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Reader Results > Staff Results

The PlayStation 2 has always been home to a plethora of RPGs, both of high quality and of bargain bin notoriety. This year was no different, with twenty different titles spanning everything from the end of the .hack series to the Final Fantasy MMORPG to remakes. In such a large pool of quality games, there are still a few gems that will shine brighter than the rest, and the readers managed quite well to pan out the purest gold. Their choice for top PS2 game for the year of 2004 fell to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.

Best PlayStation 2 2004 Winner
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Although the first Star Ocean game for the SNES was never released in North America, Star Ocean: The Second Story became a cult hit of sorts, garnering a huge following as time passed. Despite being a bug-filled game, it had the potential of 200 hours of gameplay with all of its endings. Thus, the third Star Ocean game would have some rather big shoes to fill. Plagued by constant release date delays, eventually RPGamers received the Director's Cut, and it seems they felt it was certainly worth the long wait.

Star Ocean boasts an exploration system that will certainly keep the perfectionist RPGamer busy for hours, as well as a trophy collection system that can span multiple save files. With various difficulty levels to choose from, anyone from the casual to the hardcore can relish the game. There's plenty of pretty graphics, and a music score just as appealing, to entice those that are still hesitant. Round it out with a solid storyline and oodles of gameplay time, and RPGamers find themselves with a game that speaks for itself as to why exactly it won first place in this year's reader awards.

Second Place - Shadow Hearts: Covenant

Scoring the silver award in the eyes of the reader is the macabre yet amusing Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The third in a series of dark and gritty games set at the turn of the century, the Shadow Hearts games are set apart from many other RPGs by being set in actual European and Asian settings instead of a fantasy world or somewhere far off in space. Its battle system sets it apart from many other games, and its story is engrossing and at the same time more than a little humorous. The title lacks much originality besides the lauded Judgment Ring, which is both a boon and a detriment that ties the game to previous Covenant titles. Those not already familiar with this system may not find as deep an enjoyment as they found with the previous game. Covenant still manages to retain a quality feeling to it, and the readers gave it their nod of approval for the year's second best.

Third Place - Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

Cracking the top three may a surprising entry for many. Either rabidly loved or despised deeply, enough readers voiced their approval for Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, which rounds out the top three PlayStation 2 games. While it may not be for the weak stomached, Nocturne's storyline revolves around becoming a demon and harnessing those around you to eventually find out what the heck happened to Japan. Challenging is a good word to describe Nocturne; but for many the game went beyond difficult into frustrating. Much like Wind Waker, the unique graphical style also set it apart as something that not every RPGamer could truly enjoy. While agreeably a game with flaws, it is one that is worth the effort to many readers and it squeaks into one of the coveted top spots.

by Anna Marie Whitehead

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