June 1, 2007 - With the PlayStation 3's latest firmware update to version 1.8, Sony added in the long-awaited ability to upscale DVDs, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games to HD resolutions. Each of 720p, 1080i and 1080p are supported on all accounts, though for DVDs you need an HDMI connection for those resolutions for copyright purposes. So with the new ability to play classic titles in HD resolutions, has Sony given these games a new lease on life, or at least their visuals?
We've put a number of PSone and PS2 games to the test. We went about capturing screens from each in a number of different settings so that you can compare them right here from the comfort of your computer. Hopefully it's cushioned... We captured everything at 1080p through equipment more expensive than many BMWs to simulate what these titles would look like on some of the best TVs available. And yes, that includes the games that aren't upscaled because HD sets would wind up scaling them internally anyway and it makes more sense to capture them like that rather than in Photoshop.
Our comparison shots have all been cropped in some way, but they've not been resized at all, which means you'll get a pixel-accurate look at the quality of the images. Our gallery images that you can use to compare the shots yourselves have only had a watermark and label thrown on them, but are otherwise untouched.
If you've played with the settings for this, you'll know that the PS3 offers options for the scaling of Off, Normal and Full. Normal means that the games will come out in a 4:3 resolution and Full means that everything will come out widescreen. So for our PSone titles we chose the Normal setting when upscaled while all our PS2 games were set to Full. The other option available has to do with smoothing, which we also tested out. And let it also be known that when titles that support progression scan have this option turned on, they revert back to 480p with no alterations. We've included some comparison shots to this as well.
Scaled and Smoothed vs. Native
Let's begin with a straightforward comparison of no scaling to everything turned on.
As you can see in this comparison image of SmackDown 2 for the original PlayStation, the upscaled side doesn't look as harsh, but it's also not as crisp. The character and crowds look better, but the text is blurrier as well.
This shot of Rayman 2 weighs in more favorably on the upscaled side as the water ripples look much better, as does the rock texture. Since Rayman doesn't feature a ton of text everywhere and is a very cartoony game, the blurring helps give it a cinematic look without taking away detail from things that should stay sharp.
With dark scenes like this shot from Final Fantasy XII, it can actually be hard to tell which is which. The text is a tad blurrier, but it's pretty close as the PS2's native resolution doesn't wind up getting blurred nearly as much as the PSone's.
Here's a shot of Monster Rancher 2 on the PSone. The character, sky and ground on the upscaled side look nicer, but like SmackDown 2, the text comes out blurrier and might start handing out headaches after a while. Still, it does look a little nicer overall.
1 http://ps3.ign.com/articles/793/793775p2.html http://ps3.ign.com/articles/793/793775p3.html
Thanks to http://ps3.ign.com/articles/793/793775p1.html for sharing the news with us!