Ah, LAN gaming. The phrase alone conjures up images of bygone years, where fellow nerds in the 90's would cart their PCs down to an Internet cafe, convention center, or random dank basement for a spirited round of DOOM or Quake. Given its own short history, it would seem that playing online locally with your friends was a hobby relegated only to the so-called PC Master Race.
Well, you would be wrong. Console-based LAN gaming has been going on since the inclusion of ethernet ports. One particular console of note, which also happens to be super easy to collect for, is the Sony Playstation 2.
Surely, since its release in 2000, it's simply not possible to throw a PS2 LAN party today right?
PS2 LAN Gaming Summarized
If you've read this far, I'm pleased to report that LAN gaming on your trusty, dusty PS2 is entirely possible. Essentially, there are two different methods to get two consoles to communicate with each other:
Via a router or a network switch.
A direct connection between both consoles with a crossover cable (a regular Ethernet cable won't work for this type of connection).
Setting it All Up
So, say that you now have your cables, network hub, two copies of same game, and two consoles hooked up to two different displays. How do you set all this stuff up?
Here's a sweet, in-depth explanation using a crossover cable from YouTuber Lance McDonald.
In short, the equipment you will need are:
2x Sony PS2 AV Cables.
2x copies of the same game (see PS2 LAN game list here).
2x PS2 Memory Cards.
2x displays, one for each system.
Once everything is installed and powered up, setting up the lobby requires tweaking of the system settings, which are then conveniently saved to your memory card for later use. Setup instructions are universal and can be found here, but in short:
One console will function as the LAN host that the other console(s) can connect to.
Opt to manually set the IP address, typically found in the game's Options menu.
Set the host PS2's IP address to 10.10.100.1, and both netmask and default router to 255.255.255.0.
Set the guest console(s) to the same netmask and default router values, but change the IP address to 10.10.100.1, 10.10.100.2, and so on if you're using more than two consoles.
The DNS addresses will be the same for all consoles, with Primary DNS set to 126.96.36.199 and Secondary DNS to 188.8.131.52.
Test the connection. If the consoles fail to connect, recheck your connections and settings, then try again.
PS2 LAN Gaming...But Why?
At this point, some of you may be wondering why all the hubbub regarding PS2 LAN gaming when Sony didn't think to include an Ethernet port in their original models.
For anyone who came of age or who were already there in the year 2000, you'd know that online gaming was still something largely considered to be PC exclusive. To increase profits for cross-platform releases like Final Fantasy XI and SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs, interest in console-based LAN play only started becoming a priority as early as 2002, the year both aforementioned games were released.
One that preceded both is Twisted Metal Black Online, which offered official server support for frantic deathmatches until it was axed by 2008. There are workarounds that exist for those still interested in gingerly inserting incendiary missiles into their opponents' tailpipes, but connecting to a fan-generated server is not as easy as turning on the game sadly, and this is where LAN comes to save the day.
Many games offer intense LAN action between 2 players, whereas others like 25 to Life and TimeSplitters Future Perfect offer LAN support for up to 16 players, provided you have the equipment to accommodate all consoles.
The Future of Retro LAN Gaming
Though official support for many online PS2 games have long since lapsed. feverish fans have been doing their part to recreate the thrill of online play that were once on offer. Even though games like Final Fantasy XI and the online portion of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence seem to be dead in the water, fans have created private servers and/or other workarounds to help keep the spirit of these online games alive in lieu of official support.
When a game's core design demands an online component, it is almost always obsoleted over the course of years. When official support is ended, fans are left with the decision to either let it die, or find new ways to keep the game alive.
As we discussed previously, the rise of emulation and the importance of video game preservation are typically the driving factors behind these decisions, not merely the pirating and/or modification of said games for personal gain. Why else would someone bother to create, from scratch, a private server where other like-minded players can nerd out on their favorite titles? For those lacking a background in network creation and code writing, we're here to say that it's not for the faint-of-heart.
As long as the desire remains strong, regardless of relative size to the overall gaming population, the wise words of Dr. Ian Malcolm come to mind: