Hands On: They're Rough Around the Edges, But It's Awesome to Have PS2 Games Back on PS5, PS4 1
Image: Push Square

Let’s try this again, eh? Sony originally released a batch of PS2 games on the PS4, but they were buggy, performed poorly, and lacked quality of life features. Now, with its well-established PS1 and PSP emulator, it’s giving the strategy another go – and including the releases in its PS Plus Premium subscription. But how are its efforts so far?

The first three games available are platformer Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, globe-trotting adventure game Tomb Raider Legend, and vehicular combat title Star Wars: The Clone Wars. All three releases can be played on either PS5 and PS4, and enjoyed as part of the platform holder’s top-tier subscription – or purchased a la carte.

The wrappers will feel immediately familiar to anyone who’s played an emulated PS1 or PSP title recently: there are four graphics filters, the ability to switch between NTSC or PAL versions (you’ll want the NTSC option for better performance), and a toggle to turn on "enhancements". This appears to enable and disable the Rewind feature, presumably because it’s draining a lot of computational overhead.

Rewind is obviously an excellent quality of life addition, because it makes some of these retro releases a bit more palatable, especially when checkpoints were a little more punishing back in the day. There’s also the option to create quick saves, which means you’re not at the mercy of the game’s own save system if you want to put down your DualSense and call it a day.

Despite the promise of uprendering, all three titles look like they’re running in their original resolution to our untrained eye, which means they look a little smeary and unclear. While you could argue this preserves the original experience, it’s a little disappointing we’re not getting a higher resolution option, as it can really make a difference to the overall visual quality.

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is still a fantastically presented platformer, but it does feel a little dated compared to its PS2 successors. This author has always preferred the variety of the latter two titles, although many prefer the purity of the inaugural game. Its combination of stealth and action is excellent, though.

Tomb Raider Legend, meanwhile, may be the standout of the three. This Crystal Dynamics entry is a reimagining of the franchise, and put Lara Croft back on the map after the dismal Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. This game actually still holds up pretty well, with great platforming and level design, and some cool mechanics, like the grappling hook.

Elsewhere, Star Wars: The Clone Wars blends vehicular combat with on-foot action. It’s perhaps at its worst when you’re taking control of human characters like Mace Windu, but the explosive action improves when you’re piloting one of the franchise’s famous vehicles.

It’s a good start for PS2 emulation, then, but we’re still somewhat disappointed by the muddy resolution. While it’s important these games maintain their original look, we had hoped for some better uprendered to tidy up the visuals just a touch. This emulator is much more fully featured than its predecessor, however, so hopefully this is the start of a string of classics making their way to modern consoles.

Which PS2 games are you hoping return on PS5 and PS4 as part of this new emulation initiative? Pick your poison in the comments section below.