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The 25 best PS2 games to play [January 2023]

It's time to take a trip back in time to one of the best generations of gaming.

Do you recall when we’d all actually buy games on disks, and have our saves and settings squeezed onto a single 8mb memory card? These were the days of the early noughties, and the era of the PlayStation 2. The Sony console is home to some gaming greats that hold up to this day, and that’s why we ought to discuss some of the best PS2 games to play.

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As of right now, the PS2 and some of the games launched on it remain a clear-cut period in history. Released in 2000, the console’s release also marked the beginning of a new millennium for games; nobody could’ve imagined what games would look like today, how many of these series’ would continue to live on, and just how realistic they can now feel.

Regardless, the PS2 is home to many titles that remain loved and adored today, even with remakes and reboots currently coming at us like wildfire. Here’s our list of some of the best PS2 games of all time.



Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Rockstar North

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas plays out as you’d expect. It’s an action game with RPG elements that has you playing as Los Santos Grove Street Families gang member, CJ, across three different cities, all based on Los Angeles.

CJ steers a speedboat in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

Before Grand Theft Auto V rolled around, this was the biggest GTA game that Rockstar managed to create, and don’t we know it. This was the first we saw of Rockstar introducing its own interpretations of real-life landmarks, as well as the RPG elements that had you actually keeping CJ’s personal wellness in check. Additionally, it has a pretty cool cast of voice actors that undoubtedly fit in with the various shoot-outs and heists that you’ll find yourself on: there’s Danny Dyer as Kent Paul, Shaun Ryder as Maccer, and Ice-T as Madd Dogg, just to name a few.

Silent Hill 2

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Team Silent

The best horror game of all time has to be Silent Hill 2, which automatically wins it a spot on this list, too. The PS2 era was a defining one for horror games, with Silent Hill 2 being one of many to take horror fans by storm, but it continues to have an astounding legacy over two decades later.

James Sunderland speaks to Angela Orosco in Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 has you play as James Sunderland, who finds himself in Silent Hill after receiving an ominous letter from his wife, Mary, telling him to go there. Except, there’s one rather big elephant in the room: Mary is dead. Now, any sane folk would probably disregard it as a cruel prank, but James has skeletons in the closet that see him headed to that godforsaken town anyway.

This game is also the first time that players meet Pyramid Head, one of the best boss designs out there, still. And it’s also home to an outstanding soundtrack by the one and only Akira Yamaoka. With enemies galore, the eerie industrial soundtrack, and an unparalleled atmosphere that developers are still trying to recreate today, Silent Hill 2 truly gets under your skin. It’s also currently being remade by Bloober Team, for better or for worse.

Resident Evil 4

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Capcom

Resident Evil 4 was Capcom’s first departure from horror, and venture into action. It was the perfect blend of the two genres, with enemies sure to terrify you (such as Chainsaw Man), but also laden with camp dialogue and combat that - while janky now - felt incredibly fun at the time.

Resident Evil 4 Remake lets you move and shoot, but remains staunchly authentic.

Even now, provided you don’t mind standing still to aim and fire, the game holds up incredibly well. It’s the best in the Resident Evil series, and is even being faithfully remade as we speak, with the remake arriving in 2023. So, if you fancy playing a more up-to-date version of one of the best PS2 horror games out there, you don’t actually have too long to wait.

As for Resident Evil 4’s story, Leon Kennedy has left rookie cop territory and has made it big. So big, in fact, that he’s now being sent off to a Spanish village to find the President of the United States daughter, Ashley. It’s a great time, packed with haunts and horror, but also many moments that’ll make you crack a smile, too. As far as Resident Evil goes, this is where the series peaked.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Konami

Guides editor, James Billcliffe had a lot to say about some of Metal Gear Solid 3’s best moments, literally calling it “one of the best Easter egg games going.”

Snake aims down sights in Metal Gear Solid 3

The moments that James mentioned are as follows:

  1. If you wiggle Snake around in the medical screen, when you exit out, he throws up on the floor. 10/10.
  2. If you swim in dirty water, you get leeches stuck to your butt, so you have to burn them off with a cigar.
  3. One of the boss fights is against an old guy and if you set your system clock forward a week, he dies of old age.

This, on top of learning that the game has a great soundtrack, was more than enough to convince me to check out the Metal Gear Solid series finally. I imagine it’s more than enough for you, too.

Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Sucker Punch Productions

Sly Cooper and the Thievous Raccoonus is what kicked off the Sly series, but it’s when Sly 2: Band of Thieves released, that players began to hail it as an all-time great.

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The family-friendly stealth game expands on the first game by introducing more characters, and even making some of Sly’s gang playable during particular missions. These new playable characters have their own unique skills for you to learn and apply while exploring the various, wildly interesting worlds that Sly Cooper 2 has to offer.

In Sly Cooper 2, you also get to try your hand at pickpocketing, which is a personal favourite past-time (in video-games, anyway). Stealthily approach goons to empty their pockets of loot, and retreat back to your safehouse with the gang to turn a profit from it. Fun!

Bully (also known as Canis Canem Edit)

  • Released: 2006
  • Developer: Rockstar Vancouver

Surprise, surprise, Rockstar have landed another entry on this list. Bully, also later known as Canis Canem Edit (which, in Latin, translates to ‘dog eat dog’), is an open-world single-player title that has you play as student delinquent, Jimmy.

Bully, aka Canis Canem Edit, artwork

As Jimmy, you reluctantly attend school and try to reach the height of popularity in an attempt to put an end to bullying. This means befriending the school’s cliques, actually going to class, and completing a whole host of other missions to appease the people around you.

All in all, it tells quite a charming story about a fight against bullying. However, in true Rockstar fashion, there’s violence, and plenty of witty, snappy dialogue to revel in.

Katamari Damacy

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Namco

Katamari Damacy is vibrant, wacky, and completely absurd. It’s so ridiculous, in fact, that if someone told you about it in passing, you probably wouldn’t believe that it’s a real game. In the game, the drunken King of All Cosmos decides to destroy everything in the universe, except from Earth itself.

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This results in the King sending his son, the Prince, off on quite the adventure. Armed with a katamari, a magical ball that will attach anything smaller to it and grow as a result, the Prince must essentially gather enough materials to rebuild the cosmos.

I wasn’t lying when I said it was absurd, and it only gets more bizarre when actually playing the game. It’s satisfying, packed with strange scenarios, and most importantly, it’s endlessly jovial. The core mechanic in Katamari Damacy may be simple, but the experience itself is grand, and persistently cheerful.

Final Fantasy X

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Square

Final Fantasy X wasn’t revolutionary in terms of gameplay, although it did switch things up by removing the top-down world map, and applying some welcomed tweaks to the conditional turn-based combat system.

Auron in Final Fantasy X's opening

Where Final Fantasy X exceeded expectations was in terms of graphics and design. For the first time, the game had fully 3D environments, and a full cast of voice actors to accompany key cutscenes.

The story of Final Fantasy X follows esteemed Blitzball player, Tidus, who ends up being carted off to another world, Spira. This world, as you’d expect, is in turmoil, and it’s up to Tidus to try and find his way home, while also combatting the corrupt undercurrent that’s plaguing Spira.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Capcom

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, is a prequel to the first Devil May Cry game from 2001, and follows a younger Dante’s adventure. To put it simply, Dante’s journey involves slaying a lot of demons, discovering all-new strengths, and features a twisted story about his familial ties.

Devil May Cry 3 artwork featuring Dante and Vergil

In terms of both gameplay and story, there’s plenty going on to keep an action fan satisfied. Combat is challenging, unlike Devil May Cry 2, and takes patience and practice getting used to. Overall, this makes for a satisfying experience as you try new weapons, study the move sets of some dope bosses, and jam along to the badass metal soundtrack that accompanies it all.

Beyond Good and Evil

  • Released: 2003
  • Developer: Ubisoft

Beyond Good and Evil is a third-person action-adventure game that whisks you away to a planet under attack by aliens known as DomZ. Playing as Jade, you’re forced to fight back against the creatures as they try to take over the planet, and the story simply evolves from there. Paired with delightful characters and solid storytelling, Beyond Good and Evil might not look as great now as it did back when it launched, but is still packed with appeal.

Beyond Good and Evil artwork featuring Jade

A fair few of the games in this list released in the early noughties, and have been privy to upwards of three instalments since; Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2, God of War, and so forth. Beyond Good and Evil’s sequel has had fans waiting over a decade, however, having been in development since 2008; this makes it the most delayed AAA game of all time. Will this sequel ever see the light of day? Who knows.

Tekken 5

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Namco

Tekken 5 is one of the best fighting game on the PS2, although, I’m no expert. Compared to its predecessor, Tekken 4, combat became faster, new characters added variation, and the return to basics pleased players in this instalment.

Two fighters go up against each other in Tekken 5

As a fighting game, you can expect to be battling against an array of characters, using an open-ended combo system, the new crush system, and plenty of devastating attacks. Characters are also customisable for the first time in this title, and environments are also fully breakable.

Tekken 5 also features Roger Jr, a boxing kangaroo and descendent of Tekken 2’s Roger Sr. I think he’s worth mentioning because he makes me laugh.

Kingdom Hearts

  • Released: 2002
  • Developer: Square

Both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2 are worthy of this list, but for the sake of those who may have never played the games, we’re talking about the first instalment.

Kingdom Hearts artwork

Kingdom Hearts is a strange, albeit exciting blend of JRPG mechanics and Disney and Pixar characters in an all-new fictional universe. There’s also characters and locations from the Finasl Fantasy series, and The World Ends With You. With so many fandoms crossing paths in the realms of Kingdom Hearts, it’s easy to understand why the series exploded in popularity.

As Sora, you must go on a perilous adventure after your homeland is consumed by darkness. This involves teaming up with beloved characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and more, traversing worlds, and taking on Maleficent. It’s a wacky concept, but it’s one of the best crossovers - and PS2 games - out there.

God of War

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Santa Monica Studio

The God of War series has come a long way since 2005, with God of War: Ragnarok sweeping The Game Awards in 2022. Yet, it all started with Spartan warrior, Kratos, essentially selling his soul to Ares, the God of War. This takes a turn for the worst when Ares transports Kratos’ wife and daughter to the village Kratos is unleashing his rage on…

Kratos in God of War launching an attack

If you’ve spent any time at all with God of War, you know what happens next, and how heavily Kratos’ tragic story is embedded in more recent games.

God of War is also a treat for any fan of Greek mythology, with creatures and practices pulled from the myths and placed into the game. You’ll be able to mess around with combo-based combat when taking on the likes of Hydra, and Medusa, all as you simultaneously unwind Kratos’ tale and internal peril further.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

  • Released: 2003
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is not just one of the best PS2 games, but also the best Prince of Persia game. Some would even argue that it’s one of the best games of all time.

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time artwork

As a prince (surprise!), you and your father’s army find yourselves in possession of a mysterious artefact known as the Sands of Time. You decide to present these as a gift to the Sultan of Azad, but are instead tricked into releasing the Sands of Time. This turns everyone into hostile creatures, and leaves you to team up with a young princess to attempt to undo the evil that has been unleashed on the city.

There’s a lot more to this adventure than that, but we’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is also currently being remade by Ubisoft, however, things don’t look so great for fans considering the repeated delays.

Guitar Hero 2

  • Released: 2006
  • Developer: Harmonix

Guitar Hero 2 saw the series actually feature some banging metal tracks that would make you feel like a rock star. Sure, Guitar Hero had some decent tunes, but there’s only so many times a person can listen to Fat Lip by Sum 41 before losing the plot.

A screenshot of two players playing co-op in Guitar Hero 2

You can also squad up with friends and form your own band from the comfort of your bedroom, provided you happened to have two plastic guitars to boot. It’s a lot of kit for a game you’ll likely only pick up for an hour at a time, but there’s no denying that the full set-up can make any social gathering ten times better. And with that in mind, it’s also a lot less kit than the drum kits and microphones introduced later down the line in Guitar Hero World Tour.

Guitar Hero 2 boasts 55 tracks to test your skills, including hits such as Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine, Dead! By My Chemical Romance, You Really Got Me by Van Halen. There are also a bunch of bonus tracks specifically for the PlayStation 2 version, if you still have it lying around somewhere.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Naughty Dog

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy marks the first game in the series, and has you take on the role of Jak, who’s dear friend Daxter has been turned into an otter-meets-weasel hybrid. You then set off on one wild adventure to save the world from rogue sages that are desperately attempting to corrupt the world.

Jak and Daxter artwork for Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy

From here, you’ll be taking on missions, gathering collectibles, and even taking part in mini-games as you strive to save the world from the mysterious evil energy of Dark Eco. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is one of the best adventure games out there, boasting some of the best graphics of its time, and two main protagonists that are genuinely funny.

Spider-Man 2

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Treyarch

Spider-Man 2 is based off the film of the same name, if you weren’t already aware, and apparently, the web actually sticking to buildings was a big deal here. That’s why Spider-Man 2 wins this slot rather than its predecessor.

Spider-Man webs between building in Spider-Man 2

The game expands upon the story told by the film, while still closely sticking to the plot. That means Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst make an appearance, and Bruce Campbell even appears in the game as a narrator. Spider-Man 2 is also set in Manhattan, which is surprisingly realistic when recreated in the 2004 game.

A star-studded cast, life-sized Manhattan, and improved web mechanics all pave the way for Spider-Man 2 being as great as it is, as well as an entire eight chapters of chaos to keep you entertained.

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

  • Released: 2003
  • Developer: Radical Entertainment

This wouldn’t be a list of the best PS2 games without making mention of The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Inspired by the Grand Theft Auto series, Hit & Run is unsurprisingly packed with complete and utter chaos.

Marge and Homer stand outside of their home in The Simpsons Hit and Run

Ultimately, The Simpsons and their loyal friend, Apu, are witness to some peculiar events around the town of Springfield. As you explore Springfield and complete the various missions scattered around it, you’ll find that the bizarre vans and surveillance cameras you come across are all part of one wider plan conducted by Kang and Kodos.

It’s perhaps the perfect way of adapting The Simpsons, a series that has been going on since 1989, into a video game. You get the sense of camaraderie and general absurd disarray that Springfield is known for all packed into one equally bizarre plot, and it’s good fun.

TimeSplitters 2

  • Released: 2002
  • Developer: Free Radical Design

TimeSplitters 2 is one of the best multiplayer options on this list. The PS2 had plenty of games that supported couch co-op, but TimeSplitters and its sequel were among the few console shooters that focused on providing a fun multiplayer experience that got as many friends together as possible.

A character has a gun pointed at them in TimeSplitters 2

Ultimately, TimeSplitters 2 is an FPS game, with a story mode that has you taking on different levels, all with their own respective scenarios and objectives. Amidst all this, you’ll need to kill enemies, and stay alive. The multiplayer mode in the game supports four players via split-screen, but a whole squad of 16 could come together using System Link. Multiplayer also featured four game modes that most of us will be familiar with: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Bag (also known as Capture the Flag), and BagTag.

TimeSplitters 2 may honestly be the best multiplayer shooter of its time. The only thing that let it down was the lack of any online multiplayer.

Persona 3, and Persona 4

  • Released: 2006 (Persona 3), 2008 (Persona 4)
  • Developer: Atlus

I am not a Persona expert in the slightest, but I do know that to not mention the series in this list is a deeply unforgivable sin. I also can’t decide which game is better, so I’m mentioning both. Have your cake and eat it, Persona fans.

A street view of a city in Persona 4

For those, like me, who aren’t all that in the know about Atlus’ amazing RPG, the Persona series is actually a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series. My friend likes to call the series “emo Pokemon”, and while the two series’ are wildly different, I can see it.

Persona’s similarities to Shin Megami Tensei lie in the high school setting, with Persona 3 specifically following a group of students spices up their daily routine of going to school and hanging out with friends by fighting monsters during Dark Hour. Persona 4, on the other hand, is about a student who moves to a rural town for a year, and then finds himself and his friends investigating a series of mysterious murders.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Neversoft

I’ve played some of the Tony Hawk games, but I honestly couldn’t tell you which is which. After all, I was a toddler when they came out, and by the time I secured myself a gaming hobby, everyone was hyped about Skate 3.

Tony Hawk does some skating in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

What I do know about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, however, is that you could skate around as Doomguy or even Darth Maul if you wanted, and I think that’s cool as fuck. Additionally, Pro Skater 3 was the first in the series to go online, meaning players could skate about together from completely different homes.

That said, Sony eventually shut down these capabilities, but that didn’t make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 a worse game. Whether solo or multiplayer, the third instalment adds to its predecessors in such a way that the previous games don’t even feel worth playing. There are new tricks for you to perform, longer combos to pull off, and like I said, some cool exclusive cosmetics to coast around in between kickflips and caballerials.

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Polyphony Digital

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec is a racing game, and is currently the best-selling game in the entire Gran Turismo series. Gran Turismo 7 very well could’ve exceeded the third instalment’s near-15 million sales, there’s no way to know for sure.

Multiple cars race one another in Gran Turismo 3, with the player being 5th

The appeal of Gran Turismo over other racing games is undoubtedly how the game looks; graphics go above and beyond in these titles, with driving physics being accurately emulated. Let’s not forget the abundance of licenses vehicles in Gran Turismo 3, earning it a solid spot in the hearts of car aficionados globally.

Star Wars: Battlefront II

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Pandemic Studios

You might recall that the Star Wars: Battlefront series was rebooted in 2015 to be made more in line with the new Star Wars canon established by Lucasfilm. However, the Battlefront party actually started back in 2004, and peaked in 2005 with the original Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 artwork featuring, from left to right: Obi Wan, a Storm Trooper, and Darth Vader

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is your standard shooter, letting you pick between a first or third-person perspective as you stepped into the shoes of iconic characters battling against the likes of the Rebel Alliance, Resistance, and more. The main game mode will have you aiming to eliminate your enemy, but Battlefront 2 adds additional game modes, such as Capture the Flag.

All in all, it’s a grand improvement on the original title from a year earlier, and still holds up as good, couch co-op fun to this day if you happen to have a copy (and a PS2) laying around still.

Shadow of the Colossus

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Japan Studio, Team Ico

This list is no doubt full of déjà vu, because half of these games have since been rebooted, remade, or well on with entirely new series instalments. One of such games is Shadow of the Colossus, which released on PS2 in 2005, and has since received a remake for the PS4 in 2018. It was just that good.

The player aims their bow at a large enemy in Shadow of the Colossus

In Shadow of the Colossus, players are placed into the role of a young man, Wanda, as he embarks on a whimsical, beautiful journey to uncover Ancient truths and attempt to resurrect a maiden named Mono. The game features a minimalistic narrative and coherent open world, which all worked to its benefit, with it becoming home to pristine aesthetics, a stellar soundtrack, and some of the greatest storytelling to be found in video games.

It also went on to influence plenty of other big games, including God of War 2 and 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild, and even Game of the Year 2022, Elden Ring. With a relatively short runtime of six to eight hours, there’s no excuse not to give Shadow of the Colossus, or even the 2018 remake, a try!

Need for Speed: Underground

  • Released: 2003
  • Developer: EA Black Box

The seventh instalment in the series of racing games, Need for Speed: Underground and Underground 2 are among some of the best. It differs from racing series Gran Turismo in that it’s less of a simulation title and focuses on illegal street racing.

The start of a street race with a red car in Need for Speed Underground

Need for Speed: Underground is also much more of an arcade-style game. Something that you pick up, drift around circuits for a couple of hours, and then put back down again until the urge to race arises. Ultimately, your goal is to become the best racer in Olympic City, and with enough practice, you will!

It’s also worth mentioning that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002) is another great racing game in the series for PS2, which is actually different to Xbox, GameCube, and PC versions of the game. So, if you’re particularly nostalgic for that title, note that the PS2 version is wildly better than the other ports.

Honourable Mentions

There are simply too many great PlayStation 2 games out there that could be hailed the best, depending on your experience with them. I couldn't name them all in this list, but here are some additional honourable mentions!

Half-Life, Silent Hill 3, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Rayman 2 Revolution, LEGO Star Wars, Psychonauts, Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, Max Payne, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Guilty Gear X2, Grand Theft Auto 3, SSX Tricky, Kingdom Hearts 2, Sukoiden 3, Okami, SoulCalibur 2, Ico, Viewtiful Joe, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Burnout 3: Takedown,


That’s it for our list of the best PS2 games, but be sure to let us know what your favourites are! For more to check out, try comparing them with the best PS5 games, and for another trip down memory lane, take a look at the best Nintendo DS games.

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About the Author
Kelsey Raynor avatar

Kelsey Raynor

Guides Writer

Kelsey's passion for gaming began with Resident Evil, and it's been rather difficult to get them to shut up about horror games since. When they're not scoping out new scares or commiserating the cancellation of Silent Hills, they can often be found fawning over cute Pokémon and Kirby, or being very average at FPS games.

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