Feature: PS3 backwards-compatibility report

Fall 2007 edition
Posted Nov-13 2007 by ron


We already inspected the PS3's backwards-compatibility once, when the system launched all over Europe in March, but it's not March anymore, and the tides have brought many firmware updates to these shores. For some of those updates we have posted quick impressions, but it's high time to collect the information in one place, so here we go for another full run through our enitre library of PS2 games.
For the record: the new 40GB PS3 models do not play any PS2 games at all. We are concerning ourselves only with the 60GB European launch model, which features the PS2's "Graphics Synthesizer", but emulates the "Emotion Engine" part of the original PS2 hardware in software.
For our American visitors: this setup is equivalent to the 80GB model released in your territory. Results should still be taken with a grain of salt because the PAL versions we will test here are not the exact same code as NTSC/US releases.

Huge stacks of PS2 games

There's a lot of PS2 games you might want to play on your PS3, but it can't hurt to check first if and how well they will work.

We have checked out all of the following games after upgrading to the recently released firmware version 2.00. All titles have been tested for about 30 minutes each, using savegames to skip around through multiple parts of the game when we had them available. Yes, it is possible that we overlooked issues, but we at least tried to catch a little bit of everything (exploration, combat, menus, cut-scenes etc).
We again used HDMI to hook up the display, but due to changes in our equipment here in the enclave, opted for analog audio this time around, if that matters to anyone.

Playstation 2 PAL games tested on European PS3, fw 2.00
TitlePlayable?Details
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance IIYesGlitches in the character menu.
Champions: Return To ArmsYesMinor glitches in character selection screen.
Devil May CryYesPerfect
Devil May Cry 3YesPerfect
Dragon Quest VIIIYesOccasional sound crackling.
Final Fantasy XYesPerfect.
Final Fantasy X-2YesVery slight synching problems in FMVs.
Final Fantasy XIIYesPerfect.
Gradius VYesPerfect.
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasYesPerfect.
God Of WarYesPerfect.
Hitman 2: Silent AssasinYesMinor framerate problems.
Hitman 3: ContractsNoDoesn't run at all.
Hitman 4: Blood MoneyYesPerfect.
IcoYesPerfect.
Jak & DaxterNoDoesn't run at all.
Jak 3YesMinor framerate problems.
James Pond Codename RobocodYesPerfect.
Kingdom HeartsYesPerfect.
Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The KingYesPerfect
OkamiYesPerfect.
PsychonautsYesPerfect.
Ratchet & Clank 2MaybeSevere framerate problems, cut-scene audio out of sync.
Ratchet & Clank 3MaybeSevere framerate problems.
Rogue GalaxyYesPerfect.
Star Ocean Till The End Of TimeYesPerfect
Valkyrie Profile 2 SilmeriaYesSlight audio sync problems in FMVs.
Viewtiful Joe 2YesPerfect.

And that's it. 28 games in total. Our small selection of Playstation 1 games still seems to work just fine, as it did back in March, and the power consumption is still the same. It's fair to say that the overall quality of the emulation has improved, because a good number of games that didn't work at all or just hung up in certain places are now fully playable, and many minor niggles have been alleviated. At the same time a number of issues have been standing for a long while and don't seem to be improving at all anymore, the most prominent of which is the near-unplayable performance of the Ratchet & Clank games.
As far as take-away messages go, there's no need to be dismissive or wary about the backwards-compatibility of the European 60GB model. It gets the job done just fine in most games you throw at it. At the same time the smart thing to do is to check if a specific game has problems before buying it, to steer around the few remaining unpleasant surprises. That might throw a wrench into impulse shopping habits but that wrench is pretty small and makes cute little sounds.

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