Suikoden 3

The PlayStation 1’s “Top Five” list according to User ratings The PlayStation 1’s “Top Five” list according to User ratings last week had a few surprises, but for the most part, the list included some truly (generally recognized) great games. Today, we ranked the PlayStation 2’s best according to users, and once again, I believe that many will be surprised at how the list plays out.

*Editor’s Note: As with last week’s list, the number of user reviews does not affect the ranking unless there is a need for a tie breaker between games scoring the same number. In that case, the game with the largest amount of user reviews will place higher than a game possessing the same score, but a lower amount of user ratings to its name.

For the PlayStation 2’s top RPGs according to critics click here.

5. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (2006) – User Score: 8.9

Valkyrie Profile 2 Top Five PlayStation 2 Role-Playing Games

As the sequel to Tri-Ace’s PlayStation 1 cult hit, Valkyrie Profile 2 did very well with its users. VP2’s 8.9 rating (based on 103 reviews) is 5 points higher than its critical score average of 84.

Silmeria’s story takes places hundreds of years before Lenneth. The game’s plot is as epic as the first game’s own tale, and it is accompanied by beautiful graphics and a tremendously challenging fighting system.

Arriving at the tail end of the PlayStation 2’s life cycle, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria is also one of the last great JRPGs released before many the genre’s smaller franchises went extinct (Suikoden, Grandia, Wild Arms).

4. Shadow Hearts: Covenant – User Score: 8.9 

Shadow Hearts 2

A favorite with fans (one only needs to read our Facebook page comments to notice this), and  critics alike (85 rating), Shadow Hearts: Covenant certainly deserves its spot amongst the PlayStation 2’s best RPG games on this list.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant’s story takes place during 1910s decade (World War I) in an alternate reality. This unique setting (as far as JRPGs go) sets Shadow Hearts: Covenant apart from other games in the genre, and its game’s character driven tale is deep and gripping.

With multiple and dramatic endings, Shadow Heart’s story might have been its strongest point, which is just how we like our JRPGs to be (story focused).

While critics were split on the Judgement Ring system, many also praised the game for its turn-based system which was considered superior to the first game’s battle system.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant was not a strong seller, and it was fated to remain a fixture amongst the hardcore JRPG crowd, but many who played the game swear by its greatness.

Thanks to its legendary reputation, and few copies available, Shadow Hearts: Covenant is fetching for quite a high price on Amazon these days.

3. Suikoden III (2002) – User Score: 8.9

Being that Suikoden II, came in at (ironically) number two on our “User based” PS1 JRPG list, it is no surprise then that Suikoden III found its way into the top 3 positions on the PlayStation 2’s own list.

While Suikoden III lacks the legendary reputation (and steep price) of the second entry in the series, the 3rd iteration is the highest critically rated Suikoden of all time (86).

Suikoden III marked the series’ entry point into the 3rd dimension. The game’s spectacular critical reception helped it to sell 980,000 which remains a record high number for the ill fated franchise. The critics praised its Trinity Sight System, strategic combat, and overall direction.

Suikoden III might be my own personal favorite RPG on PS2, so I have no qualms about its ranking here. Few games have attached me as much to its characters and Suikoden III did.

2. Final Fantasy X (2001) – User Score: 8.9 

Final Fantasy X on PlayStation 2

This is one was expected. With over a 1,700 user ratings (the previous 3 entries on this list had under 200 reviews each), Final Fantasy X is clearly the most popular JRPG on the PlayStation 2.

Out of all the entries on the list, Final Fantasy X is the highest ranked (critically) with a 92 overall score. Final Fantasy X launched right at Zenith of the series’ popularity and it helped to move PS2 units in 2001.

FFX’s linear approach did not detract from its gorgeous visuals, and heart-wrenching story. The Sphere Grid system felt refreshing at the time, and the game’s turn based battle system might be the series’ best.

Largely remembered as the last “great” Final Fantasy game, FFX was truly one of the PS2’s defining moments, and one of the best JRPGs ever made.

1. Kingdom Hearts II (2006) – User Score: 9.0 

Kingdom Hearts II Screenshot

Kingdom Hearts II ranking this high on the list might seem like a fluke (it only scored an 87 with critics). However, the fact that it has over 1000 user ratings and it still managed to hold a 9.0 demonstrates that this (its placement) was no accident.

Gamers truly enjoyed Square Enix’s Disney crossover action-RPG. Even those who weren’t into RPGs. To be fair, Kingdom Hearts II might be the best game in the series, though that doesn’t necessarily says much given that no Kingdom Hearts game has ever crossed the 90s threshold average within Metacritic’s professional reviewers’ aggregate scores.

Still, I can attest that Kingdom Hearts II was an awesome game, while I wouldn’t rate it as #1 on any list beyond the best of KH games, the game serves as reminder of what this series could have been.

Fast action based combat, complimented by a story that perfectly blended Square’s own creations with Disney’s iconic properties, made KHII a joyful adventure and one of the more successful JRPGs on the PS2.

While an inordinate amount of side games, and a tardy third entry have diminished much of the series’ early 2000s luster, KHII remains a worthy play-through a decade and a half after its initial release.

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By Samuel Rivera

An avid video game player and book reader, Samuel has been playing video games for the last 31 years. He has played nearly every PS1 JRPG known to man, and loves Ocarina of Time more than any other game.