Yesterday marked the 10-year anniversary of the PlayStation 2 in North America, so we thought it would be fun to ask a few high-profile game developers and journalists to name their top three “must play” PS2 games. Word quickly spread, the project swelled in scope, and the result is what you see here — a definitive list of “must-play” PS2 games by some of the greatest living game developers in the business.
A few quick numbers: Ico earned the most mentions at six, while Grand Theft Auto III and Shadow of the Colossus tied with five mentions. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, God of War, Okami, and Katamari Damacy were also popular picks.
Co-CEO, Quantic Dream
Creative Director, Disney Interactive Studios
*Note: These are excerpts of Warren’s full responses, which you can read at the bottom of this post. Please do: As always, Warren is brimming with passion and insight into the art of great game making.
Press & Community
Editor in Chief, GameSpot
*Appendix: Warren Spector’s Full Comments
So what is it that makes Ico great? It’s the characters, and, more importantly, their relationship to one another. And even MORE important than that is the relationship the PLAYER has with those characters – the boy in the horned helm you play and the girl that boy has to protect. The first time your character holds hands with that girl who needs protecting, you feel something never before felt in a game. It’s an almost indescribable feeling born of the power of touching, even virtually, another person. The fact that the girl is weak and slow, the fact that you have to wait for her, putting yourself in peril?… That’s design genius, friends. And then, toward the end when there’s a magic moment of role reversal? That’s when I knew I’d played one of the best games I would ever play. If you haven’t played it do so. Now. It takes, like six hours to get through, so no excuses. Beg, borrow or steal a copy and get ready to FEEL something as you play – and that’s a statement that can’t be made about many games, sadly.
2. Ratchet & Clank – I’ve always found the Ratchet & Clank series oddly inspirational. I don’t typically make games like them and don’t really love playing them as a rule. They’re action adventures, mostly, I guess. But I think what I love about them is the way they defy genre definitions. They feature RPG-ish character development and action-adventure story and puzzle-solving. Plus there’s some platforming. (If that sounds a little like Disney Epic Mickey, that’s no accident.) And beyond gameplay, the character designs of Ratchet, Clank and the rest of the cast are on par with anything Hollywood has ever put on the silver screen. The list of good things goes on: The writing, animation and cinematics work are all first rate. These games are fun to play, witty to watch and just fine entertainment. Now, for my money, the series has gone from good to even better with each installment. But the core goodness was all there in the PS2 entry in the series. I’ve been more influenced by these games than I like to admit. Gotta have a place on my list.
3. Grand Theft Auto III – I’ve gone on record – somewhat foolishly, I admit – as being annoyed with the GTA games. But I’ve always tried to be clear that while the CONTENT makes me feel this way, I’m in awe of the DESIGN thinking behind GTA. And I’ll be damned if the level of execution doesn’t match the conceptual brilliance. I’m a huge believer in the idea that games should be vehicles (pardon the pun) for player expression. The groundbreaking, open world, freeform, sandbox gameplay of GTA (with a story thrown in for good measure) takes that idea – that games are about the PLAYER’S creativity as much as, or more than the designer’s creativity – to ridiculous heights. I still don’t quite get how Rockstar pulled this off on a PS2!