The highest-selling console of all time, the PlayStation 2, strapped a rocket to the video gaming industry and shot it into mainstream media. The PlayStation 2's success was helped partly by its built-in DVD player and largely by its excellent games catalog. It featured action-adventure classics like Okami, Devil May Cry, and God of War, stealth gems like Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3, Splinter Cell, and Hitman, and excellent sports games including the Fifa series, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, and Gran Turismo 3, with many people still recognizing it as one of the most successful consoles of all time.
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Furthermore, the PlayStation 2 had significant hardware improvements from its predecessor, PlayStation 1. These improvements allowed developers to create more realistic titles, encouraging them to make more first-person shooters. This genre absolutely skyrocketed in popularity during this generation, and players need only check the state of gaming in modern times to realize just how strong of a grip first-person shooters have on the market nowadays.
Updated May 17, 2023, by Ritwik Mitra: The PlayStation 2 was a groundbreaking console that pushed the limits of video gaming to new heights. With its powerful hardware and a massive library of games, the PS2 became one of the best-selling consoles of all time. One of its greatest strengths was the wealth of first-person shooters available on the platform, which were quite action-packed and used the updated graphics of this console to great effect.
These PS2 FPS games integrated everything from engaging narratives to pulse-pounding set pieces that showed just how far the gaming industry had evolved. Many people thought that using a mouse and keyboard was critical to enjoying these games, but these console shooters proved that players could have a great time playing FPS games with a controller, dispelling the notion that accurate aiming was all that was relevant in these titles.
22 Area 51
This was one of the more underrated shooters that probably flew under the radar for players, but it's probably one of the more interesting first-person shooters that the PlayStation 2 had under its belt. First, going into Area 51 is an interesting setting for players because the enemy would be aliens. Paired with the combat and story, the game allows players to be more creative with how they play Area 51.
The combat is fairly simple which makes it easier for players to jump into, however, the fact that players could dual wield certain weapons like shotguns and pistols set Area 51 apart from other games at the time. Players could also get "superpowers" by turning into a mutated alien which adds another element to gameplay. When players are able to switch to a mutant temporarily, the combat gets enhanced, which allows players to be quicker, see invisible enemies better, and heal faster.
21 Red Faction 2
There are many fans who believe that Red Faction 2 was a missed opportunity in many ways. It failed to capitalize on what made the first game successful, undoing many of the good parts of the first game that ended up alienating most fans who simply didn't understand why the developer decided to make such drastic changes in the first place.
However, while Red Faction 2 pales in comparison to its predecessor, many people would argue that it stands strong on its own as a pretty decent FPS on the PS2 that more fans should check out. It's not mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination, but players who decide to give this game a fair shot will be more than happy with what's on offer.
20 Return To Castle Wolfenstein
BJ Blazkowicz is one of the most iconic video game protagonists of all time, and fans were glad to see that this character would make an appearance after a pretty long hiatus in another Wolfenstein game. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a tightly woven and engaging FPS that is a blast to play through, especially for long-time fans of the genre who loved playing the old games.
The multiplayer of this title was revolutionary at the time, with the single-player campaign also being quite engaging in its own right and building up on the lore of the series in its own way. It's a shame that many people don't talk about Return to Castle Wolfenstein nowadays, especially since the gameplay of this title has aged pretty well and can still be a ton of fun to this day.
There aren't many FPS games based on a comic book, which already makes XIII way more engaging and unique than most of the other titles in this genre. On top of this, the game's cel-shaded art style and the focus on a comic-book design aesthetic made it a blast to play through in every way, even if the gameplay itself may have been the least engaging part of the experience.
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Fans of this game were glad to hear that this game was getting a full-blown remake, which made it pretty disappointing when this release turned out to be broken and uninspired in every way. While another studio was contracted to release a better version of the remake to address fan and critic complaints, the damage had already been done — XIII has become another footnote of gaming history that people rarely bring up in conversation.
18 Unreal Tournament
While on PC, Unreal Tournament was a very successful game, giving players complete freedom when fighting other players online. Due to its online ability and being fairly difficult, Unreal Tournament made players super competitive. While the PlayStation 2 port suffered from graphical and minimal gameplay limitations, it still got very close to the Unreal Tournament PC version, allowing PlayStation 2 owners to be just as competitive.
However, the PlayStation 2port did not have any online multiplayer, but rather local multiplayer, meaning players could play with their friends on the same console. Even without the online multiplayer aspect, players could still have a great time going head-to-head with the modes that were offered in Unreal Tournament, and because of the heightened difficulty, players can get fairly competitive forcing players to be aggressive and take more risks.
The first entry into the PlayStation-exclusive Killzone series was developed by Guerrilla Games and hit stores in late 2004. The first-person shooter takes players to 2357, over 300 years after a nuclear war shattered planet Earth. It's one of the most beloved PlayStation franchises around that fans miss quite a bit.
Killzone attempted to stand out from the crowded FPS market by trying to create a more cinematic experience than other shooters offered. Guerrilla Games did a great job of this, as both the sound and art design were top-notch for the time of Killzone's release. However, the game wasn't without its issues as the enemy A.I. and technical performance of Killzone left much to be desired.
16 Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun
Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor series may not be too recognizable to audiences today, but back in 2003, it was one of the premier names in the first-person shooter genre.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun didn't reach the heights of the classic PlayStation 1 games, but it still provided a fantastic eight-hour campaign and enjoyable split-screen multiplayer that should appeal to any FPS fan. Although it's not considered among the best Medal of Honor games, it had one of the biggest influences on the FPS genre as it offered online multiplayer, something that was uncommon on the PlayStation 2.
15 Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 was released in March 2005, making it the first entry into the Brothers in Arms series. The franchise would have over ten releases, the most recent of which was the 2014 mobile game Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War.
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Despite the series' many subsequent iterations, Gearbox Software's original Road to Hill 30 is still regarded as the franchise's high point. The game was particularly praised for its squad management mechanics, which were unique for the time and gave the FPS genre, which was considered stale in 2005, a new lease of life.
14 Call Of Duty 2: Big Red One
The iconic Call of Duty series wasn't always known for its online shooters set in modern times, as the first handful of games took players back to World War 2. Another fact about the series that seems odd today is that the first two games weren't released on a PlayStation console. Thankfully, Big Red One was there to satisfy fans of Sony's PS2.
Series spin-off Call of Duty 2: Big Red One wasn't too dissimilar to the original Call of Duty 2, leading to criticisms and a reduced Metascore of 77 compared to the original's 86 and 89. However, this wasn't an issue for PlayStation 2 owners, as it was their first taste of the Call of Duty gameplay formula.
If Michael Bay was to make a video game, it would probably be something like Black. The game had some incredible visual design for the time, high-quality sound effects, and used real actors for cutscenes.
Developers Criterion Games created Black with the idea of making it the FPS version of their Burnout games, and it certainly achieves it. The game has wonderfully over-the-top action with land mines, grenades, cars, and even buildings frequently exploding during the objective-based gameplay, making Black one of the most cinematic gaming experiences available on the PS2. It's a shame that more people don't talk about this highly underrated FPS.
12 Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game Of The Movie
The movie tie-in game with the oddly specific title surprised gamers upon release. Movie tie-in games are often looked down upon and rightly criticized for being rushed as the developers often have tight time schedules to adhere to, ensuring that their game is released in line with the corresponding film. Many gamers thought that this would be the case with King Kong. Even the title implied that the game would be a cash grab, with publishers Ubisoft seemingly desperate to let consumers know that it was related to the hit film.
However, Ubisoft Montpellier did an excellent job with King Kong. With no HUD and fantastic sound effects, the game was extremely immersive and played like a survival horror title. Along with the FPS gameplay, King Kong also featured enjoyable third-person sections with players controlling the iconic gorilla himself.
11 Call Of Duty 3
Before the Modern Warfare series revolutionized online gaming, there was the original trilogy. Call of Duty 3's single-player mode was broken into four sections, with American, British, Polish, and Canadian campaigns. These campaigns had an immersive historical World War 2 setting, helping the game become one of the best historical FPS titles at the time.
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Call of Duty 3, much like the aforementioned King Kong, was released late in the PlayStation 2's life span and pushed the PS2's capabilities to its limits, resulting in some of the best graphics available on the console.
10 James Bond 007: Nightfire
Many James Bond games have the thankless task of being compared to the classic Nintendo 64 game, GoldenEye 007. Despite being released 5 years later, Nightfire still had this weight of expectation on its shoulders.
Despite never reachingthe heights of GoldenEye 007, Nightfire was still a fantastic game in its own right. For example, itdid an excellent job of updating the split-screen multiplayer formula that GoldenEye revolutionized. The game's multiplayer had many weapons to use, characters to play as, and well-designed stages to compete in. Moreover, Nightfire had one of the best single-player campaigns in Bond's gaming history. Players could use multiple gadgets, drive modded cars, and shoot down enemies with great gameplay that made gamers really feel like they were the iconic agent.
9 TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is the third entry in the TimeSplitters series. Much like the rest of the series, Future Perfect takes heavy inspiration from Rare's Perfect Dark and GoldenEye.
Furthermore, the game added online multiplayer, finally letting players test their shooting skills against human opponents. It also featured an impressive catalog of 150 characters, many of which were unlocked via completing levels and challenges in the game's campaign. This gave gamers an incentive to perfect their skill with the game, adding great replay value in the process.
8 Quake 3: Revolution
The PS2 port of PC's Quake 3: Arena was always going to be a difficult sell, as the game removed the online capabilities that the PC version thrived on. Despite this, Revolution sold very well on the home console.
Like many games on this list, Quake 3: Revolution had a heavy emphasis on multiplayer gameplay. Developer's id Software gave gamers a huge selection of maps to play on and a substantial variety of game modes to choose from. Moreover, the game removed plot-based single-player from the series, replacing it with a mode that simulated the game's multiplayer experience by giving players bots to fight.
Half-Life is another game on this list that was ported to the PlayStation 2. Unlike the stripped-back Quake 3, the PS2's Half-Life port improved the game's level design and graphics. Valve's award-winning first-person shooter was also showered with praise upon release for its realistic combat, ingenious puzzle design, and well-written story that was intelligently integrated into the gameplay.
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In 2007, IGN named Half-Life as one of the 10 most influential games in the industry's history, along with iconic titles like Space Invaders and Super Mario 64. The game's influence hasn't been forgotten today, as there are many modern franchises, such as Dishonored and Metro,that take more than one page out of Half-Life's book. While many people still consider the PC to be the best platform to experience this masterpiece, the PS2 port wasn't a bad way to experience this game either.
6 Red Faction
THQ's Red Faction takes players on a futuristic space adventure on Mars. The game's marketing heavily focused on its engine's ability to create destructible environments. These destructible environments were revolutionary at the time, and they helped the game receive universal praise.
What's more, the plot-centric single-player campaign inspired many other works of fiction. This was rare at the time, with early 2000s video games usually basing their generic storylines on pre-existing story tropes and cliches. Developer's Volition, however, created an original story that paved the way for more complex and well-written stories in the gaming industry.
5 Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2005)
Probably one of the best Star Wars games to date featuring an expansive online world that gave players complete control of everything, it was what every Star Wars fan wanted, and then some. Giving players a very compelling single-player campaign and an immersive multiplayer section made Star Wars Battlefront 2 have the legacy that it has now. The deep and rich gameplay elements had players coming back and staying engaged, Plus, with how competitive it was, old players came back really competitive to replay the game, making it one of the most full-fledged Star Wars games ever.
The different modes that were featured in Star Wars Battlefront 2 allowed each fight to feel new, and those modes were set across the Star Wars eras at the time making any hardcore Star Wars fan really excited to play it. Thanks to all these things, Star Wars Battlefront 2 has left a legacy that can be felt in modern Battlefront games, and because of that, it's an important game for the series.
4 Medal Of Honor: Frontline
The Call of Duty series didn't always dominate the FPS market like it does today. Before the Modern Warfare series revolutionized the genre, Medal of Honor was considered the superior series.
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Consequently, Frontline had heavy expectations on its shoulders, as two excellent PS1 games, Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor: Underground, and a PC classic Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, helped shoot the Medal of Honor series to the top of the FPS pyramid.Thankfully, the PS2's first Medal of Honor game didn't disappoint. It kept close to its roots, opting to simply improve the objective-based gameplay rather than fix what wasn't broken.
3 Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
The PlayStation 2 began the era of more realistic shooters that were both tactical and grounded, the console port of Battlefield 2 helped bring in this new wave of games for the system and for the best. Players were able to play one of the revolutionary shooters at the time, allowing players to jump into these massive maps, and control a wide variety of vehicles with a large population of players which has become a staple for Battlefield games.
However, unlike most mainstream shooters at the time Battlefield 2: Modern Combatleaned into a more realistic tactile gameplay style whereas others went towards a more arcade route. This helped keep Battlefield 2: Modern Combat separate from others because it could do what other shooters at the time were not doing and this is not limiting the players. Featuring iconic game modes like conquest and rush were unique to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat at the time other shooters were a more focused style of gameplay, but Battlefield 2: Modern Combat emphasized all-out-war which is a mantra for the later games in the Battlefield series.