PlayStation 2 emulators
|Type||Home video game console|
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is a sixth-generation console released by Sony in 2000. It became the highest selling console of all time with over 160 million units sold.
|Name||Operating System(s)||Latest Version||Active||Recommended|
|PCSX2||Windows, Linux, macOS||1.4.0 (stable)
- The first and only PS2 emulator currently worth using. That said, it is very underwhelming in the accuracy department, with thousands of bugs and graphical glitches. However, since version 1.4, the emulator is capable of playing 2455 games without any major glitches (regardless of speed) and playing 56 games at a non-playable speed or with major graphical or accuracy glitches. Check the Game Problems FAQ for the most difficult titles.
- Can run quite a few commercial games but is still pretty far behind PCSX2.
- Can boot or reach the menus on numerous games and some go in-game, designed to be fast, accurate and easy to use. An Android port is planned. Making rapid progress
- Can also run quite a few commercial games, but probably less so, and at slower speeds, than Play!. It also emulates and focuses more on PlayStation emulation.
- Can not run commercial games or homebrew yet, aims to have clean, readable code that is both portable and scalable, dormant for quite some time, but had some activity lately.
Despite a large interest in PS2 emulation due to its sizable collection of games, it is still one of the hardest consoles to emulate for a number of reasons.
First of all: many people believe that since the main CPU (Emotion Engine) runs at a clock speed of 294Mhz (299Mhz on later revisions), it would make emulation easy on recent hardware. But this is not the case, because the clock speed of the emulated CPU is not necessarily indicative of the ease of emulation. Specifically, the PS2 CPU contains a multitude of custom sub-components and chips such as the FPU co-processor, 2 Vector Units, IOP, SPU2, Graphics Synthesizer and SIF which together work asynchronously to comprise the 128-bit Emotion Engine. In order to emulate them perfectly with correct timing requires an enormous amount of power. Moreover, the PS2 just like PS1 uses the MIPS architecture instead of standard x86 code, thus making emulation slower.
Another big problem is the emulation of PS2’s own floating point unit (FPU) because it doesn’t follow the IEEE standard. To keep it simple, just changing a couple of numbers will cause glitches to occur to the game’s graphic (VU) and logic (EE), resulting in things like broken AI, odd behaviors or graphical bugs. While PCSX2 allows for the option of either clamping/rounding on both VU and EE as a solution to fix these glitches, it remains by far not the most accurate way to emulate the PS2 FPU.
To conclude on the problems with PS2 emulation, we come to hardware rendering. The PS2’s graphics pipeline acts very differently from modern GPU cards and emulating it in HW mode with any degree of accuracy is difficult. This is due in part to the versatility of PS2, fact that it doesn’t use fixed shaders, or that even the games themselves do not use a consistent formula to achieve different graphical effects. Various type of emulation enhancements like display resolution scaling leads to the typical “black lines glitch” because of the use of a non-integer resolution. While the OpenGL backend on PCSX2 greatly improved on many of these issues, most games still require “software rendering” to fix many common glitches, which in turn slows down the emulation. Although Games using mip-mapping (Ratchet & Clank, Ace Combat, etc...) and games running on the Snowblind Engine are playable in OGL HW mode with minimal problems on high-end PCs.
In summary, it is not possible to achieve close-to-perfection PS2 emulation with actual PC hardware, and even if it was possible, the results would most likely be unplayable. The PS2 is simply a very complex machine that even game developers struggled to work with.
- PCSX2 Wiki - For checking if your games work and any fixes, tweaks, or settings you should know beforehand. The wiki is very outdated and unfinished, so personal testing is usually a must.
- PlayStation 2 DataCenter - Tons of PS2 related things. Emulator files like plugins, game manuals, game configurations, and many tutorials are just some of the things you'll find here.