According to the most recent sales data, the PlayStation 2, otherwise known as the PS2, is the best-selling console of all time. Despite stiff competition from runaway success stories like the Nintendo Wii and the Game Boy, the PS2 has managed to remain on the throne thanks to its extensive library, its excellent controller, and its range of great accessories and add-ons.
Of course, a great console is nothing without robust multiplayer support as well, so in no particular order, let’s take a look at the 20 best multiplayer games for PS2.
A brand new TimeSplitters game is in development, so now seems like the perfect time to take a look back at the shooter that should have defined a generation. TimeSplitters 2’s wacky, over-the-top action made it perfect for multiplayer; its competitive mode is legendary, but it’s the fully co-op campaign that kept us coming back to Free Radical’s excellent FPS time and time again (no pun intended).
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Long before the newer Star Wars: Battlefront II gave EA an even worse name than it already had, there was this masterpiece, which was stuffed to the gills with content. There’s so much to do in Battlefront II that you could play for days and days and still never run out. Alongside a friend, you could tackle ground battles and space skirmishes, experiencing everything great about the iconic space opera franchise.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
Despite being bigger and more over-the-top than its predecessor, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect couldn’t quite capture the magic a second time. Perhaps that’s because of its more heavy-handed story, or maybe it’s because it was a little too much of a good thing. Either way, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is still a superb multiplayer shooter, with plenty of varied modes and options to try out.
Kuri Kuri Mix
If you’re in the US, then you’ll know this quirky puzzler as The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, which is probably a better name for it. Whatever it’s called, From Software’s multiplayer adventure tasks two players with helping one another through a series of themed environments asymmetrically. It’s sort of like the It Takes Two of its time; each player has a different challenge to overcome, and doing so will help the other player.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
The Mortal Kombat series may well be making a reappearance on this list later, but for now, we want to shout out one of the more underrated instalments. Shaolin Monks eschews the one-on-one fighter mechanics of the standard Mortal Kombat games, opting instead for a 3D beat-’em-up that was wildly entertaining. It was a little repetitive, but grabbing a friend to slay your way through this game’s campaign was great fun.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Unlike the PC Baldur’s Gate games, which are considered computer role-playing classics, Dark Alliance is a top-down hack-and-slash looter akin to Diablo. It takes place in the rich Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons setting and features three characters to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. In many ways, Dark Alliance feels like a spiritual successor to the classic Gauntlet arcade game.
Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest
Another superlative hack-and-slash RPG developed by Snowblind Studios makes its way onto our list! Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest might have a slightly silly and flowery name, but the game was great. Featuring music composed by the great Inon Zur and a shared setting with the acclaimed EverQuest series, Champions of Norrath provided hours of co-op hack-and-slash fun.
Dynasty Warriors 4
This fourth instalment in Koei Tecmo’s hack-and-slash series has long been considered the greatest in the franchise, and even if you return to it now, it’s easy to see why. You can play through the game’s extensive campaign alongside a friend, and there are lots of other great modes of play to enjoy as well. It doesn’t get better than Dynasty Warriors 4 if you want mindless fun.
Rock Band 2
The first Rock Band game introduced the concept of Guitar Hero for a full band to gamers, and Rock Band 2 significantly expanded on that concept, introducing a much better career mode and a whole new set of songs for players to enjoy. We’re still salty that the Rock Band revival didn’t take off like it should have done in 2015, but hey, at least we have this PS2 game to revisit.
Guitar Hero 2
Speaking of Rock Band, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge where it all began (well, the sequel to where it all began, at any rate). Guitar Hero ushered in a new age of rock’n’roll peripheral-based rhythm games, and the sequel was bigger and better in every regard. It would be a little while until Guitar Hero 3 would arguably take things a little too far, but Guitar Hero 2 hits the sweet spot.
While Obscure isn’t the greatest game in the world from a mechanical perspective, it does offer something utterly unique, even in today’s landscape: a fully co-op survival horror game. We’re not talking about some tacked-on procedurally-generated horde mode, either, but rather a fully-fledged story campaign. If you tend to hide behind the sofa during the scary bits in Resident Evil 4, then Obscure is for you (and a friend).
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
The PS2 days weren’t particularly kind to Mortal Kombat, but Armageddon puts the series back on track. Featuring an absolutely colossal roster of characters both new and old, as well as a huge single-player campaign that takes influence from Streets of Rage, Armageddon feels like where the series should have ended (if it weren’t for the excellent 2011 reboot Mortal Kombat, that is).
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Before there was the MCU, there was Marvel vs. Capcom, a crossover event that allowed us to live out the fantasies of our childhoods. Who would win in a fight between Captain America and Mega Man? Well, now you can find out. The painterly 2D sprite style never feels old; revisiting the game today, you’ll be surprised at just how fresh and relevant it still is, even though many years have passed since its original release.
Just like Kuri Kuri Mix, this game has an alternate name in the US; it goes by Ratchet: Deadlocked over there. Either way, it’s a great spinoff of the Ratchet and Clank series, taking the popular arena modes of those games and expanding them into their own game. You can enjoy the entire campaign co-op, and there are also online multiplayer modes (which likely aren’t accessible anymore, sadly) for more competitive players.
Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
There were lots of great hack-and-slash multiplayer games on the PS2, and Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows is another option if you’re tired of Baldur’s Gate and Champions of Norrath. This one’s got a pedigree behind it; the Gauntlet series is an arcade stalwart from back in the day, and just like its forebears, this game allows you to play through its entire main mode with up to four players.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance puts a superhero spin on the classic Dark Alliance dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash. In this game, you put together a team of Marvel superheroes, mixing and matching from the X-Men, the Avengers, and various other teams and solo heroes. The sequel, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, is also great fun, so make sure to grab that when you’ve played through this one.
Crash Nitro Kart
Okay, so Crash Nitro Kart isn’t quite up to the standards of Crash Team Racing. However, it’s still a brilliant kart racer that provides more than enough mayhem for you and your friends. If you owned a PS2 and you weren’t lucky enough to also have a GameCube, the Crash racing series was your closest analogue to Mario Kart, and it performs that service with aplomb.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
It almost seems incredible that a PS2-era stealth game boasted a fully co-op campaign, but that’s exactly what Chaos Theory offers. This is already the best game in the Splinter Cell series, but Chaos Theory’s addition of a second campaign for which a second player can join you catapults it into the realms of legend. When you pull off a perfectly executed move alongside your partner, it makes you feel like a real operative.
Twisted Metal: Black
Whatever happened to the Twisted Metal series? It’s a question we ask ourselves time and time again when we revisit Twisted Metal: Black, one of the greatest vehicular combat games ever created. There’s a full co-op campaign to enjoy here, but if you don’t feel like teaming up, you can also duke it out in competitive multiplayer. The game’s “twisted”, anarchic visual style is the cherry on the cake.
Many arguments were settled with a round of Soulcalibur II when we were younger. With deep, complex fighting mechanics (that could also just devolve into button-mashing if you weren’t feeling up to learning them), Soulcalibur II provided the ultimate chance to prove yourself as a fighting game master. The PS2 version of the game also featured Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken series as an added bonus!