Fans of classic gaming emulation know that modern emulators can do a lot to sharpen up the standard-definition sprites and polygons made for consoles designed to be played on low-resolution tube TVs. This weekend, though, an update to the RPCS3 emulator showed how much resolution scaling can improve the look of even early HD games.
While the new update technically supports rendering at up to 10K resolutions, the video above shows that upscaling to 4K resolution and adding 16x anisotropic filtering can lead to a huge improvement for games originally made to run at 720p. Upscaling the 11-year-old hardware with three times the resolution doesn’t even put too much strain on modern GPUs—the creators say in an explanatory blog post that “anyone with a dedicated graphics card that has Vulkan support can expect identical performance at 4K.”
Unlike N64 emulators, which often require handmade high-resolution texture packs to make upscaled games look decent, RPCS3 can often get amazing improvements in sharpness and clarity just by using content that’s already in the PS3 software. That’s because many PS3 titles stored extremely high-resolution assets on the PS3’s Blu-Ray discs, then crushed those textures down for faster processing by the console. The result is that surfaces that looked muddy and jagged on the original hardware can take full advantage of the art as it was originally conceived when upscaled for the emulator.
The team behind RPCS3 says “this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving graphics quality” on PS3 games, with features like “custom anti-aliasing, texture scaling algorithms, and maybe even game-specific patches by the community” in the works. Those features could get developed more quickly with further support for the emulator’s Patreon, the team says, despite Atlus’ recent efforts to shut down that funding source.
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