Finally! Over 14 months ago we heard that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were being remastered in high definition for the PlayStation 3, and we offered up some HD emulation to give you some idea of how these classic games could look on the latest Sony console. Since then, aside from a trailer or two, there hasn't really been much we could follow up on.
A couple of weeks back, Bluepoint Games' conversions finally arrived, allowing us to finally compare the new code with the original PlayStation 2 games from Sony's Japan Studio. Let's kick off with the game that stands to get the biggest image quality upgrade. Ico originally ran in a very low resolution, even by PlayStation 2 standards - 512x224 - so the jump to full 1280x720 is quite remarkable. (Note: While the video below is 720p, Ico can run at native 1080p)
In this Digital Foundry comparison video, we've matched up PS3 and PS2 versions shot-by-shot to the exact frame, and thanks to the lo-fi nature of the footage, we're able to run this video as is, without the usual need we have to slow down our comparison videos to 50 per cent speed. In turn, this means we can use the original audio too - another welcome bonus.
You may notice that the PS3 versions have considerably more "real estate" on-screen compared to the original games. This is because Bluepoint has included full pixel modes that open up the screen somewhat. In these comparisons, what we're trying to show is both versions running at their very best, so this mode is engaged.
Shadow of the Colossus on PS2 saw a boost in resolution (512x448) and a significant boost in the quality of the artwork. As we detailed in our original article, the Japan Studio pushed the hardware to its limits - the result being a very inconsistent frame-rate.
The good news with the PS3 version of Shadow of the Colossus is that the performance is much more consistent, with none of the sudden lurches between 30, 20 and 15 frames per second that characterised the PS2 original. Both Ico and Colossus on PS3 run at 30 frames per second, though the latter only upscales when in 1080p mode.
As for the boost to image quality, here's a special 13 minute presentation that shows the entirety of the Shadow of the Colossus intro sequence running on both PlayStation 2 (in 16:9 mode) and PS3. As per the Ico video, we can run the footage at full speed at 720p owing to the simplistic nature of the visuals. In fact, this hand-encoded video should stream more easily than a great many of the standard def videos we have on the site.
We'll have more in-depth technical analysis of Bluepoint's conversion work this Saturday with full PS2 vs PS3 vs PS3 3D performance checks, discussion of the improvements made to the game and commentary on other elements too - but the comparison videos above should demonstrate quite effectively that the HD remastering work has by and large been a solid success - and while we might have hoped for a locked 60FPS (quite why Ico can't hit that target is a bit of a mystery), the final code that Bluepoint Games has handed in ticks pretty much every box that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus fans would want.
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