A lot of elements go into making a great video game. Things like gameplay, graphics, and replay value are all crucial, but one thing that truly makes a game memorable is a great story. Much like a film or a television series, an engaging plot will hook people for years to come.
The PlayStation 2 is a few generations old now but it widely considered to be one of the best video game consoles of all-time. It is certainly the highest selling in history and part of the reason is the number of great games that featured compelling tales. We're taking a stroll down memory lane to rank the PS2 games with the best stories.
10 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
There are a lot of aspects that the Grand Theft Auto franchise is consistently praised for. Their storylines are a major one. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had an intriguing plot that saw Carl "CJ" Johnson return to his home of Los Santos following his mother's murder. He rejoins his old gang to find out the truth behind her death.
As the plot unraveled, CJ found himself caught up in a drug war, dealing with corrupt cops, and situating in-fighting amongst his friends. When the story took a wild turn that saw two of the main good guys, Big Smoke and Ryder, turn heel, gamers were blown away. A tale of deceit and corruption, filled with plot twists.
Another entry from Rockstar Games. Released a little over a year after GTA: San Andreas, Bully featured an open world environment that could be navigated in a multitude of ways. This game told a much simpler story, but that doesn't mean it wasn't captivating.
Jimmy Hopkins is the protagonist who is put into Bullworth Academy against his will. He discovered that it was run by bullies and goes on a journey to bring peace to the school. Bully features similar clique rivalries and backstabbing surprises like GTA: San Andreas. It may not be as fun as that game, but the tale is slightly more interesting.
8 Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
No, we aren't talking about the critically panned Jake Gyllenhaal movie. But, the 2003 game it was based on, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, was fortunate enough to boast one of the better story lines in video game history. It was written by series creator Jordan Mechner, who understood the character better than anyone else.
In this game, the titular Prince was tricked into obtaining the Sands of Time and then releasing it. This caused the city's population to transform into savage creatures. He and Farah, the Maharaja's daughter, worked together to rectify this problem. The story got more emotional than expected thanks to the connection between the Prince and Farah. Her death is heartbreaking, even if rewinding time fixed it.
7 Kingdom Hearts
What an incredible concept Kingdom Hearts is. You take the characters from Square's excellent Final Fantasy series and combine them with those from the Walt Disney Company. It's the kind of thing that had no business working, but turned into one of the most successful franchises in the world of gaming.
While the gameplay and visuals were praised, the story proved to be better than most expected. The team behind Kingdom Hearts managed to take elements from both worlds to form a tale that made sense and was gripping. Sora teams up with various Disney characters to find his friends, take down the Heartless, and return the King of the Disney Castle home. This game was awarded "Best Story" by G4TV.
6 Shadow Of The Colossus
Simply looking at screenshots for this game might lead you to believe that the storyline plays second or third fiddle. After all, Shadow of the Colossus is a visually stunning masterpiece action-adventure video game. On paper, the storyline isn't complex and doesn't sound all that original.
A young man named Wander travels across a forbidden land to rescue a girl named Mono. Along the way, he must battle and defeat sixteen giants known as the colossi. That simplicity is what makes this so special. As straightforward as it is, there are engaging moments that get you invested in it in a way that not many other games can match. It is an emotional journey that you're likely to never forget.
5 God Of War
Honestly, 2018's God of War is the best story of the franchise. But that PS4 game doesn't qualify for this list, yet the original 2005 edition isn't far behind. Again, this is a game where the storyline synopsis doesn't have a lot of overly complicated things going on. It is the little details and the elements of character development that help it stand out.
The protagonist is Spartan warrior Kratos. He is tasked by Athena to kill Ares, his former mentor and the God of War, so Kratos must find the weapon capable of defeating such a powerful being. But the emotional elements were what made this tick. Ares is the reason Kratos' wife and daughter are dead. A tale that included murder, corruption, revenge, and a suicide attempt helped make this an iconic game.
4 Indigo Prophecy
Originally released as Fahrenheit overseas, Indigo Prophecy was an incredibly unique game. In a time when first-person shooters and explosive action was desired, along came this game that felt more like a movie than anything else. And like any great movie, it came ready with a great story to tell.
This paranormal thriller focused on Lucas Kane, a man who opens the story by murdering someone. He was possessed when it happened and spends the game trying to uncover what caused it. Kane found a New York overrun by supernatural forces causing others to commit the same crimes. it took home GameSpot's "Best Story" award and was praised for how innovative the narrative was.
3 Persona 4
Role-playing games almost always feature the kind of story that grabs the gamer and keeps them hooked. Persona 4 was no exception. This centered around a developing murder mystery and the high school student, Yu Narukami, who attempts to uncover it.
While interesting, that plot might not sound unique enough on its own. What took it up a notch were the abilities the characters got from their "personas," which were avatars projected from their inner selves. It added a layer to this that wasn't often seen in your typical murder mystery. Watching this story unfold, getting connected to the characters, and finding out the truth behind the crimes are reasons why this was considered one of the five greatest video game stories ever by GamesRadar.
2 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Anyone who has played the Metal Gear Solid franchise knows to expect a great story. But we were spoiled by the magnificent one in this 2004 installment. Building upon an already existing and complicated world, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took place in 1964 and centered around Naked Snake, known in the future as Big Boss.
Naked Snake was tasked with stopping a superweapon during the Cold War. Fans of the series loved getting to see early bits of characters like Revolver Ocelot. But fans new and old could appreciate the way the plot tied into real events and the connection between Naked Snake and the Boss. The relationship between Snake and his former mentor is one of the greatest stories in video game history. And that's without even getting into characters like EVA or the history of the members of the Cobra Unit. This one had an all-time great video game plot.
1 Silent Hill 2
We end on two straight Konami games. The first Silent Hill is a horror classic but the second surpassed it in almost every way. The story saw James Sunderland drawn to the titular town when he received a letter from his deceased wife Mary telling him to meet her there. That's creepy enough on its own but the terrifying elements of the town added to the intrigue.
When James arrived in Silent Hill, he met plenty of colorful characters, including a woman named Maria who bore a striking resemblance to his late wife. She also strangely knows things about his relationship that only Mary would know. The trippy tale ultimately see James discover that he euthanized his dying wife and the monsters in the town were manifestations of his psyche made to punish him. It's one of the wildest rides a video game can take you on.