From skateboards to snowboards, rally to motocross, the PlayStation 2 had it all. See our top ten picks from the past ten years.
After a phenomenal run of more than a decade, this month Sony finally stopped production of the PlayStation 2, the most successful console of all time with more than 150 million sold. Though the PlayStation 3 now holds the torch with some amazing exclusives, in honour of its passing, we look back at the best action sports games from every discipline to grace the platform.
1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
Tony Hawk, already a boarding legend, reached gaming stardom with the fourth entry in the Pro Skater series on PS2. The new free roaming mode added polish to an already well looked after series, and with substantial changes in following sequels (which focused heavily on storyline), even ten years on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 still remains the benchmark for the franchise, and action sports games as a whole.
2. SSX Tricky
The Nintendo 64’s 1080 Snowboarding and the first SSX game on the PS2 introduced gamers to the world of snowboarding, but SSX Tricky proved the most memorable of the four titles released, with a soundtrack spearheaded by Run DMC’s ‘Tricky’ combined with outrageous tricks, ridiculous courses and truly fun gameplay.
3. Aggressive Inline
Inline skating may be skateboarding's poor relation but that doesn't mean skating games aren't fun to play. Aggressive Inline took the successful Tony Hawk’s recipe and applied it to inline skating. The result’s an innovative game with a killer soundtrack, interactive environments, great controls and features that would later be borrowed and used in the Tony Hawk’s series bringing the whole thing full circle.
4. Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer
You could argue that the first surfboard game for the PlayStation 2 was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 - Slater appeared as an unlockable character who could ride one instead of a skateboard - but it was Slater’s own game that proved the best. Pro Surfer successfully married Tony Hawk style gameplay with a sport often ignored by game makers, bringing gnarly waves to the digital world with great controls and simple but engaging level goals.
Motocross gaming fans were in for a treat with Freekstyle, a 2002 game that shared a taste for the outrageous with SSX Tricky. Great presentation coupled with brilliant gameplay made for a captivating experience that still holds up well today - if you’re a Nitro Circus fan you have to seek this out.
6. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
If Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 was the pinnacle of the serious Pro Skater titles, Underground 2 is the king of the plain absurd with Hawk’s name on the front. Underground 2’s hook was all in the presentation: taking cues from MTV’s Jackass and Viva La Bam, the game featured stars from both shows as well as Red Bull skater Ryan Sheckler, and of course, the humour, pranks and foolishness of the two shows. Juvenile? Sure. Fun? Of course.
7. WRC: Rally Evolved
Racing and rally games have been around for years, but WRC: Rally Evolved cruised easily past its rally rivals on PS2 when it hit stores in late 2005. Officially licensed by the World Rally Championship and featuring all the drivers and cars from the time, the game’s realism and gripping driving mechanics kept rally fiends hooked.
8. Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2
It might look like a Tony Hawk game with fewer wheels, but Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2 was when bike games came of age. With a wide variety of different riders and courses and parks designed for bikes, the second Mat Hoffman game fine-tuned all the positives of the first game and added a few more too.
9. MX vs. ATV Unleashed
MX vs. ATV Unleashed brought together the worlds of motocross and all-terrain vehicles in a fun mash-up where it didn’t really matter whether you were on two wheels or four – all that mattered was that you were shredding up the digital dirt, and enjoying it in the process.
10. NBA Street Vol. 2
Basketball’s not an extreme sport but you wouldn’t know it from playing NBA Street Vol. 2, which took the traditional ball game and cranked thing up with insane tricks, crossovers beyond killer, and dunks that hit so hard you wish they could be real. NBA Street Vol. 2 showed how crazy a traditional sports game could get, not to mention how fun to play.
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