|The PlayStation 2 is a big, ugly bastard, and it has the worst graphics and longest load times of the three systems in its generation. On the other hand, it has by far the most games, and can also play PS1 games, with faster load times and smoothed-out graphics (optionally).|
The PS2 can do progressive scan, and widescreen, but very few PS2 games take proper advantage of these features, which is a shame. It has only 4 MB of graphics memory, so almost all 3D PS2 games have to use really blurry, low-color textures, and without very strict artistic guidance, they often come out looking like poop.
At 8 MB, its memory cards are adequate--or would be, if stupid publishers didn't insist on giving their save files animating icons that waste hundreds of K of card storage space. Sillies! It's too bad, also, that the PS2 can't utilize PS2 memory cards directly for PS1 games; you can copy PS1 saves to PS2 cards, but you need a PS1 card in order to save from PS1 games. This means that if you play a lot of PS1 games on the thing, you'll end up transferring saves back and forth between PS1 and PS2 cards, and you get to enjoy the really slow file browsing in the PS2's primitive operating system.
The PS2 comes with a DualShock2 controller. I find these things really comfortable to hold and use, except for the d-pad, which has that silly split design that is rather punishing on the thumb. Fortunately, third parties have made some very nice arcade sticks for the system, so for any game that doesn't need analog control, I just go with an arcade stick.
The PS2 has a variety of secondary ports, including a big expansion slot in back, used only as far as I know for the broadband adapter, and optical sound out in front, as well as two USB ports, which can be used for keyboards, light guns, and what-not. It has only two controller ports, so you need to buy their rather pricey multi-tap if you want to play games with more than two players at once.