Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: October 7th
So the inevitable occurred - for Europe, at least - and I can't
help but feel a little less excited than I should be. You see,
the all new 40GB PlayStation 3 won't have backwards capability,
and to me that seems like a dumb move. I guess I'm one of the few
remaining who felt that B.C. was a fantastic trait for a console
to have, but it seems like Microsoft has sort of discredited the
absolute necessity of it. Then again, the Xbox wasn't exactly
filled with hordes of pants-dropping AAA software like the
PlayStation 2 is, so I think therein lies the difference.
The Xbox 360 didn't need B.C. because there simply wasn't all that much to replay. But when you have a console like the PlayStation 2 that has an endless supply of incredible titles, well...it sort of stings knowing you won't be able to play them all with enhanced output. But, to Sony's credit, they were smart enough to make B.C. an option (for as long as 60GB stock remains in Europe), so if you're going to spend an extra bill for the 60GB PS3, you'll also get two controllers, two games, the larger HDD, and PS2 backward compatibility.
But, and this is a huge 'but', PlayStation 1 emulation is actually completely present in this new PlayStation 3 - so don't worry there. Furthermore, Sony says that they do plan to have the Cell take on full task of emulating PlayStation 2 games with firmware updates, sort of what MS does with the X360.
Now this can hopefully mean enhanced emulation, with improved graphics beyond improved resolution rendering. With the PlayStation 3's hardware entirely tasked to run PlayStation 2 code, we may very well see the kind of visual enhancements that we frequently see PC emulation pull off.
Does anybody remember the PlayStation emulator for the Sega Dreamcast called Bleem!Cast? It was Dreamcast version of the PC emulator that allowed you to play PlayStation games. Bleem!Cast came in a variety of game specific boot-up discs. One of which was Gran Turismo 2. The visual enhancements of GT2 running on the DreamCast via Bleem!Cast boot were insane. It was a completely different game. Every jaggie pixel was filled up and smoothed out, the cars looked smoother and more polished, and the overall detail of the game was incredible.
Moreover, I highly suggest you take a look at what Final Fantasy X looks like when its emulated on the PC. Check out pcsx2.net and scroll over to the screens. While the game doesn't emulate at full speed, that's because it's being done on processors that are significantly weaker than the Cell and not designed with videogame emulation in mind.
So think about that for a second, because if PS2 B.C. via Cell emulation becomes a reality, many of your PlayStation 2 games will be treated to a next-generation treatment thanks to it. And if that doesn't get your excited, then I don't know what will.
10/7/2007 Arnold Katayev