35 Best PS2 Games of All Time

The PS2 reigns supreme.

Milan Zagorac
Milan Zagorac
27 Min Read

The Sony PlayStation 2 is the best-selling console on the market. Its expansive game library coupled with Sony’s aggressive marketing campaign led it to be to be the highest-selling selling console of all time even outselling the Dreamcast.

Piggybacking off the PS1’s successful list of games, the PlayStation 2 tried to iterate on everything that the PS1 did, and do it better. With franchises now seeing some cohesiveness between them, here’s a list of the best PS2 games of all time.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

CJ on his bicycle in GTA San Andreas.

Release: 2004
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games/Capcom

In general, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the most loved games on all the platforms it was available at the time. It took what was great about Vice City, and added an even better story with a much more relatable character, and better mechanics.

Who could forget going to the gym as CJ, to get more buff and be able to take on opponents with ease? Notably, CJ could swim and pilot anything from land, and sea, to aerial vehicles. It is a masterpiece that everyone should play (except the remake unless you have another choice).


Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

A-Spec was the second most sold PS2 game of all time.

Release: 2001
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Gran Turismo titles were very popular on the PS2, and are some of the best racing games. While Need for Speed got better with time, the early Gran Turismo titles sold like hotcakes. This is a racing game that has many features you would want in one.

It is a race-driven game, without any special campaign mode. Your goal is to complete all the challenges and get that sweet 100% game completion. There are various types of races, cars, and challenges, so strap in.


Gran Turismo 4

Gran Turismo 4 improves on its predecessor in every way but the number of sold games.

Release: 2004
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

It is difficult to make a better game than an already best-selling one. However, arguably, Gran Turismo 4 is a better game by technical standards. It has a mere 721 vehicles in the game, dating from the 1880s to the 2020s, which was the future at the time.

This game takes what was good about Gran Turismo 3 and adds more of everything. It has much better graphics and more gameplay elements from the “regular” A-Spec mode, to the new B-Spec mode. It is a great racing game for those that feel the PS2 nostalgia.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

The classic Vice City introduction drive back to the hotel gameplay moment.

Release: 2002
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

Vice City followed up on a great 3D game, Grand Theft Auto III. With a completely new story, players were transferred to 1080s Vice City, also known as Miami. With a glorious soundtrack, great cars, fantastic story, it was the game to play in the early 2000s.

You step in the shoes of Tommy Vercetti, a mobster who ends up owing a lot of money. The way to the top is brutal and paved with violence and comic relief. There are many challenges in Vice City, from hidden objects to crazy stunts, not to mention the dreaded RC helicopter.


Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X is a great RPG.

Release: 2001
Developer: Square Product Development Division 1
Publisher: Square/Square Electronic Arts/Sony Computer Entertainment

Final Fantasy games did very well on the previous Sony console, but even more so on the NES and later, the SNES. Now fully embracing the 3D world, Final Fantasy X takes us to new horizons, with new characters and stories.

The world is now fully 3D and you can explore it seamlessly, without entering new areas. This improves immersion and changes the famous top-down perspective to third-person. FF games competed with the Shining series, notably the Genesis ones.


Grand Theft Auto III

The iconic start of GTA III on the PS2.

Release: 2001
Developer: DMA Design
Publisher: Rockstar Games/Capcom

The first 3D Grand Theft Auto game showed the world what a great open-world game could be if you have the right tools and great gameplay. This game also added radios with real music, much to people’s delight.

What was also interesting was the silent protagonist, Claude, out for revenge for betrayal. The game has many missions, some collectibles, and a whole Liberty City (New York) for you to explore. Notably, DMA Design is the same team as Rockstar North, but under a different name.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

The start of Metal Gear Solid 2.

Release: 2001
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher: Konami

Metal Gear Solid games are known for their action, stealth and more than that, a great story. The way a story is told in a game can turn something with rather dull gameplay elements into a masterpiece. Metal Gear Solid 2 is definitely not dull but is a masterpiece.

Created by none other than Hideo Kojima, this title became somewhat of a standard as to how you should tell a story in a game. Artistic expression and various concepts that are otherwise absent from games are here in abundance. Play it and enjoy it.


Tekken 5

Hworang battling Law in Tekken 5.

Release: 2005
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco/Sony Computer Entertainment

Tekken 5 is a great game. The Tekken franchise already established itself as some of the best fighting games, but they sort of went hand in hand with Sony consoles. Tekken 5 was one of PS2’s best-sellers.

It has the famous juggling system, now harder to abuse. Combos are fun and easy to execute and characters are now vulnerable during certain parts of their animations. The story revolves around Jin Kazama, of course, but the fighting is what draws the players.


Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII is a great game.

Release: 2006
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix

Another Final Fantasy game, but this time, more modern and with a different Roman numeral. Compared to previous releases, this was the first main Final Fantasy game not to have random encounters, which was a big change. Final Fantasy games did very well on the SNES.

The 3D world is still here, as is the third-person perspective, with seamless navigation and a massive world to explore. The story revolves around six playable characters, all of which are in the same party. In a world where magic is common, there are many (social) challenges.


Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts combines Disney and Square universes for a great franchise.

Release: 2002
Developer: Square 
Publisher: Square/Square Electronic Arts/Sony Computer Entertainment

When Disney and Square combine their efforts, you get Kingdom Hearts, a game that plays like Final Fantasy, but has characters from different universes. It is more of an action-adventure game than an RPG, but it has role-playing elements.

Sora, Goofy, and Donald Duck are in your party. You control Sora, and the others are AI-driven. Combat is in real-time, though an action menu similar to that of the FF series is there to guide you. It is a great combination of characters, so give it a try.


Final Fantasy X-II

FF X-II continues the story of FF X, giving us the chance to get some closure.

Release: 2003
Developer: Square Product Development Division 1
Publisher: Square/Square Enix/Electronic Arts

Final Fantasy X-II continues the story of the previous game, as can be inferred from the title. The story doesn’t continue in a linear fashion, which makes it even better. The kingdom of Spira has changed, slightly for the better, with caveats.

Yuna is the main protagonist of this game, but other characters also return, searching for Tidus while solving brewing problems in Spira. Almost all areas of the game are available at the start, and some locations will be more than familiar to Final Fantasy X players. 


Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Dragon Quest VIII is a great game, combining action and RPG elements, popular on the PS2.

Release: 2004
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Square Enix

This is the eighth title in the series and the first game that is not called Dragon Warrior. Dragon Quest was available on many older consoles, but not under that name in North America and Europe.

Honoring the gameplay elements of previous titles, this is also a role-playing game with turn-based combat. You can explore the world, level up, and fight random encounters or actual story-related battles. Your goal is to stop the evil Dhoulmagus from wreaking more havoc.


Kingdom Hearts II

Kingdom Hearts II is a great PS2 game.

Release: 2005
Developer: Square Enix Product Development Division 1/Buena Vista Games
Publisher: Square Enix

The second Kingdom Hearts game improves on the first one, adding more nuanced controls. The camera was a problem in the first game and that was rectified in the second. It is still an RPG hack-and-slash title, combining two often distant concepts.

From the third-person perspective, you still control Sora, who is on a mission that takes him to various Disney worlds. Accompanying him are Goofy and Donald Duck, the same two from the first game, on a mission from their king, Mickey Mouse.


God of War

The first God of War title is legendary in general, and on the PS2.

Release: 2005
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Everyone who has heard of God of War knows about the main character, Kratos. Kratos is a special Spartan warrior, sometimes in service of the Olympian gods. As an action-adventure game with hack-and-slash elements, it is very fun to play.

Kratos has a score to settle with Ares, who made a mistake at one point in Kratos’ past. This comes naturally to Kratos, though when Athena asks, you tend to listen. With many combos, puzzles, and fast-paced gameplay, God of War is definitely worth playing.


God of War II

The second God of War is like the first, but better.

Release: 2007
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

God of War II is an even better game from the perspective of gameplay and perhaps even the story. Kratos is back and with him, combos, smashes, throws, and lots of battles. Kratos also knows magic, as he did in the first game.

Following the story of the previous title, Kratos gets in a lot of trouble for disobeying the gods (well, one of them). After dying, he has to find a way to get back to life, which means exploring the underworld, for starters. This is one of the best PS2 games.


Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

Jak & Daxter at the start of the game.

Release: 2001
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Jak and Daxter is a great franchise and familiar to the PlayStation owners, especially the early ones. This is a platformer, though it has various elements of action games such as using weapons, which makes the main character useful.

Jak and Daxter are friends but Daxter ends up turning into a weasel and otter, also known as ottsel. It is up to Jak to help his friend find his humanity. The two are contrasting characters, one is mute and the other doesn’t stop talking. 


Pro Evolution Soccer 6

PES 6 is a great Sony PS2 game.

Release: 2006
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

PES vs. FIFA is an ongoing battle and PES was the favorite on almost every PlayStation console. This is a series by Konami, dating back to the first PS console, and with annual releases. Sports games were popular on all consoles, and PES 6 was on the PS2.

There are multiple licenses in the game so you will see full teams, and even national teams that competed at the 2006 World Cup. Choosing the best PES or FIFA game is next to impossible, but one had to be named.


WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006

One of the four dramatic match starts in WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006.

Release: 2005
Developer: Yuke’s
Publisher: THQ/Yuke’s

Professional wrestling with its theatrics and athleticism was and is very popular. One would argue that MMA is more popular nowadays, but people still love seeing dramatic moves and stories full of betrayal in the ring. 

The 2006 SmackDown! Vs. RAW game stands out. The gameplay is great, all the athletes are there, as well as some legends from the 1980s, unlockable if you complete some challenges. This is one of the best PS2 games and a great wrestling title.


Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Snake Eater sends us to the past, the beginnings of the Metal Gear Solid world.

Release: 2004
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan/Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami

The Metal Gear Solid franchise is simply great. The gameplay doesn’t change much, still focusing on stealth. Close-quarters combat is now available, as is camouflage. Snake can still hide under cardboard boxes, somewhat of a trademark move at this point.

This is a prequel to the Metal Gear franchise, focusing on events that happened many years before the previous titles. Naked Snake is the main character, often referred to as Big Boss. Most of the game is in the Soviet Union, with a focus on the Cold War. 


Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank in the first game, a PS2 masterpiece.

Release: 2002
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank established itself very quickly as a great game, but also a great series as it turned out. The game focuses on the titular characters, with you controlling Ratchet, a cat/humanoid known as a Lombax.

Clank lands on Ratchet’s homeworld and the two team up to stop Chairman Drek. Drek wants to harvest planets (which destroys them) to create another for his own people. This is unacceptable and the mechanic and robot have to stop him.


Resident Evil 4

Leon getting attacked by the first baddie in Resident Evil 4.

Release: 2005
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher: Capcom

Resident Evil 4 takes a break from all the isometric navigation and puts the camera behind the protagonist, Leon S. Kennedy. It is still a survival horror game that we know and love, though Leon is able to shoot more and now has a crosshair (finally).

The goal of the game is to save the daughter of the US President. Things get problematic when random villagers get very hostile while Leon is investigating a lead in Spain. It turns out that there is something foul at play. Leon has to find a way to save himself and others too. 


Medal of Honor: Frontline

The chaotic beginning of Medal of Honor: Frontline.

Release: 2002
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Medal of Honor is a first-person shooter franchise that is often focused on some historic periods such as World War II. Frontline takes us to Nazi Germany as we follow James Patterson, the character from the previous title.

Patterson lands on Omaha beach as all hell breaks loose during Operation Overlord. He is sent to infiltrate a German U-boat and as you can imagine, things don’t always go the player’s way. It is a great shooter if you like fictional World War II settings.


Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

A typical Guitar Hero layout for any song.

Release: 2007
Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision

The same people who made Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games developed some of the most iconic guitar games, namely the Guitar Hero franchise. Legends of Rock gives us new songs, and a familiar interface best experienced with the guitar controller.

Popular across all PlayStation models at the time, including the PSP, even, Guitar Hero III is one of the best PS2 games. Choose an avatar and rock away as you become a stadium-filling musician on tour for most of the year.


Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

Ratchet using the blitz gun in Up Your Arsenal, a great PS2 game.

Release: 2004
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank is back once more, in another game, though this is the third one in the series. It is also known as Ratchet & Clank 3 in Europe. Notably, the third game adds more action than platformer elements.

There are many weapons and action moves available, moving this game more into the action genre with platformer elements. The core is still there, but there is a change in focus, towards more action. It is good to refresh a series with gameplay changes. 


The Getaway

The Getaway is an interesting GTA clone, a great game in its own right.

Release: 2002
Developer: Team Soho
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

London is a tough place, as you find out as soon as you start playing The Getaway. It is an open-world game with lots of car chases and shooting. That sounds much like Grand Theft Auto, which is to be expected because the genre boomed after GTA III.

The Getaway has two protagonists, Mark Hammond, whose daughter gets kidnapped, and Frank Carter, who is a detective. The events of the game take place in a single day, which is remarkable, considering how many things happen.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3

Goku fighting Raditz in the Super Saiyan saga.

Release: 2007
Developer: Spike
Publisher: Namco Bandai/Atari

The Budokai series of games was very popular, the reasons being that you could play as your favorite Dragon Ball characters and explore the famous sagas in the manga/anime. You can play as Goku in the Frieza Saga or even the Android Saga.

There are many playable characters, and the battles take place in 3D, featuring all the moves that make Dragon Ball great. From the Sagas to the World Tournament, you can relive some of the greatest Dragon Ball moments.


Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando

Ratchet on another planet in Going Commando, the second Ratchet & Clank game.

Release: 2003
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is actually Ratchet & Clank 2 in Europe. It is a direct sequel to the first game and more or less continues where we left off in the first one. Adding some roleplay elements to the game, Ratchet & Clank evolve.

Notably, weapons are more numerous, and the Blitz Gun is available from the start. Using a previous game save, retro weapons are also available. New weapons are upgradeable, and Ratchet can increase his health with enough experience points.



Newcomer Spider-Man climbing a building to face bad guys in the eponymous PS2 game.

Release: 2002
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision/Capcom

This game focuses on the story from the eponymous movie, as we follow Peter Parker on his route to becoming Spider-Man. We start at the beginning of Peter’s powers, as he battles crooks in the city in his first costume.

This is a beat ‘em up game in 3D, with web slings, throws, and wall climbing. It is exactly like most Spider-Man games, except that the plot adds Scorpion, Shocker, Electro, and even Kraven in some versions, spicing up the game.


Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

Crash with his iconic fruit and crates in Wrath of Cortex, a PS2 masterpiece.

Release: 2001
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Universal Interactive

Crash Bandicoot is synonymous with the PlayStation and Crash games are platformers that challenge you to be attentive and patient. Crash and Coco have to stop Dr. Neo Cortex from getting his superweapon online.

The Crash portals are iconic, created by Coco to help him collect 25 crystals across five different levels. This game has many collectibles so completionists will have to be very persistent if they would like that 100% across the entire game. 


Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies

Ace Combat 04 is a reboot of the franchise and a successful one.

Release: 2001
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco/Sony Computer Entertainment

Plane games were not as popular in the 2000s but Ace Combat did well as a franchise. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies reboots the series and adds new elements. Imagine the old After Burner II but much better.

With real-world pilots doing narration and voiceovers, your missions feel realistic, though the superweapons and nearly infinite ammo take away the realism. This isn’t a bad thing, because flight simulators exist outside entertaining video games.


The Simpsons: Hit & Run

A Simpsons GTA clone, an amazing game in general.

Release: 2003
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games 

The Simpsons are back, in their own Grand Theft Auto game. You have missions, you can drive a lot, and have a minimap/radar, what more could you want? In all honesty, this is a great game and one of the best PS2 games.

You can play as Bart, Lisa, Marge, Homer, and even Apu, depending on the mission. The story is strange, but not unexpected for a Simpsons title, with robot wasps, a new, suspicious Buzz Kola, and random black vans all over Springfield.


Need for Speed: Underground 2

Need for Speed Underground 2 has a very familiar interface and the gameplay is amazing.

Release: 2004
Developer: EA Black Box
Publisher: Electronic Arts

The Need for Speed franchise boomed after the release of The Fast and the Furious in 2001. Underground is the most-sold NFS PS2 title. Underground 2, however, is a much better game. It has more of everything, from modding to an open-world experience.

You move from Olympic City to Bayview after your Nissan 350Z is wrecked by unknown people. Starting over, there are races to be won and ladders to be climbed. Get a new car and progress through the classic story and racing game.


Need for Speed: Most Wanted

NFS Most Wanted is an amazing game, one of the best PS2 games.

Release: 2005
Developer: EA Black Box
Publisher: Electronic Arts

What Underground 2 did great, Most Wanted did even better. The story is memorable, the driving is very addictive and the cars are iconic. The game also adds the police into the mix, so be careful if your bounty is too high.

Your precious car is basically stolen and you have to work your way up the blacklist to regain it and take revenge, obviously. Meanwhile, a very angry and determined cop is constantly on your case (because street racing is illegal, among other things).


Dynasty Warriors 4

Dynasty Warriors 4 recreates historical battles with precision and adds fun to the mix.

Release: 2003
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei

This is a very interesting title and if you have not played it, a tactical hack-and-slash sounds almost impossible to imagine. Dynasty Warriors 4 is the fourth game in the series, focusing on historical battles based on the books Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

With that in mind, there are many playable characters. The battles are as close as possible to their real counterparts, though the story strays from the Three Kingdoms because the player can make some decisions.


Tony Hawk’s Underground

Free skating in Tony Hawk's Underground, a great PS2 game.

Release: 2003
Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise has simply some of the best skateboarding games. Underground is one of the most-sold skateboarding games on the PS2. Some would argue that Pro Skater 3 and 4 are better, or even Underground 2.

The facts tell a different story. You play through multiple levels, encountering famous skateboarders along the way. The levels unlock as you pass challenges, much like in the previous titles.


This list contains some of the best PS2 games ever. It is worth noting that while there are many fan favorites, making a list with ALL the best PS2 games is next to impossible, due to the probable size of the said list.

If you want to play these games, whether with a PS2 emulator or the actual console, or with the PlayStation Plus Premium subscription, there isn’t a better introduction to the legendary console.

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With over 1650 hours of Apex Legends, and 2100 of League of Legends, Milan is an avid gamer. When he's not indoors, he climbs mountains or does urban acrobatics. Add a passion for writing to the mix and you get a hopefully interesting broth.
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