The Playstation 2 is one of the historical consoles for gaming enthusiasts, a video game device marketed by Sony in 2000 and today one of the best selling in the world. Unfortunately it seems that the new PS5 will not be backwards compatible with previous consoles, such as the PS3 and PS2, but only with the PS4, however for those who want to enjoy the old Playstation games there is still a solution. Let's see how to use them and what are the best PS2 emulators for PC and Android, to spend a few more moments with titles such as GTA 3, God of War and Silent Hill 2.
What is and how to use PS2 emulator
An emulator is a program that simulates another software or hardware element, a system that lets you use a technology or service outside of its natural environment of use. In this case we talk about a game emulator, an application that in this specific case lets you find all the features of the Playstation 2 console on your PC or Android mobile device, to play the old PS2 videogames not only on the original console or by buying a vintage retrogaming compatible model.
Obviously the fidelity of reproduction depends on the program, with solutions that impeccably reflect the PS2 gaming experience, while other programs do it less precisely, for example without some game options or with slightly different operating systems. However, they can offer several advantages over the original console, from a superior audio and video quality to a greater number of features available.
To choose the best PS2 emulator it is important to consider some fundamental aspects, checking first of all the compatibility with your PC or Android device, the system requirements and the reliability of the portal where you download the program. In addition, it is essential to evaluate which PS2 games are available with the emulator, opting for the software that best suits your needs, also observing the installation methods, the graphical interface and the management of the game console replica.
PCSX2: the best PS2 emulator for PC
Undoubtedly the best PS2 emulator for PC is PCSX2, a free platform proposed for Windows, Linux and macOS operating systems that is quite simple to use, much appreciated by fans of the games for the second generation Playstation. To get the program you just need to connect to the pcsx2.net website, download the version suitable for your PC and follow the guided installation procedure with an online manual in English.
Once you have loaded the program in your PC you need to have the PS2 BIOS, so you need to own a real Playstation 2 console or the regularly paid ISO files. Searching on the Internet and downloading them is illegal, since they are copyrighted items, so it is important to be aware before doing such actions. In any case, the file you need is the PS2 BIOS package, after which you must extract the files in the bios folder of PCSX2.
At this point you must configure the PS2 BIOS on PCSX2, so you must choose the graphics card by opting for the GS or GSdx entry, the Italian language and the geographical area according to the games you want to use in the emulator. Finally you just have to set up the controllers, to make a joypad communicate with the PC, by entering the Config> Controller (PAD)> Plugin Settings section, using the options of the Pad 1 tab to configure the buttons and perform controller recognition.
How to use PCSX2 emulator to play PS2
After installing and configuring PCSX2 you can finally enjoy PS2 games. In this case it is necessary to have an ISO file or a DVD, since downloading them from the Internet is illegal since they are covered by copyright. Once you have loaded the game, either via file or physical media, you can play the PS2 from your PC, using the analog controller and choosing the size of the window, with the possibility of adjusting the video definition or audio quality from the program's settings.
PCSX2 provides support for 4K resolution, with several interesting features to optimize video playback and game graphics, ensuring an improved experience compared to that of the Playstation 2 and fully customizable. In addition, the program is compatible with many controllers, working without problems with most of the models on the market, not to mention a constant update of the software for Windows and a dedicated community to resolve any doubts and malfunctions.
PS2 Emulator for Mac
Those who have a Mac can use the appropriate version of PCSX2 for macOS, however, it does not guarantee the same performance assured on Windows as a PS2 emulator. Alternatively, there are other programs such as Play! or Virtual Gaming Station (vgs), the latter a historical software for Apple PC with numerous Playstation games supported, however it is no longer updated after a lawsuit brought by Sony and the purchase of the company by the Japanese giant.
Anyhow, emulating PS2 on the Mac is certainly more complex, since there are fewer options available and some programs do not run well on the PC of the Cupertino company. Play! remains a good solution, in fact it's free and works quite simply, you just have to download it from the official website, install it in the Applications folder of your Mac, run the software and load the disk or ISO image of the desired game via the File> Boot Disk Manage path.
Best PS2 emulators for Android
In addition to the programs for the PC you can choose a PS2 emulator for Android, an application that lets you bring the Sony game console inside devices with the Google operating system. In this case there are several applications, with lots of software that can be downloaded for free or for a fee on Google Play Store, so you just have to find the right one and turn your smartphone into a console on which to find all the most famous PS2 games. Here are the best ones to try.
DamonPS2 Free and Pro
With DamonPS2 you can have 90% of Playstation 2 titles available, plus it's stable with 20% of the games on Sony's second-generation platform. The app works optimally with devices equipped with Snapdragon 835 or 845 CPUs, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9 or Note 8, however the free version has ads, offers a lower resolution and doesn't support all gamepad hardware. The paid mode costs 9.99 euros, has no ads, boasts 1080p HD resolution, supports gamepad and PS2 memory cards to save the game.
An excellent PS2 emulator for Android is RetroArch, an application available on Google Play Store based on an open source project, a slightly complex program to configure but able to guarantee maximum performance to play Playstation 2 titles on Android smartphones. This software is free, supports many other emulators besides PS2, including several game consoles, Mac, Windows and Apple TV, you can map the keyboard and set the joystick, you can customize it in an advanced way and there are plenty of online guides and video tutorials to learn how to use it.
Among the best PS2 emulators for Android there is also ePSXe, available in the Google Play Store catalog in both free and paid versions for 2.99 euros. The graphical interface is simple and intuitive, it is also compatible with other platforms such as Windows, Linux and macOS, with a really wide support for European, Japanese and American Playstation 2 games. Overall the application is fast and works really well, plus with plugins you can customize many of the features of the application.
With one of the best scores in the Google Play Store PPSSPP is considered an excellent free PS2 emulator on Android, with support for high definition, lots of additional features and a wide range of compatible games. Inside there are free video game titles or you just need to load PS2 ISO, it provides 3D graphics and a modern and optimized interface, to enjoy with maximum involvement with games like Tomb Raider and Tekken 6. As an alternative to the free version, there's the paid Gold version at €4.69, which is more advanced and offers a higher level of customization.
Are PS2 emulators legal?
After this guide on how to use PS2 emulators for PC and Android, it's important to stress the legality of these softwares, which are absolutely legitimate even in their free versions. However, you have to be careful with the games because they are protected by copyright, so you must have the DVD or ISO files of the original PS2 games because downloading them from the internet is illegal, as well as sharing and making copies of games owned by other people.
Likewise, the BIOS of the Playstation 2, like that of other game consoles, is covered by copyright, so downloading it on the web is illegal as is distributing it on the internet to other users. In order not to commit an offence, it is essential to have a copy of the BIOS of the console and the games paid for, avoiding downloading packages created by third parties, as the responsibility also falls on the person who downloads the illegal material.