Let’s Remember How Amazing 2002 Was For Video Games

Let’s remember how great 2002 was for video games

When people talk about the “best” year in gaming, they usually trot out the usual suspects: 2007 (Assassin’s Creed Mass effecthalo 3!), 2013 (The last of usGTA V!), 2017 (Horizon Zero DawnThat other open world game† Allow us to admit that one of the greatest years in gaming happened exactly 20 years ago: 2002. Come with us for a walk through memory where every step results in a different “Holy shit, that game used to be awesome!”

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2)

Screenshot: Rockstar / MobyGames

Publication date: October 29, 2002

GTA III was the game that basically created the blueprint for the modern open world. It is therefore not surprising that the follow-up, Vice City, is also a great open world adventure. But Vice City also expanding GTA III, adding more vehicles, weapons and side content to the sandbox. However, it is Rockstar’s decision Set up Vice City in Miami from the 80s that makes it a really special game. The music! The colours! The cocaine! Even 20 years later, few, if any, games have replicated the feel and look of Rockstar’s open-world classic. — Zak

Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Publication date: July 19, 2002

Although it is notoriously divisivei’m still standing by Super Mario Sunshine as one of the greatest Mario spell. The FLUDD device rediscovered Mario’s platforming skills without deviating too far from what worked in previous games. The tropical Isle Delfino served as a delightful setting. Plus, there was that whole “environmental cleanup focus” that we could all use more these days. — ari

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Xbox)

Screenshot: BethesdaScreenshot: Bethesda

Publication date: May 1, 2002

It may not be the most beautiful game ever made, but Bethesdas morrowind was still a great experience somehow ported to and run on the original Xbox. That’s how I first played this classic open-world RPG, and to this day I have fond memories of exploring Morrowind’s caves and cities for hours and hours. I will also never forget the weird, horrifying insect-like creatures that populated the game world. I still have nightmares about that stuff… — Zak

Metroid Prime (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Publication date: Nov 18, 2002

metro‘s foray into the first person was a revelation. You no longer saw the world at a distance from a side-scrolling perspective. You were actually in itsolve puzzles and shoot enemies with a laser cannon and backtrack (so much backtracking) as if you were a real bounty hunter Samus Aran. It ruled, and spawned two sequels that also reigned. Now (patiently) waiting for the fourth… – Ari

Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance)

Screenshot: NintendoScreenshot: Nintendo

Publication date: Nov 17, 2002

Yes, metro fans ate well in 2002. On GameCube, as mentioned, Metroid Prime was a tour de force, a total reinvention of a popular series. But on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo stayed true to form with Metroid Fusionthat followed in the side-scrolling, exploration-oriented structure created by previous metro spell. One thing was certain: metro could break the mold. It could also fit in it like a glove. (For more evidence: see mergerthe sequel, Metroid Dreadreleased for Nintendo Switch last year.) — Ari

Battlefield 1942 (PC)

Screenshot: EA/MobyGamesScreenshot: EA/MobyGames

Publication date: Sep 10, 2002

Dice and EAs Battlefield 1942 was not the first WW2 shooter or online FPS. But it was one of the first real attempts at making a large-scale war game, and one that succeeded brilliantly. Even playing offline, which I used to do a lot, I loved fighting the game’s bots in major wars on a series of memorable maps. Up to the present day, people are still playing 1942 and its countless mods† There’s still something special about the chaos you can wreak in this 20-year-old shooter. — Zak

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (GameCube, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox)

Screenshot: Activision / MobyGamesScreenshot: Activision / MobyGames

Publication date: October 23, 2002

Best Tony Hawk game is THPS3† But THPS4 is still a damn fine entry in the beloved franchise. Sure, it plays a little too much like 3 and looks very similar. As a result, it doesn’t feel as fresh or innovative, but this PS2 classic is still just as fun to play as previous entries, while adding more fantastic levels and tricks. This game also marked the end of an era for the franchise. After that it’s great too Tony Hawk’s Underground would move the series to the open world and change its tone to make more on jackass† So for some THPS4 is the final pure game in the Activision series.

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (Game Boy Advance)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Publication date: Nov 21, 2002 (in Japan)

In the 90s, Pokémon Blue and Red broke through as an innovative series of monster collecting RPGs. They were followed by Gold and Silver versions, building on everything that made the first versions great and adding a lot of new creatures and features. But with the release of the gen III games, Ruby and Sapphirewhich came out in Japan in 2002 and everywhere else the following year, pokemon cemented itself as a series going nowhere. Based on the sheer amount of spin-offs, sequels, and remakes that followed, yes, I guess pordomination is here to stay. — ari

Eternal Darkness (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Publication date: June 24, 2002

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was weird AF, but it totally worked. Although it looked and played like a Resident Evil of the era (i.e.: haunted mansions and fixed cameras), it featured complex puzzles and psychologically irritating visual quirks wrapped in a compelling, time-trapping plot about ancient artifacts. People loved this gameEternal darkness was so good, even those of us who normally can’t stand scary games devoured it. Come to think of it, this might be the last horror game I played. — ari

Splinter Cell (Xbox)

Screenshot: UbisoftScreenshot: Ubisoft

Publication date: Nov 17, 2002

Even if Splinter Cell bad, it would still be worth playing for Michael Ironside’s iconic performance as the game’s lead character, Sam Fisher. Fortunately for fans of tactical stealth, Splinter Cell doesn’t suck. In fact, it took the niche tactical stealth genre and helped make it mainstream thanks to streamlined controls, smart UI features, and beautifully detailed levels that were open and allowed for different playstyles. It also looked great and helped kickstart one of the best Ubisoft franchises out there. And who says you need a real book to make a Tom Clancy game? Let’s hope the remake is good† — Zak

Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 2)

Screenshot: Sony/MobyGamesScreenshot: Sony/MobyGames

Publication date: Nov 4, 2002

A member of a fictional fox-like species known as the lombax, Ratchet is a timeless mascot of action platformers on PlayStation whose legacy now spans five platforms and more than a dozen games. But it all started with the 2002 original. Will the game hold up? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. †Kotakuposition on this is that the 2016 remake is better.) But its staying power is undeniable, thanks to a parade of well-received games, right down to the dazzlingly beautiful tear apart† — ari

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