The PS2 remains the best selling console of all time, featuring some of the best classics like Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne, God of War II, Jak 3, Killer 7, and Shadow of the Colossus. And while the PS2 has often enjoyed a wide range of diverse role-playing games, the system was also a bastion to some of the greatest first-person shooters that were sadly not released on PC.
Hunting down the best first-person shooters on the system can be challenging. It’s also pretty depressing that most gamers out there only mention mainstream titles, neglecting the existence of some great hidden gem FPS titles on the system. The list will tackle anything from popular, and underrated to obscure first-person shooters on the system.
Table of Contents
- 1 Red Faction II
- 2 XIII
- 3 Cold Winter
- 4 Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
- 5 Darkwatch: Curse of the West
- 6 BLACK™
- 7 TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
- 8 Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death
- 9 Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter
- 10 Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game Of The Movie
- 11 Urban Chaos: Riot Response
- 12 The Operative: No One Lives Forever
- 13 Area 51
- 14 Killzone
- 15 Call of Duty 3
Red Faction II is a direct sequel to the original, where you, as the player, embark once again on a futuristic journey to planet Mars. The Red Faction franchise is well-known for its destructible environments that were, in fact, ahead of their time. The visuals have aged fairly well, and for a game that was released in 2002, it’s fair to say, Volition took an ambitious route.
What makes Red Faction II recommended is its over-the-top action, interesting plot, destructible environments, and soundtracks. We can only hope that THQ Nordic will one day revive the franchise with a strong entry. Looking at DOOM’s revival and the Halo series, Red Faction deserves a chance too.
XIII’s story is based on the French graphic novel of the same, and it follows a man suffering from Amnesia. The illness leads him to search for his lost identity amidst all the conflict. Gun shooting action, conspiracies, and betrayals all await you.
Despite XIII’s gameplay playing similarly to other games from the genre, its unique style and cel-shaded graphics make it stand out from being labelled as nothing but a mere mediocre game. You will also find yourself falling in love with the aesthetics, the comic effects when performing kills, and the music. You should definitely check this game out if you’re looking for a great hidden gem game on the PS2.
The horrible flop of the XIII remake was an incentive reason for many to return to the original cel-shaded game. Why? because it’s better in every aspect. The developers have put a great amount of love when crafting this masterpiece, unlike the recent remake.
Cold Winter is an obscure first-person shooter that many don’t know of its existence, and that’s a shame because the game is a blast. Brought to you by the now-defunct Swordfish Studios, the game follows a political plot full of twists and conspiracies.
You play as a former British SAS soldier (Andrew Sterling) who has been captured by the Chinese and rescued from his execution the night before by another former female SAS soldier (Daniel Parish). To repay Parish for rescuing him, Andrew accepts to work for the private security agency. He will be tasked with travelling to countries, eliminating targets, destroying evidence and accomplishing missions.
Cold Winter’s gameplay is similar to the likes of Soldier of Fortune and Chaser. What’s fascinating about the game is the challenge. Enemies aren’t dumb like other typical shooters, and if you’re not quick to react, you’ll be killed. The controls are okay for a PS2 game, they aren’t too smooth nor sluggish at all. In fact, I have found Cold Winter controls to be superior to the likes of Black. Additionally, the game features incredible gunplay with an awesome atmosphere.
Cold Winter’s biggest mistake is perhaps not launching on PC. Maybe, if it landed on PC back then, it could have stood a chance to shine in the overcrowded market of the genre.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is the fifth instalment in the franchise, and is released exclusively on consoles. While many may praise the original Medal of Honor all day long, Rising Sun tops the latter in every way. The World War II atmosphere was done right, providing players with an eight-hour campaign worth of action and blasting.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun’s enemies are made to be challenging and not just stand there awaiting their inevitable death. however, what made this game a big deal was its online multiplayer features, something that was fairly new on the PS2 at the time.
Before the rise of Battlefield, and the Call of Duty franchise, the Medal of Honor series was one of the most progenitors in the genre. Especially with its debut on the original PlayStation, and the amount of dedication and time that has been sunk into developing it.
Darkwatch takes place in the 19th century American Frontier and has you playing as an outlaw gunfighter named Jericho Cross ( badass name) who’s been turned into a bloodthirsty vampire. Without any choice, he’s forcibly recruited by the monster-hunting secret organization to thwart the evil forces of the underworld.
The action in Darkwatch is incredible, and the enemies’ design is well-done and original. Unlike other underrated PS2 titles, you don’t need to be a bourgeois to grab it in stores. PC Gamers wished Darkwatch was on PC, but that ain’t happening.
Yet another obscure FPS title on the PS2. It’s quite surprising that such a title didn’t perform well on the commercial side to warrant a franchise or possible remasters on modern consoles. Darkwatch features one of the best storylines to land in the gaming industry, mixing multiple genres like horror, steampunk and western altogether. What’s more, the game starred a badass protagonist that looks like Ghost Rider’s twin brother, literally.
Black was mind-blowing, featuring over-the-top action gunplay, challenging AI, and the buildings collapsing during the action which adds a sense of realism to the battlefield. This may come out as a surprise to many, but the developer behind the Burnout series, Criterion Games, is the actual developer behind this first-person shooter title. For a PS2 game, Black looked ahead of its time.
Cutscenes featured real actors, a decision that was made to deliver a cinematic-like experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Future Perfect is the third entry in the franchise, and the last one before the company went out of business. The company was miraculously revived back in 2021, and there are high hopes the franchise will see the fourth entry real soon.
Timesplitters: Future Perfect is renowned for its amazingly fun arcade shooting style, the engaging multiplayer matches, and a wide range of characters to choose from which can be unlocked once levels and challenges in the game’s campaign are completed.
Judge Dredd vs. Death is another hidden gem that may have flown under your radar. It’s based on the 2000AD comic series which also spawned several movie adaptations.
You take on the role of Judge Dredd (the law himself) who has to serve and protect the city futuristic Mega-City One from any danger that threatens the safety of its citizens. Most of the game is spent hunting down and capturing criminals who roam the streets. There is a law meter that measures the player’s commitments to the laws of Mega-City One. For instance, capturing criminals instead of killing them will reward the player generously, but if you decide to shoot criminals or innocent civilians, the consequences will be tragic.
At times, Judge Dredd Dredd vs Death is a typical slow first-person shooter, but it quickly shifts into fast-paced shooting. Luckily, the game isn’t very challenging on normal mode unless you decide to go the hard mode route. For a game based on a comic series, It’s fair to say that Dredd vs Death does a great job at emulating the comic feel of the series.
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter was one of the last titles to be developed by the British based Warthog Games before they shut down for good. Mace Griffin may look like another typical pew-pew shooter on the system, but it features some interesting mechanics that make it stand out from other shooters.
The first interesting mechanic about Mace Griffin is the automatic lock-on c with a touch on the button. You don’t have to aim with the right analogue stick all the time, the game will simply lock on your target with a touch of the button, kind of like Syphon Filter games on the original PS1.
The second interesting mechanic about the game is the ability to switch between first-person shooter combat to spacecraft dogfights seamlessly, without being interrupted by any loading times. Additionally, each weapon in the game possesses an alternative fire. For instance, a regular pistol can be fired in a three-round burst or a single burst. Such a mechanic would go on to become the main standard for many first-person shooters out there.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong video game is a perfect example that if a movie is treated by a team that cares, the game won’t suck. Many movie-tie in games can be a hit or miss, and that makes a lot of these titles to be looked down upon. Thankfully, the PS2 was home to some wonderful movie licensed titles, that not only were fun to play but memorable as well. Among these exists Peter Jackson’s King Kong. A first-person shooter adaptation of the movie with the same name. And surprisingly, the developers have done a great job at emulating everything about the movie. Heck, you could even take control of King Kong in third-person mode during certain periods in the game.
The game is very immersive and enjoyable. There’s a sense of survival horror in the game as ammunition is a scarce commodity. Foes ranging from giant dinosaurs, insects and grotesque creatures will show up out of the blue, making the game feel closer to the original movie.
Urban Chaos: Riot Response will make SWAT 4 fans will feel right at home. While it isn’t as tactically oriented as the former, there are some similarities that may pique your interest. It’s a shame though that the game never made it onto PC.
In Riot Response, you take control of Nick Mason. A member of the newly formed “T-Zero” riot control squad, specified in stopping criminals and gangsters from wreaking havoc in the American City. Nick Mason will do anything he can to end the chaos, capture gangsters, and rescue injured people as well as protect innocent civilians. Enemies can be cunning most of the time, so players have to be on their guards.
The Operative: No One Lives Forever puts you in the shoes of the secret spy Cate Carther, whose goal is to protect humanity from megalomaniacs who are plotting to disrupt the world’s peace. The gameplay has you infiltrating bases, cities and major facilities. You have the choice to either go full-on assault or engage in a stealthy way without anyone noticing. In NOLF, it’s best to go the stealth way most of the time as this is the best way to play the game.
If 007 ever had a wife and she gave birth to a girl, it would be Cate Carther from No One Lives Forever. Taking inspiration from several works such as GoldenEye 007, Castle Wolfenstein, and Syphon Filter, NOLF provides an excellent stealth-action experience.
Area-51 is casual friendly, featuring a simple gunplay system, great graphics for the time, and non-stop action. The best thing about Area-51 is the ability to transform temporarily into an alien to take out your enemies. This gameplay mechanic adds an element of excitement and makes the game different from other games in the genre. Additionally, another best thing about Area-51 is how it allowed players to dual wield certain weapons like shotguns, pistols, and machine guns. Area-51 is an underrated shooter that deserves your time, and if you ask me, it’s best if you find it on PC.
Midway Games are often remembered for their Mortal Kombat legacy, but the company has also made a slew of genuine titles that flew under the radar of many. On the outside, Area-51 may look like a clone of Aliens vs Predators, however, upon delving into the game one will discover that this forgotten first-person shooter has so much to offer.
Killzone was Sony’s answer to Halo, but without following in its footsteps. Developed by Guerilla Games, and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Killzone takes you to the distant future (2357) when the earth was shattered due to nuclear war.
Graphic-wise, Killzone still look amazing. The developers tried to make the game different from other titles in the genre by opting for a cinematic experience. And while Guerilla Games has done a great job with the sound design and voice acting, the game sadly suffers from disappointing AI enemies and technical issues where you may notice some frame drops. Clearly, the game pushed the PS2 to its limit.
Call of Duty 3 was the last entry released during the last days of the PS2’s lifespan. . The aforementioned is one of the most graphically impressive titles on the system and one that pushed the system to its limit as well.
Call of Duty 3’s campaign consisted of four chapters: Polish, Canadian, British and American campaigns. These campaigns recounted the historical events of World War II, delivering a realistic experience that immersed gamers into the action. It’s a shame that the game was never released on PC because it belongs there as well.
That’s it for the list. Thank you for reading