A Timeless Journey: Rediscovering the Classics on PS2 and More with PS Plus

A decade or so ago, the PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) experience had a pretty lopsided vibe. It served as an online play pass, and not a whole lot else. Today, there are multi-tiered services for PS Plus which gives users a sprawling, ever-changing games library between PS Plus Essential, Extra and Premium. Suddenly, this digital cornucopia is overflowing with not just classic modern games, but also timeless PS2 gems and (allegedly) classics from before the PS2 era. The following is a look at the best games available on all three PS Plus tiers, as well as a focus on the best PS2 titles on PS Plus in 2023.

PS Plus Essential: A Gateway to Nostalgia and New Adventures

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake and The PS2 Legacy

For those who shelled out for PS Plus Essential, the offerings were a mixture of the new and the old. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake was a highlight that feels like it could have been a direct sequel to the PS2 classic Battle for Bikini Bottom. It tells its own epic tale of space-time confusion, though it feels every bit as charming as any of the PS2-era family-friendly adventure games would have.

AEW Fight Forever: A Throwback to Arcade Greatness

AEW Fight Forever captures some of the simple joy that was lost when wrestling games turned into RPGs and fighting games relied on elaborate contextual mechanics. It plays as if replicating the simple, but deep mechanics of old PS2 games. It shows that arcade gameplay feels evergreen – whether revamped for modern sensibilities or not.

Streets of Rage 4: Retro Beat-Em-Up Evolved

This is a title that feels like a modern throwback to the golden age of the side-scroller, but makes you wish those PS2-era beat-em-ups could look this good. At least some formulae never die – just like those that defined the PS2 era seemed timeless at the time.

PS Plus Extra: A Fusion of Past and Present

Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection and PS2 DNA

Games such as Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection show how PS Plus Extra links the present to the past. The action-adventure, movie-like storytelling that characterised the best PS2 games is preserved in this collection, but with visuals and narrative flair that is light-years ahead of PS2 games.

Monster Hunter Rise: A Continuation of Cooperative Excellence

Looking back at some of the community and co-operative play that was already bubbling up in the PS2 generation, Monster Hunter Rise highlights just how those original design tenets have built, and how we now have deeply immersive multiplayer hunts that feel like an extension of those social gaming seeds sown back in the early 2000s.

PS Plus Premium: Honoring the Legacy of PS2

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus: A PS2 Icon Revisited

The PS Plus Premium tier often emphasises the PS2 purse, such as with Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus – a quintessential PS2 game with its stealth/platforming/tales-rich adventure in an incredibly stylised world.

The Continuation of JRPG Excellence

Titles such as Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, present in the PS Plus Premium catalogue, allowed the JRPG to reach an audience far broader than the die-hard fans it had already converted. The kind of genre-defining complexity in storytelling and gameplay mechanics that were instrumental in the PS2 legacy can be found in this game and many more.

Embracing the Modern While Celebrating the PS2

While we sit and wallow in the current offerings on PS Plus across all three tiers, it becomes clear that this is not just a way to experience what’s happening in the now, but is also a way to experience the past. Every game listed, whether it’s a modern title that owes its heritage to the classics of the previous generation, or a port straight from the PS2, serves as testimony to the console’s legacy – not only to the videogame industry, but to the culture at large.

Understanding PS2's Timeless Appeal

The PS2’s far-reaching and genre-defying library was often the first time that players experienced groundbreaking narrative experiences, or gameplay mechanics that would become pillars of the industry. Though the PS2 is long-gone, many of its titles are not – and those are the ones that PS Plus taps into every month. With every generation, the back-catalogue grows, and the PS2 era forms the backbone of many of those games. As PS Plus changes and evolves for the future, it pays tribute to the past, and to a medium whose cornerstones remain as exciting, immersive and engaging today as they did decades ago. These aren’t just games. They’re milestones, in the history of digital entertainment.

Jun 13, 2024
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