As the gaming world waits in anxious anticipation for the release of Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube consoles, a steady roll of new games keeps PlayStation 2 gamers on the cutting edge of interactive entertainment.
Many of these next generation games are at the crux of the growing digital divide between the spectator-oriented entertainment of 20th Century film and television, versus the 21st Century's emerging trend toward participant-oriented interactive entertainment, whereby the center of the narrative gravitates away from the author, placing the viewer at the center of the action.
1. Grand Theft Auto 3 developed by Rockstar
For those who liked the game Driver for PlayStation 1, but were disappointed in the paltry graphics of the original Grand Theft Auto game, the much anticipated Grand Theft Auto 3 for PlayStation 2 should not disappoint.
In fact, Driver enthusiasts should be drooling over this extremely realistic role-playing game, where the player actually gets to have a bit of creative control over the plot and make their own game in the process.
Not for the prudish or squeamish, as there are plenty of blood and guts, including your own, if you happen to get wasted by the Mob, the cops, street gangs, or through your own doing.
2. Tony Hawk 3, developed by Activision
The best skateboarding game on the planet has finally reached the PlayStation 2 console, resulting in a huge graphics-enhanced improvement over previous releases.
The player has the option of creating their own player, with the minutest of detail at their discretion, from skin tone to facial hair and street threads in a funky array of color shades. Despite the fact that there are sublime levels and gameplay (such as the ability to cause an earthquake in Hollywood by grinding certain handrails), unless you're a hardcore skater, this game loses its novelty quickly.
3. Silent Hill 2, developed by Konami
This is a scary thriller that will keep most gamers riveted in their seats. The incredible use of sound effects is unnerving. The hero, James Sutherland, sojourns back to the town of Silent Hill, where he enlists the help of psyched-out locals in his search to find his dead wife. The dark and twisted plot is gruesome at times, and not for the squeamish or timid.
4. Resident Evil: Code: Veronica, developed by Capcom
This Dreamcast classic is finally available on PS2; the graphics are unreal, and the gameplay is challengingly difficult. The player is placed in the role of the heroine, Claire Redfield, who searches for clues in her quest to find her missing brother in the aftermath of a biotech onslaught.
The scope and intensity of the battle scenes and puzzles are absolutely captivating.
5. 007: Agent Under Fire, developed by Electronic Arts
The long-awaited James Bond game for the graphics-rich PlayStation 2 console is finally arriving to the gaming world, and fails to disappoint. The graphics and gameplay are impressive, and the plot lives up to the imaginative and challenging scenes from the James Bond movies, with use of hi-tech weaponry that would make any gadget-file drool. Twelve first-person action missions will leave the player spellbound.
Stay tuned for future columns covering MicroSoft X Box and Nintendo Game Cube in detail, in the very near exciting future of the world of interactive entertainment.