After the evolution from 2D sprites on the SNES to the limited 3D models on the PlayStation, RPGs on the PlayStation 2 finally featured fully 3D worlds to explore. The powerful hardware of the PS2 allowed RPGs to utilise more detailed character models and environments, exciting new battle systems and topped it all off with orchestral soundtracks and voice acting.
Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
Gone were the days of pre-rendered backgrounds, games were now using fully 3D models with the ability to move the camera around and view the world anyway you wanted. RPGs such as Final Fantasy XII enabled players to roam around its massive world seamlessly, going to places ahead of the story and even finding enemies that were way above their level.
Cut scenes were made more realistic with the use of voice acting and motion capture and games like Kingdom Hearts even had Hollywood actors leading their talents to help bring characters to life. Musical scores where now orchestral and composers could add more depth and instruments to their arrangements. Even with the advancements in other aspects of the genre, RPGs still had memorable stories to tell such as the wonderful journey through Spira in Final Fantasy X or the 3 part Sci-fi epic of Xenosaga. The improved presentation of PS2 RPGs allowed developers to fully realise their visions on screen and create immersing worlds.
With the popularity of the PS2 and the RPG genre during these years many niche games where able to receive widespread recognition such as Persona 3 and 4, that merged the modern settings of high school classrooms with turn-based dungeon crawls. Not everything became more realistic and the use of cell-shaded graphics in titles such as Rouge Galaxy presented art styles that mesmerised players. Action RPGs became more plentiful and battle systems such as the one found in Star Ocean 3 provided intense action with full control over character movement.
RPGs on the PS2 had a tremendous amount of variety enabling all players to find a game that would satisfy their tastes. The Best RPGs found on the PS2 include: Final Fantasy X and XII, Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, Xenosaga Episode 1,2 and 3, Dragon Quest VIII, Star Ocean 3, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, Rouge Galaxy, Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, Persona 3 and 4, Odin Sphere, Suikoden III, IV and V and many more.
So what is your favourite console for RPGs? The SNES, PS1, PS2 or do you think another console has a greater collection of games? Let me know what you think!