The release of a new Star Wars bundle has hidden something: the launch of PS4 PS2 emulation.
Plans for an emulator were originally reported all the way back in January 2014, and Sony has been quiet on it ever since, however, a Digital Foundry investigation suggests that with the launch of Super Star Wars, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Racer Revenge, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter – three of which were PS2 games – it seems that the emulator is available right now.
Digital Foundry notes that the select and start buttons have been mapped to the left and right sides of the DualShock 4's touchpad, something third party developers can't do. There's also a system designed to handle PS2 memory cards, as there was for the PS3's PS2 emulator. An upscaled version of the PS2 logo boots when you play all three titles and all of in-game prompts still refer to option on the DualShock 2 – nothing in this respect has been changed.
All this essentially rules out the possibility of a remaster.
The report goes on to say that all 2D artwork receives the upscaling treatment and the results aren't always good but "the 3D elements are substantially improved and do get a resolution increase." The emulator outputs at a resolution of 1292×896, significantly higher than the PS2 average of 512×448 and 640×448. Black lines are added at both the top and bottom of the image, which then is boosted to 1080p.
"In effect," Digital Foundry says, "we're looking at around 4x the pixel count – possibly higher, depending on the title. Texture filtering also looks improved, but on close inspection we think that the increased quality is probably down to the extra resolution alone."
There is one bonus to all this, the games now come with trophy support. Normally an emulator wouldn't manage such a feat but a Sony patent explains how it's possible. Basically, the emulator tracks trigger conditions leading to certain trophy unlocks.