Here you will find my brief reviews of Sony PlayStation 2 games, along with a rating from 1 to 10. A rating of 9-10 indicates a great game; 7-8 is a good game; 5-6 is a mediocre game; 3-4 is a poor game; and 1-2 is a horrible game. At the bottom of the page can be found my Top 10 list.
This basketball game lets you manage your NBA team as well as play the games. You can hire assistant coaches, set up weekly training, and choose which words of encouragement to give players. Frankly, I'd rather just play the games and not have to deal with the managerial stuff. The game itself plays smoothly at a good pace and the control is solid. I particularly like the NBA Jam style "turbo" feature used by pressing the R1 button. The game does have its share of glitches and flaws, however. Occasionally when shooting the ball in front of the basket, my shot ends up hitting the back of the backboard, out of bounds. The percentages in the stats are often wrong (6/10 always shows as .599 instead of .600) and the announcers say the wrong things. Also, some phrases repeat too often; get used to hearing things like "rips cord" and "tickles the twine" after nailing a jumper. And Bill Walton's presence is never a good thing. The game menus are not organized well and it's hard to find what you're looking for. But fortunately, the flaws are relatively minor and the game itself is still quite fun to play.
This RPG from Square Enix is the first Final Fantasy game to use voice acting. It adds a lot to the game, though the acting itself is a mixed bag. Auron and Seymour are voiced particularly well, with the latter having the perfect calm, yet evil, tone for the role. The graphics in the game are excellent, especially the stunning FMV sequences. As for the gameplay, Final Fantasy X uses a new sphere grid for improving your characters' attributes instead of the usual "leveling up." It gives you some flexibility and control over how you improve each character. Each weapon in the game has slots to which abilities can be attached (such as "Strength +10%" or "Counterattack"). Armor works the same way. One great aspect of Final Fantasy X is the ability to substitute another character into battle when the situation calls for it. On the down side, I hated the blitzball sport mini-game (you shouldn't have to choose "pass" or "shoot" from a menu in a sports game) and the puzzle-like temple trials were tedious and frustrating. And even though you eventually get an airship, you can't freely explore. But on the whole, Final Fantasy X is a highly enjoyable 50+ hour quest.
The developers at Treasure are responsible for this Gradius sequel. They've added fresh, snazzy graphics while keeping the 2D gameplay that the series is known for. As the pilot of the Vic Viper, your mission is to blast your way through seven levels filled with hundreds of enemies and thousands of bullets. Gradius V is a difficult game, but several things make it bearable and (eventually) beatable for anyone. For one thing, you continue exactly where you left off after dying. And your "multiples" (clone ships also known as "options") can usually be recovered after dying as well. And with each hour that you play the game, you unlock one additional continue...eventually earning unlimited continues. One curious aspect of this game is that bullets sometimes pass through your ship--the outer portion of your ship is apparently invulnerable. Also, the music is a bit disappointing compared to some of the great tunes in Gradius III. But overall, Gradius V is quite an enjoyable shooter.
The creators of the Crash Bandicoot series, Naughty Dog, developed this 3D platformer. The game centers on Jak and his furry sidekick Daxter. Players take control of Jak, while Daxter does little more than deliver wisecracks. The levels in the game are large and well-designed, and they flow together well. There are no loading times between levels; in fact, sometimes you may not realize where one level ends and the next begins. While each level has various objectives (such as climbing to a certain area or defeating a boss), much of the gameplay involves collecting items such as power cells and precursor orbs. The graphics are excellent and the control is solid. But most importantly, Jak and Daxter is extremely fun to play. I did not want to stop playing...and that is the sign of a great game.
This is the sequel to Jak and Daxter, though it's quite a bit different from its Precursor predecessor. This time around, the game is more action based with heavy weapon use, less object collection, and a dramatically higher difficulty level. Each area of the game is accessed from a huge, maze-like city. You get around by walking (which is too slow) or by stealing people's hover-cars and hover-bikes. Like most 3D platformers, Jak II suffers from occasional camera problems when the game won't let you move the camera to the most beneficial viewpoint. There are a variety of gameplay modes with shooting levels, platforming levels, racing levels, and more. Jak II is a darker, grittier game than Jak and Daxter was, and it has a number of frustrating parts. But despite its flaws, Jak II is a highly enjoyable game from start to finish.
This bizarre game from Namco offers some truly innovative gameplay. As the son of the King of All Cosmos, you must roll around a ball called a katamari. The goal is to collect items that are lying around so that your father can turn them into stars in the sky. At the beginning, you can only pick up small objects such as thumbtacks and dice. But as the katamari gets bigger, you can eventually pick up people, cars, houses, and even islands. In most levels, you must grow your katamari to a certain size before time runs out. Other levels have you seeking out specific items such as crabs, swan eggs, crowns, or women. While the graphics aren't very impressive, the music is outstanding. The controls are a bit awkward though, especially when trying to get the camera facing the right way. But that doesn't detract from the sheer fun of rolling up people, cars, and buildings into a giant ball--all while hearing the people scream in an oddly satisfying fashion. Katamari Damacy is a rare gem of a game.
This arcade style racing game takes you to the streets of Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. In some races, you'll have to clear checkpoints in a certain order, while other levels require you to find the best way through. In some levels, the cops will come after you. And they don't just chase you, but they'll ram into you and spin you around, often costing you any chance of winning. But cops aren't the only nuisance; other racers and even cars on the road will swerve right into you. A large truck may wait specifically for your car to approach, and then make a U-turn, blocking your path. All the collisions and cheap hits raise the difficulty and frustration level. The music consists of techno and rap; the techno tunes are fairly good, but the rap songs made me want to turn off the music. The other characters in the game will often insult you and even yell at you, and you'll hear the cops repeatedly calling for backup. All of the voices are extremely repetitive and annoying. The game would be more enjoyable if it didn't have the traffic and the cops, so you could just concentrate on racing. The game is still fun at times, but you'll need a lot of patience to complete the game.
This 3D platformer involves a group of kids with psychic abilities. The theme and story are very unique and very funny. The voice acting is great and some of the characters seem like they could have been characters on The Simpsons. In keeping with the psychic/psychology theme, each level is played when you (as a young psychic named Raz) enter the brain of other (often insane) characters. Most of these levels are extremely well designed, innovative, and highly enjoyable. One level has you destroying a town as a Godzilla-like giant; another takes you around a neighborhood that is warped in three dimensions and folds over onto itself; another lets you shrink down to the size of a game piece on a strategy board game. All the while, you'll collect figments, mental cobwebs, and emotional baggage. You'll use psychic abilities such as telekinesis, pyrokinesis, levitation, and clairvoyance. The game does have its flaws, however. The frame rate is a bit low for a PS2 game, loading times are long, and there are occasional camera angle problems. But overall, Psychonauts is an outstanding game that provides a fresh take on the platforming genre.
Up to four players can compete in this 2-on-2 beach volleyball game from Acclaim. Choose male or female players as you partake in exhibition games, the arcade mode, and the lengthy U.S. Tour. While the gameplay doesn't stand out from other volleyball games, it is solid and fun to play. Unfortunately, the loading times are a bit long, namely the 30 second load before each match. There are many unlockable items, most of which aren't very exciting (like sunglasses or a new outfit for your character). But there are also music videos, previews of other Acclaim games, and mini games that can be unlocked. It may take a lot of work though; you'll need to win hundreds of matches against the computer to unlock everything.
This enjoyable music game is played with a taiko drum accessory and plastic drumsticks that are included with the game. Icons scroll across the screen, letting you know when to "boom" the surface of the drum and when to tap the edges of the drum. There are 31 songs in the game, including pop, rock, classical, cartoon themes, and songs from Namco games. A few of the songs included are I'm A Believer, My Sharona, Slide, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, and Katamari on the Rocks. Completing the songs and earning gold medals (where you can't miss even one note) can be quite challenging at the higher difficulty settings. But it's the drum itself that causes the most problems. Tapping the edges is quite tricky at first, and there are dead spots on the surface of the drum where hits don't register. This can be a major source of frustration, especially when going for the gold medals. Also, the tiny rubber grips on the bottom of the drum stand are inadequate; the drum slips around (even on carpeting) during some of the more intense songs. Taiko: Drum Master is still very fun to play...it just could have been so much better with a quality drum.
In this tennis game, you can create a player for the career mode, compete in tournaments, and work your way towards becoming the #1 ranked player in the world. It has a lot of simulation aspects, where you can get "trained" by coaches and choose a sponsor. There is a tennis school mode which teaches you the moves, but it only consists of text that describe the moves; it doesn't actually let you practice them! The game features a "risk shot," which can result in a blue, powerful shot. But if you don't time it absolutely perfect, you'll end up with a way off-target shot that usually goes out of bounds. It's generally not worth the risk. The tournament difficulty is quite uneven. Starting out, the computer opponents are mind-numbingly easy and don't put much effort into chasing the ball. But before long, they're able to play like pros who rarely miss. There's very little middle ground, you're either cruising through matches or getting frustrated at an unfair opponent who can use powerful blue shots like crazy. The loading times between matches are atrocious; I think the grass at Wimbledon grows faster than this game loads. At times, there is also annoying slowdown during gameplay, especially on clay courts. And on multiple occasions, the game has frozen up after loading a saved game. In the end, Top Spin is a very flawed, disappointing game.
I won this game in a contest and I wasn't expecting much. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as Treasure Planet is a solid 3D platformer. Some levels take place on foot, while others involve racing on a "solar surfer." Throughout the game, your main goal is to activate beacons. This can be done by reaching a certain area, racing against the clock, collecting coins, or by completing other various tasks. The game does have some camera trouble in the on-foot levels, and at times, it requires very frequent adjustment. The game isn't very challenging however, mainly due to the fact that you can never run out of lives. All in all, Treasure Planet is an enjoyable game for fans of 3D platformers.
This sequel to Katamari Damacy has perhaps the ugliest box art of any game I've ever bought. But fortunately, the box art is not representative of the quality of the game itself. The gameplay involves rolling around a large ball called a katamari, using it to pick up anything and everything within sight. Your katamari grows as you progress, allowing you to pick up bigger objects. The soundtrack isn't quite as stellar as that of Katamari Damacy, though there are still a few great tunes. In typical Katamari stages, you try to grow your katamari as large as possible. But there are also stages with unique goals, such as creating a snowman, lighting a campfire, or collecting origami cranes. While these stages add some variety to the game, they're generally not as enjoyable as the regular levels. But overall, We Love Katamari still provides hefty doses of pure fun.