The Best PS2 Fighting Games

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The PlayStation 2, the hit successor to the original PlayStation, took everything that made its predecessor great and pushed it to the next level. Featuring updated graphics and sound, new controllers, and an even larger library of games, the PlayStation 2 became the best-selling home console of all-time, with a whopping 155 million units sold. Its large library, great exclusives, third-party support, and long life-time helped carry this console to the rightful place of number one. Without a doubt, the PlayStation 2 is one of the most memorable consoles of all time and is still considered a great system to play on.

Fighting games have been a staple of the gaming industry with hits like Street Fighter, Tekken, SoulCalibur, and Mortal Kombat which are names that are even recognized by people outside the gaming community. Facing your friends in one-on-one combat has always been a draw, along with the crazy combos players can pull off to show their skill in the game. The competitive gaming scene evolved from these fighting games and they have left a huge impression on the gaming industry as a whole. The PlayStation 2 has some of the most influential and exciting fighting games that gaming has ever seen.

Def Jam: Fight for NY

Ever wanted a fighting game that revolved around hip-hop? 2004’s Def Jam: Fight for NY is exactly what you are looking for. This game is an arena fighter much in the style of pro wrestling. There are five fighting styles to choose from along with a ton of character customization options. When the player customizes their character, the fighter’s charisma is directly influenced by how expensive their jewelry, tattoos, and clothes are, which affects how each fighter fills up their Momentum meter and unleashes insane damage on their opponent.

Def Jam also heavily emphasizes using the environment to beat your opponents. With barriers you can throw them into, or doors you can break over your head, there is always a different way to come out on top.


Virtua Fighter 4

If you have never played a Virtua Fighter title before, then Virtua Fighter 4 is the perfect starting point. While still expanding upon old characters and combos, Virtua Fighter 4 streamlines the user experience to allow for more casual players to enjoy the hardcore combat of the series.

There are fourteen different characters to choose from, each with their own special moves and quirks to allow for varied and exciting play. Much of the same mechanics from 3 return for this entry, just revamped to allow for a smoother experience for players, making this the perfect fighting game for beginners and long-time fans alike.


SoulCalibur II

Return to the weapon-based combat of SoulCalibur in even more fleshed out environments and more destructible set pieces. There are 23 characters to choose from to allow for extremely varied play, including Heihachi from Tekken, along with the same exciting 8 directional combat the series is known for.

The plot of this game is relatively similar to the previous entries in the series except for updated mechanics, characters, and environments. There are the typical fighting game modes including Arcade, Versus, Survival, Team Battle, Time Attack, Practice, and Weapon Master. All of these modes add a different way to experience the hardcore world of SoulCalibur. This is a must-play for anybody who’s tired of the regular hand-to-hand combat that most fighting games offer.


DOA2: Hardcore

DOA2: Hardcore is a return to the world of one-on-one combat with an awesome Japanese style. There are fourteen unique characters to choose from or unlock which creates a unique experience for every match up.

The fighting is similar to that of Virtua Fighter except for a heavy emphasis on the three main types of moves, blows, holds, and throws along with another special type, stun. This move-type relationship allows for players to perfect their match ups and their ability to chain these moves together. Dead or Alive is an amazing game series and a landmark in the fighting game industry.


Tekken 5

This iteration of the bone-crunching action of Tekken is even better than before. With updated graphics, sound, environments, and characters, there is plenty of content to go around. There are also twenty returning characters and twelve new additions to the Tekken series, bringing the total to a whopping 32 different characters.

Also introduced in this entry is the Crush system which allows the player to exploit the weaknesses of their opponent’s attacking moves. This does a ton of damage to the enemy and can give the player a definite edge on the battlefield. This is an awesome game and probably one of the best in the series.


Guilty Gear X2

The sequel to the landmark game Guilty Gear X takes everything that made the original memorable and makes it even better. Fighting is comprised of special moves which give each fighter an edge on the battlefield. The game is even more beautiful than before with updated effects and areas which give the pixelated style of Guilty Gear its charm.

In this entry there are 23 different characters all with their own special moves and quirks to change up the gameplay nicely. Along with this there is also a Mission and Story mode that allows players to get into hardcore level-based brawls with their own predetermined constraints which can unlock characters for the player to brawl with. This is an great game if you are a lover of pixel art and awesome combos.


Street Fighter EX3

The third entry in the Street Fighter EX series brings back the awesome 3D visuals of the other two along with new tweaks and changes to create a spectacular new Street Fighter experience. There are sixteen familiar faces to choose from along with eleven different characters to find and unlock. This entry also adds the ability for players to fight in two-on-two tag-team style battles.

Along with all of these improvements, there is also a character customization mode which allows the player to train the fighter Ace from a weakling into one of the best fighters in the game. There are plenty of graphical and quality of life improvements to keep players satisfied as well. Street Fighter EX3 is an awesome entry into the Street Fighter series and a great pick-up and play game.


WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain

Drop right into the hardcore, and sometimes ridiculous, world of professional wrestling with WWE Smackdown. There is a plethora of new improvements to satisfy any WWE fan, including a new grappling system, body damage, submission meters, the ability to break a hold, and individual stats for each character.

There are also two new modes which include the Elimination Chamber and the Bra and Panties match which add fun new ways to experience pro wrestling. There are over fifty different wrestlers to choose from that include old legends and fighters from 2003. There are plenty of ways to play in WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain that will keep players glued to the screen for hours on end.


Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001

This is the best of both worlds, with an amazing clash of two landmark fighting game series. With 46 different characters available to play from Street Fighter and SNK games, there is always a different way to enjoy this awesome crossover title. The player is able to choose between a 3-on-3 or a 1-on-1 battle and adjust their fighter’s strength before launching into battle.

Much of the fighting is similar to that of Street Fighter, so players will be able to easily jump in and bash opponents with a large variety of combos and special moves. There are also different fighting styles, called ‘Grooves’, which the player can choose from that will directly affect how their fighter will battle. This is an amazing crossover title and shows off the best of both franchises.


Mortal Kombat: Deception

The twelfth entry in the Mortal Kombat series is definitely a landmark title. Return to the world of bone-crunching, bloody, and brutal combat as you progress through the Mortal Kombat tournament. Konquest mode allows players to fight through the narrative driven battles which have made Mortal Kombat famous.

The story is pretty similar to that of previous titles in which a fighter is trying to take over the Earth Realm while Raiden rallies fighters to stop them. New to the series is the Puzzle Kombat mode which allows for a Mortal Kombat styled version of Puzzle Fighter. This game is an awesome entry into the series and fans of Mortal Kombat will come to adore the brutal action of this entry.


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  • Updated April 29, 2020
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