Are you stuck in a time loop and still playing your PS2? Is your PC a little weak and out of date? You’re not alone. I know what it’s like to be stuck with last year’s console, or a computer that can’t handle much more than the original StarCraft (which is still awesome). I had a Super Nintendo when my friends had a Playstation. When I had a Nintendo 64, everyone had a Playstation 2, and Xbox 360 was only a year away. Soon enough, everyone had 360, PS3 was rounding the corner, and I was still playing my PS2 online. I enjoyed it, but I felt a little left out, so I had to find games that would really wow me, or be worth playing over again, until I could catch up. I have a PS3 now (and an Xbox 360 that mostly sits quietly in the corner and sobs), and I’ll probably be playing that when the PS4 is out and the next Elder Scrolls game is rocking faces around the world.
The five games listed here will be available to users of the Playstation 2, original Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, and PC’s that can’t quite handle the games you’d really like to be playing right now. These are games that were good when they came out, and are still good today. I even have two of them, and still play one regularly. So, are you looking for a good shooter, and can’t quite afford yourself a current generation console, then read on. These games can still provide hours and hours of entertainment.
5. Urban Chaos: Riot Response
Available on: PS2, Xbox
Urban Chaos: Riot Response wasn’t anything special at a glance. It was just another first person shooter, and beyond that, it was just another game trying to cash in on the over the top violence that the Grand Theft Auto franchise had become known for. Of course, this was four years after GTAIII was released, and two years after San Andreas, so the world was already well entrenched in that kind of thing. So what was it that made this game special?
Well for starters, it comes from a pretty awesome studio, Rocksteady. If you’re trying to figure out what makes them awesome, then you obviously haven’t played Arkham Asylum or Arkham City, and you should be expecting someone at your door in about the next five seconds to give you a wedgie. Go check. I’ll wait here.
All done? Okay good. Don’t forget to rub some cream on that rash. Anyway, if you didn’t play this game when it came out, it isn’t surprising because a lot of people didn’t. This game didn’t have the most outstanding graphics, and Rocksteady was fairly new at that point. This game was a blast, though. You play as Nick Mason, a police officer from an elite unit called T-Zero, and it’s your job to remove approximately 945,393,576,391 molotov cocktail throwing gang members from the streets. The levels were fun to navigate and the enemies were wonderfully fun to shoot. Between the main campaign and all the bonus levels, there were enough unlockables that you’d be coming back for more until you had it all, and you got bonuses for achieving extra objectives like obtaining evidence or tasing a certain number of enemies instead of killing them. Of course nowadays, if you’re like me, every time you do that you’ll be saying “don’t tase me, bro!” and giggling like an idiot.
You occasionally received help from other police officers, medics and fireman, which added a nice feeling of cooperation in the game. This is not a game for children though. Be warned; there is blood, gore, and plenty of foul language to go around.
There is multiplayer too, but I haven’t played any PS2 games online in a while so I don’t know how many people you’ll find on the servers. All in all, the single player is fun and the collectibles and bonuses should keep you busy for a while. Oh and by the way, when I said that the riot shields were cool, I meant it. Play the game and you’ll find out.
4. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Available on: PS2, Xbox
This was a slightly different FPS than we were used to at the time. We already had Battlefield 2, and everybody was playing it on their PC. This had the Battlefield 2 moniker, but it wasn’t the same game. It was almost completely different, and it was console exclusive. That’s not a bad thing though, because this game was incredibly fun. I played the campaign in this game over and over again, and I played online so much that my grandma thought I died in front of the TV. Especially when I fell asleep that one time, and my head was in that low hanging position we all end up in when we fall asleep sitting up.
It comes off like your typical shooter, but then you notice that all of your friendlies have little icons above their heads. Press a certain button when that friendly is in your line of sight, and suddenly time freezes and the camera is zooming toward him. You are now controlling that person. How cool is that?
This feature was called hotswapping, and I had never seen or heard of it before this game. I loved it, and Captain Ginyu would love it. You could switch to any friendly soldier on the map at will, as long as you could see him. The icon above his head would go from blue to white so you could tell who you were going to switch to. It helped you travel quickly across the map to far away objectives, and allowed you to utilize the different abilities of the classes to complete said objectives. There were five different classes to play as, assault, engineer, sniper, special ops, and support, and depending on the mission, you had varying numbers of each readily available to swap to on the fly. The classes were simple, but each of them had their own significant roles and abilities. You could even switch to friendlies that were manning vehicles. If you died, then you’d just switch to another living guy on the map. Seriously, hotswapping is cooler than Fonzie.
The game featured the usual Battlefield element of being able to man or destroy any vehicle in sight, including buggies, tanks, helicopters and pickup trucks. Nothing says “I’m a redneck” more than driving a beat up old Ford through the mud with your friend, cousin or Uncle Dad sitting in the back shooting terrorists with a shotgun. The online play was also fairly robust, and as I said before, I dumped many hours of my life into online. I don’t know that anybody plays online anymore, but if they do, you’re in for some fun. Also, hotswapping is not a feature in multiplayer, but that should be obvious.
The game was re-released on Xbox 360, but it is literally exactly the same, except with some improved graphics. The graphics on the PS2 and original Xbox versions weren’t the greatest, but considering the scale of the game, it’s easy to ignore. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t up to par with some of the other shooters that were available at the time. You know, I’m considering picking this game up for my 360, because writing this article is making me hungry for hotswapping.
Available on: PS2, Xbox
This game’s cover says just about everything you need to know about it. If you like shooting stuff, good. If you like blowing stuff up, great. When I think of this game, I imagine Michael Bay bursting through the doors of EA and screaming “NO! You’re doing it WRONG!” and smashing the crap out of whatever video game they were just working on while chugging a large bottle of gasoline. When he glued the pieces back together (probably with plastic explosives, to give it that extra “kick”), out came Black. Seriously, there are more bullets and explosions in this game than all of the Diehard movies put together and multiplied by Angelina Jolie’s lips.
There was a story, or something, in this game, but you didn’t care much about it because – HOLY CRAP THERE’S A GUY QUICK BLOW UP THE ENTIRE BUILDING – Erm, I mean because you were spending most of your time unloading entire magazines into the general direction of your enemy and blowing up everything within range of your bullets. This was about as straightforward as a shooter can get, but it did an amazing job of keeping you entertained.
Environments were almost entirely destructible, and you could use that to your advantage. Enemy hiding behind a vehicle? Blow it up. Enemy hiding behind cover? Blow it up. Enemy hiding behind another enemy? Blow them both up, then blow up the ground they land on. Yes, this game was nothing but mindless destruction, but it’s one of the few games that have tried this approach and gotten it right. Not only is it fun, but the graphics are absolutely top of the line for both the PS2 and Xbox. Black may be the game that finally pushed the consoles to their limits. The sound is also beyond exceptional. If you play this game with the volume up, SWAT teams are going to show up at your home and shoot the TV, because your neighbors called in about a gang war going on next door. Add in the amazing environmental effects, and you’ve got what is probably the best looking and best sounding last gen shooter available.
Like I said before, there is a story, but it isn’t even half as important as the constant insanity of combat around you. There are secondary objectives in every level throughout the campaign, but most of them are fairly easy to obtain. This doesn’t mean there’s no replay value, though. Once you beat the game, you’ll want to go right back to the beginning and start making the world explode again.
2. Freedom Fighters
Available on: Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, PC
PC minimum system requirements:
- Microsoft Windows 98/2000/ME/XP/Vista
- Pentium III 733MHz or comparable
- 256MB RAM
- 32MB Direct3D with Hardware T&L capable video card with DirectX 8.0 or higher video card
- 650MB HDD space
- 4 speed CD-ROM
- DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
- DirectX 8.1 or higher
- Input – Keyboard & mouse
If you were wondering which two games I still have, this is one of them. This game rocks, period. I’ve never killed so many Russians in my LIFE (in total, I’ve killed 0.1 in real life). Sadly, this is the only entry on this list that is available on the Gamecube. Most people don’t have one anymore, but if you do, I feel you. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for the old Cube, because I had one for quite some time. I spent more hours than I care to count beating the crap out of my friends on Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I don’t even want to THINK about how much time I spent customizing my wrestler(s) in Day of Reckoning 2.
Here’s the premise of Freedom Fighters; Red Dawn becomes a video game, and EA goes “geez, we better be careful or we might be getting into some copyright stuff.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT bad, but still, the likeness is obvious. In Freedom Fighters, history is different. The Soviets ended WWII by dropping the atomic bomb, the Cold War never happened, and the Ruskies are the superpower of the world. One day they decide to invade New York, and a plumber leads a resistance to drive them out.
If this sounds like a cheap excuse to have a city wide war in New York, it is. But it works well. The barricades littered all over the maps, spotlights and helicopters constantly threatening to expose your position, and the myriad of Russian soldiers patrolling the streets give this game a perfect atmosphere. You know from the start that your character, Christopher Stone, is in for a fight. He won’t be blasting the Russians back to the motherland all by himself, though. Despite a lot of run and run gameplay, this game is essentially a tactical squad based shooter. Over time you will gain charisma for completing missions, rescuing citizens, and doing other generally anti-Commie things. The more charisma you have, the more Freedom Fighters you can recruit, up to 12. There are only three basic commands, attack, defend, and follow, but they work extremely well, especially considering that the AI isn’t half bad. Pressing one of the command buttons will issue the order to the next soldier in line, while holding it will have all of them doing exactly what you say. You can zoom in with your crosshairs to tell them to attack or defend at a specific point, and they are usually very good at taking cover.
Each level is broken up into two or three different sections, which you can tackle in any order. Depending on which order you do them in, the other sections will be affected. Destroy a helipad in one part, and there will be no helicopters in the other parts to rain fire down on you. Destroy a bridge in another, and the Soviets will not be able to send ground reinforcements to stop you from destroying the helipad. But if you haven’t destroyed the helipad, destroying the bridge will be much harder. This forces you to make tough choices, and sometimes results in you having to retreat and try a different approach.The levels are very open and there are many, many, many ways to approach every objective. If you find a manhole to the sewers, you even can go underground to skip to other parts of the city and complete different objectives. See how awesome this is?
The game doesn’t have the most outstanding graphics, but they do their job. There’s no reason to be disappointed in what you’re seeing. The game has a decent story and voice acting, and good sound effects to compliment. Quite simply though, this game is pure, unadulterated fun. My favorite part of this game? You’re going to think I’m crazy, but it’s the soundtrack. This game has possibly the best score of video game music, ever. Possibly better than Skyrim (please don’t kill me). I’m serious, the music rocks. It’s like a supercharged Russian opera with contextual techno overtones. I downloaded the music to this game so I could play it in the background while I was playing StarCraft. I love it that much.
All in all, Freedom Fighters is one of my absolute favorite PS2 games of all time. It doesn’t have a lot of replay value right after you beat it, but wait a while, start it up again, and you’ll find yourself powering through the streets of New York all over again.
The only real downfall to this game is that multiplayer is a bit weak, and lacks online play. There is only local split screen play, for the console versions, of course, and it functions almost the same as single player. It’s fun for a while, but loses its steam pretty quickly. I’m telling you though, if you pick up this game, you’re in for a ride.
By the way, every car you find on the street can be exploded. And there are LOTS of cars.
1. Half-Life/Half-life mods and expansions
Available on: PS2, PC
PC minimum system requirements (some mods may require more)
- Windows 95/98/NT 4.0
- 133 MHz Intel Pentium Processor or better
- 24 MB of RAM
- SVGA, high color (16-bit)
- Windows-compatible sound card
- 2x CD-ROM drive
- Internet Connection for online play
- Input – Keyboard & mouse
Half-Life. It was ultimate. It exploded your brain with pure awesome. This is the other one that I still own, as well as several expansions and mods. Gordon Freeman, pictured above for those of you that happen to be a caveman who has never heard of video games, is the most perfect video game character ever. He never speaks, and only has two emotions; kill, and don’t kill. If you ever meet him, you better hope you meet him when he’s in “don’t kill” mode, or you’re totally screwed. This man has killed more aliens than Randy Quaid, and is probably twice as insane, if that’s even possible. Gordon Freeman never argues with anybody, he only shoots them, or beats them into submission with a crowbar. When they submit, he beats them some more until every bone in their body is broken and at least four spleens have left traces of crimson on the nearest wall. He doesn’t play around, and if you ever call him four-eyes, I promise you that he will take that as an offer, pry your eyes out of your head and glue them to his glasses.
This game was fast paced and action packed. It had an outstanding story, killer sound effects, and the coolest blood and gore that was available at the time.
Throughout the course of the story, you’d be fighting aliens, headcrabs that turned their hosts into vicious zombie-like creatures, Marines sent in to clean up the mess, and a black ops unit that runs faster than you can blink. You’d be blowing up half of the environment around you, destroying tanks, and even get to travel to an an alien planet to destroy the big baddie of all the aliens.
And that’s just the first game.
The expansions, Blue Shift and Opposing Force, take you through the same story from a different character’s perspective. Blue Shift lets you play as Security Guard Barney, allowing you to explore other parts of the Black Mesa facility that you couldn’t before. Opposing Force has you playing as one of the Marines sent in to clean up the mess and kill Gordon Freeman. All three are worth playing through, over and over again. Once you get through those, you have the outstanding mods to play, like Counter Strike.
If you don’t know what Counter Strike is, don’t tell me, because I might cry.
If you do, I don’t need to take a lot of time explaining it, but here’s a quick synopsis. It’s a highly competitive online shooter running off of the Half-Life engine. One team plays as terrorists, one as counter terrorists. If you die, you’re out until the next round. You either have to kill the other team, or accomplish specific objectives directly relating to which side you play as. Day of Defeat is probably my favorite mod, though. It’s an online only WWII shooter that has you trying to control territory in various theatres from that war. You play as the Allies or the Axis, and you kill each other. It’s tons of fun, and rarely gets old.
Half-Life was such a special game that there are still countless players blasting each other online today, whether it’s in the original game or any of the numerous mods. If you have Steam, you better get this game. It’s not terribly expensive, and the system requirements are low. Along with the original game, I have tons of mods and expansions. Half-Life: Blue Shift, Half-Life: Opposing Force, Deathmatch Classic, Team Fortress Classic, Ricochet, Counter Strike, Counter Strike Condition Zero, and Day of Defeat. Most of my time is spent shooting Nazis in the mouth, because I play Day of Defeat more than any of them. There are also tons of free, user-created mods you can download at any time, including a pretty comprehensive Dragonball Z mod, which is pretty sweet.
Seriously, get Half-Life. If you have a PS2, none of the expansions or mods will be available to you, but the original game is still totally worth it. It is my all time favorite last gen shooter. If you disagree, I’ll beat you with a crowbar.
Is there a shooter from last generation that you love, but didn’t make the list? If so, shout out in the comments.