The 2000s were a tremendous time for video game fans. Three generations of Playstation consoles combined to give gamers some of the most exciting, innovative, and most importantly, enjoyable titles ever created. Video games pierced popular culture like never before, with crossover characters invading TV and film, and the most successful franchises selling millions of copies a year.
The Playstation, PS2, and the PS3 all played home to multiple heavy hitters, and despite stiff competition from Nintendo and the new kid on the console block Microsoft, Sony stayed front and center as one of the kings of gaming.
10 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 Remains The Gold Standard In Skating Games
Extreme sports continued their rise in popularity with the new millennium, and in terms of gaming, they arguably reached their all-time peak with Playstation’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. The first game had legions of Ollie enthusiasts unable to put down their controllers and its sequel built upon everything that made the skateboarding game such a hit.
Perhaps the most enduring thing about the second installment in this iconic franchise is its killer soundtrack. Few music catalogs have ever defined an era, or a gaming genre quite as infectiously as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2’s.
When this Twisted Metal sequel was released, because combat had simply never been so gloriously violent. Twisted Metal: Black gave the chaotic franchise some much-needed backstories to explore, and its wonderfully weird cast of characters gave gamers a reason to keep coming back and reliving the insanity all over again.
Fast-paced racing and over-the-top brutality made Twisted Metal Black the king of car-based action. The franchise has sadly faded from the road in recent years, but this classic has managed to stay in the minds of players since its release in 2001.
8 Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time Is One Of The Era’s Definitive Gaming Experiences
Time has certainly been kind to this 2003 action-adventure game release. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is rightly regarded as one of the greatest games ever made, and fans are excited about the remake that is currently in development.
Lush locales, edge-of-your-seat action, and an innovative free-flowing combat system are the main reasons that gamers still return to Persia after so many years. The Sands of Time has its fingerprints on many hits that came after, including the Assassin’s Creed series (which Prince of Persia directly inspired), the Batman: Arkham games, and 2018’s Spiderman.
Hideo Kojima certainly has more than one horse in the race when it comes to the greatest video games of the 2000s, though the legendary director’s crowning achievement of the decade is arguably Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
This 2001 release showcased the power of the PlayStation 2 brilliantly, and it remains the highest-rated Metal Gear game on Metacritic. Years ahead of its time, Sons of Liberty added to the already endless lore of the franchise and paved the way for countless action-adventure and espionage games that came after.
6 Shadow Of The Colossus Is An Innovative And Exceptional Game
A spellbinding, unforgettable experience, Shadow of the Colossus was so tremendously innovative for its time that many fans forget that this game was originally released on the Playstation 2. The 2005 action-adventure game may not stand out as easily today as it did in the 2000s, but much of the gameplay, AI, and world-building were incredibly unique upon release.
Shadow of the Colossus’ influence on modern gaming is unmistakable. The likes of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 2022’s Elden Ring have taken all the right cues from this Japan Studio/Team Ico classic.
5 God Of War Created A God-Slaying Monster That Gamers Aren’t Gonna Stop Loving Anytime Soon
Today, Kratos is as equally famous for his grizzly uttering of “boy” as he is for decimating enemies with sharp objects. Long before he was gaming’s moodiest dad, however, he was hacking and slashing his way into the hearts of action-adventure fans on the Playstation 2.
2005’s god of war featured hugely satisfying combo-based combat, with Kratos’ Blades of Chaos becoming iconic pieces of video game equipment. The game spawned one of Sony’s most recognizable franchises, and just as the bald god-slaying brute stands over his fallen enemies, god of war stands as one of the era’s greatest games.
4 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Is Rockstar’s ’80s Ace
2001 saw Rockstar change gaming forever with Grand Theft Auto 3. The jump to 3D was a landmark moment, but just one year later, the boundary-pushing studio released the masterpiece, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Transporting gamers into a Miami-inspired 1980s haven of crime, the game allowed players to live out their scarface fantasies to full effect. On top of action-packed missions and a stunning open world, Vice City featured one of the greatest soundtracks ever assembled and was read with A-list celebrities in voiceover roles, including gangster great Ray Liotta as the now legendary Tommy Vercetti.
3 Rockstar Perfected Their Open-World Mayhem With GTA: San Andreas
Vice City may have been a monumental achievement in gaming, but Rockstar wasn’t finished wowing fans in the noughties. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas built upon Vice City’s greatness and the result was nothing short of spectacular.
Once again, the studio brought out the big guns for the voice-over roles. Samuel L Jackson delivered an unforgettable performance that fans still enjoy revisiting today. Even almost 20 years later, San Andreas is still regarded by some fans as the very best installment in the GTA franchise.
2 Burnout 3: Takedown Remains An Incredibly Thrilling Racer
With 2004’s Burnout 3: TakedownCriterion Games took the breakneck speed and outrageous action of the previous games and put the pedal to the metal, resulting in the very best game of the Burnout series to date. While the crash-crazed franchise would return with multiple sequels, most fans feel that none of them managed to push Takedown off the road of gaming’s greatest arcade racers.
The graphics may not hold up against today’s racing titles, yet the thrill of emptying an entire boost bar in Burnout remains an enthralling experience that perfectly captures the addictive insanity of the series.
1 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Is The Ultimate In 2000s Gaming
For a clear indication of how much the medium evolved during the 2000s, fans need only to look at any game from the turn of the century and compare it with Naughty Dog’s undeniably brilliant adventure, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Not only did this game inspire countless imitators, but it also received multiple remasters and re-releases ensuring it can easily be enjoyed by multiple generations.
Nathan Drake has had plenty more adventures since Uncharted 2including one on the big screen thanks to the Tom Holland starring Hollywood adaptation, but none of them have been able to match the mystifying, jaw-dropping heights of this 2009 classic.
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