It’s hard to believe that these classic PS2 games will actually be turning twenty years old over the course of 2021.
Granted, some have received updates via HD collections that make them more playable on modern hardware, but either way, there were some true greats that showed up that year. In fact, this was also the beginning of many series that would go on to become not just legends on PS2, but later consoles as well.
10 Onimusha: Warlords
Onimusha: Warlords released for the PS2 on January 25, 2001 in Japan and a few months later in March for North America. For those that never played it before, it is essentially Resident Evil but with samurai. Besides a remaster of this game from a couple years ago, this series did not escape the PS2 generation. Fans would surely love to see these games make a resurgence on this, its 20th anniversary.
9 Zone Of The Enders
Zone of the Enders released for the PS2 on March 1, 2001 in Japan and a few weeks later in North America. This was a short lived, but hot series for Konami on PS2. This is in large part to Hideo Kojima’s involvement. There were two PS2 games, a tactical RPG spinoff for the Game Boy Advance and two separate anime adaptations. There was a third game in the mix but it was canceled shortly after it was conceptually announced.
8 Red Faction
Red Faction released for the PS2 on May 22, 2001 in North America. What made this game and its sequel so beloved was the idea of a shooter having destructible environments.
The next game, Red Faction: Guerrilla, was basically an even bigger playground. These destructible concepts were fun, but after 2011 with Red Faction: Armageddon the series has been dormant since — save for some somewhat recent ports.
7 Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X released for the PS2 on July 19, 2001 in Japan and a few months later in December for North America. This was a huge deal for the PS2. Not as big as Final Fantasy VII, but pretty close. This was the first game in the franchise to feature voices and the graphics were a huge step up from the PS1. It was a showcase for the PS2 to be sure and remains a beloved entry in the series that usually ranks near the top for most fans.
6 Max Payne
Max Payne released first for the PC on July 23, 2001 in North America with a PS2 port to follow in December. This may be thought of more as a PC franchise but these games have always run pretty well on consoles. It’s been a while since the last game came out in 2012, without much happening for ports or updates.
With the success of Grand Theft Auto V’s and Red Dead Redemption II’s online portions, Rockstar may never see a reason to go back to this franchise again, sadly enough.
5 Devil May Cry
Devil May Cry released for the PS2 on August 23, 2001 in Japan and a few months later in October for North America. Like Onimusha, Devil May Cry can be likened to Resident Evil. That’s because it was an early concept for Resident Evil 4 before becoming its own thing. While the action is far from the static shooting in Resident Evil, it’s easy to see the roots in this game what with the puzzles and fixed cameras. Despite some long breaks here and there, this franchise is still going strong.
4 Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 released for the PS2 on September 24, 2001 in North America. This is widely regarded as the best entry in the series with memorable adversaries such as Pyramid Head and the iconic nurses being ingrained in the heads of horror game fans for years. That HD remaster from a few years back didn’t do it justice, but regardless of that port it still holds up as an anxiety-inducing horror experience. Remember to set this one up for when Halloween comes around.
3 Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III released for the PS2 on October 22, 2001 in North America. Grand Theft Auto had a small following online with the first two games and its expansions dating back to 1997 on PC in Europe. This series didn’t truly hit the populous until this game hit the PS2 and changed everything. No, literally, Grand Theft Auto III changed how games were made. Try and count the copycats and/or games influenced by this game without passing out.
2 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty released for the PS2 on November 13, 2001 in North America. Part of the reason why Zone of the Enders sold was because it had a demo for Metal Gear Solid 2 on it. This game was in such high demand that even the smallest of tastes got fans excited. There was some controversy after it officially launched due to Raiden taking over for Snake. Fan backlash has cooled since then to appreciate him, though.
1 Jak And Daxter
Jak and Daxter released for the PS2 on December 3, 2001 in North America. This closed out what some may think was the best year for PS2 games. Naughty Dog ended Crash Bandicoot to make a bigger platformer experience on PS2 before upping their game once again with Uncharted. Despite the praise that series and The Last of Us have gotten, some fans would love to see them return to Jak and Daxter. The last new game was in 2009, which they were not apart of.
Tristan Jurkovich began his career as a journalist in 2011. His childhood love of video games and writing fuel his passion for archiving this great medium’s history. He dabbles in every genre, but he’s particularly fond of RPGs and portable consoles. Aside from writing, Tristan also produces a plethora of videos on his YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer. Check it out!