Gaming on a budget: PS2

They say that the core demographic for gamers are males between the ages of 18 and 35 (based on ESA and industry surveys) with a disposable income. Many us are starting to fall out of that description–we’re not getting sex changes (though the number of female gamers is on the rise), rather we’re losing some of that “disposable income.” Sadly with an economy heading downward here in the States and gas prices soaring, we sometimes have to sacrifice our beloved past time to pay the bills.

But fear not, there is a solution. While we save for our five or more most hoped for titles, try throwing in a budget game. There are plenty of games out there that got passed up that still need to be played and are now just sitting there with a lower price tag screaming “PLAY ME!”

The first console I’d like to highlight is the PlayStation 2. Each of the games listed here can be found for under 20 bucks, some of them for much less than that if you buy used. So off we go.

God of War and God of War II

God of War is the very embodiment of what a good action adventure game should be. Plenty of action, blood, and amazing ground and aerial combos courtesy of Kratos’s Blades of Chaos–gruesome blades that can be swung by the chains attached your character’s arms. Close up combat is visceral allowing players to cut enemies in half or, in the case of harpies, rip their wings out. Not only can you toggle between heavy/light and far/near attacks, you also get various magic gifts from the gods, like Zeus’s lightening. You can even level up all of your weapons throughout the game. This wicked combat system has inspired or been directly ripped off by such games as Heavenly Sword and Ghost Rider.

God of War is proof that single-player games will never die. It succeeds because of a captivating story, told by cut scenes throughout the adventure. As you progress, expect to see unbelievable boss battles, amazing details and background effects truly pushing the PS2 to its limits. The soundtrack as well, though digital as opposed to a completely orchestrated score, truly sets the mood and, with the visuals, puts the player at the heart of ancient Greece.

Both God of War titles scored incredibly well with critics garnering a Metacritic score of 94 and 93 respectively with plenty of 100 scores from such sources as G4TV, GameInformer and GamePro. “I feel totally comfortable saying that God of War is the best action game ever to grace the PS2. The gameplay, graphics, sound, production, presentation, and story are excellent. It all adds up to an epic Greek adventure where you can execute some of the slickest moves in gaming,” said GameSpy. Both games are also part of the Greatest Hits selection of PS2 titles, thus just $19.99 for a new copy.

One great thing about picking up some of those games you may have missed is the opportunity to familiarize yourself for an upcoming sequel. God of War: Chains of Olympus has already been released for the PSP and a new game is already in development for the PS3, one that we hope Sony will unveil at their E3 08 press conference.