Welcome to Geek Squad, USF’s premier source for all things geeky. I’m Jonny Hechema, and I’ll be your guide as we venture through the exciting worlds of gaming and technology. Last year, we took a look back at some of my favorite games from the most memorable systems of the past, starting with the 8-bit glory of the Nintendo Entertainment System and ending with the Sega Dreamcast, a console that was ahead of its time. This year, we’ll continue where we left off, starting with the system that quickly became the best-selling console to date, the Sony PlayStation 2.
Though it was the first console out the door in its generation, the Sega Dreamcast wasn’t garnering enough sales to stay afloat. Poised and ready to strike, Sony used the momentum of the original PlayStation to launch the PlayStation 2 in 2000. With a stellar, less kid-friendly game line-up and the ability to play DVD movies, the PlayStation 2 quickly rose in popularity while establishing itself as the console for mature gamers, eventually hitting the top of the sales charts for its generation and never coming back down. To this day, the PlayStation 2 continues to defy expectations with its monthly sales figures, sometimes even surpassing one or more of this generation’s systems. Now, it’s shameful that I never actually owned a PS2, but I’ve still managed to play enough to assemble a decent list of games. So without further adieu, let’s start the year off with my top five PlayStation 2 games!
5. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
One of the first games I ever played on the PS2, “Gran Turismo 3,” is a racing simulator, and arguably one of the best of its generation. “Gran Turismo 3” puts you in the driver’s seat of over 150 different cars, pitting you against other racers in order to win competitions and earn money to buy new cars and upgrade your current ones, with the ultimate goal being to win every race and complete every challenge. The game’s simple yet addicting racing mechanics coupled with its rewarding and diverse upgrade system gives it a wide appeal and accessibility to gamers with even the least bit of car knowledge. On top of that, the entire game gives off a polished feel both literally and figuratively, from the clean and shiny menus to the jazzy soundtrack, almost as if you’re playing the Rolls-Royce of driving simulators.
4. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
After creating such gems as “GoldenEye” and “Perfect Dark,” certain employees of Rare left the company to form their own, dubbing it Free Radical and creating “TimeSplitters,” a first-person shooter in a similar vein to their previous hits. And while their single player modes are fairly strong, the “TimeSplitters” series is best known for its multiplayer modes, and “TimeSplitters: Future Perfect” is no exception. The game allows up to four players to engage each other and computer players in a handful of different game types, such as your standard death match, a variant of capture the flag and a mode where you either defend your base or infiltrate the enemy’s by accomplishing certain objectives. “TimeSplitters: Future Perfect” also features a wide range of colorful maps, crazy weapons, and 150 – yes, one hundred fifty – playable characters. And when you add in whole teams of computer players with five different levels of artificial intelligence, you’re sure to have a frantically fun time.
3. Katamari Damacy
Laaaaaaaaaaa la-la-la la-la la laaaaa la Katamari Damacy! Okay, so maybe the song is better heard than read, but the theme song to “Katamari Damacy” perfectly embodies the game as a whole – it’s a wild, crazy, addicting ride that just screams charm at the top of its lungs. The story of “Katamari Damacy” revolves around a 10-cm-tall character known as The Prince, who is forced to rebuild all the stars and other heavenly bodies after his planet-sized father, The King of All Cosmos, wipes out everything in the sky while binge drinking. But how does The Prince accomplish such a daunting task? Simple – with the use of a katamari, a spiky little ball that grows by latching onto anything and everything smaller than it. Sent down to Earth, the object of “Katamari Damacy” is to roll around a katamari and run it into objects until it’s big enough to become a star. It’s a simple concept, but the quirky, charming, humorous, even adorable execution of it is what makes “Katamari Damacy” a must-play.
2. Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening
“Devil May Cry” began as a prototype for “Resident Evil 4.” After Capcom decided that it didn’t have the right feel as a “Resident Evil” game, it was instead reworked and given its own series. A prequel to the original, “Devil May Cry 3” follows a young half-demon named Dante. Upon opening his demon-hunting agency for business, Dante is attacked by monsters sent by his brother, Vergil. After defeating them, Dante decides to chase down his brother, fighting his way through a magical tower based on the nine circles of hell depicted in Dante’s (the poet, not the character) “Inferno” and awakening the demonic powers within him. “Devil May Cry 3” features third-person action at its finest, with fast-paced fighting that seamlessly blends together swordplay and gun slinging. Then you’ve got four different fighting styles to choose from, a handful of weapons all with their own unique properties, an intricate combo system, a nicely fleshed-out upgrade system and a difficulty level that will test your persistence, all wrapped up in a stylish package, making “Devil May Cry 3” one of the best of its kind.
1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
I don’t even know where to start with this one. There’s so much I want to say about this game, and yet none of it even holds a candle to just playing it yourself. “Metal Gear Solid 3” serves as a prequel to the first two games, chronicling the journey of Naked Snake as he completes the mission that earns him the reputation of the legendary soldier known as Big Boss and sets the happenings of the rest of the series into motion. Continuing the trend that the series set, “Metal Gear Solid 3’s” gameplay puts an emphasis on sneaking past enemies and avoiding confrontation. The game builds on and streamlines the mechanics of the previous two games along with incorporating some big additions – a stamina bar now requires you to periodically consume food (either hunted or packaged) in order to stay on top of things, an injury system makes it so that you must treat serious wounds in specific parts of the body, and a camouflage system introduces varying levels of protection, with different outfits providing better or worse camouflage in different areas. Speaking of which, “Metal Gear Solid 3” introduces a radical departure from the urban, indoor environments of the first two games, instead taking place in the jungles of Russia. But all this aside, the true merit of “Metal Gear Solid 3” lies in its plot, a thrilling story with unexpected twists at every corner and an emotionally-driven ending. With its challenging gameplay and memorable storyline, “Metal Gear Solid 3” is a must-play for any PS2 owner – heck, it’s a must-play for any gamer.
Come back next week as we look into Microsoft’s entry to the gaming world with the Xbox!