: PS3 Firmware Report: Version 1.5

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PS3 Firmware Report: Version 1.5

If you're an HDTV user and have been attempting to play your PS2 and PSOne games on your PS3, you quickly met an unfortunate occurrence. A bug with the system's firmware prevented the proper scaling, and thus, displaying of PS2 and PSOne games via CRT HDTV, Plasma TVs, and LCD HDTVs. Standard Definition TVs (TVs not capable of 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p) weren't affected by this bug, but we HD owners were.

Clearly, because the PS3 is targeted towards the up and coming high-definition market, a fix of some sort had to be implemented as soon as possible. Initially, we thought the backwards compatibility visual fix wouldn't happen until the much anticipated March firmware release that promises to add a slew of new goodies and also fixes. So needless to say, this 1.5 update on 01/24/07 came as a big shock to us when we found out its primary fix.

There were a number of games, like God of War, that weren't affected by the visual bug. That primarily has to do with the fact that any PS2 game that can be displayed in progressive scan (480p) was able to upscale to an HD resolution and look fine, for the most part. But progressive scan PS2 games still had some weird aliasing issues that made the picture look a little jaggier than it's supposed to be. Gran Turismo 4 was one of those games. Now with this update, I took some time to test out the worst offenders from the past and see how the new results stack up.

God of War
God of War thankfully looked very clean on the PS3 when its progressive scan was enabled. But without it, the picture was an absolute mess. Now with this update, I didn't even feel the need to enable the progressive scan in God of War -- the picture just looked very good by default. But when the prog-scan was enabled, the difference in clarity seemed to be negligible. That is not say that there was no difference, because the display did come off a bit sharper, but it isn't glaringly obvious. It seems as if the PS3 is scaling PS2 games to display at 480p by default, negating the use of the embedded prog-scan options a game may have. But hey, if want your picture to look even cleaner, by all means enable it from the game too.

Final Fantasy VII
I threw in Final Fantasy VII first, which before looked practically unplayable. Bad enough this is a low-res PlayStation game running on an LCD screen, but the marred display via PS3 only made things worse. In fact, even the game's FMV cut-scenes looked terrible. The update now fixes a majority of the jaggies and ugliness, and makes the game look pretty decent yet again.

Gran Turismo 4
Gran Turismo 4 looked horrible altogether, and even in its 480p and 1080i modes, it still didn't look right. Perhaps because GT4 doesn't render true 1080i, it continued to make the game look unimpressive. But with this update, GT4 looks pretty much the way it should across all of the available resolutions. 1080i looks the cleanest and sharpest, and the extra jags have decreased -- so the picture looks smoother.

Tekken Tag Tournament
If any of you recall, the Japanese release of Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2 had no anti-aliasing implemented (it was a PS2 launch game) and so it looked pretty rough. The US launch version fixed every visual issue the game had, and looked downright terrific (and still does today). Well, when playing TTT on the PS3, it looked considerably worse than its jagified Japanese counterpart. But with this new update, TTT regains its visual strengths and now looks every bit as good as its supposed to.

Final Fantasy XII
Probably one of the worst looking titles was Final Fantasy XII, and considering how hundreds of thousands wanted to play it on their PS3 (since they both came out within two weeks of each other), quite a number of people were upset. The game now looks very good on the PS3 without the presence of pesky jaggies and other aesthetic errors. But one thing I did notice was that the PS3 seems to add a sort of haze to the image that makes it look softer. I doubt many will complain, because it's actually barely noticeable, but it is there. Regardless, FFXII finally looks great -- so rest with ease, everyone.

Good job to Sony on fixing the emulated PS2 and PSOne graphics, and a double kudos on doing it much earlier than expected. We look forward to seeing and writing about the newest batch of firmware updates.

1/24/2007 Arnold Katayev

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