Ten years of PS2 in North America
On 26th October 2000 Sony released the PlayStation 2 on North American shores. A decade on, with 145 million units sold (a number that’s still rising) and over 2000 games developed for it, it is not only the best selling home console of all time but a true gaming icon that has secured its mark in the annals of history.
To mark its 10th year on sale in the US, some of our PXOD writers have written about their fond memories, experiences of and thoughts on the PlayStation 2.
The PS2 was launched with more hype than any other game system before it. It almost killed the Dreamcast by marketing alone. It’s easy to look back now and think of what a great system the PS2 was, but it didn’t start off that way. It was nearly impossible to find one for months after launch, and if you were lucky enough to find one there wasn’t really much to play. It took a couple of years for Metal Gear Solid 2 to be released and until then you were stuck playing Zone of the Enders. The success of the PS2 was mostly due to marketing. People bought into the idea that PlayStation was a supercomputer. It was so powerful that there were rumors of Iraq using them to develop nuclear weapons. Additionally, it was a cheap DVD player which helped persuade people to rush out to buy the system. As a result, developers quit complaining about the ridiculous hardware architecture and high development costs, and jumped on the PS2 bandwagon. In the end, the system trumped the Xbox and Gamecube, but it wasn’t a great piece of hardware. It was great marketing that led to quick customer adoption which led to quick developer adoption which led to PS2 dominance. It’s pretty much exactly what the Wii managed to do this generation. I just wonder how many people really think about the PS2 like the Wii. Different target audience, same story.
My PS2 experience was a bit different to others. We got our PS2 early on, the Christmas of ’01, just a few months after its EU launch, but due to it being mostly my dad’s console it was a fractured experience. Mostly playing on the games he’d picked up, with only a few of my own games in the mix. My dad mostly favoured racing games, I became a dab hand at racing titles, though they’re still the only genre in which my dad would beat me. Like most of the PXOD crew one of my favourite gaming memories on the PS2 was Final Fantasy X. Beautiful FMVs, full voice-acting, and pretty visuals to boot, this was for me, at the time, gaming heaven. It’s a game that lasted me quite a while. Especially as our old phat was unable to get past Sin’s arrival at Zanarkand. Timespliters was my best multiplayer experience on the console, spending hours coming up with new maps and modes in its editor, even making a crude ‘Horde’ mode. Timesplitters was fun, goofy, and very competent. I feel it is too underrated in the war of greatest console FPS between GoldenEye64 and Halo:CE.
For me, my biggest regret with the PS2 is missing out on some of the key titles. It was only later into its life, and into 7th gen that I started to become more ‘enthusiast’, so it was not until the past few years I’ve learned of titles like Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid, GTA, DMC, God of War etc. as some of the ‘must-play’ PS2 titles. Thankfully, the HD remakes coming to the PS3, as well as PSXC2, are helping to fill in those gaps of gaming history.
I jumped onto the PS2 bandwagon a little late, buying one in 2005 after growing tired with my Gamecube; but once I picked up the slim little thing I never looked back. I think getting into the PS2 late was a lot better than buying one at launch, by the time I bought mine there was tons of stuff to play, Final Fantasy, Ratchet and Clank and Guitar Hero back when it was still amazingly original. My favorite PS2 memory is still playing through Final Fantasy X over my summer vacation. I had vague memories of playing parts of it on my cousin’s PS2 when I was 6 or so and to this day it’s my favorite game ever. It showed emotion in a way that I had never seen before in games and, being a predominantly handheld gamer before this, voice-acting was amazing to me, no matter how bad parts of it are in hindsight. The PS2 is the system that I feel changed me from an enthusiast gamer into a person who couldn’t live without games.
The PS2 arguably saw a momentous change in who I am today. Most of the games I like now took their shape in their PS2 ancestors. Anyone on Twitter that follows me, knows how much of an ice hockey nut I am, but they don’t know (or probably could have guessed) that my love of the sport started by playing the games on the PS2.
It saw me take a swift 180 on role-playing games. I’d slammed them before and lambasted that “picking stuff from a menu and having a consistent outcome isn’t a game, it’s a test”, but a demo of Final Fantasy X soon changed my mind, and I’ve been in love with the series since.
It fostered my love of first-person shooters long before the PC ever did, with Half-Life, Killzone, and Call of Duty. It introduced me to online gaming, as I first plugged that Ethernet cable into my PS2 Slim and proceeded to both take and receive beatings on games like Mortal Kombat Armageddon, FIFA 06, and SOCOM US Navy Seals.
My favourite memory of the PS2 era probably has nothing to do with actually playing games, I was in London at the time on holidays and GTA San Andreas was coming out that weekend. I’d gone up to GAME on Oxford Street to have a look at it and see what it was like, only to see that Tony Hawk was launching Underground 2 there on the same day, with a signing to boot. So I skipped GTA and bought that instead. Because of backwards-compatibility issues, it’s the only PS2 game I still have today, signed by the man himself.