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!
The PlayStation 2 had a massive library of games, which included many fantastic and diverse RPGs. Designers attempted to evolve the genre by improving 3D graphics and making voice acting a staple. These are my top 5 PS2 RPGs:
1. -Final Fantasy X-
When it was first released, Final Fantasy X was unbelievable. It took everything from past SquareSoft RPGs to the next level. The world of Spira was mesmerising; featuring fully 3D locations, the characters spoke for the first time in the series through the well implemented voice acting, the magical soundtrack had three composers and the battle system was intuitive and flexible. Final Fantasy X showed what RPGs could be like with the power of the new technology, while keeping the spirit of classic games intact.
2. -Kingdom Hearts-
SquareSoft had shown in the past that they could have success with mixing different creations together with Super Mario RPG. Kingdom Hearts was an action-RPG combining Disney characters with some original and Final Fantasy characters. The result was an unexpected hit, providing enjoyable combat, fun cameo appearances, great voice acting and a wonderful soundtrack. Kingdom Hearts captured the fun of classic games such as Secret of Mana while invoking nostalgia from classic Disney movies such as Aladdin and Peter Pan.
3. -Final Fantasy XII-
While Final Fantasy X was vintage RPG design brought up to the modern era, Final Fantasy XII tried something completely different. The whole world of Final Fantasy XII was one huge map that players could explore and enemies were fought without random encounters using a real-time, turn based battle system. It featured the customisable “gambit” system which allowed players to give their AI characters directions and the License Board was used to upgrade party members. Final Fantasy XII was a magical RPG with an intriguing political story and unique game play mechanics that have since been replicated in newer RPGs.
4. -Rogue Galaxy-
The first thing you will notice about Rogue Galaxy is its beautiful cel-shaded graphics. Once you have gotten further into the game you will be hooked in by the frantic and enjoyable battle system, imaginative world and characters and the deep customisation systems. Rogue Galaxy provides an entertaining Sci-fi RPG with plenty of content to keep players engaged for hours.
5. -Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King-
Dragon Quest VIII brought the fiercely traditional series into a fully three dimensional world, but retained all the features the fans loved about the older games such as turn-based battles, levelling up systems and the silent hero. The supporting characters are memorable and the dialogue is well written, providing an epic adventure with plenty to do. While other RPGs looked to change their core design Dragon Quest VIII didn’t try anything new, but every part was so well executed that players loved it anyway.