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Great PS2 Games You Can Play On PS4

One of the most commonly talked about and requested features for next generation consoles has got to be backward compatibility.  Microsoft has been doing a solid job of showing its support for backwards compatibility over the last few years, designing software-based solutions for the Xbox One that let you play hundreds of Xbox 360 and even original Xbox games on the latest Microsoft hardware. Sony, on the other hand, has been slacking. The PlayStation 4 has no backward compatibility, and while Sony has confirmed that you'll be able to play PlayStation 4 games on the upcoming PlayStation 5, there's no word on any other consoles being supported.

If you want a taste of old-school bliss right now, though, there is a solution. The PlayStation 4 doesn't support full backward compatibility, but there are dozens of special re-releases of PlayStation 2 gems on the current Sony hardware, and we've compiled a list of some of the best ones available. Here are some great PS2 games you can play on PS4.

Experience the most iconic chapters in the Grand Theft Auto series

There's no arguing the success of Grand Theft Auto 5 — the Rockstar-developed title is quite literally the best selling video game of all time. While much of the financial success Grand Theft Auto 5 has had since it launched in 2013 can be attributed to the regularly updated GTA Online mode, the game itself was a smash hit on day one due to its incredible story, satisfying action and lively, painstakingly detailed open world.

More than anything, though, Grand Theft Auto 5 has been such a success simply because the series is a household name at this point. If you want to see how this open-world chaos simulator became such a smash hit, you can easily play the three most iconic entries in the series with Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy on PlayStation 4. This collection of three PlayStation 2 classics lets you shoot up thugs in three iconic Grand Theft Auto games: Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the third of which boasts an impressive 95 rating on Metacritic.

Metal Slug Anthology is a massive package of side-scrolling fun

Japanese developer SNK has been on a quest to revive its brand in recent years, delving back into classic franchises like King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown to deliver modern takes on these arcade hits. While The King of Fighters 14 didn't make massive waves, the latest Samurai Shodown has been a huge hit, getting a main stage spot at the latest EVO tournament and even nailing a guest character spot for protagonist Haohmaru in Soul Calibur 6.

Still, SNK is known for plenty of other arcade game classics, and one of the company's most beloved series isn't a fighting game at all. Instead, it's a series of side-scrolling run-and-gun action games with incredibly stylish pixel art called Metal Slug. If you enjoyed the intricate, overwhelming pixel art of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, you have Metal Slug to thank for inspiring it. If you want to dive into this influential series, the Metal Slug Anthology on PlayStation 4 lets you experience a compilation of seven unforgettable entries in the series that originally launched on PlayStation 2.

Bully is the teenage Grand Theft Auto you never knew you needed

If you're familiar with Rockstar Games, it's probably because you've heard of Grand Theft AutoRed Dead Redemption, or both. The former is a series of open-world, third-person action titles centered around about crime and corruption, and is set in the modern day. The latter, meanwhile, is also a series of open-world, third-person action titles centered around crime and corruption, but is set in the wild west. They're the two franchises Rockstar is best known for, and both are easily the company's biggest successes.

But did you know that Rockstar has plenty of other original games in its catalog? One of those other titles is another open-world, third-person experience; only this time, it's set in a youth boarding school. We're talking, of course, about Bully.

Originally released in 2006, this cult classic is full of all of the same charm, style, and finger-on-the-pulse writing that any other Rockstar release has. Instead of taking on cartels and shooting up the authorities, though, you'll be fist-fighting bullies, pranking teachers, and becoming the apex predator at Bullworth Academy. With the possibility of a sequel still very much up in the air, there's no better time to experience one of Rockstar's most unique game. Once you're done, there's a good chance you'll be begging Rockstar for a follow-up, too.

Dark Cloud is Dark Souls meets Sim City

If you're a fan of Japanese games, then PlayStation is always going to be your home. For decades, developers big and small have flocked to Sony consoles with all sorts of creative, crazy, and unforgettable titles. The PlayStation 2 is one of the best examples of this, being home to a treasure trove of obscure Japanese RPGs, action games, rhythm games, and more. Plenty of these releases never make it out of Japan, but a few have managed to come west with full English releases.

One such series, Dark Cloud, has gotten a second life on the PlayStation 4. The first game tasks you with diving into randomly generated dungeons in order to engage in real-time combat with all sorts of fearsome fantasy foes. Once you clear a dungeon, you'll need to head back to your town and develop it with new buildings and properties in order to help regrow civilization. Dark Cloud 2 expands on these ideas, focusing on new characters in a new setting while still keeping that blend of sharp combat and city building that no other game has attempted to match.

Ape Escape 2 lets you experience one of Sony's most iconic franchise

When you think of PlayStation mascots, who comes to mind? You probably think of characters like Kratos from God of War, Nathan Drake from Uncharted, or maybe even Ratchet and Clank from... Ratchet & Clank. What about a tiny brown monkey with yellow pants and a flashing red light on his head? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you've missed out on a major part of PlayStation history.

Though the PlayStation brand has featured many cool and collected mature heroes these past few years, two decades ago there were plenty of adorable Sony icons making the rounds on PlayStation 1 and 2. At the top of this group were the adorably chaotic apes from Ape Escape, a PlayStation-exclusive game series all about catching dozens of little nefarious primates that have been let loose throughout the world. If you want first-hand experience with a game series big enough to have its own mini-game in Metal Gear Solid 3, you can pick up Ape Escape 2 for PlayStation 4 right now and go bananas.

Jak and Daxter is the original Naughty Dog masterpiece

Naughty Dog once again captured the attention of PlayStation fans in mid 2020 with the release of The Last of Us Part 2. But this grim, photo-realistic third-person action game is just the latest in a long line of cinematic and realistic story-focused games from the developer. Besides The Last of Us Part 2 and its predecessor, Naughty Dog is also responsible for the iconic Uncharted franchise that's been making waves since the early PlayStation 3 days.

What was Naughty Dog up to before the PlayStation 3 came along, though? Well, during the PlayStation 2 era, the company found success with the stylized, cartoonish platforming action of the Jak & Daxter series. This trilogy is very, very different from Uncharted and The Last of Us, taking place in fantastical worlds full of elf-people and sinister creatures. These games are an incredibly memorable piece of PlayStation history, even meriting collectible re-releases from Limited Run Games. You can find the entire iconic trilogy on PlayStation 4, along with a kart-racing spinoff called Jak X: Combat Racing.

Destroy All Humans asks, 'What if Grand Theft Auto was about aliens?'

Nowadays, almost every video game that comes out is set in a massive open world full of NPCs and side-activities and climbable mountains. Back on the PlayStation 2, though, these kinds of games were a rarity. Console technology wasn't powerful enough to easily render big open spaces, so only the most ambitious games tried to deliver that kind of experience.

Grand Theft Auto made a name for itself as one of these open-world action franchises, but another title also turned heads for delivering a stellar sandbox of chaos back in the day. We're talking about Destroy All Humans!, a violent release best described as "Grand Theft Auto with aliens."

In Destroy All Humans!, you play as a foul-mouthed extra-terrestrial named Crypto, equipped with plenty of otherworldly weapons designed to cause as much chaos as possible. An HD remake of the first game is coming soon, but in the meantime, why not dive into the original PlayStation 2 entries right now on PlayStation 4?

Before Red Dead Redemption, there was Red Dead Revolver

In 2010, Red Dead Redemption released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to critical acclaim, delivering a stunning open-world cowboy game that featured satisfying combat, stunning music, and an unforgettable story about the final days of the mythical wild west. For plenty of people, this was a brand new world from Rockstar, and something that had never been seen from the Grand Theft Auto developers before.

Sharp video game fans know, though, that this wasn't the case at all. Red Dead Redemption was actually the spiritual successor to a 2004 Rockstar San Diego game called Red Dead Revolver. Originally conceived and developed by Japanese developer Capcom, the project was later picked up and finished by Rockstar. This action shooter isn't as somber or realistic as its sequel, but it's still an incredible look at the beginning of Rockstar's massive western franchise.

Indigo Prophecy paved the way for Detroit: Become Human

Back in 2010, French developer Quantic Dream went above and beyond any other story-driven video game that had come out before with Heavy Rain. This interactive drama was a murder mystery with realistic visuals, motion-captured acting, and a heavy emphasis on cutscenes and story moments where your dialogue choices and quick-time event reflexes helped shape the story. It was a groundbreaking game that paved the way for two even more ambitious follow-ups in Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human.

Heavy Rain wasn't the first time Quantic Dream had explored the interactive drama genre, though. In 2005, the team released their very first story-focused experience — a paranormal thriller titled Indigo Prophecy.

In Indigo Prophecy, a series of mysterious murders across New York City stuns both the cops investigating the mystery and a man who finds himself at the center of the crimes. We won't go further than that and spoil the story, but this game has all of the DNA and gameplay ideas of modern Quantic Dream titles. So if you want to see where it all began, Indigo Prophecy is an absolute treat you can play right now on PS4.

Twisted Metal: Black is Rocket League with guns and gore

Plenty of video game genres have naturally evolved and proliferated over the years, from sports games and RPGs to first-person shooters and fighting games. One genre that hasn't survived the test of time, though, is the car combat game. Back on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, games where you and a group of competitors drive around an arena blasting machine guns and explosives at each other were all the rage. These days, though, they're hard to find. Vague parallels exist like the battle mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Rocket League. Still, true car combat games have quietly disappeared from pop culture.

If you want to experience a highlight of gaming history and see what you're missing out on with this forgotten genre, the must-play car combat game out there is easily Twisted Metal: Black. This grim and gruesome Sony exclusive is full of characters, cars, stages, and abilities, and the fast-paced combat is sure to keep you hooked for hours and hours on end. Originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2001, the PlayStation 4 version lets you relive the glory days of car combat bliss.

War of the Monsters is kaiju chaos

Another video game genre that hasn't withstood the test of time is the giant monster battle game. A couple of generations ago, you would mostly see these crop up in the form of licensed Godzilla games. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla: Unleashed, and Godzilla: Save the Earth all put you in the shoes of dozens of different sky-scraping kaiju as you duke it out in massive, destructible cities. These days, you don't see very many attempts to dive into this genre. Aside from a recent indie example like Override Mecha City Brawl, and an unlocalized Disaster Report spinoff that features dozens of memorable giant monsters, kaiju just don't get video game love like they used to.

Thankfully, there's a PlayStation 2 title available on PlayStation 4 that represents the best of the golden age of giant monster action games. It isn't a Godzilla game, though. Instead, it's an entirely original, comic book-style arena battler called War of the Monsters. Released back in 2002, this game sports a campy story mode and an addictive multiplayer mode sprinkled with unlockable skins and addictive combat. If that sounds like your jam, this hidden PS2 gem is can be played right now on the PlayStation 4.