Playstation 2                    


I first heard about the Playstation 2 (PS2) about a year and half before its first release. I read about the specifications and said to myself "Cool! I've got to get one of those when it comes out." So, even though I'm not really a game-player (notwithstanding a couple of dozen Amiga games I had at the time), I bought one of the first PS2's to come out.

There weren't many games available on first release. My memory could be flawed here, as to what I got. I believe that the two games I got at the same time as the machine were "Wild Wild Racing" and "EverGrace". I had heard about the upcoming "Summoner", but it wasn't out yet. I bought it as soon as I saw it. I picked EverGrace since I've always been interested in D&D stuff, castles, etc. and it seemed close. I don't recall why I picked Wild Wild Racing, but it may have been the only other one that looked interesting at the time.

I am an absolutely terrible game player. I finish very few games. I'm quite old by gameplayer standards, so my reflexes are not as good as they could be. I've never been very good at such games, even back in the days of arcade machines. My main problems, I think, are an extremely poor memory (it takes me dozens of runs through a race course to remember it), a lack of repeatability of tricky moves, and problems remembering which button combinations (or even single buttons!) do what.

So, much to my surprise, the games I've ended up playing the most have not been role-playing or adventure games, but have been car racing games. I believe this is because the controls are very simple (gas, brake, steering), and there is far less randomness to the real-time actions. So, I actually spent a lot of early time playing Wild Wild Racing, and eventually completed it. I took longer than I would if I started it now, since it was the first car racing game I had ever tried.

I have no interest at all in shoot-em-ups or first person shooters. I don't like the blood and gore (although a bit of it can be amusing), and they require precisely those things that I am poor at. A few days before this writing, I got to try some Halo sniper multiplayer action on an X-box - I was always dead last. I was using the smaller controller (I have small hands), and actually sort-of like it better than the PS2 controller, in that it only has the one front button on each side, and you rest one finger in the slot of it. The pair of front buttons on the PS2 controllers are very difficult for me to use - they don't leave enough stable fingers left to properly hold the controller.

I don't mind platform games, so long as the graphics are not so garish that I have trouble making out what is what (I had that trouble when playing some such game on an earlier machine that a friend has). I've made a start on Jak and Daxter, but haven't gotten very far - my problems there, as usual, are keeping track of where I am and where I've been, and doing the right control combinations repeatably. If I run out of things to do in my life (not likely!) I'd be tempted to get Ratchet and Clank, too.

Individual Games


ATV Offroad Fury (1 - 4 players) This was the first 4 player game I got, and is still the best. I think I bought the PS2 multitap and extra controllers just to play this game. To clarify, however, I've never really played the game as it is intended to be played. I have no interest in ATV's or racing them. My friends and I use this game simply as a multiplayer universe to mess around in. We once spent about 4 hours in one session just driving around, hitting each other, etc. One common game is "king of the castle", where we try to keep others from occupying a spot like the roof of the building by the hang-gliders in one of the worlds. Its always fun showing someone who hasn't seen it before the "hand of god" when you go off the end of the world. Oh yes, we only use the large outdoor worlds, and really appreciate the detail stuff scattered around them. The choice of vehicles and riders that we do are mostly to vary the "Oh!" sounds, and to get different colours.

ATV Offroad Fury 2 (1 - 4 players, plus Internet and i-link) This was very disappointing - I was hoping for something like the original, but with new outdoor worlds and perhaps slightly improved graphics. The outdoor courses are empty except in the middle, and those goofy targets hanging in the air over the courses are just irritating.

Gran Turismo 3 This is an excellent game - I've spent many hours with it. I've won all of the beginner races, and all except the last of the Rally races. I have enough credit to buy any car I want, but haven't ever finally picked one to go with. I've tried a bit of the next level, and likely won't go any further - its just more laps of the same courses, and harder competition. I've done very little car tuning - I don't understand it enough for it to help me. I mostly just make the cars as good as I can afford at the time. My favourite is a fully-improved Imprezza rally car.

Grand Theft Auto III I think this game could be lots of fun, but I haven't spent much time with it. I show it to lots of people, and appreciate all of the hidden stuff in it. But, I don't really like the requirement of heavy violence, and I'll never be able to remember what is where in the city! Its good for just driving around, and using cheats to turn on wars, etc.

Grand Theft Auto: Sin City Similar to the first one, and I definitely like stuff like the hobby shop van with the radio controlled cars and airplanes. Again, I haven't spent much time with it.

Lego Racers 2 I bought this on principle when I saw it, since I'm a Lego fan. I've played a bit, but not all that much. The driving isn't very good after other games like Gran Turismo!

Midnight Club Street Racing This is another one that I quite like. I've finished it too, although it stretched me to my limit, and took a long time. Recommended.

Midnight Club II This is a good follow-on to the first one, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish it. I'm still not very far along, and haven't played for a while. The motorcycles are quite difficult for me, and I find the map display more confusing than in the first game.

Rally Fusion This game has good possibilities for lots of fun for me, just like Wild Wild Racing was. The problem is that I can't proceed in it without completing those stupid trick things in the indoor race-track (which I have no interest in). I just want to access all of the outdoor courses, learn them, and win them. Messing around backing into small slots and learning to spin in place properly just ruins the game.

Ridge Racer V This was the second car racing game that I got, and so I have spent a lot of time with it. I like it quite a bit, and it stretched me to my limit to come as close to finishing it as I did. The only races I didn't finish are one of the speed oval races (where the game wouldn't give me the oval engine, and so it is impossible to win!), and the final funny-car race. I did all my racing with a Mercurio, and it is far too hard for me to re-adjust to one of the funny cars.

Smuggler's Run A friend bought this game but didn't like it. I bought Smuggler's Run 2 and liked it, so bought this one too (at a reduced price of course!). I finished it just like I did the second. I really like some of the hidden stuff in this game (like the course of tunnels in the desert world, and the fact that they deliberately gave you a way to get on top of the world there). When a friend and I were playing it in two-player mode, he managed to get up to the top of the world in one corner, and then also managed to slip through the scenery and so was floating in space! Oops.

Smuggler's Run 2: Hostile Territory I like this one quite a bit - the graphics are excellent, and the little details around the countryside are great. It could use a bit more goofy stuff like in the first one. I finished this one before I started the first one.

Space Race (1 - 4 players) I bought this game because I was (and still am) looking for another good game that allows 4 player mode. Its amusing, but won't get much use.

SpyHunter I bought this game because it is mostly a car-racing game. I've finished one (or two?) of the scenarios, and would do more if I had time. I don't know how difficult it gets, so don't know if I could finish it.

Star Wars Racer Revenge I've wanted a pod-racing game for a long time. I missed the first one that came out for the PS2 (and still have never seen it), but bought this one when I saw it. I find the first race quite easy, but haven't put the time in to go beyond the first 3 or 4 races. So far it hasn't been quite as much fun as I'd hoped, but I'm still interested in playing it more.

Supercar Steet Challenge I picked this one up used, simply because it was a car racing games with several interesting-looking courses. I've been a bit disappointed with it, but could persue it more if I had time.

Twisted Metal Black (1 - 4 players) I bought this because it was a vehicle racing game that supported 4 players. I don't much like the shooting part of it, and am pretty awful at it (too many things to keep track of and coordinate). Also, the controls differ from the other racing games, and that is annoying. Still, groups of us have put in several hours with this one.

Wild Wild Racing This was my first PS2 car racing game. I managed to finish it, and mostly enjoyed it. Its not up to Gran Turismo standards of course, but its a fun (and probably fairly easy for most people) racing game.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missons This is another car driving game that I picked up fairly recently. With some changes, it could be a very good game, but as it is, I doubt if I'll ever get very far in it. Its two player mode is simply awful. A noble experiment, but it fails badly. Worse for me is that there is no way to just drive around the city to learn it, and so I'll likely never become proficient enough to get past the early missions.

4x4 Evo This is another game I picked up because it is an outdoor driving game. I've done a number of the races in this (quite a while ago now), but its not very satisfying. Again, the worlds are mostly empty (the arctic one being the only exception that I've noticed) outside of the central course. And, the vehicles handle badly. But, that could just be realistic, although the game doesn't present them graphically very realistic - something about them looking too large somehow.

Role Playing/Adventure

Dark Cloud I picked this one up cheap not long ago, and so haven't put much time into it. It looks like it could be fun.

EverGrace This was one of my first games, but I've never gotten very far with it. I remember my reaction to the intro video "Wow - this is what the graphics will look like!!!", but came back to earth with the real graphics. :-) I'm completely stuck with the balls that I need to create the invisible bridge to get across the gap to the castle. I have no idea how to stop the bird from stealing one, or where to find an extra one. Help!

Final Fantasy X This game is simply beautiful! Also, its not a "twitch" game, so I can actually get somewhere in it. I haven't played for a while, since I get unhappy when stuck by a big fight that I can't win. My current one is against the antler-headed guy who wants Yuna. I'm not sure if I can win that one, but haven't tried to avoid it yet. I've seen the follow-up game to this one, and it looks pretty too, but I doubt if I'll buy it. Yuna packing pistols is just *wrong*!

Jak and Daxter - the Precursor Legacy This is really the only platform type game that I've got. Its very pretty, and amusing, and likely I'll be able make progress when I put in some time for it. I see this has a followup, too, and again they have given the characters guns. What's with the guns, people? Keep to a fantasy setting and you'll sell more to me.

Summoner This is good game with wonderful graphics. It takes some time to get into it, however, and I have to admit that I haven't put that time in. Also, I forget things so easily that to get anywhere in this, I'll have to do it all together - which means having a good chunk of time available. And that seems unlikely. Still, if you like fantasy role-playing games, this is a classic.


I really like the Jampack series of demo disks - an excellent and very inexpensive way to see a variety of games.

Jampack - Summer 2001: Atv Offroad Fury, Cool Boarders 2001, Mx 2002, Zone of the Enders, Star Wars StarFighter, Red Faction, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, ICO

Jampack - Winter 2001: Jak and Daxter, Kinetica, Extermination, Okage: The Shadow King, Drakan: The Ancients' Gates, SSX Tricky, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Dynasty Warriors 3, Final Fantasy X, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Jampack - Summer 2002: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Frequency, Hot Shots Golf 3, Parappa the Rapper 2, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, TimeSplitters 2, Half-Life, Freekstyle, Star Wars Jedi StarFighter

Jampack - Winter 2002: SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals, Primal, Ratchet & Clank, Wild Arms 3, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, The Mark of Kri, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. Movies: Tomb Raider, Rygar.

Jampack - Summer 2003: The Getaway, Primal, War of the Monsters, Amplitude, ATV Offroad Fury 2, World Tour Soccer 2003, MLB 2004, Silent Hill 3. Movies: Jak 2, War of the Monsters, The Getaway, one other.

Hmm - I haven't seen a Winter 2003 yet!

Silent Scope I looked at the cover of this and thought it was going to be a game about flying a hi-tech helicopter around large worlds. Was I disappointed - its a gun-shooting game. Not for me.

PS-1 Games

Since the PS2 will play PS1 games, I've bought a few to try out. Some I quite like.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld I bought this one used since I'm a fan of the Discworld. It doesn't seem to work quite right for me - I can't put down the bag, no matter what set of buttons I try. It could be this is a very old game that breaks some of the rules. Also, it appears to have been designed for a mouse.

Final Fantasy VII I bought this one used as well. I've started it, but didn't get out of the mechanical city stuff, which doesn't appeal to me. Also, the used version didn't have proper instructions with it, and I was very confused about what I was supposed to be doing. I might eventually try it more, since I've now got my friend's copy of the instructions.

Gran Turismo 2 I wanted to see what the predecessor to Gran Turismo 3 was like, so I bought this when I saw it cheap. Not bad, but I find it harder to get into than GT3, so likely won't play it.

Spyro Collectors Edition: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro (2) Ripto's Rage!, Spyro: Year of the Dragon
This is a 3-disk collectors set. This is a very very good series - a true classic. Sony would do well to make sure the PS3 can play these games. In fact, give them away with the PS3, like Nintendo did for a while with the Zelda games. I couldn't complete the "Treetops" world in the first game, but a friend did it for me, allowing me to continue on without missing any worlds. I've now killed off Gnasty Gnork, but have not completed any of the "Flight" worlds - they are precisely the kind of thing that I am very bad at, so I won't try more than I already have (a few dozen tries). On to the second game, which I've already made a start at. It, and the third look like just as much fun, although perhaps more annoying because of the flying. I find the game quite charming, and I'm fascinated by what the authors have put into it. Recommended for those who want something that starts easy and ends quite difficult, physically.

Crash Bandicoot Collectors Edition: Crash Bandicoot: Warped, CTR (Crash Team Racing), Crash Bash
This set doesn't have the adult appeal that Spyro does, at least for me. I think I might like the very first Crash game, but it isn't in this collection. I've gotten a little way in Warped, but haven't played it for a long time. CTR is just another goofy kids race like Space Race and Lego Racers. Crash Bash games seem too simple, and the controls are all different, so I haven't figured its worth my while to learn them.

Tomb Raider Collectors Edition: Tomb Raider I, Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider III
Another set of three games. These look interesting, but I expect I'll need the cheat book that I saw a couple of years ago, assuming its still available. I bought these since they were considered to be classics, and I wanted to see what they were like. I've gone through the first adventure in the first game, but didn't find any of the hidden things - can someone give me a clue? :-)


The Future

Will I start playing online games? Unlikely. Since I've written a MUD (Multi User Dungeon) system of my own, I know what online game playing is all about, but I find that it just doesn't interest me. I'm quite happy playing games by myself - I don't need to have my poor gameplay put up against others - that happens enough in face-to-face gameplay!

Will I buy a PS3 when they come out? Well, the technology certainly interests me, and I could well buy one just to see what it can do. It would be good if it can play PS1 and PS2 games, so that I don't have to have two machines sitting around. I now have a DVD player (I had to buy one after the PS2 wouldn't play about 1/3 of the second extended "The Fellowship of the Ring" disc, when half a dozen friends were here to watch it!), so I'm not too bothered if it will play those (or CD's). A big thing for me, however, is that of online requirements. If the PS3 requires an online connection, or if there aren't good games that I can play as a single player, then I may not get one.

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