You’ll probably be reminded of this a million different times on the internet today, but today marks 10 years since the PlayStation 2 launched in North America. It went on to become the best-selling console ever, and blah blah blah.
How about a different way of putting that decade into perspective? Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of how the world has changed around us since October 26, 2000 (though not necessarily as a result of the PS2).
Within just a couple of months of the PS2’s release there was major national controversy — in this case, the US presidential elections. It all came down to the state of Florida, and it only got messier from there. A recount was declared and hanging chads were discussed in more detail than anyone will ever care to hear about. A fairly exciting time to say the very least.
Of course, this isn’t a political site, and you can get much better insight on the matter elsewhere.
Major PS2 releases: Launch titles were pretty good, with Rockstar offering Midnight Club and Smuggler’s Run, EA releasing SSX and Madden 2001, and Namco dishing out Ridge Racer V and Tekken Tag Tournament.
A story we all know too well occurs on September 11th — four planes are hijacked, with two being crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one in a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 people lost their lives that day, and many facets of how we live our lives have changed ever since.
It was probably the most frightening day of my life as well. I was a freshman in high school and heard about what had happened in the cafeteria before class. Seeing not a single commercial plane fly though Chicago was surreal, with fighter jets instead patrolling the skies. No one knew what to do.
In much lighter news, this also saw the Arizona Diamondbacks win the World Series in just their fourth year of existence and Chicago Cubs fans everywhere shed a single tear.
Major PS2 releases: Action-packed year to say the very least: Onimusha, Twisted Metal: Black, Silent Hill 2, Ico, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto III, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Metal Gear Solid 2, Jak and Daxter, and Final Fantasy X all see release, and all are considered bonafide classics in their genre.
This year isn’t necessarily any cheerier, as the US goes into Afghanistan. This ends up being the war portrayed in this year’s Medal of Honor, and a fine mess is made of the game’s multiplayer allowing you to play as the Taliban.
On the sports front the New England Patriots, former league laughingstocks led by the then-unknown Tom Brady, win their first-ever Super Bowl against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. The World Cup is also hosted by two countries for the first time ever, with South Korea and Japan sharing the honor.
Major PS2 releases: While not as densely packed as the previous year, 2002 saw several strong releases in SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, Kingdom Hearts, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Tekken 4, TimeSplitters 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Ratchet & Clank. Actually, that’s still pretty packed.
Here we see the United States go to war for the second straight year, this time in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is found in a hole somewhere, but WMDs are not. Mission partially accomplished!
There’s also a fun little health epidemic that goes by the name of SARS, which looking back now suddenly feels like it happened much longer than seven years ago. Traveling anywhere post-9/11 was already a pain, but the sudden fear of flying to Asia threw it over the top.
In Major League Baseball, both Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro record their 500th career home runs, and Roger Clemens earns his 300th career victory and records his 4,000th strikeout. All legitimately, of course. Oh, and there was also this thing where the Chicago Cubs collapsed with their best chance to win a championship in a long time, and you probably heard me punching things from wherever you were at the time.
Major PS2 releases: Midnight Club II, Soul Calibur II, Jak II, and SOCOM II are the high-profile, Roman-numeraled sequels of the year. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Beyond Good & Evil are two classic Ubisoft releases, while Rockstar served up Max Payne 2 and Manhunt. Devil May Cry 2 is never to be spoken of again.
Massive tsunamis rocked Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Indonesia after a 9.3 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean, with an official death toll of 186,983 in one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded.
Mostly, though, the year was filled with sports-related WTF-ery. The New England Patriots establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with by winning the Super Bowl, and Major League Baseball announces that the Montreal Expos would move to Washington, D.C. the following season. Oh, and the Boston Red Sox finally win a World Series after 86 years, filling Cubs fans with hope that their time is just around the corner (it’s not).
Oh, and a whale exploded.
Major PS2 releases: Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Def Jam: Fight for NY, Star Wars Battlefront, Jak 3, Katamari Damacy, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and Metal Gear Solid 3 were all prominent releases, but they were all overshadowed by the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And just to shake things up, this was year the slimline PS2 came out:
The big news is the devastation of the Gulf Coast in the US after Hurricane Katrina, where almost 2,000 people are killed and displacing countless more. Property damage was estimated at $81 billion. Other major news items are the election of a new pope after the death of John Paul II, as well as the beginning of the trials of Saddam Hussein.