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Feature: European PS3 enchilada

Posted Mar-23-2007 by ron

Do keep in mind that under the time constraints and without an adapter to read our old game saves from our old memory cards, all we could do with these games was start over from scratch and see how the first half-hour or so plays on our setup, i.e. an LCD TV (LG 32LC2R) connected via HDMI. For entries that show up as "To be determined", check back later today for an update please. Now let's go.

Playstation 1 PAL games tested on European PS3
TitleOfficial bc ratingOur findings
Final Fantasy VIII2 dotsGood.
Doesn't fill the screen. The battle swirl effect is wrong sometimes.
Final Fantasy IX2 dotsPerfect!
Even the battle swirl works, battle loading times and framerate are correct and the music always holds steady. In our opinion that makes it even better than on a slim PS2.
Grandia3 dotsPerfect.
Vagrant Story3 dotsPerfect.
Playstation 2 PAL games tested on European PS3
TitleOfficial bc ratingOur findings
Champions: Return To Armsnot listedThe system refuses to start the disc.
Devil May Cry3 dotsPerfect (but letterboxed).
Devil May Cry 33 dotsPerfect.
50Hz/60Hz modes are both flawless, without letterboxing.
Dragon Quest 83 dotsPerfect.
Widescreen works fine, too.
Final Fantasy X1 dotOkay.
Letterboxed. Some character features, such as a necklace or a strand of hair are sometimes garbled or miscolored, and flicker between that broken state and the proper state. FMV cut-scenes come out interlaced.
Final Fantasy X-21 dotFair.
Letterboxed. The main menu music is distorted. FMV audio seems to run ahead of video, and regularly goes into one-second loops to reestablish sync. Very annoying. No issues whatsoever with the game proper though.
Final Fantasy XII2 dotsGood.
FMVs come out interlaced. Otherwise fine (fills the screen,wide-screen works).
We'd like to take this opportunity to make it known that whoever was responsible for the German text translations ought to be fired and never work on a game again. This is unacceptably bad.
God Of War3 dotsPerfect!
Everything just works, including wide-screen and even the image smoothing option.
Gradius Vnot listedUnplayable.
The intro cinematic is slightly distorted/"warping". In 60Hz (NTSC) mode the game works fine initially but hangs at the first level's boss, with the music still running. In 50Hz mode, the game hangs immediately after selecting the weapon loadout.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas1 dotGood.
Seems to work mostly like the real deal, with two exceptions: the graphics are much sharper but at the same time appear more dithered; when you collide with something, the game tends to pause for a second.
Ico3 dotsPerfect.
50Hz and 60Hz (NTSC) modes both just work.
Jak 31 dotOkay.
50Hz, 60Hz, progressive scan and wide-screen options work in all combinations. The only issue seems to be that there are polygon seams and miscolorations in some cutscene character animations.
Kingdom Hearts1 dotOkay.
Letterboxed. In a few cutscenes, character models are full of holes. Broken backface-culling or something. This is rare though and the game is definitely playable. FMV cut-scenes come out interlaced.
Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King2 dotsGood.
Some menu graphics are misaligned or flicker, no problems in the game.
Psychonauts3 dotsEggcellent!
Ratchet&Clank 3not listedThe system refuses to start the disc.
Star Ocean Till The End Of Timenot listedUnplayable.
The system hangs … or maybe it doesn't. We get only a black screen after booting the disc, but pressing the PS button causes a brief flicker which leads us to believe that there is a way back into the menu, but it's displayed in some weird mode that our TV can't stomach.
Viewtiful Joe 22 dotsPerfect.
50Hz and 60Hz modes both work fine.

Just to be clear, the "Official bc rating" column refers to the data from this place. It is not our evaluation, but Sony's. With some games (LotR, Kingdom Hearts), Sony lists multiple versions with different bc ratings, and the table reflects the official rating for the version we happen to own. You are however encouraged to go have a look at the product code on your game discs to find out about your chances of getting slightly better results.

We are of course disappointed that some of our games have real issues on the new system, but we can attest that Sony's list has been spot-on so far. Non-working games aren't listed at all, so we have no particular grounds to feel misled.
At the same time, for those titles that did make it into the official listing, we feel the Sony testers have been rather conservative with their ratings. Your mileage may vary, but extrapolating from our own library, if you see a game with just one dot it's probably okay to assume it'll play fine overall with just the odd non-game-breaking quibble. After what time we spent with our three two-dot PS2s games, we're puzzled what it means. The only thing you'd actually notice is the interlacing in FF XII's FMVs. That may annoy you alright, but we still wonder just why Viewtiful Joe 2 and LotR, which both run perfectly fine, have the same official bc rating.

So even though there are gaps in the line-up, and bad bad Sony for not delivering 99+%, the PS3 is still a viable platform for playing many PS2 games. Arguably the PS2 games that do work already look better than ever because of HDMI or whatnot. At least on our TV we deem the output to be superior to that of our PStwo, which is hooked up over an s-video connection. That may just be the gamma curve or something, but the difference is very real right here where we are sitting.

Rumble isn't happening on the PS3 though, at least not right now (Sony and Immersion have settled their legal dispute recently, so maybe rumble can yet come back). For many games the absence of rumble is just a slight change, but even if only for Ico's sake, we still want it back.

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