The PlayStation 2 is usually cited as the greatest video game hardware of all time. Aside from having a large library of games, with a number of them in G.O.A.T. status like Metal Gear Solid 3, Final Fantasy X, and Kingdom Hearts, the sixth-generation console is also a great-looking device, be it placed horizontally or vertically.
The slim version of PlayStation 2 is also god-tier in terms of looks, and also in terms of functionality since the PS2 can play DVDs and CDs.
If you would like to relive some of these old classics, take a look below for our best PlayStation PS2 Emulators,
The PCSX2 is being maintained by the same person who developed the premier PlayStation One emulator: Duckstation. This PlayStation 2 emulator is free and open-source and is available in desktop environments. This emulator is also the base of the amazing PlayStation 2 emulator for Android devices: AetherSX2.
This PlayStation 2 emulator has improved over the years. It is highly recommended to use the nightly builds instead of the stable versions since the improvement of PCSX2 is at a break-neck pace. Since it is being maintained by the same person that is developing Duckstation, PCSX2 has the same practical and gorgeous user interface. Aside from decent accuracy, the PCSX2 has incredible compatibility.
Basic features include emulator theming, save on shot down, Discord presence, per-game settings on an interface, and automatic updates. There are also speed controls like fast and slow motion, and frame pacing/latency control. There is also cheat support.
As for graphical options, there are choices in renderer including OpenGL and Vulkan. There is a bevy of options that include internal resolution, filtering, and texture replacement.
The “trophy” system for the PlayStation consoles is only introduced in the PlayStation 3 era, hence, it is nice to know that Retroarchievement is built into this standalone emulator. There is no need to use Retroarch. The PCSX2 core for the Retroarch is severely outdated hence it is recommended to just use the standalone and not touch Retroarch.
Also, PCSX2 allows the patching of games. This is important to run games that are notorious to be hard to emulate, to begin with, these games were maxing out the capabilities of the hardware when they were originally released like Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. Now, due to patching, games like Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria not just runs without the graphical issues, but also with better resolution.
As of this writing, every PlayStation 2 game boots using the PCSX2 and gets past the intro screen. To be fair there are a minuscule number of games running only in-game with lots of issues (0.63%) and games running up to the menus and getting stuck there (0.22%), to be fair the titles belonging to the latter are Final Fantasy and its expansions and DJ Hero. An MMORPG and a game with specific hardware to run are expected to be to run on emulators. Additionally, the percentage of perfect games is greater than the aforementioned combined (1.23%). The following games run perfectly in PCSX2:
- Alone in the Dark 4
- Call of Duty – Finest Hour
- Cold Fear
- Dead or Alive 2 – Hardcore
- Devil May Cry 2
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- Dragon Ball Z – Budokai 1 – 3
- Energy Airforce – Aim Strike
- FIFA Street 2
- Finding Nemo
- Freedom Fighters
- Ghost Vibration
- Guitar Hero II
- Ice Age 2 – Meltdown
- Let’s Make A Soccer Team!
- Lord of the Rings Aragorn’s Quest
- Luxor – Pharaoh’s Challenge
- Midway Arcade Treasures
- Monopoly Party
- Neo Contra
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2011
- Resident Evil – Dead Aim
- Rig Racer 2
- Shrek the Third
- Silent Scope
- Soul Nomad
- Spyro – Enter the Dragonfly
- WWE All-Stars
Games that are only in-game include Deka Voice, DRIV3R, EverQuest games, Marvel Nemesis – Rise of the Imperfects, Real World Golf, Seaman 2, Stolen, Stuntman, True Crime – Streets of L.A., World Series Baseball 2K3, and Zone of the Enders – The 2nd Runner.
- High compatibility
- Needs BIOS
The PCSX2 is all you need as an emulator. However, it only works with desktop environments. AetherSX2 makes it possible to emulate the PlayStation 2 on other platforms like Android, and even on the Xbox Series S|X. This emulator is basically the closed source port of PCSX2.
A 64-bit device is required to run AetherSX2, and the chipset must have “large” performance cores (the developer recommends at least a Snapdragon 845). You can play games in either Vulkan or OpenGL mode, depending on whatever works best on your device, and you may switch between the two while in-game. AetherSX2 has a number of cool features, such as internal resolution scaling, save states, and different control schemes.
AetherSX2 has the following features: OpenGL, Vulkan, and Software rendering, upscaling of games to1080p and above, widescreen patches for games without widescreen support natively (this is important due to the fact that phones are elongated), save states, touchscreen, and Bluetooth controller support and the ability to set settings per game.
Unfortunately due to harassment and death threats, the sole developer of this wonderful PlayStation 2 emulator has been suspended indefinitely.
- Essentially PCSX2 for Android and Xbox
- Needs BIOS
- Development is in indefinite suspension
Play! does not have the great compatibility as the two PlayStation 2 emulators above. This is understandable since Play! is a high-level emulator, meaning, there is no need to use BIOS in emulating games. This emulator is leagues behind PCSX2-based emulators but should be supported continually as high-level emulators are needed for smartphones and lower-specced devices.
- Does not need BIOS
- Only a few games run
The ps2.emu and its variations allow the PlayStation 3 to play PlayStation 2 games. Unfortunately, the best-performing titles are those PS2 Classic games purchasable in the PlayStation Store and the CDs. This, of course, comes from the fact that it is very hard to find the “fat” PlayStation 3, specifically the ones with four USB-A ports in front, nowadays that can play PlayStation 2 discs through emulation. The slim variants and the fat variant (with two USB-A ports in front) of the PlayStation 3 have no capability to run PS2 disc games.
- Officially supported