A Retrospective from the Bargain Bins, part 1 - PS2

This is part one of an imaginatively named feature, parts two, three and four will be coming over the next few months.

The PS2 has been out in the UK nearly 8 years now, and releases seem to be finally dying down, and now is a great time for new owners to get a shedload of great games for really cheap, for people who already own one to build up a much more diverse library of games, and for new 60GB PS3 owners to pick up some backwards compatible games.

I will be concentrating on games which offer great value for money still today, and games which may have passed you by, or not caught your attention at full price. All games features will cost £10 or less, delivered. If you see any games you love available for under a tenner, drop me an email and I will happily add them.

Beyond Good & Evil - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "A new pinnacle for interactive storytelling...a marvellous game. It's a game that exhibits real personality and individuality...Michel Ancel's latest composition leaves you feeling warm and happy every time you finish playing it, and in this medium there can be no greater triumph than that." - Eurogamer
What I say: Spot on. Break it down to it's gameplay mechanics and it's a well executed Zelda-esque adventure, but the real charm is the maturity of the setting and plot.
Why to buy it: You have ever played an action-adventure and laughed at the characters, not with them, and want a bit of a change.
Why not to buy it: I can't really think of a reason, I hear it has better load times and/graphics on the Gamecube/Xbox, so maybe if you can get it there, but the PS2 version is by no means lacking.

Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 - £8.81 delivered (Apply code "PP-02-DISCOUNT" for 2% off.)
What the Critics said: "We have our faith in World War II games utterly, comprehensively restored. It seems incredible that such a saturated genre can still produce something fresh, but Gearbox deserves big manly bear hugs and ferocious slaps on the back for delivering on its promises." - Eurogamer
What I say: I've not played it actually, but I love everything else gearbox have put out.
Why to buy it: You like WW2 FPSs, but maybe want a bit more meat to the gameplay.
Why not to buy it: You dislike (console) FPSs.

Dragon Quest - The Journey Of The Cursed King - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "The most beautiful game in the world? Well now, that’s a bold question. True beauty is more than skin deep and so to answer that question requires a whole different set of eyes to perceive and critique." - Eurogamer
What I say: Not played this one.
Why to buy it: You like old school JRPGs.
Why not to buy it: You don't like old school JRPGs

Fahrenheit - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "Broken down to its base elements it's clear that Fahrenheit is by no means perfect. The control system is often counter-intuitive, the camera implementation is sloppy, and the action sequences are a square peg in the midst of the lovingly-crafted round hole that is the narrative. But yet, for every little niggle anyone could justifiably come up with (and, really, there are plenty), the amount of enjoyment we gleaned from the whole experience outweighs such minor issues to extent where the only thing you can say with any accuracy is that rating such a game is ultimately a head/heart issue." - Eurogamer
What I say: Really really good, a very contemporary take on a classic point and click adventure game, with a real ominous, dark atmosphere. Real shame about the ending though.
Why to buy it: Short of developer "Quantic Dreams" next project you probably aren't going to play anything like this any time soon.
Why not to buy it: You get easily annoyed by weak endings.

Final Fantasy XII - £8.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "Final Fantasy XII is hands-down the best instalment in the series since VII. There, we said it. It succeeds on just about every imaginable level, combining a loveable and well-designed cast and suitably twist-ridden storyline with the most unique slant on the series' traditional turn-based combat system since it went all tactical to stunning effect." - Eurogamer
What I say: Not played this one. Give me FFVI or give me nothing.
Why to buy it: Cloud is a cool dude or something.
Why not to buy it: You are as jaded as me towards the recent final fantasy games.

Global Defence Force, PS2 - £6.45 delivered
What the Critics said: "..." - Everyone
What I say: I have heard enough love on the interwebs for this and it's Xbox 360 counterpart that I will be buying them both at some point very soon.
Why to buy it: You like explosions and B-movies.
Why not to buy it: You don't like explosions and B-movies.

Gitaroo Man - £9.97
What the Critics said:"Gitaroo Man is a genuinely impressive little title with something fresh to offer fans of this rather niche market. As is usually the case, longevity is an issue here with only eleven levels to rock your way through, but the Versus mode is really quite a hoot when you've got an hour or so to kill after the pub. It's not going to be to everybody's tastes, but if you're a fan of Parappa and the like then you could do a lot worse than to pick up this charming example of rhythm-action." - Eurogamer
What I say: From the same developers as Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan, really funny rhythm game, with great music, and some nice chilled out levels (although most are insane). I even broke the "under £10 delivered" rule for it. Just buy a CD or something to bring it to £15 for free delivery.
Why to buy it: You like or are in any way curious about rhythm games.
Why not to buy it: You dislike all obscure Japanese stuff indiscriminately.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "Jak & Daxter is a decent length for a videogame at roughly ten hours, and it boasts an enormous number of hugely varied tasks to complete and beautiful sights to see. Capped off with an elegant control system and intelligent game design, this is the platformer to bury both mediocre rivals like Banjo Kazooie and old classics like Mario 64." - Eurogamer
What I say: Only played a little of it, seemed pretty.
Why to buy it: If you like platformers, particularly the early crash bandicoot games.
Why not to buy it: Don't like anything bordering cutesy characters.

King Of Fighters XI - £8.73 delivered
What the Critics said: "King Of Fighters XI is absolutely essential stuff for anyone still keeping the 2D dream alive. It's hands down the best new sprite-based fighter in years, and while purists will probably find it hard to drag themselves away from genre favourites like Capcom vs SNK 2 and Street Fighter III, SNK has done an exceptional job of proving that there's still life in 2-D fighting." - Eurogamer
What I say: Kick-ass, biggest problem is finding someone to play with.
Why to buy it: Looking for a technical, 2D fighter.
Why not to buy it: Not got anyone else to play with.

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System - £3.49 delivered
What the Critics said: "All round Metal Arms is a undoubtedly a quality offering that deserves far more attention than it's ever going to get this time of year, but lacks that crucial X factor to elevate it to the top rungs. Simply put it borrows a hatful of ideas, implements them well but never truly wows you as a landmark gaming experience." - Eurogamer
What I say: Genuinely funny, good enough that Blizzard acquired the developers straight after its release.
Why to buy it: If you like the sound of a 3rd person shooter with a sense of humour and platforming elements.
Why not to buy it: If you can get your hands on the Xbox version, in my opinion it controls a little better, and it looks a little prettier.

Metal Slug Anthology - £9.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "You should still buy this game, and not because it shows us how far we've come either - but rather because, in the case of 2D art and gameplay design, it shows us just how far we've since regressed." - Eurogamer
What I say: Such fantastic value, if I ever see a Metal Slug arcade machine I often empty a fiver into it. Games that are still as fun as when they were made.
Why to buy it: You have any vague tendency towards 2D platformers/shooters.
Why not to buy it: You might want to consider the PSP version if you want it for on the go, the wii version has rudimentary waggle, but I guess wireless controllers could be a plus.

Peter Jackson's King Kong - £7.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "But by the end of King Kong there's still plenty to go back and see; and there are some standout moments that will probably stay with you forever. As a piece of gaming entertainment it's well worth buying regardless of what you might think of the movie - but assuming it's the action blockbuster it promises to be, it'll serve as the perfect accompaniment, fusing thrilling first-person combat with some of the most explosive hand to hand sequences you can imagine. If only all movie-based games were this entertaining." - Eurogamer
What I say: Not even seen the film, but I love this game. From Micheal Ancel, famous for being the man behind the Rayman games. Lots of fantastic moments.
Why to buy it: Maybe if you liked the film, or like FPSs with something a little different to them.
Why not to buy it: If you can get it on Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360 or PC (but watch for starforce) it is probably better on all those platforms.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - £3.49 delivered
What the Critics said: "The Sands of Time is a towering achievement in far more areas than any other similar title. You've probably done a lot of the things you'll do in Prince of Persia before, but never to this standard, and apart from the innovations, the consistency, the logic and the spell-binding presentation, what makes it so special is just how well made it is." - Eurogamer
What I say: Easily one of the best platformers of last generation, the combat is a little weak, but by no means enough to hold it back, fantastic level design that I think holds it above either of the sequels.
Why to buy it: If you have any love for the old Prince of Persia games, platformers in general, or Time Reverse gameplay.
Why not to buy it: Because you are getting this instead, or failing that getting it on Xbox or Gamecube.

Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones - £7.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "It's just as well there's so much to love about this one as a whole, too, with that same determined one-more-go feel about it as The Sands of Time. In all the respects that matter, The Two Thrones is the sequel we were hankering after all along. It's got a takes a measured approach to combat, pitches the atmosphere at the same eery, mysterious level that we loved about the first game, and wraps it all up with one of the more flexible control systems imaginable that make it possible to enjoy the kind of trap laden environments that would make Lara's eyes bleed at the prospect." - Eurogamer
What I say: Not quite as good as sands of time, it has a bit of filler, but it also has some great bosses, and concludes the trilogy nicely. Far better than Warrior Within
Why to buy it: You liked Sands of Time.
Why not to buy it: Because you are getting this instead, or failing that getting it on Xbox or Gamecube.

Second Sight - £3.49 delivered
What the Critics said: "But, in truth, Second Sight rises above many of the quibbles that you could justifiably level at it. A key ingredient in its success is its engaging concept, which comes layered with a satisfying narrative structure and credible characters. Factor in Free Radical's trademark attention to detail and instantly gratifying controls and it's a game you can't help but be drawn to." - Eurogamer
What I say: Yeah, this game is great, really nice narrative.
Why to buy it: If you like any other Free Radical game, or even goldeneye or Perfect Dark, you should check this out, it's not particularly similar to them, but it is of the same quality and has the same charm.
Why not to buy it: If you can get this on the Xbox or Gamecube it'll be a bit prettier on them.

Sonic Mega Collection Plus - £9.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "There are some truly magic moments here that transcend nostalgia. Even now, that first time you achieve absolutely blinding speed is exhilarating. For us, it was the Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic 2, watching Sonic go so fast that he practically breached the right-hand side of the screen. Ten years and hundreds of other platform games have done nothing to dull the impact of the blue blur pushing the boundaries. Heck, he probably invented that turn of phrase, too." - Eurogamer
What I say: Unless you own these games on some other format, buy it, buy it now.
Why to buy it: because I said so.
Why not to buy it: You own it on Xbox or maybe Gamecube (although the Gamecube version is missing a few of the extras here)

Spider-Man 2: The Movie - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "Whether you should buy it or not is a matter of how much you want a superhero game that leaves you feeling unbeatable and unique when you're swinging with effortless grace around the city, but then tarnishes that brilliance by serving it alongside some badly judged missions, less than brilliant visuals and our old chum the dodgy camera." - Eurogamer
What I say: Forget it's shortcomings, this puts you in control of Spider-Man, and you will grin through the patches of bad design.
Why to buy it: Bruce Campbell does the voice overs, big open New York, web swinging, it's based on Spider-Man 2 not 3.
Why not to buy it: If you don't like Spider-Man, or get bored of open world games easily.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "In terms of value for money, Ultimate Destruction is one of those games that's relentlessly enjoyable and hugely entertaining from the first minute to the last. You could bracket it firmly within the '30-seconds of fun over and over' school of game design." - Eurogamer
What I say: It's basically a hulk simulator, without the danger of gamma radiation.
Why to buy it: You like free roaming open world games, comic books, action games, explosions, tactical espionage (you'll know what I mean when you play it) or all of the above then you can't go wrong. Fans of Mercenaries or Spider-Man 2 should like this.
Why not to buy it: If you can't stand Hulk I guess, but even then I would say give it a shot.

The Red Star - £5.99 delivered
What the Critics said: "While you could argue that it's relatively short, it has variety: new enemies are introduced on almost every level and each boss is distinctive, differing in size, strength or attack pattern to the last."- Eurogamer
What I say: A unique gem of a title, that could easily be ignored in the vast PS2 library, but it's one of the most original games I have played in a long while.
Why to buy it: You like Shmups, or beat 'em ups, or just unique games in a very cool setting.
Why not to buy it: You don't like it when games kick your arse and it's your fault.

Timesplitters 2 - £3 delivered
What the Critics said: "It's a cliché, and it's silly, but I'm going to say it anyway - TimeSplitters 2 feels like the spiritual successor to GoldenEye, but with fantastic graphics, much more varied environments and enemies, and the promise of frantic action-packed segments as well as more cerebral stealth missions...TimeSplitters 2 is stacking up to be the FPS title to beat in console terms." - Eurogamer
What I say: Couldn't agree more, way better single player than it deserves, and full campaign is playable in coop.
Why to buy it: You are looking for a fun, relatively arcadey FPS to play either alone or with a friend.
Why not to buy it: Didn't enjoy Goldeneye or Perfect Dark back in the day, or if you can get it on Xbox or Gamecube.

Viewtiful Joe - £2 delivered
What the Critics said: "More than your average year-late port, Viewtiful Joe remains an essential addition to any PS2 gamer's library. Artistically and mechanically it's timeless enough that the wait hasn't had any negative effect, and anybody who passed on it on the Cube is in for a real treat. It's plainly not for everyone (ask yourself: is a rock-hard scrolling Capcom fighting game something you could get on board with? Yes? Keep reading) but assuming it is the sort of thing you can handle, it's a startlingly inventive and engaging game, which dares to be different - and does it with style." - Eurogamer
What I say: Probably my pick for most stylish game last generation, painfully unloved by the wider gaming public, and damn good fun.
Why to buy it: You like the sound of Old School beat 'em up with modern design flair, produced by the man behind RE4, God Hand and Devil May Cry.
Why not to buy it: You are narrow minded enough to not play a game because it is 2D.

X-Men Legends - £3 delivered
What the Critics said: "If you're not especially thrilled by X-Men in general, it's likely you'll see Legends as "OK", as mediocre, as middle of the road. It's a good superhero console RPG, a well-made game with some terrible dialogue, genuinely good combat and multiplayer, but some obvious camera issues. The story is long, unique and involved, but your liking for Legends will stand or fall on its premise: you're controlling superheroes in an action RPG." - Eurogamer
What I say: Far from perfect, but quite a lot of mileage multiplayer coop fun.
Why to buy it: because X-men are cool.
Why not to buy it: No body to play with, or if you could get it on Xbox/Gamecube.

There you have it, a handful of my top picks of the PS2. Part two will be on the way in the next few weeks.


Shirley said...

How on earth do you find the time to do all of this? Do you actually sleep? Ever? It's great Lewie!

Joe said...

I got bored of FFXII, and ended up completing it out of a sense of duty rather than desire.
X was much better, but was also quite a lethargic game.