The Sun Finally Sets On PlayStation 2
April 2016 marked the end of an Era in video gaming. The last online servers that served PlayStation 2 gamers were shutdown on March 31st, 2016. PS3 replaced PS2 November 2006, but still PlayStation 2 held strong. The console ceased manufacture in 2013, but it did not end, even then. This time, though, it really is the end for PlayStation 2.
PlayStation 2 took its’ first breath of light on March 4 2000, and about 6 months later it arrived in North America, and a month later Europe. March 2000 thru November 2000 was an exciting time for PlayStation gamers, PS2 had arrived and brought a new level of graphical quality to home consoles that was truly a leap forwards from PlayStation.
PlayStation 2's life effectively ended at the start of this month when two events took place. First, Square Enix turned off the PS2 and Xbox 360 game servers for Final Fantasy XI on March 31st, also on that day, Sony ended service for the PS2 Broadband Navigator. These were the last two online servers catering to PlayStation 2, and with their closing, PS2 passes into the offline world of gaming beyond the Internet. Pragmatically speaking, PS2 officially ended.
PlayStation 2 created a legacy which survives today. The PS2 console is a benchmark by which other consoles are judged, still. But as it ceased manufacture in 2013, memories are all that is left for many gamers.
PlayStation 2 all services ended March 31st, 2016. PlayStation 2 will live on, it will live on the PS4 with PS2 classics, in PS2 emulators on PCs, on older PS3s that somehow miraculously still function and in the remaining PS2s still living on in attics and basements; but most of all in the hearts of gamers.
So, let's all pause this month, to remember the greatest video game console of all time.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that PS2 sold more than 155 million consoles and had a game library of well over 2500 games. Classics such as Grant Theft Auto 3/Vice City and San Andreas; Gran Turismo 3 & 4; Metal Gear Solid 2, Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts, God of War, Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Dexter, Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, Resident Evil, Call of Duty, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Sly Cooper and many other classic names...even Xenosaga makes the list of million selling games on PS2. With the massive variety of games, and huge audience, PlayStation 2 represents something of a gold age for gaming.
Many of the classic games that exploded onto the PS2 have continued life on PS3, and even the PS4 today. Some being re-mastered, early PS3s could just play the original discs like PS2 could play PS1 games and now software emulation of some PS2 originals on PS4. Coming forward today and we still hear of the same franchises. Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, The Lego movie games, Gran Turismo 7(rumor has it that this game *will* launch this side of the apocalypse), Final Fantasy, Star Wars Battlefront, Need for Speed, Metal Gear, and of course next week sees Ratchet an Clank re-imagined for the PlayStation 4.
It's hard to really come up with words that can encompass the legacy of the PlayStation 2 and it's golden era of gaming. It's true to say that we are still feeling it's influence today. Sony is even brining certain PS2 classics to PS4 with emulated backwards compatibility including trophy support.
Some would say that we can trace this 'golden era' to the original PlayStation, others would point to Nintendo. I wouldn't disagree that there is a case to be made for both, and even the ill-fated DreamCast for that matter. But the PlayStation 2 represents something different from those that went before it, and those that have come after it. The next-best selling home consoles are PlayStation 1 and Nintendo Wii, both of which trail PS2 by at least 50 million units.
PS3 and Xbox 360 both made a respectable showing at approximately 84 million sold. It's thought that PS3 probably edged past the 360 during 2013, but Sony stopped reporting PS3 sales separately, and Microsoft stopped selling 360s all together, while PS3 is still being manufactured and sold. By the way, PS4 is about half way to passing PS3 in sales of units. Xbox One has yet to outsell the original Xbox...
PlayStation 2 was a driving force behind the development of the video game industry of today. It's influence is still felt, and perhaps it always will be. Perhaps that is the way it should be.
Of course, the PlayStation 4's history is still being written. But it has about 120 million units to sell to catch it's ancestor.
I'm gonna geek out a bit here... The PlayStation 2 used the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer to bring 3D graphics to our scrrens in resolutions up to (and including) 1080i. The system had unheard of specifications for a home game console.
The CPU (Emotion Engine) featured multiple execution units (cores), a 64-bit MIPS CPU core, paired up with a 32-bit floating point unit and two custom vector processing units. For those counting, that's effectively 4 cores.
The GPU (Graphics Synthesizer) with a 2560-bit (extremely wide) memory bus clipping along at 147.5 MHz... That is roughly equivalent to a 256-bit data bus on a modern GPU running at 1.475GHz - remember this was in March 2000. The pixel rates and texel rates for the PlayStation 2 are similarly impressive. The designers of the GS hit a home run, this console could push 1080i resolution in March 2000, though comparatively few games went that far during the PS2's life.
Of course PS2 was also a trojan horse bringing DVD to homes. This same tactic was later used with PS3 to bring BluRay to our homes. Including DVD in the PS2 was not as controversial as the inclusion of BluRay in the PS3 was, and DVD became a defacto standard for home video displacing the mighty VHS.
PS2 featured one more trick, there was an I/O processor on board for handling I/O tasks, it also happened to be the original PlayStation CPU and automatically under-clocked itself for PS1 backwards compatibility. PlayStation 2 was in effect two consoles in one with a DVD player thrown in.
So, a PS2 slim could play virtually every PlayStation game, every PS2 game, all DVDs, all CDs, output to SDTV and HDTV in resolutions up to 1080i, featured a GPU that was so advanced that it's still difficult to emulate today, 16 years later, and had a system design that foreshadowed the PS3.
It's funny if you look at the PS2, PS3 and PS4 launch systems side by side. Other than the curves of the PS3's top cover, all 3 systems are rectangular black boxes with a front loading optical drive. The dual Shock 2, 3 and 4 are all very similar in design. It's truly a case of the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Thank you Sony, for the PlayStation 2. You hit it out of the park with that system. Please remember what you did, and keep doing it.
Related Game(s): PlayStation 2
4/12/2016 2:21:57 AM Gordon Turner