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As the next step up in Sony’s home video game console system, the PlayStation 2 improved upon its predecessor in a number of ways. Many gamers seemed to enjoy the huge library of titles that grew each year, and upgrades made the console a natural choice to those who already liked the look and feel of Sony titles.
Most notably, processing speeds and graphics got a nice jump once the PS2 came out. It remains a relatively popular retro console today, and it is not hard to see why, even after the PS3 released, that this unit spent over a decade in production.
Even with the nice improvements to graphics and other things, some players have noticed that their games can look bad on the TV. They may even appear to look worse that they did on older televisions that were out around the same time that the PS2 was in production.
Some blurred effects and other things can make it hard to see the finer details in some games. We’ll talk about why that might be, and we will address some of the ways that you might be able to improve the quality overall.
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Technically, PS2 games by themselves aren’t blurry. They can render imagery just fine, but the consoles are designed with specific technology in mind.
The games you can play on them are meant to render their visuals using what is most likely somewhat older technology than you might be playing games on today.
Although it is natural to think that newer technology should make everything look or play better, it isn’t necessarily the case.
Because there could be several factors contributing to the overall feel of the games on newer tech, we can discuss why PS2 games might look bad in general in our next section.
The blurriness aspect of this problem might be due to blowing up the picture to fit the higher resolution. In such cases, the native resolutions of PS2 games as they were designed means that they have far fewer lines of pixels than some of the TVs you might play on.
These newer televisions are capable of rendering millions of pixels. In contrast to that, your usual 480p resolution will have about 300,000 pixels. This resolution served people perfectly well in its day, and it can still be fine for some things even now.
In particular, many animated videos or graphics will look fine in 480p resolution, perhaps even on televisions that support higher native resolutions. However, accommodating things like games meant to be played like this can cause blurriness or other graphical issues that we will get to later.
When we talk about how PS2 games might look bad on TV, we’re discussing anything that is higher than a 480p output resolution natively.
If you’re dealing with such technology, there is a good chance that your game might not display a great picture for you. There are a couple of main reasons as to why this is, and we’ve touched on some of that when discussing the blurriness issue above.
For one thing, it is likely that you’re using the wrong settings to play your PS2 games. While there is only so much you can do to make old and new technology merge seamlessly, some of the usual settings on which you probably play your latest titles won’t work as well for PlayStation 2 games.
The first thing you can do is check which kind of cable you are using to get the image from the console to the TV. If you are using a composite video cable, there is a higher chance of making the image displayed on the screen blurry.
Second, if you are playing a PS2 game on a television that uses a higher native resolution than the PS2 was meant for, it can also make the game look jagged or heavily pixelated.
These effects would be in addition to some of the blurriness you might experience when looking at a screen like that.
If this happens while you are playing a PS2 game, it is probably because the television is zooming in or stretching the image in order to fit better on its wider, more defined screen. While that might sound like a good thing, it can downgrade the overall quality of images on older systems like the PS2.
There might be ways to make small improvements to how PS2 graphics display on more powerful televisions. Some things you can try may involve hooking up different cables, using additional accessories to improve the picture, or changing some settings on the TV itself to accommodate PS2 graphics.
If you are using composite cables to make your connections, it is more likely that you’ll see pixelated, blown up, or blurred images when running PS2 games on a newer TV.
A fix for this would be to use component cables instead. Both of these cables use an analog signal to transmit video data, but that’s about all there is in common between the two.
Furthermore, newer televisions use digital signals to grab or transmit data, and this is why cable choice can be an important factor here.
Composite cables don’t have support for things like progressive scanning or most high-definition video resolutions with which you might be familiar today.
Additionally, they also force the video signal in its entirety into one cable. These things will compress that signal heavily, and it can lead to loss of picture quality once everything finally displays on your new TV screen.
Finally, because of how the signal gets to the cables, radio frequencies cause additional interference here, and the quality of the images can suffer even more.
Component cables can help with some of these problems, but they won’t necessarily fix everything.
While the composite cable forces that signal into a single line, the component one will split it into three, with each one taking on a specific aspect of the video signal as a whole.
Because there are more options for splitting that signal, it doesn’t need to compress as much as it would if it was running through composite cables.
This means that the solution can be higher, and the signal can also support things like progressive scanning. However, these are still analog cables at heart, and that means that they still might suffer from interference.
Technically, the PS2 cannot do 1080p, if what one means is displaying a game at a native 1080p format that can look just like newer games. However, there are ways that you might upscale the image quality to something closer to 1080p.
To do this, you would need to modify the PS2 console itself to be able to do things that it cannot do natively. Here, there are soft mods made from custom memory cards that can try to change the output to 1080p.
Note, however, that this does not change the native resolution of the game itself.
That would still be set to 480p, and you would then upscale the final product to 1080p. You may see marginal improvement in the graphics, but this method might have its own limitations. You will probably need quite good cables with quality components to see a noticeable difference when using this method.
If you can get a TV that supports any native 480p resolution image, that is one of the best ways to display PS2 games.
You can think of it as how the game is meant to be seen and enjoyed. However, the best resolution can also depend on the type of TV you have.
Something like a set with a fixed, low native resolution probably isn’t going to look very good.
Many plasma TVs fall into this category. A 720p native fixed resolution TV, or a 1080p television that has good scaling can also display PS2 games that look fine. However, this can also depend on the specific game and how developers made it.
Using an HDMI setup or converter can improve the quality, but it isn’t necessarily a given.
There is a lot of variance in the quality of some cables or adapters you can find for this, so it may be best to use standard component cables if that option is available to you.
However, the HDMI setup could also work, but it might be best to display the images in a 4:3 aspect ratio if you do this. Further, turning off any of the graphics upgrades that your newer TV comes with could also help to improve the PS2 game quality.
With different or more advanced gaming technology coming out all the time, enthusiasts wonder about how best to enjoy older titles from days gone by. If you can get your hands on some inexpensive older displays, that might be the best way to play the games as the developers meant you to. If not, there are some cables or settings that can help the images on old PS2 games look somewhat better on high-end displays.