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The Games

Thousands of games have been released for the PS2 over the years. Some choice titles include:

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec

Yeah, yeah… the AI is rubbish and the lack of proper collision detection totally ruins Sony’s claims that it’s the ‘Ultimate Driving Simulator’, but Gran Turismo series is still immense fun. Way back when it was released, it looked pretty spiffy as well, and it was the blend of super-powerful sports cars and slick graphics that helped sell many PS2s in the early days.

Grand Theft Auto III

Amazingly, until it hit store shelves, no-one really expected GTAIII to be the enormous hit that it became. The original games in the series (Grand Theft Auto, GTA: London and GTA2) had become cult successes, but were hardly sales juggernauts, and many industry watchers were worried by GTA’s move to 3D. Even Rockstar Games, GTA’s publisher, didn’t seem entirely convinced, and tucked the playable demo of the GTAIII away in their stand at E3 2001, rather than giving it the hard sell that the game clearly deserved.

Developed by Scottish studio DMA Design (later to be rebranded Rockstar North), created what felt like a living, breathing city on your PS2 and gave you permission to be as anti-social as you liked. Steal cars, rob passers-by and even impersonate fire fighters. To progress in the game, you could also take on missions from various gangsters and crime lords, gradually increasing your reputation amongst the criminal classes.

Predictably, the game caused plenty of moral outrage, particularly in Australia where the game was temporarily taken of the shelves, later to be replaced with a cut version. In the UK, the game carries a BBFC 18 certificate, and it is illegal to sell the game to minors.

Later GTAIII ports to the PC and Xbox feature improved graphics.

Ico

Stylish and spooky adventure game, and the perfect riposte to anyone who claims that the PS2 is only home to ultra-commercial franchises.

Accessories

EyeToy

Developed by Sony’s London studio, the EyeToy is a low-cost USB webcam that recognises movement, allowing games to respond to the arm-waving and gesticulating of the player.

Games written especially for the EyeToy include EyeToy: Play (a collection of minigames originally bundled with the webcam), EyeToy: Groove (a rhythm action game) and Sega Superstars (another collection of minigames, this time based on some classic Sega games of the past).

A number of other games also offered enhanced features for EyeToy users. EA’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for example, featured some bonus minigames exclusively for use with the EyeToy.

Sony also released EyeToy: Chat, which allowed people with a broadband enabled PS2 to videochat with their buddies.

Network Adapter

Sony’s official Network Adapter added an Ethernet port to the PS2 and allowed online-enabled games to be played over the internet. Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Sony’s PS2 Network Gaming service is free to use.

The slimline PStwo features built-in support for net play.

Major events

1999
PS2 officially announced

2000
4 March: Japanese launch
26 October: North American launch
24 November: UK launch

2002
5 May: Global PS2 sales break the 30 million barrier

2003
March: Global PS2 sales break the 70 million barrier

2004
1 November: UK launch of the slimline ‘PStwo’

2005
June: Total PS2 shipments break the 90 million barrier
(North America: 36.5m, Europe: 32.5m, Japan: 21m)

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

Sony PlayStation 2

128-bit ‘Emotion Engine’ CPU
DVD-ROM drive
2 USB ports
Early consoles came with a FireWire (IEEE 1394) interface. This was later dropped for a IR port to allow use of a DVD remote control without a clumsy adaptor
Game discs either used CD-ROM technology (the discs with the purple back), or DVD-ROM (silver back)
Backwards-compatible with the PlayStation

Sony PSX

PVR
DVD+R recorder
Built-in PlayStation 2 compatibility
160GB or 250GB hard drive

‘Slimline’ Sony PlayStation 2

Redesigned, slimline case
Built-in Ethernet port
Nick-named PStwo