TotalRoundTable: A Decade of Dante, Katamaris, and Kratos

Looking back with some of the greatest PS2 journos.
Author: Marc N. Kleinhenz
Published: October 26, 2010
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My, how time flies.

On this day ten years ago, the gaming landscape was forever changed by the release of a little system called the Sony PlayStation 2. It quickly established itself as one of the single most influential consoles in videogame history second after, perhaps, the NES itself but success and nostalgia tend to induce a rose-tinted backwards glance. What was the PS2s lifecycle really like, warts and all, and what truly is its legacy on a very-much-up-in-the-air market?

Taking the stroll down memory lane is a motley crew. While Sir Gordon has returned from the field, its Sam Bishops turn to once again be out of the office (hes forever trapped in LittleBigPlanet 2 strategy guide hell but at least the light is now at the end of the tunnel!). His replacement is none other than the esteemed Aram Lecis, TPSs senior editor, who is joined by features overlord Marc Kleinhenz and, of course, their guests of honor: Jeff Haynes, formerly a PS2 and PC editor with IGN (where he helped co-found the legendary Podcast Beyond), and Doug Perry, whose mighty and lengthy resume includes the likes of IGN, Games Radar, MetaCafe, and the magazines Next Generation and EGM.

(Cant get enough retrospection? TotalPlayStation, plus assorted guests, recounts its favorite gaming experiences across the PS2s decade-long lifespan here.)

Marc N. Kleinhenz, features editor:

With a decade(!) of hindsight now behind us, what do you make of the PlayStation 2's birth, life, and extremely late death? What are its highs and its lows? Is it one of, if not the, most influential consoles in the history of the medium?

And how is it that Metal Gear Solid 2 is still one of the coolest games to grace its outrageously designed chassis? :)

Sir Gordon Wheelmeier, gaming guru:

More than anything else, I believe that the PlayStation 2 was proof of what happens when developers become very familiar (and perhaps even comfortable) with a platform and start to really experiment. You see similar stuff with DS games and on other systems to some extent, but the PS2 simply had an incredible number of titles that will remain classics for a long time to come.

What I mean by that is that we had technology that was reasonably powerful during its time and developers who had gotten used to taking advantage of the space on a DVD. Development was faster and cheaper than it is today because assets didn't have to be as detailed, and the massive install base meant that a game could sell to a relatively small percentage of users and still be a big success. That meant riskier and better games.

Some gamers may laugh when you say that there was a time when people hadn't heard about Guitar Hero or Grand Theft Auto, but those games were really very big experiments on the system that have wound up making history. While games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus didn't sell on that level, these titles wouldn't have been feasible from a financial standpoint on most other platforms, because the returns wouldn't have been high enough. Thanks to the PS2's incredible install base, those were easier risks.

And, of course, you have stuff like Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, a number of huge RPGs, and many other titles with scale and size that are rarely surpassed, or even just met, in today's games.

The PS2 was essentially the ultimate best-case scenario that you could wish for in terms of a gaming console.
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