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Talking Point: Is the PlayStation 2 the Greatest Games Console of All Time?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Live in your world, play in ours

It was evident from the moment that the PlayStation 2 first arrived on store shelves that Sony had created something special. The manufacturer’s first console – still going strong in the hazy days of 2000 – was a triumph on an industry upsetting scale, but its drab exterior and aging visuals appeared almost prehistoric when compared to the electric blue packaging and revolutionary graphics of its successor.

There was a tangible arrogance to the PS2 that augmented it with an almost magnetic quality – it was tough not to be taken in by the system’s rigid angles and sharp logo. That confidence was reflected in Sony’s marketing. The platform holder didn’t need gameplay footage to usher you into what it had dubbed ‘The Third Place’ – instead it hired legendary oddball David Lynch to create a commercial with smoke, mirrors, and talking ducks. Incredibly, it worked.

Over 13 years and 150 million units later – a record in the home console space – the PS2’s spell in the spotlight is still not quite over. Sony’s announcement that it is to cease shipping the platform in Japan – a territory where it’s commanded a healthy advantage over the considerably more modern Xbox 360 for some years – signals the beginning of the end, but there’s still business left in the aging platform. It will continue to find a market in developing nations, and will always be popular as a collector’s piece.

But the console is now firmly in its twilight years, with the promise of a bed bath at the local retirement home looking more tantalising by the minute. That gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on its many achievements, and look back on some of the attributes that led to its seemingly limitless success.

Variety certainly played its part. While the PS2 was host to a wealth of hardcore hits – including Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Silent Hill 2 – it also unlocked the mainstream market for the very first time. The likes of Buzz! and SingStar weren’t necessarily video games, but they attracted an audience that had never played before. In the same way that the original PlayStation made gaming attractive to mid-nineties hipsters, its successor captured a whole new audience.

Doubling as an affordable DVD player didn’t hurt. Many families purchased their first PS2 as a means to watch movies, and that provided Sony with a baked-in audience to target. Up until the Xbox’s arrival a few years later, no other standalone player offered the hook of being able to play games in addition to films. It was an unavoidable option for a large chunk of the market.

And it was those people that Sony was trying to capture with the EyeToy in 2003. The precursor to the PlayStation Move, Kinect, and, of course, Nintendo Wii – Sony’s motion camera arguably should have been a bigger success than it was. It still managed to shift over 10 million units – a drop in the ocean compared to the system’s install base – but it highlighted the manufacturer’s intent to grow gaming beyond its traditional roots.

Everything about the PS2 oozed style and substance, and it reflected a company at the very peak of its potential

Despite all of that, though, it was the sheer selection of software that made the PS2 a force to be reckoned with. A combination of enormous market share and manageable development budgets meant that the system became the de facto platform for third-party publishers – and it garnered a huge catalogue of exclusives as a result. Even those titles that ultimately went multiplatform – the Grand Theft Auto games, for example – enjoyed timed exclusivity windows on Sony’s console. With development costs soaring, such dominance is unlikely to ever occur again.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any forthcoming platform controlling the market quite as effortlessly as the PS2. Everything about the system oozed style and substance, and it reflected a company at the very peak of its potential, when everything it touched turned to gold. It’s for that reason that the console is one of the greatest ever made.

Do you think that the PlayStation 2 is greatest games console of all time? What are some of your fondest memories of the machine? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (24)

Hokori

#1

Hokori said:

Best home console (so far) Yes
But DS has the best library (so fat)

irken004

#3

irken004 said:

It was a great console no doubt, I was shocked after I realized I wanted a gamecube the same year I got a PS2 instead. But I don't regret it one bit :D

Squiggle55

#5

Squiggle55 said:

I personally wouldn't go that far, but it's just my personal opinion. I like the PS3 and the digital age more, and as far as past consoles go, I have much fonder memories of the SNES.

Splat

#6

Splat said:

The N64 is still my favorite past console but the PS2 is a close second.

kivi95

#10

kivi95 said:

Ps3 is the one I have enjoyed the most so in terms of consoles it goes for me. PS3>PS1>PS2

JayMiller1988

#11

JayMiller1988 said:

Playstation 1 is my favorite thus far. Gamecube and Sega Genesis would be tied for second. Playstation 2 and 3 are tied for third thus far imho.

Pikachupwnage

#12

Pikachupwnage said:

What the heck is that picture?

I have had very little time with PS2 and do not own one so I cannot agree or disagree.

NathanUC

#14

NathanUC said:

The best CONSOLE to date? I personally feel Dreamcast. It was so far ahead of it's time that it killed itself. An out of box Dreamcast could do more at the time than an out of box PS2 and it was released more than a year earlier.

First console with true internet gaming, first console with removable memory that can play mini games without the system, AMAZING first party game library, first console to run Windows, ability to use mouse/keyboard on your console. All this for $199 at launch. It was easily the best value, most 'next gen' console ever created.

Other than Dreamcast, I think the original Xbox takes runner up. It had a built in hard drive, better online play, amazing graphics, and a solid library as well.

rjejr

#16

rjejr said:

My favorite certainly. I think the Dreamcast could have bested it had it managed to hang around a few more years. The PS3 seems more evolutionary and far too dependent - like the rest of 5he industry - on FPS that i dont play at all.

hydeks

#17

hydeks said:

yea, PS2 is probably the best console ever to come around, but there is more of a Xbox present than before, so the PS3 isn't seen as a great successor, but so far alot of the games on PS3 are just as good, or better, than most the ps2 games :P Personally, I loved the first PlayStation alil more than PlayStation 2 :P

Gamesake

#18

Gamesake said:

PS2 wasn't even the greatest games console of its generation. But I know people who still use it exclusively to watch their DVD movies--no lie.

charlesnarles

#19

charlesnarles said:

My gf still plays her ps2 every day. Truly a testament to its design that so many are still running. Her ps1 fat still works, for that matter. Who can look at a PS logo without thinking of the creepy girl voice prounouncing it in Japanese from their commercials? Not me. PS2 was everything I could ever ask for. I even prefer my old discs on cathode ray tubes to the new hd remakes on HDTVs lots of times cause they did a better job making it look good to the eye. Also, I miss old R/L2 buttons cause duslshock3s hit em if you set em down!

FuzzyYellowBalls

#20

FuzzyYellowBalls said:

This truly is a matter of opinion. No one can really claim victory in a debate over something like this. It's nice to read why some would think this is indeed the greatest console ever, if such a thing exists.

Gamer83

#21

Gamer83 said:

It's a tough choice between the SNES and PS2. A great case can be made for either one.

Gamer83

#22

Gamer83 said:

@rjejr

I've always said I thought the Dreamcast, over its 2 1/2 years or so on the market, had possibly the best ratio of good to bad games for any system ever. It's a shame Sega made so many poor decisions prior to the DC and weren't able to sustain the console for long because there was massive potential for it.

Slapshot

#23

Slapshot said:

Yes! Without a doubt, there are so many ground breaking titles on the PS2, with such a diverse and vast library that I doubt it will ever be topped.

eliotgballade

#24

eliotgballade said:

the original Panasonic 3DO gets my vote . It endeavoured to create an industry standard format (if only..) , its games were FMV heavy , and the thing looked as if it had been hewn out of solid rock ! how awesome is that ? (great "talking point BTW).

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