I’ve never gone back and put together a list of my favorite games from 2000-2009. Until now. Here are my retrospective favorite games from 2002.
Great Games I Haven’t Played
Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
Mark of Kri
Star Wars Jedi Starfighter
10. Medal of Honor: Frontline
I still have vivid memories of playing Medal of Honor: Frontline on PS2, and it’s probably the best Medal of Honor game ever. Granted, that’s not saying a whole lot as some of the original games were merely average and the more recent ones are actively terrible. But still, Frontline is a good game. Before Call of Duty, there was Medal of Honor. For a while, there was major competition between the two series. But Medal of Honor has definitely fallen to the wayside. Back in the day, though, if you wanted a visceral WWII first-person shooting experience, Frontline was your best option. Storming the beach at Normandy still reigns as one of the most intense experiences in my gaming history.
9. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
I still think Pro Skater 3 is the better game because of the timed nature, but Pro Skater 4 introduced some new options for getting objectives there were pretty cool. The new free skate mode would become normalized in future Tony Hawk games, and I’m still not convinced that it was a good change. Still, at the time it was a good way to switch up the gameplay. This was also the last Pro Skater game for quite a long time, as the Underground series changed several elements moving forward.
8. Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is one of my favorite gaming series, and the first game is still one of the best. I personally prefer the recent remake on PS4 to the original, but that’s mostly due to the now outdated gameplay mechanics. Going back to this one is quite difficult to do without the strafing ability, but the story set up and characters still feel ripped from a Pixar movie — and I mean that as a compliment. The raunchy sense of humor appealed to the teenager in me, and the shooting mechanics felt great. There was a nice variety in weapon options, which helped keep things fresh and became a hallmark of the series.
7. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
After the horrible game based on the Fellowship of the Ring movie, The Two Towers video game was a great surprise. Developed by a different studio, this game allowed you to play as several different Lord of the Rings characters throughout the story mode. The combat was mostly hack-and-slash based, but it was so cool to kill Orcs as Legolas or fight the Nazgul as Aragorn. It also included elements from the first movie, which was a nice addition.
6. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine gets a lot of hate, especially from lovers of the Mario series. It’s certainly a different type of game, but I personally liked it. It had a lot of similarities with Super Mario 64, while also introducing new gameplay elements like the FLUDD backpack. I understand people being annoyed by the inhabitants of Isle Delfino, but I loved the colorfulness of the scenery. The game had you collecting shine sprites instead of stars, but it functioned pretty much the same.
5. Animal Crossing
Nowadays, I have very little interest in the tedium and monotony of Animal Crossing games, but back in the day, I ate that shit up. There was something fun about living in a cutesy video game world, doing normal things an adult might do. I loved customizing my house and interacting with the other denizens of my town. And Tom Nook cracked the whip, always giving you something else to save up bells to purchase. It was the perfect practice for real-life debt — but fun!
4. Splinter Cell
Splinter Cell is like the first Assassin’s Creed game — full of great ideas that it doesn’t quite execute in a perfect way. Still, the game did enough things right to make it memorable and earn a spot high on this list. Splinter Cell did stealth in a new way, and it mostly worked. Being able to take someone out and then hide their body so that other guards didn’t find it was super cool at the time. The game encouraged you to find non-lethal ways of taking out enemies, and included a vast arsenal of cool gadgets.
3. Grand Theft Auto Vice City
As I said in my 2001 ranking, I had an irrational hatred of Rockstar when the Grand Theft Auto games were getting big. Vice City seems to always be in the conversation when it comes to the best GTA games, and for good reason. It had a great story, fun characters, a cool 80s vibe, and the same awesome open world feel of GTA 3. Future games impressed me less because they stuck so closely to the same formula, but stealing cars, mowing down dudes, and interacting with the farcical characters still felt great when Vice City was new.
2. Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime brought a traditionally 2D series into the 3D world, and it couldn’t have worked better. Much like Mario, Samus made a graceful transition into the third dimension, which can’t be said of every old-school 2D series. The game was still set up in a familiar way, which was a smart choice. It still revolved around utilizing different weapons, exploration, and backtracking to unlock new areas. It was easier to get lost in the 3D world, but the extra exploration was worth it to experience more of the fun combat.
1. Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts remains one of my favorite games of all time, so it should come as no surprise that it reigns supreme as my game of the year for 2002. The combination of Final Fantasy and Disney was a match made in heaven, and though future entries would complicate the story into something completely nonsensical, the original story was simple. Save the girl and save the world. It was pretty typical for a Japanese RPG, but the gameplay and Disney backdrop made it memorable. The combat was a little on the easy side, but that might have been due to my desire to grind out everything possible in the game. I loved exploring every inch of the worlds, finding all of the hidden items and weapons. Sure, the gummi ship sucked, but it was a small part of the game and easily skippable once you discovered a new location. There are just so many great things about Kingdom Hearts, this one wasn’t even close.
And there you have it, my top 10 games from 2002! Be sure to leave your favorite in the comments, and check out my other video game rankings!