It’s safe to say that during its time on this planet, the PlayStation 2 was a powerhouse for gaming content. Providing a much-warranted upgrade from the PlayStation 1, the PS2 captured the global video game audience.
It was available to buy at retailers for 13 years, making it one of the longest console releases ever. It also holds the record as the best-selling video game console of all time, selling over 155 million units.
Still, to this day, the console is revered for its library of games and lasting appeal. Titles like Metal Gear Solid, Shadow of the Colossus, and God of War highlight the laundry list of mega-titles on the system.
Yet, having 13 years of sales under your belt provides cracks for underrated games to fall through. Plenty of consoles have those great, but hard to find, games that, for whatever reason, are undervalued.
We say no more.
What follows here is our take on the top underrated games of the PS2 era.
Underrated PS2 Games Comparison Table
Kingdom of Hearts II
Transformers (The Game)
Shadow of Rome Japan
Urban Chaos: Riot Response
Kingdom of Hearts
Best Underated Ps2 Games: What Makes a Game Undervalued?
This is something to clear up before we dive into the nitty-gritty. For us, a game can be defined as underrated if it didn’t sell well, wasn’t critically acclaimed even though it should’ve been, or didn’t receive the marketing it needed. Yes, there are more criteria to consider, but plenty of games fly under the radar due to those reasons.
If you haven’t heard of certain games on this list, that’s no problem. Shedding some light on some of these underrated ps2 games those unrecognized games should hopefully revitalize the urge to play them. Let’s start it off with something all may have heard of.
Kingdom of Hearts II
Sound familiar? It should, as this game is based on the cult 70’s movie of the same name. Set as a prequel to the movie, the game allowed players to dive into the lore of the street gangs at the time. The game was created by Rockstar and featured loads of different gameplay features.
It was a brawler, of sorts, and used the story to depict the events that would lead up to the big event within the movie–we’ll keep this spoiler-free. Along the way, you could steal cars and radios, rob stores for supplies, and, of course, tag your gang’s graffiti all around the city.
It captured the essence of the movie, and
The biggest problem with The Warriors was simply that it was based on an old movie that, while most people may know about, have never seen. It’s hard to escape the shadow of unfamiliarity, and even though this was a solid Rockstar title, it wasn’t universally accepted.
Transformers (The Game)
That alone is why the Melbourne House’s Transformers from 2004 flew under the radar. Some even consider it better than any other Transformer game to date, yet it still didn’t obtain any attention. Most media outlets wrote it off as another bad apple soiling the Transformers name. Ultimately though, that wasn’t the case.
Starting out, the title was based on the Transformers: Armada animated series. The series dove away from the main installment and focused on smaller Transformers Mini-Cons. The game takes place in an open world set on Earth, where the player is in control of Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, or Red Alert on the Autobot side.
The gameplay was based on third-person shooters and is where Transformers excelled. The graphical power of the PS2 was also on display, giving fans a reason to play the game. There were also memorable boss fights against characters like Megatron, Tidal Wave, the 900-foot-tall Transformer, and even the planet-sized Unicron.
Diehard fans of the franchise would eat it up, of course, but the game didn’t become popular with other gamers. It’s a shame, as the 2004 installment was favorably reviewed by most media outlets.
Another Rockstar title, this lesser-known video game was inspired by anime themes and played out as a third-person action game. Even more interesting was the game was originally developed by Bungie–you know, creators behind the Halo series–meaning it should’ve received more attention.
Set in a dystopic Earth in the future, players took to the streets as Konoko. This purple-haired character was involved with a future crime task force, who inevitably covered up who she really was. It sounded a lot like Ghost in the Shell, and you would be right if you found them similar. Even so, between the fast, fluid combat and interesting story, Oni was still worth checking out.
The game itself was difficult and mastering the attacks the Konoko could use was a legitimate challenge. The good news, though, was that every time you died, you’d progress slightly further along. That presented accomplishment, and why Oni should be worth your time.
Let’s start this out by saying this title is a doozy. The Suffering is an action-horror title that, at the time, was one of the most violent and gruesome games made.
The game’s plot was based on Torque, a convicted murderer. His crimes were, allegedly, killing his family. To pay for them, he was sent to a prison. Not long after, the penitentiary is hit by an earthquake, releasing unsightly creatures in the world. Featuring unheard of creature designs at the time, based on the torture methods at the prison, the game really made you feel uneasy.
The Suffering also relied on puzzles and combat, meaning there were action portions had more of a punch. The camera could be shifted from first and third-person views, providing more dynamic gameplay. The game also used a morality system, where NPC characters are the prime cog used to turn that gear. That system goes on to influence the game’s multiple endings, giving you another reason to play it clean, or dirty if you prefer. Another interesting tidbit concerning the game is that Torque never talks.
If you happened to miss it, which is likely, the game is available now on GOG. Just make sure to keep the lights on.
Sticking to the horror theme, Fatal Frame was another survival game that’s goal was haunting your soul.
Taking influence from Japanese horror movies, you play the game as a young school girl named Miku who doesn’t have any weapons to defend herself. What did developer Tecmo give you instead? A magical camera.
Yes, to defeat any demons or spirits you would encounter, you’d have to use the Camera Obscura to capture the ghosts. Making it even more unnerving, when the camera was in use the game would change to the first-person perspective. The atmosphere of the different rooms the player would encounter kept the scariness alive, and ultimately leading it
Sales were not kind to the game, however. Selling roughly 42,000 units in Japan and Europe combined, the game wasn’t expected to do well in North America. Ironically enough, thanks in part to movies like The Ring, the game did receive recognition.
Of course, it also helped that the game was supposedly based on real events too. Even if you don’t believe in those things, the marketing team should’ve been able to get the game’s name out there. Alas, horror games were a hard-sell back then, only adding to the pressure.
Shadow of Rome Japan
Historical games set in settings such as Rome never seem to sell as well, even when backed by a big company such as Capcom. The premise of Shadow of Rome was you were a general within the Roman army whose parent was accused of aiding in the plot to murder Julius Caesar. Once he’s dead, Agrippa, the general, is captured trying to free his mother who had the death sentence.
Your then thrown into the gladiatorial games within the Colosseum. This portion of the game seemed to work well, with Capcom paving the way for solid combat and pairing it with a good challenge.
On the flip side, Agrippa’s friend Octavian was also a playable character who was there to find out the truth behind the events. Instead of combat, though, his story and missions involved stealth and puzzles. These portions took you through some important areas in Roman history and gave you a different side of the city.
Unfortunately, even with the impressive visuals and historic combat themes, it just didn’t perform well. Sales were so strikingly bad that, instead of creating a sequel, the executive producer behind the game scrapped the project. The new game ended up as Dead ising, and we can agree on the popularity of that franchise.
Shadow of Rome is worth a play, even today, as it was one of the last solid historically set games.
Urban Chaos: Riot Response
Rocksteady Studios. Does that ring a bell? It should, as it’s the developer behind the Batman: Arkham series. Before they were shaping the world of the caped crusader, they were on the streets as a riot policeman.
The best thing about Urban Chaos: Riot Response was that it was a polished title, and one of the better first-person shooters available on the console. Rocksteady’s debut game focus on an officer within the riot response division in the police force. The gameplay features weapons and gadgets that you could use to take down enemies, all in non-lethal and lethal ways.
You could also request the help from paramedics and firefighters in the areas, providing different-styled missions for a change of pace. These helpers were crucial in completing a level, as you needed to heal people and put out fires to keep your mission performance up. After every mission, you were judged on your performance, and the better you did the cooler unlocks you had access to.
Urban Chaos was important because it provided players with good gunplay, and forced you to approach hostage situations in ways that hadn’t been done before. Unfortunately, it didn’t perform very well, but it seems like Rocksteady figured it out, eventually.
Kingdom of Hearts
The uber-important, yet constantly overlooked, musical shooter, Rez is often regarded on lists such as the “best” games ever.
Why is it on this list then? Because the only people that have played it, or heard of it, are critics or hardcore enthusiasts, tot the mainstream audience it deserves. The whole game is an on-rails shooter where your success adds to the music in the game. As you fight through all the levels, the character and sound effects transform and are added to the soundtrack of the game. This provides a deep library of tunes that play throughout, adding substance and style to the levels.
Even though the overall product is short, it’s a sophisticated, addictive shooter that is truly art. Not a lot of video games were able to say that, and it’s often brought up when talking about the value in video games. Check it out when you get the chance, surely you won’t be disappointed.
Underrated ps2 games
Every System Has Underrated Games
While this goes without saying, it’s up to you to find and play them. Plenty of titles get passed over for one reason or another, meaning they don’t receive the attention they, potentially, deserve.
The PS2 had so many games over its 13-year run that it’s easy to see why some were left in the dust. There’s always time for a new game, however, and if you missed any of the titles, do yourself a favor and pick up a cheap copy used. It will give you a reason to wipe the dust off your old PS2 console, and relive the good times on the Dualshock 2 controller.