Sony has unknowingly activated emulation of PS2 games on the PlayStation 4. Currently, support is limited to three old Star Wars games, which come in a new PS4 bundle.
Included in the new PlayStation 4 Star Wars bundle is a code that allows players to download, among other things, three Star Wars games originally released for the PlayStation 2. After extensive research by Digital Foundry, it appears that the PS2 games are emulated on the PS4. It concerns the games Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Racer Revenge and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.
Digital foundry has been able to discover several arguments that indicate that it is about emulation and not about remasters. For example, the controls in the games are unadjusted, including references to select and start; buttons that are not on the DualShock 4. PS2 logos can also be seen and the games refer to memory cards, which the PS4 also does not have. Sony confirms to Wired that it is working on PS2 emulation to allow playing PlayStation 2 games on the new console. That seems to indicate that more PS2 games are coming to the PS4.
Graphically, improvements can be seen in the games, but not everywhere. For example, the 2D graphics have been scaled to a higher resolution, but because no more pixels can be added than are originally in, the age of these parts is clearly visible. The 3d elements are rendered at a higher resolution, making them clearly better looking. Post-processing also achieves an anti-aliasing-like effect, according to Digital Foundry. All in all, the games would have about four times as many pixels in their images compared to their PS2 predecessors. The games also run at 60fps.
The games also got the addition of Trophies. This was probably achieved without modifying the games themselves. Sony is said to have made a system in which the games check which files on the hard drive they consult. That can serve as an indication of a certain achievement of the player in the game. Consulting certain files serves as a trigger for achieving a certain trophy.
Eurogamer reported in January of 2014 that Sony was planning to introduce emulation of its PS2 and PS1 titles. Sony is said to be planning to bring its older titles to PS4 without the use of a simple upscaling process, which leads to blurry images. Instead, more work would be put into it, which seems to be confirmed by the emulation of these Star Wars games. Sony’s response to Wired is the first official statement the company has released about emulation. The response seems to indicate that more PS2 games will be playable on the PlayStation 4 through emulation in the future.