Sunday, 6 December 2015
Thoughts on PS4 "backwards compatibility"
Now I always have a PS2 set-up beneath my TV so whether or not the PS4 supports PS2 games isn't really a deal breaker in the slightest. In fact it would be much better if the PS4 was compatible with PS3 games and featured some sort of transfer mechanic to get everything from your PS3's HDD over on to the 4. This was the case with the Wii-U and it made my decision to buy that machine a cinch since I was able to shift everything over and put the Wii away while still being able to continue with my Wii games exactly as before. The problem with Playstation hardware is that if you are a gamer who buys a lot of software for your console and likes to keep the games and revisit them, you quickly end up with loads of different hardware generations hooked up to the TV. The PS2 was the last machine that could double up as the previous console and it did it perfectly with the exception of (literaly) a couple of games that didn't work. Some will read this and ask "what about the original 60GB PS3?". Well, it's worth remembering that PS2 compatibility was never 100% accurate or complete and here in Europe, our PS3's only emulated the software rather than using any hardware to do the job so it was even worse. Overall, I never considered it 'proper' BC.
And now we have the PS4 which doesn't play anything from the previous generations. So when Sony recently mentioned that PS2 compatibility was coming to the PS4, I was immediately interested. Rumours started flying about the internet straight away about being being able to use original PS2 game discs or even PS4's being manufactured with Emotion Engine chips to allow for 100% perfect PS2 compatibility. Okay, so it wouldn't have been full Playstation BC but any of the machines that can do the job of at least two would be a blessing for the limited shelf space beneath my television.
But then came the news that a select few Playstation 2 games were being released on the PS4's digital store and this 'backwards compatibility' immediately showed itself for what (to be fair) we should all have expected it to resemble. Even so...
So you can now download the likes of GTA Vice City or the Mark of Kri for $14.99 which converted to pounds for the likes of myself is roughly a tenner. Now as good as the likes of Dark Cloud and the three GTA games are, would I really pay ten pounds apiece for the privelege of playing them all again? No way! I have the PS2 originals already and on top of that, some gamers will have bought them a second time already on the PS3's digital store. Now Sony are asking people to buy them a third time and...well, you can see why people resort to emulation and piracy at times. Still, the games will display at 1080p, support trophies and remote play if those sorts of things matter to you. They don't interest me in the slightest.
To make sure that I convey a balanced opinion on this, it's worth remembering that this will be great news for people who didn't play these games the first time around. After all £10 gets you a lot of game in something like San Andreas and there's no rule stating that gamers should have the right to purchase old games for pennies. Trophies are good news for those who played the games before but have either got rid of their PS2 library or not revisited the games since so good for them.
The question begs to be asked though: why can't Sony just make the content of their store the same on both the PS3 and the PS4? For all their intent on making games cross compatible and access to downloads universal across your PSP, PS3 and Vita, they've pretty much contradicted themselves by effectively starting again with the PS4. On top of this, gamers waiting for less well-known titles to be re-released will be frustrated that they have to witness the same big-hitting titles rolled out again.
So in summary, the announcement was a bit of a disappointment but also to be expected. After all, did you REALLY think Sony would let you pick up used PS2 games for pennies and be able to play them on your shiny new PS4? Ha!