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Game Buzz 35: The Best Console Ever Made

Matt Gardner
Best Console Ever, Features, Game Buzz, Games consoles, PS2, Sony

Game Buzz 35: The Best Console Ever Made

I'm going to be honest with you. The PS2 isn't my favourite console of all time - that particular honour goes to my beloved, now crusty and leprous, N64 - but when asked, with a gun to my head, which console is the best console of all time, my answer would be identical every time: it's got to be the PS2. I can hear retro fans crying foul, there will be old school Ninty fans lined up to take potshots with the hackneyed old excuse that if you're not approaching or past the age of 30 you can't possibly remember the NES/SNES heyday, SEGA fans will be bemoaning said company's lack of managerial nous and lamenting their marketing failures. Some PC owners will no doubt scoff at some of this, and perhaps rightly so, but the clue is in the title. You can take your mouse and keyboard elsewhere.

But this isn't about favourite consoles, it's not even particularly about progenitors. Of course the PS2 wouldn't exist without the PS1. Of course the SNES is an amazing console that proved for much of the current critical crop to be a defining item in their childhood. Of course the Dreamcast was ahead of its time and we should mourn SEGA's disappearance from the console battlefield. But this week saw the PS2's tenth birthday and it's about time we all gave it a tip of the cap and proclaimed it to be the greatest console ever made.

It Was The First True Entertainment System

Game Buzz 35: The Best Console Ever Made

Before the PS2, the PC was the king of multitasking home entertainment. You could do work on it, watch movies on it, listen to music on it and play games. But now you could do all of that in your lounge...well, apart from the work part. Forget the multiplicity of cables for you to trip over, gone were the six or seven remotes, duck taped together to form a Peep Show-style Megatron. We finally had something approaching a home entertainment system, replete with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Place the PS2 next to the Gamecube (and I love my Gamecube) and it's something of a no brainer. Nintendo's baffling decision to use microdiscs instead of DVDs with their purple box of distraction came back to bite them in the bum as Sony's wonder tub of accessible cinematic playback gave film-lovers and game-lovers everything they wanted. The new format was so much better than VHS, it was less of a bandwagon and more of an essential party limo...the correlary between sales and technology readily evident when you line up the stats.

Sony tried to do something similar this generation, with the advent of Blu-Ray, although it'll be very interesting to see how that plays out against Microsoft's own advocating of purely digital media. Blu-Ray is, though, in a sense, simply DVD+. The PS2 allowed you to revamp the entertainment lives of your kids, and also smoothly transition into a new dawn for home cinema, without the need to shell out for an extra DVD player. And we loved it.

Bells and whistles, extra technological additions and the like are commonplace now and becoming even more important. But it was this generation that warned us that it didn't have to be all about the games. The Gamecube had some cracking titles, but dropped the ball. Why by a games console, when you can get a games console, hi-fi and DVD player all rolled into one? The games are important, of course, but then the PS2 pretty much had it covered there as well...

Its Catalogue Of Games Is Phenomenal

Game Buzz 35: The Best Console Ever Made

There are more than 2000 games out there for the PS2. TWO THOUSAND! And we're not just talking shovelware here, we're talking games with a certain pedigree. And then there are the triple A titles. The PS2 has so many that after a while it stops being something special and just becomes an exponentially raised bar. Here's a mini list off of the top of my head to help relieve a few cocked eyebrows:

  • Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas
  • Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII
  • Virtua Fighter 4
  • Burnout
  • Devil May Cry
  • Okami
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • ICO
  • Tekken Tag, 4 and 5
  • Gran Turismo 3 and 4
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3
  • SSX
  • God of War 1 and 2
  • Twisted Metal Black
  • Battlefront
  • Max Payne
  • Jak and Daxter
  • Ratchet and Clank
  • Guitar Hero
  • The Getaway
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Zone of the Enders
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2

In spite of the slew of shovelware that peppered the PS2's market, Sony managed to not only generate a whole bunch of fantastic first and second party follow ups to existing franchises, but they were constantly on the lookout for more as well. You only have to look at the Sony stable today in comparison to that of Microsoft to see just how effective their scout-acquire-nurture policies were. That said, Sony, unlike Nintendo who've struggled with this since the mid-90s, really led the way in terms of opening up a platform for third parties to not just break even, but be incredibly profitable, something Microsoft certainly emulated in the early days of the X360.

Nintendo have always had the big hitting exclusives, those killer apps that you know are pretty much guaranteed to score highly at any given time, but the downside to that is their predictability. If Nintendo created games that everyone could play, Sony just made sure that there were games for everyone. The difficulty for the consumer came because there was simply so much that was good on offer. The Xbox, the late pretender, and its subsequent progeny are sometimes branded as the shooter consoles - a tag no doubt aided by Halo's popularity. But here was absolutely none of that with the PS2. For every gamer archetype there was a killer app, it just transcended unhelpful terms like casual and hardcore.

And let's not forget that you could play PS1 games on it too.

You Can Play Your Old Games

Game Buzz 35: The Best Console Ever Made

Let's not underestimate the appeal of backwards compatibility. When a thrifty consumer is faced with the option of playing awesome games, and then playing awesome games on a system that lets you still play all of your existing awesome games, something called a seeming no-brainer develops. You might argue that there are other mitigating factors, but quite frankly not everyone has enough to buy every console in a generation. Generational continuity saves time, it saves money, it's convenient, neat and seemingly altruistic too. Consoles, from a financial perspective, are something of an investment. To be told that your investment in the previous generation's models needn't be wiped out is encouraging for everyone involved.

It also helpfully facilitates brand loyalty, and connotations of protection for the 'investors' (rather unfortunately in the end as Sony swiftly removed backwards compatibility from the PS3). I love the fact that I can still play Gamecube games on my Wii and at least Microsoft kind of made the effort, bricked though much of it is.

It's thanks, in part, to backwards compatibility that the PS2 is able to make a claim that no other home console can: it bridges 3 generations, and it's still going...

It Just Won't Die

Like all of the best superheroes, the PS2 just won't back down. Even with a new, shinier model on the scene, rubbishing its specifications and wedgie-ing it in the playground whilst the PSP looks on and giggles maniacally, the PS2 is still going strong. Games are still released for it every week. It's been ten years, and it's still selling. There are console bundles, still selling.

This isn't a popularity contest, although if it was the PS2 would still win; 147 million units sold pays tribute to that fact. It's definitely not my favourite console. In all honesty if 'favourite' means the console you play the most, then it'd be my X360. If it means the console that's given you the most joy, it'd definitely be the N64. But no other console has totally revolutionised my lounge the way my PS2 did, none have stayed the course as long. It's both a source of nostalgia as well as being relevant. The retro columns are beckoning to it, but it refuses to lie down and die. It already has a glittering legacy, it's already been supplanted; but it steadfastly refuses to retire. It's basically Clint Eastwood. You can't help but admire it.

Do you have a beloved PS2 memory or favourite game? We'd love to hear about them. Drop us a line in the comments box below.

Add a comment16 comments
Gunn  Nov. 26, 2010 at 21:48

I know people say the ps2 had reliability issues but in my experience its the most reliable console I've ever owned, nothing has ever gone wrong with it and I still use it now and again. The games were excellent and it shows in the recent spate of HD remakes. Long live PS2!

evil_gn0me  Nov. 26, 2010 at 23:30

For me its got to be the ps1, yes you can play the games on the ps2 but lets forget that for now. My fav genre of games probably has to be Jrpg and the ps1 was probably the last great console for the genre you still get the occasional gem but the heydays of the genre was the snes and ps1 days and wtf is ff x-2 doing in the list ??

zax  Nov. 27, 2010 at 02:21

Don't forget :

triclops  Nov. 27, 2010 at 05:53

shorter matt gardner:

because i am about 25, and the ps2 hit its stride in my adolescense, it is the greatest console.

Mr. Truth  Nov. 27, 2010 at 07:32


Backwards compatibility is ONLY important during the first year or two of any new consoles life cycle. After that, there should be more than enough new console games to keep everyone happy. You do realize that is why they offer it early in the console life cycle of the PS3, right?

And removing it was to cut costs, plain and simple. Right now, on my gaming bookshelf, I have 117 PS3 games. I don't even have the time to play all of them! Why the heck would I want to go back and replay PS2 games that I have already finished. And have to watch them in nasty 480i/p when I could be playing Uncharted 2 in sweet 1080p?!?!

I wish everyone would simply STFU about the lose of backwards compatibility on the PS3. We are into Year 5 of the PS3 already! Sheesh, give it a rest. That issue is done, over, forget it. The PS4 will be out in the next 3 years (likely) and you can cry anew about PS3 compatibility on the PS4.

So don't use up all your crying and whining at once, save some for the PS4......

Paul  Nov. 27, 2010 at 08:59

PS2 are you serious?!
Anyone that ranks the PS2 as the best console ever is a bit naive.
For starters the PS1 was a far more groundbreaking and reliable system, it developed every game genre further and faster than the PS2. I would go to say that if you did a poll then the PS2 might struggle to make the top 5.

Gunn  Nov. 27, 2010 at 10:59

I don't think it is naive to pick the PS2 when it's the highest selling console of all time. The PS2 was always credited with moving the console from the bedroom to the living room, that is a major landmark.

Dealspwn could do a poll but I think some people would struggle to differentiate between the best console and their favourite console.

Matt Gardner  Nov. 27, 2010 at 11:02

If my choice had been predicated on my childhood nostalgia and gaming entertainment then rest assured, the PS2 would not be my first choice. And your argument holds just as much weight when applied to slightly older members who grew up in the heyday of the SNES/Genesis. But, as I mention in the article, viewed as objectively as possible, it's difficult to argue with the PS2's impressive figures. There's an argument to be made to suggest that stats and sales don't, or shouldn't, count. But, considering the three big points I make in article, not to mention the fact that the thing is still selling, still expanding its library.

The SNES didn't rule it's generation as emphatically as many would have us believe, the Genesis pushed it very hard, and it could be argued that those two consoles produced a golden age of gaming that has yet to be bettered. To that I would laugh...we've never had it as good as we do now, to say otherwise is sheer stubbornness.

Matt Gardner  Nov. 27, 2010 at 11:10

I'll agree with you that backwards compatibility is MORE important at the start of a console's life cycle and, sure, hardware companies would hope that the new generation of games is enough to keep their current audience happy. But to say that there's no reason to go back and play old games is frankly ridiculous. That's like saying 'why would I watch a film I've already seen?' or 'why would I read a book I've already read?'. To say that one generation's games is totally subsumed by the next is laughable. I know plenty of people who still go through Shadow of the Colossus or ICO or MGS 2 every year because it's like saying hello to an old friend. Soul Caliber 2 kept Jon and myself busy on a number of occasions, simply because it was the best in the series (mmmm Necrid). Of course there are costs involved, but let's not forget companies stand to make rather more money if they can just force people to buy everything all over again (albeit maybe with a shiny makeover)...that's perhaps what pisses people off.

Jonathan Lester  Nov. 27, 2010 at 12:39

Absolutely- that's always the issue. Best and favourite are completely different concepts. My favourite console, for example, is the Dreamcast.

And the PS2 is the best. :P Sales, game selection, multimedia, backwards compatibility. Job done.

Spudeh  Nov. 27, 2010 at 14:25

While I believe that the PS2 could well have been the best home console, I don't think it's the best gaming device made.

That honor, surely, has to go to the Gameboy/Gameboy Colour.

I grew up in the SNES years, so while I'm not old enough to comment on consoles pre-4th generation, that shouldn't make my view any less valid, like some of the commenters are saying here.

Mr. Truth  Nov. 27, 2010 at 15:30

@Matt Gardner

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

No one forces anyone to buy everything all over again. People vote with their wallets and they have voted that they want the HD remakes of the PS2 classics (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are inbound next year).

And what is laughable is someone who goes to a movie theatre where there are 10 top rated newly released movies out but they elect to go watch some old movie instead that they have already seen a dozen times. That is laughable. Denying new experiences in lieu of an old comfy blanket movie is absurd. As Trinity said to Neo, "...you been down that road before, you know where it goes...".

If you are the avant garde emo gamer dude trying to impress your vegan girlfriend, then you'll likely want to go back and play effeminate JRPG's to impress her and your non-meat eating friends (who take vitamins, making them fake vegetarians and hypocrites).

PS2 was last generations greatest console, but this generations greatest console is the XBOX 360. It has changed the way people think about gaming, entertainment and the living room. Watch nearly any movie or TV show and whenever there is a reference to gaming, it is almost always showing the actor/actress with a 360 controller in their hand. The 360 has replaced the PlayStation as the dominant console in the media. President Obama told America to put down their 360 controllers. He made no mention of the PlayStation.....

Nathan Six  Nov. 28, 2010 at 00:48

PS2 is easily the best console of all the times. It has the superb graphics and awesome exclusive games. It is undefeatable (Except by the PS3).

Xbox and Xbox 360 are jokes of games consoles and quite rightly weren't even mentioned in this article, to even say the word "Xbox" in the same breath as "Playstation" means you don't really know what video games are and probably don't have any friends.

Paul  Nov. 28, 2010 at 05:24

Written like a true Sony Fanboy and a 12 year old.

Paul  Nov. 28, 2010 at 05:33

Why do you guy's keep on with this PS2 is the best?!
Just because it sells the most it does not make it the best! That is basics!
The PS2 was nowhere near as bigger leap from the previous gen console. If you never experienced all these games consoles through the years then fair enough you have to say PS2 as you know no better.

konasi1  Aug. 8, 2011 at 09:23

i have ps3 and psp and ps2


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