10 PS2 Games That Aged Poorly
VOICE OVER: Aaron Brown
WRITTEN BY: Aaron Brown
These PS2 games are still fun, but the passage of time has certainly made them age poorly. For this list, we'll be looking at games that didn't quite stand the test of time as much as our nostalgia would have us believe. Our list includes “Zone of the Enders” (2001), “Shadow of the Colossus” (2005), “Kingdom Hearts” (2002), and more!
Script written by Aaron Brown
Welcome to MojoPlays and today we’re taking off our rose colored glasses and looking at 10 PS2 games that aged poorly. For this list, we’ll be looking at games that didn’t quite stand the test of time as much as our nostalgia would have us believe. Many of these games are still classics and rightfully so, but when compared to modern quality of life improvements, revisiting these old favorites is a bit more challenging than we remember. What beloved PS2 game is hard for you to revisit nowadays? Let us know down in the comments.
“Prince of Persia: Warrior Within” (2004)
Prince of Persia The Sands of Time was a revelation with its parkour-inspired traversal and time bending mechanics as well as a likable Prince with a story arc filled with meaningful character growth. With the sequel however, Ubisoft decided to take things in a decidedly darker direction and may have gone a bit too far. While the clever puzzles and time manipulation mechanics were still present and as solid as ever, the Prince himself had ditched his young naivete and embraced his inner edgelord, going full emo, fueled by bloody combat, provocatively dressed companions, and plenty of swearing. While we suppose that being pursued by a time deity for your interference in the timeline would make anyone cynical, the Prince went a bit too far off the deep end and his cringe-worthy dialogue and new edgy attitude make this the most difficult to revisit of the Prince’s many adventures.
“Enter The Matrix” (2003)
To be fair, this game was mediocre at best upon release, with development clearly having been rushed to coincide with the release date of The Matrix Reloaded and fill in the backstory on characters introduced within the film. With a wildly uncooperative camera, even by PS2 standards, unresponsive controls and lackluster presentation, even the game’s greatest selling point, its bullet time, had already been done better by Max Payne two years earlier. Enter The Matrix was obviously meant to be a companion piece to Reloaded with strange cuts in the game’s narrative in which the playable characters of the game were involved in the film’s plot, the strange disconnect and the lack of players getting to play as Neo meant that even upon release the game was poorly received but this myriad of issues makes it nearly unplayable today. Stick to the far superior Path of Neo for your Matrix fix.
“Indigo Prophecy” (2005)
While in recent years, David Cage’s games have gained more popularity in the mainstream, in the early days, they were generally seen as more niche titles with a bit of a cult following. Indigo Prophecy, or Fahrenheit, depending on where you live, helped establish David Cage’s style of storytelling and interactive gameplay that would become a staple of his titles moving forward. However, out of his back catalog, Indigo Prophecy is probably the most difficult to revisit. The often extremely awkward character interactions as well as a completely nonsensical storyline that loses its own plot as the narrative goes on absolutely helped lay the groundwork for Cage’s more interesting titles later on, but this is one Prophecy that’s gotten substantially colder in the years since its release.
“Zone of the Enders” (2001)
The PS2 and gaming in general have no shortage of mech games to choose from, but attaching Hideo Kojima’s name to a new mech franchise certainly makes people take notice. The inclusion of a demo disc for the highly anticipated MGS2 didn’t hurt either. While Zone of the Enders featured some of the best and snappiest mech combat in gaming at the time, the enemies aren’t exactly challenging and many of the bosses don’t do much to switch up the formula. Along with the subpar story and one of the most annoying protagonists in gaming, the cutscenes and dialogue are something you’ll be thankful can be skipped entirely. Fortunately, the sequel smoothed out these rough edges and playing the first game isn’t entirely necessary to enjoy the far superior sequel, but we’ll never be able to unsee Jehuty’s cockpit.
“Ratchet & Clank” (2002)
Very few video games manage to nail their formula with their initial release in what they hope will be a budding and long running franchise. While the story of Ratchet and Clank saving the galaxy as a pair of unlikely heroes armed with some of the most insane weapons in gaming up to that point instantly endeared itself to players, the original title was immediately outdone by its successor only a year later. The original title’s slower and clunkier aiming coupled with the sequel’s many advancements such as strafing while shooting as well as the new bullet time slow down when selecting a new weapon from the gadget wheel makes the original Ratchet and Clank not only feel unwieldy by comparison but also more difficult, with bosses giving you little to no reprieve from their assault to load up your next firearm.
“Shadow of the Colossus” (2005)
Shadow of the Colossus is undeniably a masterpiece of a game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a product of its time. One of the most difficult things about revisiting beloved games of yesteryear is undoubtedly the modernization of controls. However, it’s not only the inconsistency of the controls that makes the original release more difficult to replay. The core mechanic of the game is climbing often skyscraper-sized Colossi with only a whittling grip gauge to keep you from plummeting to your untimely death. The main issue is the unreliable nature of what exactly Wander can grip onto. Oftentimes the game will randomly decide you can’t grab a ledge, or the Colossi moved a nanometer while you were in midair forcing you to restart the climb all over from scratch. Ico suffers from similar problems, but the fixed camera helps alleviate some frustrations, although that does nothing for the title’s floaty controls.
Although Gears of War might be credited for popularizing the drab brown and grays of many shooters in the early 2000s, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t already a budding issue. Guerilla Games’ Killzone, Sony’s answer to Halo, was a competent enough shooter at the time but didn’t exactly take gamers’ attention away from Master Chief either. The aforementioned brown, tan, gray, and off-white color palette did little to differentiate each encounter from the next, and the game’s overuse of ambient fog to mask Killzone’s limited draw distance made the title feel dated even at its initial release late into the PS2’s lifecycle. Coupled with numerous bugs, poor enemy and companion AI, and a confusing control scheme, the improvements Guerilla made to the franchise with only their second entry make the original Killzone a relic of the past. You'd be better off looking up a story summary for the Helghan origins than fighting them yourself.
“Spider-Man 2” (2004)
The impact of Spider-Man 2 cannot be understated. Not only was it one of the best movie-tie in games of all time, its web swinging mechanics laid the groundwork for every Spider-Man game that came after it. Swinging around the streets of New York had never felt so realistic in a Spider-Man game before and the developers even took things beyond a simple tie-in cash-grab by adding to the existing story and letting players battle villains not featured in the film. Even during its initial release, the title wasn’t without its problems, however. Anytime Spidey isn’t gleefully gliding through the skyscrapers, the camera struggles to keep up, let alone hold Spidey in the frame, swinging with more reckless abandon than the Webhead himself. This is especially evident anytime Spidey engages in combat, particularly indoors, and is enough to make any seasoned webslinger come crashing down with a serious case of motion sickness.
“Kingdom Hearts” (2002)
The Kingdom Hearts games are a tale of two sides. On one, it shouldn’t work but it does, and on the other, no one really understands what's going on, but everyone loves it anyway. The first Kingdom Hearts game came out of nowhere and was a collaboration even scientists locked in a lab couldn’t have dreamed up, but like many other entries on this list, the first game in the series, while solid enough, stumbles when compared to the advancements of its sequels. The original Kingdom Hearts suffered from slow combat and often completely unresponsive companion AI (DONALD!) and a camera system that seemed to be controlled by the Heartless with how much it battled the player. Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid levels suffered especially because of this. Kingdom Hearts isn’t unplayable by today’s standards but it still pales in comparison to its superior sequels.
“GTA” Series” (2001-2004)
Nostalgia can be a very dangerous thing. And unfortunately, despite their importance in helping shape the industry and open world games in general, the original trilogy of Grand Theft Auto games on the PS2 simply do not hold up, especially when compared to their modern counterparts. Don’t get us wrong, they’re still classics and much better than the “Definitive Edition” was at launch, but between the awkward controls and shooting mechanics, the inconsistent difficulty spikes in many missions, and the floaty car physics, longtime fans who have become accustomed to GTAV or even IV are going to struggle to remember why they loved these games so much growing up. These titles are undoubtedly an important part of gaming history. Unfortunately, that’s also where they need to stay.