...how would you say that VGM in this recently completed era measured up to VGM from past eras? Just as good? Worse? Better?
As far as my tastes go, there have been a lot of excellent VGM releases from the PS2/GCN/XBox era, but as Daniel K said...
new VGM and old VGM are different from each other. One can of course prefer one over the other, but to me it very much seems like apples and oranges...
Some of my all time favorite soundtracks came from this past generation, like Shadow Hearts OST, killer7, Gungrave, but the way that I enjoy these soundtracks are different then the way I enjoy some of my other favorites. I love Dracula Best 2 just as much as I love Gungrave, but in a totally different way. Apples and oranges, for sure. When I listen to something like Gungrave I really enjoy it, like, almost illegally so, but when I hear older VGM (especially from games I have played) it affects me in a different way. It's like lust VS love, or something.
However, I will say that on a larger scale there are far less "monumental" releases in this age then there were in the past. I mean, on a large scale, do you think that there will be soundtracks being released now that will be looked back upon with such reverence like the NES Rockman OSTs or Final Fantasy VI OSV? I'm sure some OSTs will be held in such regard, but the number of those OSTs is and will be lesser than the older.
Did the PS2 have anything which sounded better than soundtracks like Suikoden, Tenchu, Chrono Cross (most of which wasn't streamed either, since the other ones I'm mentioned were, I think), SOTN...? It seems like it didn't, and that except for the use of live orchestra for some tracks on certain scores, the improvements in terms of sound hardware must've been marginal.
Not really, I don't think. I mean, FFX had some great programming on some of the acoustic songs, like "Spiran Scenery", but there was nothing as monumental as the jump from 16 to 32-bit such as the titles you mentioned. I still have trouble believing that Chrono Cross isn't emulated - when I first got the album I was 100% convinced it was all real! Those acoustic guitars sound amazing.
You know what's gotten worse over the years?
Jaded gamers complaining about the state of gaming today.
Guilty as charged, man.