
Hideki Kamiya will come up a few times in our run to the top, and it’s for good reason: he makes awesome games. Case in point: Okami. a game that owes plenty to the Zelda series in terms of how it progresses and the kind of ways it pushes players through an ever-increasing world. The thing is, Okami is most certainly its own beast. It stands on its own as one of Capcom’s most innovative and enthralling games ever made.
Yes, that’s right; we’re throwing down the “ever” card. Okami’s that good; it blends a perfect mix of find-item-to-progress with enough side quests and random encounters to make you think it’s almost an RPG. Almost. Instead, it’s that fantastic blend of action and RPG genres that makes for a compelling reason to move on — as if the idea of being able to pause the game at any time and draw on the surface of the screen with a brush isn’t enough to get you all hot and bothered. Oh, we know it is, we know. That’s precisely why it’s occupied a rather cushy spot on the Top 25.
There are those of us among the IGN offices who would see Burnout 3 occupying a higher slot. That it can’t do so, because of the sheer strength of other titles, is a testament to the PS2’s incredible lineup. Burnout 3 rocks and is for some the epitome of arcade racing, blending an infectious Crash mode with racing that’s so balls-out fast that if you blink. well, you’re a heap o’ metal lying on the side of the road.
The Takedown revolutionized the Burnout franchise, turning it from a defensive gamble that wagered your ability to handle oncoming traffic and some light stunts at impossible speeds against the desire to just slam into that dude that’s been rubbing against you for half a lap. Burnout 3 was a massive game, both in terms of the number of cars, tracks and songs it offered, and in the time it actually took to chew through that big old wheel of racing cheese. It looked next to impossibly good on the PS2 at the time and of course stands as one of the most impressive technical feats on the system today.
Oh you knew it was coming, didn’t you? Yes, we all love us some adventures about a mute girl and a horned boy just trying to get the hell out of a castle clearly meant to keep them there. But what starts with a boy bucking his destiny quickly turns into an escape act for two of the most intrinsically endearing people in the history of gaming. ICO did some very amazing things; it introduced puzzles on a scale that hadn’t really been seen before, offered a constant reminder of the wooded safety that awaited you just across a bridge that you only had to get to, and gave us Yorda and Ico, two characters that seemed to move through a dream world of immaculate lighting and level design with no care to just how impressive it all was.
And when Yorda took a leap across a gorge, reaching out for Ico’s hand and just making it, you felt it — you felt it every time she leapt, almost missed and was dragged up to the next puzzle. You did it because she felt real; just as everything in this world did. You did it even more once you learned the identity of the person who’d put you there. ICO is often held up as art and it absolutely is. It provokes emotion (despite not actually having a true narrative or character development), it provides breathtaking vistas and it makes for some of the best puzzles ever found on any game. That’s how good ICO is.
We’ve praised multiple games on our list as being revolutionary for updating a classic for a new format, but all of them pale in comparison to what Ubisoft Montreal did with the Prince of Persia franchise. Leave it to the French to infuse Parkour into Jordan Mechner’s original idea of a princess trapped in a castle. Oh, the idea was shifted around, that’s for sure, but the core idea was the same.
Luckily, all that meant was a time-bending trek through a myriad of Persian castle locales. The idea of beings (and indeed animals) infused with the Sands of Time gave the game a base to jump off of. or cartwheel. or pirouette. or to vault over and slash down the back of a creature created by the Sands escaping from an eternal Hourglass. It made for a unique kind of experimental platforming experience; if you messed up, you simply rewound time and tried it again differently. It removed the penalty of experimentation and though the series started to fall back a bit too much on that core ideal, the third game returned things to the original.
Even with all the additions and storyline advancements the franchise made, the fact that it all wrapped back around to the original just shows how powerful and important that first game was in giving the Prince a whole new set of moves to escape from his captors.
No doubt the glut of contention on our list will reside with how we’ve placed some of our final choices. Again, one mustn’t look at just the number. Resident Evil 4 occupies an unbreakable slot in our Top 10. All should be instant buys regardless, but RE4 is a special sort of recommendation. It’s not dark and overly creepy like Silent Hill 2. but it is one of the most intense and cinematic games on the docket today.
Resident Evil 4 is superb. It excels in storytelling, it excels in building tension, it excels in giving players options and letting them replay situations in different ways. Yes, we understand that Resident Evil 4 is not quite as scary, and maybe that’s why it hit so well for so many players. There’s still creepiness, sure, but you’re kind of a badass and that wasn’t something the other games made all that obvious.
The new setting (Spain) let things grow beyond the bounds of Raccoon City, introduced new enemies and antagonists and basically set the whole series up to become more than just a mansion crawl with point-to-point-to-point-to-point item fetches. Awesome? Oh, yes, you better believe it — and you’d better own it. or else.
Oh the volumes we could fill with reasons for loving Gran Turismo. The game is an almost unapologetic re-creation of the particulars of every single machine in the game’s 700+ car roster.
Luckily, that means any PS2 owner will be subject to the most ridiculous collection and subsequent relay of data ever seen in the auto industry. Developer Polyphony Digital intimately knows the handing of every car, every track and every car on that track. That, in turn, ensures that you as the buyer get a game as close to actually driving as possible, which is exactly the point.
GT4. though, decided to add more insanity by adding a Photo Mode with downright ridiculous amounts of detail and adjustments (series producer apparently digs shooting shots of cars as much as he does racing them, which probably accounts for GT4’s depth in options).
These features, however, pale in comparison to the game’s exact detail in how you run around a course. Yes, you may start by putting around a smallish oval, but eventually you’ll be taking your exquisitely-tuned beast around tracks you know the turns of by heart. And, because you’ve spent so much time with them, you’ll know exactly how to approach that hairpin. That is the power of Gran Turismo, and that is why GT4 utterly and completely owns.
The original God of War was surpassed in scale, options and combat by God of War II. So why did we give the nod to the original? Simple: it did it first. We are by no means dismissing what the second game did to expand the scope and the insanity of taking on mythological creatures in their very domains (ultimately besting them in the most ridiculous and awesome ways they can actually be ousted), but where the second game made it all better, the first game made it great. first.
The original God of War might not have enjoyed the sales of the second game (though it did quite nicely in its own right), but it laid the groundwork for all future iterations to come and few series actually offer that level of solid bedrock to build off of. Angsty hero who slaughtered his own? Check. Progressive system for unlocking new stuff and becoming even more powerful? Check. Confronting enemies in their own domains and squaring off against them when they’re a good 10 times your size? Check. Yeah, God of War is pretty much awesomeness incarnate.
We love us some Metal Gear Solid — that much should be obvious. However, our man-love for Metal Gear subsists only to the point where we can get more Metal Gear Solid — or at least to the point where we can play something old in a new way. Konami and Kojima Productions have been doing these fancy titled re-releases of the Metal Gear games for a few years now, but Subsistence was like an all new game.
It came down to a number of factors, from the bonus secret theatre cutscenes that are as hilarious as they are bizarre to the first peek at what would become Metal Gear Online on the PS3, but none were so significant as the addition of a freely controllable third-person camera. It completely changed how one played Snake Eater without actually breaking it — no small feat, we’re sure — and has since become the standard presentation style of the series.
No matter the camera angle, though, Subsistence merely presented what was already in Snake Eater in a slightly more updated (and far easier) fashion, allowing players to still experience some of the best fights of any Metal Gear game. The End? You could snipe him right after a cutscene and never have to fight him, or you could simply save your game and wait a few days, then load things up and he’d be dead. Of course, if you chose to fight him, you were treated to an absolutely stellar sniper duel, unlike any other boss fight in the series, really, and the cherry on top of one of Kojima’s most poignant and gripping storylines to date.
ICO is a masterpiece, there’s no getting around that, but whereas the beautiful little puzzle game was rooted firmly in the ideas of fumbling with an ancient castle to get to safety across a bridge, Shadow of the Colossus (an ICO prequel of sorts) was little more than a series of increasingly complex boss battles that started to take the form of “levels” due to their complexity. Like ICO, though, Shadow delivered its emotional payload with surgical precision, conveying a wide range of emotions without uttering a lick of English.
Maybe it was the desolation in this land that the lone Wanderer and his faithful steed Agro roamed as they searched for the next colossus. Maybe it was the sensation of climbing the colossus, seeking out each of the giant monsters’ weak points and plunging a sword into them. But are they really monsters? Who’s to say that this Wanderer, slowly decaying as the spirits of the colossi are released, striving to give life to his slain love, isn’t the biggest monster of all for what he’s done to the few remaining signs of life in a land long since battered and weathered by the wages of time?
Shadow of the Colossus succeeds on so many levels it’s hard to know where to being praising it. We’ll start with the utterly innovative and enthralling battles with the colossi themselves, which play out like elaborate puzzles. Navigating on and around each of the creatures to get to their weak point becomes a level in and of itself, turning each of the 16 boss fights in the game into increasingly complex sequences of exploration, trial-and-error and discovery. And then of course there’s the ending, which every single person who owns a PS2 simply must experience. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on one of the best experiences in the history of gaming, no doubt about it.
It’s quite impossible to overstate the impact of Rockstar North (then DMA Design) and Rockstar Games’ first fully 3D debut of their traditionally top-down gangster sandbox epic. The first time one actually got deposited into the middle of Liberty City — saw it teeming with activity, with people having conversations, saw the seemingly limitless amount of stuff to do, streets to explore, missions to run, storyline threads to chase down, taxis to commandeer, ambulances to pilfer, cop cars to jack and the idea that quite literally any car on the road could be yours with the press of a button — was a revelation as much as it was a revolution.
Grand Theft Auto III was the tipping point, when games went from being mostly linear, fairly confined experiences to existing inside a virtual world. DMA’s carefully guided hand made for a shockingly enjoyable experience no matter what you did. You could get just as much satisfaction heading up on to the roof of a building and lobbing grenades or shooting rockets or sniping with a rifle as you could running around down on street level just punching people until the cops came after you. The radio stations were phenomenal (RISE FM and Chatterbox are still unbeaten as far as some of us are concerned), the Mafioso-heavy dialogue a treat to listen to, and the missions completely open to being tackled just about any way you could see.
The fact that we talk about the game so fondly — and at such length should show just how much of an impression the first 3D GTA had on all of us. For the first time, we were talking to each other about the random stuff that we did in this world, not in how it made us go from one on-rails objective to the next. Though future games may have surpassed it in scale and scope, it’s likely that no game will be the quantum leap that Grand Theft Auto III was, and that’s precisely why it’s our number one pick for the greatest games on the PS2.
That’s it! The list is finished. Agree? Disagree? Keep leaving your comments below, but play nice.
top 10 best selling ps2 games of all time:Trying to come up with just about any ranked list of games for the PlayStation 2 when it's enjoyed such ridiculous success has to pass for cruel and unusual punishment. It's not so much that we couldn't come up with 25 games — that much was cake — it was having to plug them into the ranking. As with all lists of this nature, it's going to come down to personal preference. Sports gamers, for instance, are obviously going to throw quite a few more of their favorites on the list. Likewise, RPG nuts have been uncommonly blessed with some wonderful examples of the genre.