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PS4's New Star Wars PS2 Game Emulation Examined

Overall improvements across the board.


This week marked the release of several PlayStation 2 games for PlayStation 4, albeit only for those who purchased the new Star Wars Battlefront system bundle. Rather than being remastered in some way, these versions instead appear to be running on an emulator that upscales them, according to a report by Digital Foundry.

Sony hasn't officially said that these PS2 games--Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter--are running on an emulator, but Digital Foundry identifies a number of signs that this is the case. These include notifications that the trackpad's two sides have been remapped to Select and Start, the way in which the memory card is handled, and the look of the PS2 logo.

The video above compares the PS4 versions of these games with the PS2 versions (running on a backwards-compatible PS3). You can see the graphics are looking better, thanks in part to the pixel count being roughly quadrupled. "Overall impressions are positive--there's little that can be done to improve the quality of 2D assets, but the improvements to the 3D side of things are welcome," Digital Foundry says. "It looks like some kind of post-process effect is in place mimicking anti-aliasing--edges are surprisingly smooth, and there's little in the way of shimmer."

The report also calls attention to the addition of Trophies, which obviously weren't present in the PS2 originals. It's possible these were added through a method outlined in a patent that Sony applied for in 2013. (It's also since patented technology for adding content to emulated games, but that doesn't appear to be at work in any of these games.)

Alongside the release of these three PS2 games, SNES game Super Star Wars was also re-released on PS4 this week. While it, too, was bundled with the Battlefront system, it's available for purchase from the PlayStation Store on PS4 and Vita.

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