Welcome to part two of our look at the best games ever to grace the original PlayStation (#20-11 can be found here). Like I said last week, the PlayStation was a system that served as a defining moment in gaming for many of us, finally beginning the change in perception as games being something that could only appeal to nerds and children and into the mainstream as a medium that could rival TV, novels and movies in terms of narrative scope and cinematic qualities. This was the system that games ‘grew up’ on and helped build the industry into the $100 billion dollar juggernaut it is today and this level of maturity (in all senses of the word) could be considered the defining trait of our picks for the 10 games that best represent the console.
10 – Twisted Metal III
As a kid the Twisted Metal series was one of the few that honestly scared me silly. The disturbing art and backstories as well as the “twisted” world the games took place in was just too much for my little mind to handle and I pretty much avoided the games at all cost when they were new. But now as an adult I can honestly say that these games are some of the funnest most ridiculous titles I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. The motorized mayhem, crazy weapons and maps that are designed for pure carnage are all a blast to play and nowhere was this more evident than in the final game in the series to land on the PlayStation. Little me may not believe it but I can honestly say these games are all fantastic.
9 – Silent Hill
The PlayStation was the system were the survival-horror genre finally came into being thanks to the power afforded to developers to make games more cinematic, atmospheric and scary – and honestly it can be quite a challenge to make 2D sprites ‘scary’. So when Konami’s Silent Hill was released it was a revelation for a genre that was still in its infancy. Using both the power and limitations of the hardware to its advantage, the game presented a world steeped in reality but also out-worldly horrors that challenged our conception of what a horror game could be as instead of fighting mindless zombies or hungry monsters you were battling your own psychological demons, a concept that would have been deemed inappropriate for the gaming market just a few years earlier.
8 – Final Fantasy VII
One of the most groundbreaking, beloved and cherished games of all time, Final Fantasy VII showed the world an early glimpse of how more powerful gaming hardware would lead to more cinematic experiences. Featuring a story that still stands among the best the franchise has ever offered, Final Fantasy VII brought the RPG genre into the mainstream and helped make it one of the most in-demand ways to play. For a while, having a large, expansive, cinematic RPG was considered a must for any gaming platform and systems that didn’t would be left behind, all thanks to the 7th game in the series, which is not even the best RPG to land on the PlayStation.
7 – Xenogears
Where Final Fantasy VII was the cinematic continuation of what we had seen before from Square’s Final Fantasy series, Xenogears was a fresh take on the genre featuring new combat mechanics that had never been seen in a game before as well as new storytelling elements that were brand new and innovative at the time of its release. Another highly beloved game though one that we have sadly yet to see a sequel to and might actually never get (since the development team has scattered to the winds) this is one of those games that we need to appreciate for what it is.
6 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
If there were an award for ‘world’s worst skateboarder’ it would most likely be named after me. Every single time I have set foot on a skateboard its been nothing short of a disaster. Which is why I really appreciate the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games (well the older ones) since the let me live out my dream of making it more than three feet on a skateboard. And the best of these games is by far Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, a game that is not just a great skateboarding game (it’s the best) but a great arcade-style game in its own right, filled with secrets, deep replayability and plenty of additional modes and options. Even if you can’t skateboard or don’t give an ollie about the sport, I still strongly recommend you check out this classic.
5 – Gran Turismo 2
It may look quaint today but when Gran Turismo 2 was released on the PlayStation back in 1999 it was a visual revolution for racing games. Featuring courses brimming with details and effects and cars that looked as close to their real-life counterparts as possible, this was a clear showcase for the ageing PlayStation hardware. But beyond the graphics, the game was also an absolute blast to play with its solid mix of real-world driving mechanics and fun, engaging arcade gameplay. With games like this its no wonder the Gran Turismo name has become the gold standard for racing-sims.
4 – Resident Evil 2
The original Resident Evil was a landmark game in the burgeoning survival-horror market, offering up something that was brand new, innovative and defining. So how would Capcom top it? In every way imaginable! Resident Evil 2 took the framework established by its predecessor and made nearly every single thing better. Better story, controls, graphics, twists and options mixed in with a horrifying new setting that frankly was a lot scarier than the original’s zombie filled mansion. Capcom has promised to be working on a remake for quite some time now and if it keeps even a tiny amount of what made the original so good then it will be a fantastic game too.
3 – Final Fantasy VIII
How Square would follow-up the landmark Final Fantasy VII was the question on a lot of gamers minds in the late 90’s and when Final Fantasy VIII landed it was evident that they had taken their time in crafting one of the best RPGs ever made. So what makes FFVIII the best of the PlayStation Final Fantasy games? Well for one the game has an incredible story, filled with nuanced characters, impactful moments and a world that feels more fleshed out than any we had seen up to that point. Then there’s the revamped combat system that stripped away a lot of unnecessary elements to offer something fresh and streamlined. This was the game that showed us the future of RPGs and more than other game set the path for Square’s future titles.
2 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The PlayStation is most often remembered for how many series either made the jump or debuted in 3D and helped establish the third dimension as the undisputed future of console games. So its a bit ironic that one of the very best games to land on the system is a fully 2D adventure. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is often remembered by fans for just how flawlessly it handled the classic ‘Metroidvania’ gameplay style but at the same time added in new elements like RPG-style progression and a deep story. While the series has had many great games since its quite possible that Symphony of the Night will forever represent the best that Castlevania has to offer.
1 – Metal Gear Solid
Throughout this list, we’ve mentioned plenty of times how the PlayStation helped define things like cinematic storytelling in games, new gameplay styles and brought series that were previously a 2D-only affair into the third dimension. Well if any one game encapsulates all of that it’s Metal Gear Solid. One of the most deep and mature stories available at the time mixed in with never before seen stealth-action gameplay, this was a landmark game in more ways than one and helped revive the brand and turn it into one of the most popular and important names in all of gaming, a brand that has helped define future PlayStation hardware always to epic success.
What do you think of our choices? Did you favorite PlayStation game make the cut? Let us know in the comment section below!