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Nintendo's E3 Press Conference

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The PS2 was no doubt the greatest console of its generation. Back when the XBOX was taking off its training wheels with games like HALO, it stood out against the competition. While it only had two controllers, it had a TON of games. Like the Beatles had a ton of songs, a bunch of them were bound to be great. If you’re tired of current generation graphics, games, and arguments (PS3 v. XBOX 360 or HALO v. COD), brush the dust off of that old black box and see if you have any of these classics.

5. Sly 2: Band of Thieves
            A sequel (get used to them there’s a lot on this list) that perfected its predecessor was Sly 2. Part of the Trimurti of PS2 games, it took up the stealth part of the three games. It did what a good sequel should, it added to gameplay, fixed the faults of the last, and developed the characters and plot as well. Sly Cooper tells the story of a band of personified animals (Sly himself being the main protagonist) who go around stealing things. They are chased by the law (consisting of Sly’s love interest) and other bands of thieves. The gameplay is stealth focused, and it pulls it off better than most currents stealth games (cough*Splinter Cell Conviction *cough). In true non-realistic, cartoony style, it does have boss fights and plenty of non-stealth segments, but they help to add variety to the experience. It’s actually comparable to the Thief series, lightened up a lot compared to Thief, as it is designed for both the console and kids. Sly is just one of those games that is just plain fun.

4. Star Wars: Battle Front 2
            To me, this game should have been the end of the Star Wars franchise, before The Force: Unleashed and all that LEGO stuff. It painted a nice picture of you being a common soldier. You really did not have a pivotal role in what happens in the battle (unless you play as a Jedi or Sith), and you died a lot (looking back this may just be because I was very bad). The battles were big, almost like a constant-action sandbox. You could be a sniper and stay far away, an infantry if enjoy getting killed, grab a vehicle and fly around, mount a turret, or become an engineer and fix things if you’re boring. It was also one of the few games to have fun space-combat. You could dogfight with other pilots, bomb the enemy’s stronghold, or board it and take it out from the inside. In conclusion, it gave you freedom, made large battles with plenty going on, and lets you kill ewoks, so it gets my approval.

3. Silent Hill 2
            For those of you that thought I was only going to pick games designed for kids: HA, you’re wrong! For those of you that had confidence in me, thank you. The next is Silent Hill 2, a game that showed the world how survival horror was done. The game takes very little from the first SH plot-wise, the only similarity being the town itself, and let me tell you, there is no good side to the town in this game. The game centers on James, a confused, hopeless idiot (well its true) who receives a letter from his dead wife telling him to come to Silent Hill, something most people would assume is a prank. The thing is, while James Sunderland is an idiot, he’s still one of the greatest characters in video game history. You can see how he is torn apart by his wife’s death, and how he is truly alone and has nothing left to live for. He has nothing stopping him from just leaving Silent Hill, so you really get a sense of how desperate this guy is. The focal point of the game is immersion, as the combat is horrible (although it’s supposed to be like that for immersion purposes) and the puzzles have some backwards logic behind them (go find a pin and a combination to open this box, don’t use the axe your holding or anything). You begin to feel empathy towards James, as you feel the same loneliness as he does. There aren’t monsters around every corner, and they don’t even seem real enough to constitute James as not being alone. All the people are either going insane, trying to have sex with James (really just frustrating him in his search for his wife), or may not even exist. There is also Pyramid Head’s introduction to the franchise, a monster who just tries to (sorry for being so blunt) rape other monsters. You get locked in a room with Pyramid Head at one point and all he does is try to kill you for a while and then leaves when he gets bored. When the monsters don’t even care about even killing you, you begin to feel truly alone. In the end, it’s a game that builds the tension without ever truly letting go, all while intertwining a disturbing plot and believable characters.  

2. Jak 3
            The third side of the PS2 Trimurti, the Jak and Daxter series was everything I ever wanted in a gaming series. The variety is huge when it comes to gameplay in Jak 3, and it never feels truly disjointed. In Jak 3, there are two areas, the urban dystopia of Haven City and the outcast, war-driven society of Spargus. In the wastelands around Spargus you drive around an all-terrain four wheeler of your choice while fending off marauders constantly. In Haven you drive around hover cars and bikes, and you are constantly fighting a war against the Crimson Guard’s robot army. Jak himself has two sides, light and dark (literally). The dark side is a werewolf like monstrosity that is just pure power, but the light side has a range of powers from healing to time-slowing to flying. The gameplay itself ranges from races with the two mentioned vehicles, gun combat, melee combat, glider missions, platforming, hover board platforming, and a lot more. As well as stellar gameplay, the plot is interesting, twisting (unexpectedly I may add), and easy to understand. The characters are all well-rounded and likeable (although some can get annoying).  The humor in the game ranges as well, going from immature slapstick to sexual innuendos. In the end it’s a game that’s fun; it’s varied, funny (occasionally), fast-paced (there are virtually no load times), and has plenty for almost every audience.

1. Shadow of the Colossus
            Those who do not like the last four games will definitely want to play this. I once heard someone say that video games are the combination of science and art (IGN). If that is true, Team Ico definitely put their emphasis on art, and they did it well. Team Ico’s first release was, well, Ico, a game that showed the world how video games don’t have to be extremely violent in order to be great. In Ico, you played a young man with horns growing out of his head guiding a princess through various levels of a castle. This may sound horrible, and to most COD-loving action-junkies it may be just that, but Ico was a piece of art. The visual effects made the game look and feel alive, and the over-arcing story seemed so much larger than anything the young boy and girl were doing. Then Team Ico released Shadow of the Colossus, the spiritual successor to Ico (so it’s technically another sequel).
In Shadow of the Colossus you play another young man, except this time your girl is dead. His option for reviving her is to ride across the country and kill 16 colossi with a sword that would be hard to kill an armored human with, or he could just move on with his life but then we wouldn’t have a game, now would we? What I want you to do now is think of your favorite boss fight in a game. Got it? Every single one of the colossi battles beats that one. You have to use your horse and the environments around you to climb or leap on top of them, and then you have to stab them as many times as you can before you get flung off (marked by you grip gauge depleting). The design for the colossi is great, with each one looking completely unique to the last, and they feel big as well. They move slowly, make the rector-scale jump with ever step, and their bodies are covered in trees and dirt. The boss fights are only half the game, however. The other half is composed of you riding around on your horse looking for the next colossus. This may sound like a bore, but the environments feel so real, as if they have remained untouched by the hands of humans. The traveling adds to the immersion as well, as you feel the strange need the protagonist feels to kill the colossi in order to save his girl. In the end, Shadow of the Colossus is not just the best game for the PS2; it is one of the best games ever. The real environments, the contrast between the two modes of gameplay, and the incredible battles themselves make it one of the greatest works of art the gaming world has ever seen.                   

            Afterthought: For those of you that don’t know what the Trimurti is, it is the name for the group of gods that personify the stages of the universe. It consists of Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. I used it as a metaphor for the three most famous franchises of the PS2: the Sly Cooper series (stealth), the Ratchet and Clank series (guns), and the Jak and Daxter series (pure awesomeness). It’s supposed to be a joke (looking back it’s not that funny), but I know some people won’t understand it.  

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