2022 is already shaping up to be a fantastic year in gaming. However, that’s not going to stop us from looking to the past. Let’s turn back the clock 20 years to 2002 and remember the best games of that year. 2001 was a notably legendary year for the medium, but 2002 was no slouch, either.
A lot of the games on this list either spawned their own series or are a part of long-running ones that are still going strong to this day. Good news – most of these are also pretty easy to play nowadays, thanks to the magic of game preservation.
10 TimeSplitters 2
The first TimeSplitters is a PlayStation 2 exclusive launch title and served as a spiritual sequel to GoldenEye and Perfect Dark. The sequel shared the love and came out on Xbox and GameCube as well. It retains the zany action of the first game while adding even more characters and game modes.
Fans still dearly adore the entire trilogy of TimeSplitters games and are desperately awaiting a revival of the cult classic FPS franchise. At least it’s finally been confirmed.
9 Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault
Before Allied Assault, the Medal of Honor series was mostly known as a solid first-person shooter for consoles. This PC exclusive was considered one of the finest FPS games of the year.
Its two lead designers were Vince Zampella and Jason West, who would go on to found Respawn Entertainment, famous for the Titanfall series and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Console players weren’t left out in 2002 since Medal of Honor: Frontline also came out for the PS2.
8 Kingdom Hearts
In 2002, the idea of an RPG mixing Final Fantasy and Disney characters seemed absolutely unreal. Getting just one of these was a gift, but Kingdom Hearts was turned into a huge series with numerous entries.
The debut has significantly simpler gameplay but this is ultimately one of its greatest strengths. It holds up surprisingly well when compared to other action-adventure RPGs of the time.
7 The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Wind Waker came with high expectations as the Legend of Zelda that ushered in the next generation. It also had its share of sceptics, mostly because of the radically different art style. This became its defining feature since the Wind Waker is one of the most unique and striking Zelda games.
Time has been kind to The Wind Waker, since many now regard it as one of the best 3D Zelda titles. It is impossible to play on Switch at the moment, but it was re-released on the Wii U.
6 Battlefield 1942
The most recent Battlefield game launched with many technical issues, but at least the series’ debut back in 2002 with Battlefield 1942 was considered a bonified classic. The large-scale battles were almost unprecedented for first-person shooters back at the start of the century.
Battlefield 1942 still has an active community and is playable on modern computers with a couple of servers still filled with enough people to find a game. Maybe some will want to stay there until Battlefield 2042 is fixed.
5 Resident Evil Remake
It feels weird to put a remake here, but one has to understand just how incredible of an upgrade the remake of the original Resident Evil is over the original. It looks gorgeous and plays the best out of all the classic Resident Evil titles.
The re-releases for modern consoles are now the best way to play this, so don’t worry about finding a GameCube. Remakes are always an unsure proposal, but Capcom consistently knocks it out of the park, especially when it comes to Resident Evil.
It is hard to overestimate how impressive Morrowind was upon release. A fully 3D Elder Scrolls title was a revelation back in 2002. The game world is significantly smaller than in Daggerfall or Arena, but the level of detail is a huge upgrade from the predecessors.
The combat and mechanics are harder and more involved than Oblivion and Skyrim, but the game remains relatively accessible in the modern gaming landscape.
3 Final Fantasy 11
MMORPGs were not as plentiful or popular back in 2002 as they are today. Final Fantasy 11 was the series’ first foray into the genre and it made a huge splash. It was available on PS2, PC, and eventually Xbox 360 later on.
Massively multiplayer online games were not as accessible 20 years ago as they are today, but Final Fantasy 11 deserves respect for all it did for the genre. Servers are still online to this day, though most recommend playing Final Fantasy 14 instead.
2 Metroid Prime
Many wondered how Samus Aran would fare in the 3D space. Metroid Prime came along in 2002 and assuaged all worries. Placing the Metroid franchise into the first-person perspective was a surprising move, but it worked wonders.
The GameCube game retains the sense of exploration and discovery of the older titles. Fans of 2D Metroid weren’t left in the dust in 2002, either, since Metroid Fusion came out the same year on the Game Boy Advance to rave reviews.
1 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was developed in an astonishing nine months. Even with this short development time, it managed to top Grand Theft Auto 3 in every way. The 1980s aesthetic still holds up today, even if other areas of the gameplay do not.
Vice City, along with the two other games of the PS2 Grand Theft Auto trilogy, was recently re-released on modern consoles as a part of the definitive edition. Unfortunately, this package came with numerous issues. Even with these problems of the re-release, it is easy to see why Vice City is the most celebrated release of 2002.
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Jason Wojnar (576 Articles Published)