The quest for better emulation is never quite done, it seems. The open source PS2 emulator saw its first major stable release in years a few months ago and since then more exciting stuff has been under development.
If you’re not familiar with PCSX2, it’s one of the oldest PlayStation 2 emulators around. While not completely perfect, it’s allowed for reasonably good emulation of titles for a long time and has gotten noticeably better on Linux as of the last few years. Back in May, PCSX2 released its first new stable version in four years and, with it, brought countless improvements and fixes as well.
The development hasn’t slowed since and there’s plenty to love in a recent progress report. While there’s a fair bit of code refactoring and bug fixing, I’m mostly excited about some the accuracy improvements that have been implemented. Z-buffer improvements, for example, solve many text and HUD display issues while dithering support and blending improvements make things look more as they were originally intended.
I’ve got quite a few PS2 games from back in the day and, as PCSX2 has steadily improved, it’s been fun to revisit those titles. While things aren’t quite perfect yet, there’s an impressive amount of compatibility. Even software rendering is relatively manageable for those few picky titles that don’t play nice yet. Still, projects like these are invaluable for preservation of old games even as the original hardware becomes more difficult to find.
There are still quite a few milestones that PCSX2 has yet to reach but things are looking good. 64 bit support is in the works and even more accuracy improvements have been hinted to be in the pipeline. It’s unclear if and when the emulator will get a Vulkan renderer but with a macOS port in the works and the sorry state of OpenGL on that platform, it may well be that they implement a Metal compatibility layer atop of Vulkan.
You can give PCSX2 spin by getting it from your distro’s package manager or compiling from source.