Sony’s PlayStation 2 is the greatest console ever made.
I have to admit, I’m a little biased in the writing of this. The PlayStation 2 was my first major game console. My little brother and I received my uncle’s when he upgraded to the PS3; before that we had no console. Before that gaming to us was something we did only occasionally and left us craving more; to the point where I made friendships simply to play video games. (seriously who hasn’t been friends with someone only because they had a cool toy?)
So when we hauled the original PlayStation 2 upstairs to our bedroom and plugged it in, we were hooked. I played Resident Evil 4 religiously, and it was my first experience beating a difficult game in its completion, and still holds high rank in my top games. We played Star Wars Battlefront like Dorito munchers play Call of Duty: constantly. My brother played NCAA football games, using the only play his young mind could comprehend, the Hail Mary. He always beat me, too.
Nostalgia aside, why is the PS2 the best console? Two. Fucking. Words.
Backwards compatibility. Yep, yep, and yep. My dad had the original Playstation, and he refused to lament that the PS2 was any better, so we already had a stack of games to play. Fighting Force, Mortal Kombat, a weird shooting game I can’t remember but I died all the damn time, Road Rash; we had a library available to us from a past purchase and it was great. Modern systems lack this feature and it is painful. Spend $400 on a PS4 and can you play your library of PS3 games? No. Well, you can re-buy a remastered edition of a game you already own, or purchase it for download, but you can’t play YOUR game unless you hook up the system. And while that in itself is not an issue, it is when the consoles are so expensive that normal people can’t afford to buy a console AND a game at the same time.
Some would say: “Shut up you “insert expletive”, you bought a new system, play new games. Okay, I can understand that. But here I am, a new PS4 owner, and I’m asking… where are the games? In the rush to push the PS4 out for the holiday season, it seems Sony (and Xbox, this argument goes for both systems) forgot the games.
There were a few launch titles, but nothing really catching, nothing that screamed MUST play. Since I’ve gotten my PS4 I’ve purchased games simply to have something to play on my super cool system. I can’t be the only one who has felt this. Dying Light has been the only game to come out so far that isn’t a remaster that sounds mildly enticing. The GTA V remaster was cool, but it’s a game I beat almost a year ago. (Also, where are heists? Should I just get Battlefield Hardline for heist mode?)
Backwards compatibility would’ve fixed this. I love Heavy Rain and the Mass Effect Series, and would’ve been ecstatic to play them on my PS4. I really think backwards compatibility is a big reason that the PS2 sold so well, so much better than the Xbox. It mitigated risk in the consumer eye; if you had games you still wanted to play, you could play them. If your current system was getting old, you could upgrade and still have your games.
The PS2 also had a huge variety of titles. Go to any GameStop that still sells PS2 games and I guarantee you’ll find a game or developer you’ve never heard of. The selection is huge; my brother and I use to by stacks at a time, beat them, and trade them in for more. GameStop robbed us blind with their trade in values, but we didn’t care. A lot of those developers and studios have closed, and I think it is a shame. Gaming today is turning bland because of the lack of variety, although indie games are working to change that.
Another thing; couch co-op. I could write an entire post (fuck it, I will) about this. Gaming for me has always been a social activity. Invite a buddy over, fatality his stupid face, and have a good time. Racing your friends, shooting your friends, choke slamming your friends, playing with your friend when he or she is right next to you is one of the things that makes gaming great. I played Dark Alliance with a buddy for twelve hours straight and it was the best day of my childhood.
I understand that other consoles have or had great libraries, and backwards compatibility. But, in my opinion, nothing will top the PS2. I love that damn thing, all the way down to the jarring blast of sound when you turn the fucker on.
(2017 update: Heavy Rain did come out later for the PS4. And the games library did pick up steam. Kudos game developers.)