These days, backward compatibility for old consoles is an afterthought for Sony. Sure, the PS5 has some backward compatibility with PS4 discs but Sony still doesn’t support PS1/ PS2 games on their newer consoles. Hence, a lot of retro gamers are looking at used PS3s to play both PS3 and PS2 games on one console.
Do PS2 games look better when played on PS3? Generally, they do look better with smoothing and upscaling but the effects can vary depending on your game and PS3 console model. Later PS3 revisions that rely entirely on software emulation produce a better smoothing effect, while launch PS3 models support a wider range of PS2 games.
If you own a 20GB or 60GB PS3 made before 2008, it’s probably one of the CECHA units. Later CECHB PS3s removed the Emotion Engine chip, but still retained the PS2’s Graphics Synthesizer. CECHE units have no PS2 hardware and rely entirely on software emulation, using the PS3’s powerful Cell processor.
Do PS2 Games Look Better When Played On PS3?
They are supposed to look identical to the original PS2 version. But, the PS3 has an upscaler + deinterlacer. It takes the PS2’s 480i output and transforms it into 480p for a modern digital TV.
If your PS2 game supports 480p, you can select this option from within the game menu. And the PS3 will output in 480p. Later PS3 models that lacked the ability to play PS2 discs could still download PS2 Classic games from the PlayStation Store.
These games were stored on the PS3’s HDD and ran on an emulator. Some of the later PS3 revisions with no dedicated PS2 hardware still accept discs but have issues with certain PS2 games. For example, you’ll notice vertical scan lines while playing GTA: San Andreas.
Or bright white vehicle lights in Burnout 2. Some games like The Bard’s Tale have flickering textures. All this is due to an issue with the emulator software used in these newer PS3 models.
They still support 75 to 80 percent of all PS2 games ever released. But if you want the most faithful recreation of the original PS2 experience, get the 20 or 60GB launch PS3. The PS3 can play on both HDTVs and CRTs since it has both digital and analog output.
Are PS2 Games Upscaled On PS3?
PS2 games will get deinterlaced and upscaled to HD resolution (720p or 1080p) depending on your TV resolution. You can also select the desired aspect ratio from your PS3’s system menu, by selecting “Game Settings”. Here, you’ll see a section called “PS/PS2 – Upscaler”.
If you have an HDTV connected, the effect can be set to one of three settings- off, normal, and full screen. By default, it is set to Normal which displays a 4:3 image at the resolution of your HDTV (720p or 1080p). If you select Full Screen, the aspect ratio stretches to 16:9.
Widescreen formats are supported by some PS2 games, but won’t work with others. Finally, if you select Off your PS3 will output at 480P with zero upscaling. This leaves upscaling to your TV’s image processor.
Do PS2 Games Look Better On PS4?
PS2 games aren’t natively supported by the PS4, nor does the PS4 have any built-in emulator that lets you play directly from an old game disc. Instead, you have to purchase PS2 Classics on the PlayStation Store. These run via software emulation, but the overall visual upgrades (if any) are questionable at best.
Sure, the PS4 upscales the resolution to 1080p and most of the games do run at 60FPS. But it’s no better than connecting an actual PS2 to a modern HDTV via a dedicated scaler box like the Frame Meister or OSSC. In fact, retro gamers choose the dedicated hardware option simply because it produces a more faithful image.
PS4 emulation of PS2 games can result in weird visual glitches and slowdowns/ frame drops. These issues are similar to what you got on later models of the PS3 that lacked native PS2 hardware and relied entirely on software emulation. Sony’s PS2 emulator is far from perfect, and the only thing it does well is upscaling old 480i games to 1080p.
Does PS2 HDMI Improve Quality?
Many gamers notice that their favorite PS2 games look terrible when connected to a modern 4K TV. Well, no surprises there- the PS2 was designed to look its best on CRT. Because that was the dominant television technology of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
A modern HDTV takes your PS2’s 480i analog signal and converts it into a digital image. Deinterlacing and upscaling are done by the TV’s image processor. And TVs have upscalers that are optimized for movies or images, not games.
The upscaling and deinterlacing process also adds input lag. A dedicated scaler box can fix all these issues. But if you don’t want to fork up the money for something like a Frame Meister, you can just invest in a PS2 to HDMI converter.
These are cheap upscalers that plug into your PS2’s output port. They replace the composite or component cable that you’d normally use. Since your TV is now being fed a digital 480p signal, you’ll notice better images and reduced input lag.
The PS3 GPU Equivalent
By the time the PS3 was released in 2006, Sony had hyped it up as the next great leap in gaming technology. And they weren’t wrong. Because the PS3’s Cell processor was developed over a duration of five years and cost nearly 700 million dollars in today’s money ($400 million back in 2001).
Engineers from IBM, Toshiba, and Sony labored between 2001 and 2005 to combine the power of a supercomputer chip with the versatility of a general-purpose PC processor. Sony originally planned to not include a GPU in the PS3. They wanted to do graphics right on the Cell chip itself.
However, things don’t always go as planned. And when software engineers started preliminary testing, they figured out quickly that a dedicated GPU was needed. But the PS3 was already close to its launch window, and several million dollars over budget.
So a quick solution was needed, with an off-the-shelf GPU that could be procured in large quantities for a relatively affordable price. NVIDIA saved the day with their GPU offering, which was based on the consumer 7800GTX chip. The RSX is a slightly tweaked 7800GTX with faster core clocks and a narrower memory bus.
Most Graphically Impressive PS2 Game
Today, when a game looks bad it is mocked for having “PS2 graphics”. But in the early 2000s, PS2 graphics were some of the best. Granted, some PS2 games did look jaggier than the Xbox and GameCube versions.
But this was an issue with the SDK provided to developers rather than the PS2’s hardware. And the PS2 did produce some excellent-looking games like God of War II and Final Fantasy XII. The most graphically impressive PS2 game is hard to nail down, as everyone has slightly different tastes.
However, I feel Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is the most impressive-looking PS2 game. Silent Hill 2 and 3 also hold up extremely well to this day. As does Gran Turismo 4 (it even has a 1080i setting for HD-compatible TVs).
Sony used to be a huge fan of backward compatibility until the PlayStation 3. They had a PS1 CPU built into the motherboard of the PS2, and a PS2 CPU + GPU combo built into the board of the PS3. This was scrapped in later PS3 models, and software emulation was used to run PS2 games.
This has its pros and cons. Software emulation provides better smoothing/ anti-aliasing, making most PS2 games look better compared to early PS3 models. However, it also has the downside of not supporting 15 to 20 percent of all PS2 games.
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