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 effect! Hello 3!), 2013 (The last of us! GTA V!), 2017 (Horizon Zero Dawn! That other open world game!). Allow us to assume that one of gaming’s greatest years took place exactly 20 years ago: 2002. Take a walk down memory lane with us, where every step results in another “Damn, that game was amazing!”

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2)

Screenshot: Rockstar / MobyGames

Date of publication: October 29, 2002

GTA III was the game that essentially created the blueprint for the modern open world. It is therefore not surprising that its sequel, Vice City, is also a great open world adventure game. But Vice City also expands gta 3, adding more vehicles, weapons and side content to the quarantine. However, it’s Rockstar’s decision to set up Vice City in Miami in the 1980s, which really makes it a special game. Music! Colors! Cocaine! Even 20 years later, few, if any, games have replicated the feel and look of Rockstar’s classic open world. — Zack

Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Date of publication: July 19, 2002

Even though it’s notoriously divisive, I still stand by Super Mario Sunshine as one of the largest Mario games. FLUDD reimagined Mario’s platforming skills without deviating too much from what worked in previous games. The tropical island of Delfino served as a wonderful setting. Plus there was the whole “focus on cleaning up the environment” thing, which we could all use more of today. — Ari

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Xbox)

Screenshot: BethesdaScreenshot: Bethesda

Date of publication: May 1, 2002

It might not be the prettiest game ever made, but Bethesda Morrowind was still an amazing experience that somehow got ported over and ran on the original Xbox. That’s how I played this classic open world RPG for the first time, and I still have fond memories of exploring it Morrowind’s caves and cities for hours and hours. I’ll also never forget the strange, horrible bug-like creatures that populated the game world. I still have nightmares about those things… – Zack

Metroid Prime (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Date of publication: November 18, 2002

MetroidHis foray into first person was a revelation. You’ve never seen the world far away from a side-scrolling perspective. You have been actually in it, solving puzzles and shooting enemies with a laser cannon and backtracking (so much backtracking) as if you were actually bounty hunter Samus Aran. It reigned and spawned two sequels that also reigned. Now (patiently) waiting for the fourth… – Ari

Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance)

Screenshot: NintendoScreenshot: Nintendo

Date of publication: November 17, 2002

Yes, Metroid fans ate well in 2002. On the GameCube, as mentioned, Metroid Prime was a tour de force, a total reimagining of the popular series. But on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo stayed true to form Metroid Fusionwhich followed in the exploration-oriented side-scrolling structure created by the previous one Metroid games. One thing was certain: Metroid could break the mold. You could also fit in like a glove. (Another proof: see Fusioncontinuation, Metroid Dreadreleased last year for Nintendo Switch.) — Ari

Battlefield 1942 (PC)

Screenshot: EA / MobyGamesScreenshot: EA / MobyGames

Date of publication: September 10, 2002

Dice and EA Battlefield 1942 it wasn’t the first WW2 shooter or online FPS. But it was one of the first real attempts to create a large-scale war game, and it succeeded brilliantly. Even when playing offline, which I used to do a lot in the old days, I fought the game’s bots in big wars on a number of memorable maps. To this day, people still play 1942 and its countless mods. There’s still something special about the chaos you can get into in this 20-year-old shooter. — Zack

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

Screenshot: Activision / MobyGamesScreenshot: Activision / MobyGames

Date of publication: October 23, 2002

The best Tony Hawk the game is THPS3. But THPS4 is still a damn good entry in a beloved franchise. Sure, it plays a little too similarly 3 and it looks a lot like it too. As a result, it doesn’t feel as fresh or innovative, but this PS2 classic is still just as fun as the previous entries and adds some fantastic levels and tricks. The game also marked the end of an era for the franchise. After this also amazing Tony Hawk’s Underground it moves the series into an open world and changes its tone to be more relatable Jerk. So for some, THPS4 is the last pure game in the Activision series.

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire (Game Boy Advance)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Date of publication: November 21, 2002 (in Japan)

In the 90s Blue Pokemon and Red burst onto the scene as an innovative monster-collecting RPG series. They followed them Gold and silver versions that built on everything that made the first versions great and added tons of new creatures and features. But with the release of gen-III games, Ruby and Sapphirewhich was released in 2002 in Japan and the following year everywhere else, Pokemon cemented itself as a streak that went nowhere. Based on the sheer number of spin-offs, sequels, and remakes that followed, yes, I guess Pushdominance is here to stay. — Ari

Eternal Darkness (GameCube)

Screenshot: Nintendo / MobyGamesScreenshot: Nintendo / MobyGames

Date of publication: June 24, 2002

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was weird AF but it totally worked. Although it seemingly looked and played like a Resident Evil era (ie: haunted mansions and fixed cameras), featured complex puzzles and psychologically disturbing visual gags, wrapped in a gripping, time-hopping plot about ancient artifacts. People loved this game. Eternal darkness it was so good that even those of us who usually can’t stand scary games could stand it. Come to think of it, that might have been the last horror game I actually played. — Ari

Splinter Cell (Xbox)

Screenshot: UbisoftScreenshot: Ubisoft

Date of publication: November 17, 2002

Even if Splinter Cell shit, it would still be worth playing for Michael Ironside’s iconic performance as the game’s protagonist, Sam Fisher. Fortunately for fans of tactical stealth, Splinter Cell does not suck In fact, it took the niche tactical stealth genre and helped make it mainstream with streamlined controls, clever UI features, and amazingly detailed levels that were open and allowed for a variety of play styles. It also looked fantastic and helped launch one of Ubisoft’s best franchises. And who says you need an actual book to make a Tom Clancy game? Let’s hope the remake is good! — Zack

Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 2)

Screenshot: Sony / MobyGamesScreenshot: Sony / MobyGames

Date of publication: November 4, 2002

A member of the fictional fox-like species known as the lombax, Ratchet is the timeless mascot of PlayStation action platformers, whose legacy now spans five platforms and over a dozen games. But it all started with the original from 2002. Will the game last? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. (my boxThe take on the matter is that the 2016 remake is better.) But the staying power is undeniable, thanks to a parade of well-received games right on top of last year’s eye-popping Rift Apart. — Ari

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