The PS2 was the most successful gaming console ever released, and as such it has an enormous library of games. Most of these games look very outdated by the standards of today’s gaming consoles. With so many games though, there are many that still hold up today.

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What is “holding up” exactly? It entails more than a game still being visually appealing and having great sound and music. Gaming trends have changed a lot since the days of the PS2, so to “hold up” also means the game is still fun to play when measured against modern classics. Most of these games were PS2 exclusives, but there are a few that appeared on other consoles.

10 Ace Combat 4

Ace Combat 4 for PS2 Gameplay footage

There were three Ace Combat games released for the PS2, and while they are all great the consensus on the best of the three is Ace Combat 4. First off, this game still looks incredible. It also has native 16:9 widescreen support; in fact, all three of the PS2 Ace Combat games share this feature. The planes have very detailed models and realistic weight to them while flying – something many flight combat sims fail at achieving. Ace Combat 4 also features a huge selection of fighter jets from which to choose. To many gamers, Ace Combat 4 is superior to the Ace Combat offerings on the PS3.

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9 Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast

Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast Ferrari at night

The Outrun series has always been about great arcade racing action, and Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast continued that tradition on the PS2 (and PSP). This is not Gran Turisimo – it is not a realistic racing sim. This game features arcade-style driving physics and Fast and Furious level drifting. The graphics are still beautiful. In fact, this might be the best-looking racing game on the PS2. Also, like the Ace Combat games, this game has a native 16:9 widescreen mode. It can also be played in 480p (progressive scan) rather than 480i (interlaced) and runs at a constant 60 frames-per-second.

8 Marvel Vs. Capcom 2

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 for the PS2 Zangief fighting Hulk and Cyclops

To many fighting game enthusiasts the best entry in the Marvel Vs. Capcom series will always be Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. The graphics aren’t nearly as polished as those in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 or Infinite, but a fighting game doesn’t need impressive graphics to be fun.

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Fighting games just need a varied and large roster of balanced characters from which to choose, responsive controls, and enemy A.I. that doesn’t need to be cheap to be challenging. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 has all these attributes; however, the roster could be a little better balanced – Cable is way too powerful.

7 Viewtiful Joe

Viewtiful Joe for the PS2 Gameplay footage

Beat ‘em ups may be making a comeback, but it was a dying genre when the PS2 was new. Then Capcom released Viewtiful Joe and revitalized the genre – at least briefly. Viewtiful Joe is a visually impressive, highly-memorable, 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up. The controls take a little getting used to, but quickly become second nature. The game’s brightly colored and cartoonish graphics still look fantastic by today's standards. If there’s one aspect of this game that might turn-off modern gamers it's the game’s difficulty. Viewtiful Joe can be quite difficult at times. It goes without saying that Viewtiful Joe 2 also holds up today.

6 Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando

Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando Gameplay footage

There were a lot of reasons to buy a PS2 back in the day. One of those reasons was for the Ratchet & Clank series of games, and out of the PS2 Ratchet & Clank games, Going Commando is widely considered the best. The PS2 had trouble making photorealistic 3D environments, but for cartoonish games like Going Commando, it was able to create impressive game-worlds. The game has very crisp graphics (for the PS2) – that look even better in the game's native 16:9 mode. More important than how great his game looks is how much fun it is. The levels are varied and the space combat sequences, similar to the Star Fox games, are a nice diversion.

5 Shadow Of The Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2 Gameplay footage

Shadow of the Colossus was so graphically demanding that it pushed the PS2 hardware to its absolute limit. This game looks so good that the HD remake for the PS3 really doesn't look that different. There is less fog to obscure the landscape, but the jagged edges of the character models in the PS3 version (as opposed to the “fuzzier” graphics of the PS2 version) were not liked by many gamers. There are few games that feel as epic as Shadow of the Colossus – and it’s not even that long of a game.

4 Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere for the PS2 Gameplay footage

Odin Sphere one of the most visually impressive 2D side-scrollers ever made – not just for the PS2. The hand-drawn graphics are absolutely beautiful, the animation is fluid, and the controls are tight and responsive. In addition to its great graphics, Odin Sphere is a thoroughly enjoyable game from start to finish.

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The game features levels with multiple exits leading to different areas, and its alchemy system is not too cumbersome or complicated for the average gamer. Unfortunately, Odin Sphere isn’t available on the PlayStation Store, but it can be purchased relatively cheaply ($20) for those that still have their PS2 hooked-up.

3 Silpheed: The Lost Planet

Silpheed: The Lost Planet for the PS2 Gameplay footage

Silpheed is the only shoot ‘em up to make this list; like beat ‘em ups, the shoot 'em up genre was dying when the PS2 was released. Whereas the PSX was known for its extensive library of shoot ‘em ups, the PS2 had very few. Silpheed is a sequel to the Silpheed game for the Sega CD, and continues that game’s legacy of being visually stunning. The game is perhaps a bit too difficult at times; however, fans of the genre will find the difficulty level to be just about right. The only negative about this game is the lack of any save or password feature.

2 Burnout 3: Takedown

Burnout 3: Takedown for the PS2 Gameplay footage

Burnout 3: Takedown is another arcade-style racing game, and is generally considered the high-point of the series. For those that haven’t played a Burnout game, these racing games feature extremely high speeds and reward the player for risky driving and “takedowns” of opposing racers - without wrecking yourself of course. This game easily rivals Grand Theft Auto 4, for the PS3, in terms of realism of the car models and environments. Most importantly, this game is pure adrenaline-fueled fun. The sound effects, especially the car engines revving, are also very well done in Burnout 3. This game has a native 16:9 display mode.

1 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PS2 street view

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also still holds up, but unless you really like the 80s San Andreas is by far the superior game. What hasn’t been said about this game already? It looks fantastic considering how big the game-world is, and that it’s running on a PS2. The amount of detail and player options in San Andreas wasn’t eclipsed until Grand Theft Auto 5. Most of the voice-acting in San Andreas is done by actual actors, and the music library is extensive enough for everyone to find something they like. The only bad part of this game is the model vehicle missions – those are insanely difficult.

NEXT: 10 Of The Best 3D Platformers On The PlayStation 2 (Based On Metacritic)

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