Useful Notes: PlayStation 2
aka: Playstation 2
"Live In Your World. Play In Ours."
The second generation of Sony
's PlayStation console, and Sony's entry in the Sixth Generation
, which continued Sony's lead as the top console maker. Instead of the ordinary gray color scheme and top-loading CD drive of the original, the PS2 featured a sleek black body, a front-loading disc tray, and a much more substantial cooling system.
It also made use of the emerging DVD format, which was still in its infancy. These factors, coupled with backward compatibility (the games, controllers, and memory cards released for the original PlayStation could be used with the new system) and a relatively-low pricetag (cheaper than most dedicated DVD players released at the time, in fact), made the PS2 an extremely attractive system for both players and developers. What certainly didn't hurt was that it was the most powerful gaming console on Earth at the time of its release (or at least the most powerful gaming console people cared about) and one of the first to truly compete with the processing power of PCs, which helped to generate a ton
of excitement on its own, especially for those too young or too technophobic to understand the significance of the DVD format and just cared about gaming. The machine had the highest consumer anticipation in the history of video games at the time — its mere announcement two whole years before release
effectively killed the Dreamcast
in its infancy.
Of particular note was Squaresoft's continued presence in Sony's lineup — since the days of the original PlayStation, Square had devoted itself to the CD-ROM format, and the PS2's new DVD-ROM capabilities proved even more versatile.
The system proved popular among consumers. In fact, the only substantial lasting complaints about the console itself appeared to be the apparent "noisiness" of the large cooling fan, which would later be corrected during a re-release featuring a redesigned, much slimmer
PlayStation 2 console. The disc drives of early runs of the console also became infamous for technical issues which lead to "Disc Read Errors", and that prompted a class-action lawsuit. Later hardware revisions would, again, prove to be considerably more reliable (although the ghost of "bum drives" would continue to linger throughout the console's run).
The most important part of the system was its longevity — there were still games being made for it well into the next generation, and after a great deal of thought Sony decided to continue making the system (now available in white). This is mostly because both Playstation Portable
games can be ported to and from the old console with minimal effort, and that in Japan both systems were doing better than the PlayStation 3
and the Xbox 360
The early 2010s
marked the death of the PS2, with only seven games released in North America in 2011 and three in 2012. The only American-released games during the 2010s with enough reviews to make it on Metacritic were Sakura Wars: So Long My Love
and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
. The final title released for the PS2 was FIFA 14
in September 2013
. Around this time, Sony decided to market a Bravia TV with a PS2
installed in the base; it was only released in Europe, however.
As with many consoles some years after original release, there exists a spirited community of modders and hackers who have written various pieces of homebrew software for the console, including a handful that exploit the untapped potential of the Expansion Bay
to allow installing titles onto a compatible hard drive of capacities up to and including 2TB. This can significantly decrease loading times and is especially useful on older consoles which have aging DVD drives that skip or don't function at all. The most popular and compatible is currently Open PS2 Loader
, which supersedes HDLoader
. In addition, some titles can be forced into HD resolutions (720p and 1080i) using GS Mode Selector
, which can drastically improve the visuals on certain games such as OutRun 2006
, Fight Night Round 3
and God of War
The abbreviation PS2 should never be confused with IBM's attempted successor to the IBM PC, the PS/2 (note the slash), or the mini-DIN keyboard/mouse interface it popularized.
Late in the systems' life, it got a pink colored version
in some regions.
The end of the line for the PS2's lifespan finally came on January 2, 2013, when production and distribution of the console ceased in Japan. Sony announced on January 4th, 2013, that production had stopped worldwide, making it the second-longest lasting console of all time (the first being the Atari 2600
) in terms of its production timeframe.
In some fun trivia, the PlayStation 2
is the best-selling video game system of all time with around 155 million units sold, topping the previous holder which was its predecessor. The amount sold was enough to beat its competitors combined a little over three times.
- The "Emotion Engine" clocked at 294.912 MHz, which is an amalgam of other processors.
- The main processor is a 64-bit MIPS R5900.
- Two Vector Units are built inside the CPU.
- Both the CPU and Vector Units have 128-bit Single-Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions. However, these don't work on a single 128-bit value, but either 4 32-bit values, 8 16-bit values, or 16 8-bit values.
- For a while, Sony misadvertised the console as having a 128 bit CPU to give themselves a lead in the console-bit-wars as the common thought at the time was "higher bit count equals more realistic graphics," and to counter Sega, who also (inaccurately) advertised the competing Sega Dreamcast console as 128-bit.
- Two Vector Units are built inside the CPU.
- The "Graphics Synthesizer," clocked at 147 MHz.
- Two audio processors, SPU1 and SPU2.
- A MIPS R3000A (the main CPU of the original PlayStation) as the I/O processor.
- 32 MB main RAM, and 4 MB Video RAM. (Bandwidth has a maximum of 3.2 GB/s.)
- 2 MB for sound memory.
- 2 MB I/O memory.
- 8 MB memory cards.
Add-ons and Expansions
- Theoretical polygon count is around 66,000,000 polygons per second. In real-time games, the count would be around 15-20 million per second, which is 500-650,000 polygons per frame at 30 fps and 250-325,000 at 60 fps.
- The GPU could output resolutions up to 1280x1024 pixels. However, Gran Turismo 4 and Tourist Trophy note were capable of 1080i output by essentially rendering half of each frame and then combining them together to create a 640x1080 image at 30fps. More detailed explanation here.
- Recent homebrew hacks have enabled the output to even produce 720p with seemingly little, if any, performance loss.
- Sony effectively took the opposite approach to Sega with regard to GPU design, as the Graphics Synthesiser excelled at generating lots and lots of polygons very quickly (even being competitive with the much more advanced GPU in the Xbox in that regard), but had no anti-aliasing support and delivered absolutely horrible performance when any level of texture filtering was involved. As a result, the console's games generally looked very similar to those on its two main competitors (it helped that most developers designed their games with the PS2 in mind and didn't bother to upgrade them for the other two systems), albeit with a noticeably more "jagged" look and slightly blurrier textures.
- On the front were two USB ports and one IEEE 1394 port (dubbed i.LINK, though commonly known as FireWire).
- The USB ports were used by special controllers like Namco's GunCon 2 and specific printers for games that supported them.
- The IEEE 1394 port was used as link-cable. Notably used for Time Crisis 2 and Time Crisis 3 to allow two player mode without split screen. This port was removed from the "Slim" models of the console.
- The "Phat" models had a 3.5" hard drive upgrade with Ethernet. With some modding, any 3.5 hard drive could be used. While some games could be installed onto the hard drive, the only game to really need it was Final Fantasy XI.
- The "Slim" models still retained an Ethernet port for games that could use them.