Phil Harrison lied to us. For once, though, I’m happy about a disingenuous Sony company line.
Ever since joining the high-definition world and discovering that a 720p LCD television looks nice but is a terrible idea for anyone interested in ever playing a pre-HD system again, I’ve been mildly obsessed with the black science of getting retro content to look good in this grim world of the future. So the one question I’ve had about PlayStation 3 — one which, to the best of my game blog RSS-watching and obsessive googling, no one has seen fit to answer — is simply this: does PS3’s backwards compatibility allow PS1 and PS2 games to output in HD-friendly resolutions?
Phil Harrison told us no. But Phil Harrison was horribly mistaken, because PS3 does. Both PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games run in progressive scan if you’re using a high-quality connection.
And that, my friends, is awesome. I nearly returned my TV when I first tested out Symphony of the Night on PS2 and found that even running under component video it was a smeary, blurry mess; on PS3, though, it’s crisp and sharp and every bit as lovely as you remember. Vagrant Story looks colorful and detailed, although I never realized before that it’s so… dithered. Yeah, so you don’t get the PS2’s BC texture filtering, but it’s no big loss to have such clear, crisp images. I guess I could be wrong and this is just the miracle of HDMI, but I don’t think that’s the case — the difference in quality is comparable to the improvement my progressive scan DVD player offers. In any case, PS3 makes old games look HOT.
So I guess I need a PS3 after all. Frigging Sony. But don’t think you’ve won this round by any means! I’m going to hold out for a while, and here’s why: Your first batch of hardware always sucks. Let me explain.
- PlayStation: I bought my PS1 a year and a half after launch, but still ended up with the first hardware revision. This is good, because apparently the original PS with the separate audio-out jacks has a reputation for being pretty much the best CD audio player ever. But it’s bad, because the CD read apparatus was a piece of crap and within two years I had to flip the system on its side to keep it from stuttering its way through FMVs.
- PlayStation 2: This I bought at launch, and initially the only problems I had were with the disc manufacturing (like the copy of Ridge Racer V that took five minutes to load each track). But about two years later, the system choked on my copy of Xenosaga. Not that I can blame it, but not being able to eject one of the worst games I’ve ever played was a tiny nugget of hell that cost me $50 to have sorted out at a point where I couldn’t really afford to blow that much money on defective craftsmanship.
- PlayStation Portable: Bought a Japanese launch unit. Square button decided to stop working within half a year.
I’m not bitter, though, just smart. Sony’s not tricking me into spending 600 bucks twice.
Well, anyway. Enough carping. If you’re interested in a tiny dose of positivity, check out our Virtual Console Roundup, which praises with one hand and slap-fights with the other. On the whole I’m very impressed — the quality easily exceeds my expectations, even if the selection is crazy anemic.