Looking back, the PlayStation 2 was home to some of the best fun-to-play co-op games. Whether with a friend, a family member or a soulmate, the hours sank into these games remains a memory we cherish to this day.
So much has changed since the PlayStation 2’s debut: the console’s popularity winded down after a phenomenal decade of incredible games. And with the rise of online multiplayer, the local co-op feature was no longer the preferred way to game with friends and loved ones. Although years have passed since its original run, gamers who enjoy gaming on the couch rather than online are still looking for a myriad of genuinely interesting games they can play with someone. Their cruise leads them to discover new and old games alike which feature co-op as a fundamental functionality.
We’ve also cruised through the sea of the PS2’s enormous library of games to bring you the best co-op titles on the platform. There are dozens out there to go through, but we’ve picked the ones we’re most familiar with. Home to a multitude of genres, you’re bound to find something great to play with someone. Without going too much into detail, here are the Best PlayStation Co-Op Games.
Obscure duology is a perfect example of cooperative survival horror done right. When critical hits such as The Suffering focused entirely on solo-action horror experience, the likes of Obscure went through a slightly different route; co-op horror gameplay.
Two players can play through the game together from beginning to end. The cooperative gameplay is done brilliantly: both survive encounters against deadly creatures while using their wits to split resources they stumble across throughout the entire game. The first game was a blast, and the second is just as keen, if not, slightly better.
Crash of the Titans may be a kids’ game, but it’s undoubtedly fun, especially with your little brother/sister or your kids. Released back in 2007, Crash of the Titans follows our titular orange mascot Crash Bandicoot on his quest to rescue his sister, Coco, from the clutches of Doctor Neo Cortex.
Acting as a slight departure from the series’ 2D formula, this sixth instalment in the series introduces some pretty ideas to the table. Crash can now fight enemies head-on using various combos, and as you progress, you get to unlock more combos. Crash can also control destructive titans by mounting on top of the chosen creature. It’s much fun when two Crash Bandicoots are on-screen, controlling potent titans and mopping the floor with dozens of minions as you hear them plead for mercy.
Twisted Metal: Black takes vehicular combat to a whole new level with its dark storyline and over-the-top destruction. The year 2001 was a pretty big year for the PlayStation 2, with countless masterpieces such as Grant Theft Auto III, Ico and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy making a strong jump to the system’s launch lineup.
However, through the fog of all these great games, a few gems began to usher in this incredible period. This fun-to-play vehicular combat is also a four-player co-op game with friends. Two players can unite their strength and shoot their way through the game as a single force. Drive and shoot, then gaze at how much destruction you can cause to your foes, together, on the same couch.
Conflict: Desert Storm II, which is part of the Conflict series from Pivotal Games, is one of the shining examples of co-op gameplay done well. Set during the Persian Gulf War, and based on the covert operations of ‘Alpha One’, up to 4-players go through a series of missions either as British SAS or US Delta Force.
Skills are a must to approach targets and any visual contact that’s been made with any hostile proves to be challenging. Your skills or your friends’ will prove useful in tackling these situations. Fans of the SOCOM series will feel right at home with this one. Both are some of the best squad-based games ever made.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a slight departure from the series’ 2D fighting signature, focusing this time on delivering a thoroughly enjoyable bloody beat’em up experience. The game can either be played alone or with someone else as you bash through hordes of enemies, stringing a series of combos while watching your enemies explode to bits.
It’s quite a shame that Shaolin Monks has been locked to the PlayStation 2. Arguably one of the best cooperative beat’em up video games ever made. It’s sad seeing that a follow-up of this masterpiece isn’t on the horizon.
Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows is an incredibly fun hack-and-slash on the PS2, and the best part? it’s better with 4 friends together. It’s as fun as the game above it, except Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows can handle up to four players on the same screen. Together you can go through the main game’s storyline from start to finish.
Featuring up to four characters to choose from, players mow down dozens of goons left and right throughout the entire game. Your friend could be having a showdown against a myriad of foes, while you’ll be acting as his bodyguard, defending them from other dangers. The game isn’t that difficult even in the hardest difficulty, and it’s just so entertaining to breeze through.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is another fun beat’em up, featuring a slew of renowned figures from the MCU (Marvel Comic Universe). Sony’s PlayStation 2 was home to some of the best beat ”em-up games ever made. Such a console with a killer library of games gave birth to series such as Devil May Cry and God of War.
Played from a top-down perspective, players go through a series of missions accompanied by a bunch of characters from the Marvel Universe. Your friend could be Thor, and you as the Hulk. Together you bash through an oodles of minions left and right. In case you hadn’t had enough with the original, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is also a great co-op beat’em up worth sinking your teeth into.
Ratchet: Deadlocked, also known as Ratchet: Gladiator in Europe and Australia, is a fantastic spin-off addition to the exciting adventures of Ratchet and his sidekick, Clank. Even today, Ratchet: Deadlocked is widely regarded as one of the greatest third-person shooter games ever released.
Acting as the fourth instalment in the series, Ratchet is once again the man of the action as he gets thrown into a brutal game show known as Dreadzone. A ruthless game of survival where gladiators battle each other to the death to entertain the crowd. The lives of the contestants mean nothing in the face of entertainment, as it’s all done to make the crowd happy.
Ratchet Deadlocked lives up to the high standards of its predecessors, and the inclusion of cooperative gameplay in the story mode is an absolute corker. The cooperative gameplay in “Ratchet Deadlocked” allows two players to work together, blasting their way through hordes of enemies with a variety of weapons. In addition, they can partake in numerous exhilarating missions that involve obliterating anything that crosses their path. This is undoubtedly one of the best Co-Op games on the PlayStation 2 you should try!
Contra: Shattered Soldier is part of the emblematic Contra series by Konami, and just like its predecessor, the game is difficult. Shattered Soldier is a great re-introduction of the series to those who haven’t had the chance to try out the originals. The visuals have been massively enhanced while carefully retaining what made Contra a phenomenal 2D run-and-gun masterpiece.
On the other hand, Neo Contra is just as good as the former, if not a little easier. It will still put your skills to the test though. Unlike Shattered Soldier, Neo Contra is played from the top-down perspective. Bill and Jaguar go through a series of levels all while trying to fend off the catastrophic alien invasion. All in all, Fans of twin-stick shooters should definitely check out Neo Contra when they have the time.
The Adventures of Cookie & Cream is what you should play whenever you’re having a bad day. Believe it or not, this game was developed by none other than FromSoftware, a company known for its Dark Souls series.
At first glance, the game may look mediocre and plain boring, which may be the case if played solo. However, once you can find someone to play with (preferably your little brother or sister) the game gets interesting. Its engrossing gameplay that sees both players jumping through a series of levels is worth mentioning. It doesn’t cater to hardcore players for sure, but if your little sister wants to play something with you, why not fire up The Adventures of Cookie & Cream for her?
Raging Blades (known in Japan as Raging Bless) is an obscure hack-and-slash game with beat-em-up elements sprinkled on top. The aforementioned had the misfortune to release in a pretty crowded period of great games. From killers like GTA III, and Soul Reaver to Devil May Cry, the game had no hope of outranking these gems.
The gameplay is reminiscent of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. Up to 2 players can go through the entire game’s story from start to finish. Just know this: bashing and breaking things is fun, but with another friend, it’s like a whole new experience.
The Red Star is yet another obscure beat ’em-up that definitely flew under your radar. Based on the original graphic novel of the same name that debuted in 2000, Red Star is a love letter to fans of the genre from the 90s era, and is nothing short but fun, especially with a friend on the same couch.
Played from the isometric perspective, the game features three playable characters to choose from. Each of them can perform various melee combos and also shoot enemies using guns. On top of the addictive arcade gameplay, The Red Star features a role-playing system which can be used to upgrade your character’s stats. Beat in mind is that the game is difficult, so be careful not to hit your partner with the controller in case you run out of HP.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare takes us back to the sewers as we control our favourite group of ninja turtles, bashing and squashing goons from all corners. Ninja Turtles are usually known for their teamwork, especially when tackling ferocious antagonists like Shredder.
Take it back to the sewers, or roam the city at night either alone or with your friend. For a beat’em up of this calibre, Mutant Nightmare is awesome; the cel-shading art style is incredible, it plays great, and the ability to have up to four players on the same screen just makes the experience much better. So what are you waiting for? COWABUNGA BABY!
Time Crisis 2 builds upon what made the original hide-and-shoot Time Crisis incredible, delivering an even better experience thanks to the newly implemented two-player mode. The only pre-requirements to indulge in gunplay is that players need to own the GunCon 2 for the full experience.
Enemies show up on-screen and your task? shoot’em up. Reload your gun (Guncon 2 in this case), proceed to the next area, and duck and shoot. Full of shooting, over-the-top action, and memorably addictive gameplay, Time Crisis 2 will keep you and your friend hooked until you’re done with it.
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is the third entry in the series, and indisputably one of the greatest ninja games on the PS2. Retaining what made previous instalments fun to play, Wrath of Heaven adds its own touch to the series: cooperative gameplay.
Players can go solo or with a friend through various missions. These levels require that players cooperate with each other to finish the task. Your friend could act as bait while you sneak your way behind the enemy, executing a fatal blow with your katana. Likewise, you could lure the enemy to an empty so that your friend can jump from a roof and execute him. An entertaining co-op experience, and a franchise that needs to make a strong return.
Champions of Norrath is a perfect recommendation for fans of the RPG genre, and those looking to spend time roaming dungeons with someone else. It’s fast-paced and addictive once you get the hang of the game’s mechanics. You’ll have a hard time letting go of the controller once things become interesting.
At the time of its release, Champions of Norrath enjoyed being part of a crowded period full of RPGs to pick up from. What made the game stand tall in front of its brethren was the inclusion of cooperative gameplay. Players go through various dungeons as they slice and dice their way through an array of enemies. The game’s difficulty may put anyone’s skills to the test, but as long as you can cooperate together it should be no problem.
Lego Batman may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have a little brother or sister, it’s fun to try it out. Extra points if you grew up with Lego toys, you’ll love it.
Featuring 30 levels to explore, players take control of Batman & Robin as they beat the crap out of enemies, solve various puzzles and collect Lego studs. The feeling of taking on various goons together with a friend or a family member is magical. Not only does it make for a great time, but it’s hard not to crack a smile when your partner is having partner dealing with enemies, and you can’t help yourself but hurry to his rescue. Like a princess pleading for help, right?
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is often the least discussed instalment in the Spyro Trilogy, and that’s a shame. While this last entry may have veered away from the roots of its predecessors, the beat ’em-up mechanics are much more entertaining in Dawn of the Dragon, especially with a friend.
Breaking away from the platforming nature of its siblings, Dawn of Dragon is a full-blown brawler. The game’s story sees players controlling Spyro and Cynder on their quest to defeat the Dark Master, Malefor and save the world from the clutches of evil.
Justice League Heroes is a fun beat’em up that you should keep an eye on. Boasting a formidable cast of superheroes from the DC universe, the game sees you smashing your way through a slew of minions either solo or with a friend. If you’ve loved Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, this game is just as fun as the latter.
Played from the top-down perspective, Justice League Heroes is an action RPG that sees our superheroes on their quest to stop the evil Brainiac and his minions from destroying planet earth. With 7 characters from the DC universe to pick up from, players go through various levels to beat anything that moves. The inclusion of Co-Op gameplay makes this game a fun trip for fans of anything DC-related.
X-Men Legends Rise of Apocalypse is yet another fantastic action RPG featuring your favourite superheroes from the Marvel universe. Similar to Justice League Heroes and Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Rise of Apocalypse is a fantastic beat’em up on the system.
Featuring up to 18 playable characters, players can choose their beloved hero and engage in epic battles against waves of enemies. Whether you prefer to slice through foes with Wolverine, blast them with Cyclops’ laser, or incinerate them with Sunfire’s flames, the game offers a range of exciting combat options and an addictive RPG system
Warriors Orochi 2 is the second instalment in the critically acclaimed Warriors Orochi Musou franchise. Such games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but trust us, mowing down hundreds of on-screen enemies with a friend is a much better experience than doing it alone.
Choose from different clans, and wage war against humanity’s biggest danger: Orochi. Run around, slash enemies, defeat bosses and win. Or you could go the evil way and play as Orochi and become humanity’s threat yourself.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005) remains, after all these years, a timeless classic impossible to forget by the Star Wars fandom. At the time of its release, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was a blast to go through. It has put players amidst various memorable battles in which they had to battle hordes of enemies either as a Sith lord or a wise Jedi.
Shooting enemies down as a Stormtrooper feels incredibly satisfying, especially with a friend. Additionally, both of you can also get on board a spaceship as you plunge into space to shoot down foes left and right. On top of that, your ears are treated to many classic Star Wars soundtracks that further enhance the experience.
Project Eden is an obscure action adventure with FPS elements acting as one of the game’s main mechanics. Brought to you by the same developers behind the original Tomb Raider, Project Eden puts players in the shoes of 4 members from the Urban Protection Agency tasked with investigating a peculiar incident at the Real Meat factory.
On the surface, Project Eden may look like yet another FPS game from the era. However, its balanced dose of puzzles, co-op, and gun shooting along with the rich story makes this game stand tall in the market. It’s a special game that you will have a hard time finding something similar to it elsewhere. And it’s fun with friends.
Hunter: The Reckoning – Wayward puts players in the shoes of skilled hunters and their struggle against supernatural creatures. Equipped with deadly weapons, they spring to action to save the cursed town from the clutches of these demons.
The game boasts fast-paced gameplay, a variety of playable characters, and an engaging storyline that unfolds through multiple paths and endings. Plus, it’s worth noting that the game includes cooperative gameplay, enabling players to join forces and battle against waves of ferocious monsters together on the couch.
Rampage: Total Destruction may not have left the same impact as its predecessor, but it still provides an enjoyable gaming experience, especially in its handling of destruction mechanics. In this sequel to the original arcade game, players commandeer a variety of gigantic monsters, including a gorilla, rhinoceros, yeti, armadillo, and even a massive chicken (because, of course, that’s the one thing that could potentially pose the most significant danger to humanity).
With a roster of 25 characters to choose from, players can unleash chaos and destruction in the city while citizens scream in terror. You have the option to either lay waste to the city solo or team up with a friend for the ultimate destructive duo experience. Plus, there are four modes in the game for you and your friend or loved one to dive into.
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I'm just your average gamer who enjoys hunting hidden gems and underrated games. My love for Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is like a truck and I recommend that you play it.