5) Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords (Xbox) - I am a bit biased being a huge Star Wars nerd. The first game immediately became my favorite WRPG of its generation. Then the sequel came along and added cloaks. Sure, the story was not as strong the second time around, but the added Jedi powers and fighting styles kicked up the gameplay enough to make it an improvement. Both are impressive titles that even non-Star Wars fans can love. Come for the fast action and cool powers, stay for the non-linearity, supporting cast (HK-47 ftw) and amusingly variable conversations.
4) Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2) - A gorgeous addition to a gorgeous series. Like its precursor, Silmeria tells a story that sets it apart from typical JRPGs. Along with the unique story, the game is one of the best produced games of its era. It has amazing graphics and artwork as well as first-rate voice acting and music. But don't think that Silmeria is all style without substance. The game plays fantastically thanks to a technical yet fast-paced combat system. The seraphic gate and increasing difficulty level add longevity. All around it's just a beautiful and fun game.
3) Devil Summoner IV: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon (PS2) - Honestly it was a toss up between this and Persona 4. Devil Summoner takes the spot because the fourth installment in my mind represents a bigger improvement over the third game than Persona 4 does. Every aspect of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army's gameplay has been dramatically improved with a bangin' soundtrack to boot. Combat is tricked out with new melee weapons, special attacks, evasive manuevers, and dual summoning. What you have here is simply one of the best action adventure RPGs of its generation and an instant classic within the MegaTen series.
2) Star Ocean Till the End of Time Director's Cut (PS2) - The most fun RPG I have ever played, hands down. Even with its less than impressive story and irritating protagonist, the game is endlessly replayable thanks to a host of features not usually associated with RPGs. We're talking four difficulty levels, hundreds of achievement trophies, variable costumes, endings, and combat systems and to top it all off, a versus mode. This game is that rare JRPG designed with hardcore gamers in mind thanks to a host of challenges and addictive real-time action combat.
1) Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System (PS2) - Making a compelling argument for best of the series, FFXII was a risky title considering the series' history. The game abandoned many long-cherished series conventions, among them, random battles, turn-based combat, and the obligatory anime-trope infused love story between two of the protagonists. Instead, the game offered a rich story with fresh characters and an innovative combat system that incorporated elements from computer RPGs. The International version of the game simply added more challenges with two new difficulties, a trial mode with 100 unique battles, and twelve license boards representing twelve jobs allowing for greater diversity and specialization of characters. Westerners really missed out on this one.