A brief history of the PlayStation 2
With the PlayStation proving to be a hit that sold millions of units and even more games, Sony had created a new gap in the market that embraced all manner of gamer, new and old. With Sega launching their Dreamcast soon and with the N64 providing better visuals than what the PlayStation could offer consumers, Sony needed a new machine that would take them through several more years in the gaming market.
And that’s where they decided to sequel up their best-selling console.
Announced on March 1 1999, Sony’s PlayStation 2 was developed throughout the year before allowing select public members to go hands-on with it at the Tokyo Game Show that year. Bigger than the original PlayStation, which had just slimmed down, the PS2 could also be displayed vertically and it boasted a DVD-drive which helped attract consumers from the home entertainment market.
The console also had connection options to add in a hard drive and was backwards compatible with the PlayStation One library. Sony kept the original controller design in check for the PlayStation 2, making slight tweaks to the input device. Dual Shock was now a standard part of the controller and it now sported a black paint job instead of the PS1 grey scheme.
The PlayStation 2 was released in March of 2000 in Japan, October in North America and November of that year for eager western consumers. Day one sales were phenomenal, with the PS2 pulling in combined sales to the tune of $250 million. Thanks to a massive install base established throughout the world with the PS1 and the backwards compatibility options available, the PS2 sold over 980 000 units in Japan alone in one day.
Disrupting the Dreamcast momentum and effectively killing Sega’s console ambitions, the PS2 also heralded the arrival of two new competitors in the now lucrative gaming market. Nintendo attempted to up their game with a cheaper and more powerful console that lacked home entertainment functions in the form of the GameCube, while Microsoft released their first Xbox which easily had the most powerful hardware of all three.
These new rivals led to Sony cutting the price of their console, as well as a slimmer console that significantly reduced the size and weight of the Sony product.
The PS2 was home to many third-party developers, and plenty more shovelware games during its run. If anything, the console was a proving ground for new games to make an appearance, with such titles easily eclipsing the endless barrage of sequels that now inhabit the gaming landscape.
Such games that helped defined the console include:
Devil May Cry
Originally meant to be a Resident Evil title, DMC proved far too ambitious and over the top for that franchise, instead spinning out and becoming something far more kinetic, exciting and action-packed.
Shadow of the Colossus
Few games had really managed to capture the scale of a grand quest, until SOTC arrived which not only burned out the visuals of the PS2, it added plenty of heart to the game as well with a gripping tale.
Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3
The PS2 was a hub for home media, and the Metal Gear Solid franchise proved that both games and movies could mingle and become something else in two memorable outings on that console.
Need for Speed Underground
With everyone now sporting go-faster stripes and fuzzy dice in their car following the Fast and the Furious film, EA took advantage of the street racer crowd with a game that was equal parts technical and colourful.
One of the most beautiful games ever released on the PS2, Okami brought Japanese influences to an eager market that was looking for a different game to experience from the usual glut of action titles on offer.
Tekken Tag Tournament
Tekken had grown up on the PlayStation One, but it had properly matured on the PS2. There were plenty of Iron Fist tournaments released regularly on that console, but the first home version of Tekken Tag Tournament provided a lean and mean fighting machine that emphasised tight gameplay over goofy stories.
Gran Turismo 3 and 4
Need for Speed may have had a audience looking for fun, but Gran Turismo had a market that was keen on experiencing some real racing. Years in the making, the two Gran Turismo titles that graced the PS2 proved that the console could be home to hardcore petrol-heads of all ages.
Ratchet and Clank
On the opposite side of that scale, was the younger market that needed some form of foster parenting to help them grow up entertained. The PS2 had many such games on offer, but Ratchet and Clank easily won far more hearts with a story that spanned several games.
Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas
Gaming really hit the mainstream when GTA III was released. Massive, packed with content and more controversial than assisted suicide, the game spawned several sequels that upped the ante and the quality.
God of War 1 and 2
If ever there was one action game that could define not only a console, but a generation as well, it would have to be God of War. The first game slaughtered audiences with a challenging mix of action and combat, before a sequel saw the concept evolved massively and improved upon.
Silent Hill 2
Horror games peaked during the PS2 era, enjoying a climb that few have felt since then. And of those games, Silent Hill 2 was one of the very best. Magnificently tense and unnerving, Silent Hill 2 is still regarded as one of the best titles in the franchise, putting the horror back into that genre.
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance
With Mortal Kombat 4 being a tepid title from the gory team behind the 16 bit classic games, something new was needed. And that’s just what happened in Deadly Alliance, when Mortal Kombat added more fighting, more fatalities and more content to a game that was bursting at the seams with blood and style.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
After being side-lined to history for decades and with a reboot a few years back that most people wanted to forget about, the Prince of Persia was finally back. With a brand new style of play that used the PS2 to its full potential, the latest game in the Prince of Persia franchise opened up a whole new chain of events, that led to several new titles and one kickass series that had Ubisoft in control.
Final Fantasy X and XII
Final Fantasy games may not be going anywhere right now, but Final Fantasy X and XII marked the end of an era, where games from that franchise were still universally loved and crafted. Epic in scale and gorgeous to watch in action, the games also added something to the franchise that had been impossible before. Voice acting.
Taking plenty of inspiration from Disney, Final Fantasy and more, Kingdom Hearts was the game that proved everyone wrong as it mixed a touching story with great gameplay and iconic characters.
Tony Hawk’s Underground
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 may have set the benchmark on the PS1, but the beloved THUG did a 180 vert trick over it with improved tricks, an open world and an enticing story that took place all over the world.
When Sony officially discontinued the PlayStation 2 this year in January, it was well deserved. For over a decade, the console had proven itself as a heavyweight contender,a reliable entertainment device and an affordable bridge into gaming for people who couldn’t afford newer consoles and models.
As of March 2012, the console has sold over 155 million units, and millions more games. It’s a machine that was home to experimental games, pure titles released for all manner of niche gamer and it bridged many age groups.
It’s a console so recognisable, that every gamer across the world has played at least one game on it.