GTA Vice City Stories: PS2 emulator

GTA Vice City Stories PS2

PCSX2 is a PS2 emulator that is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. Its developers are working hard on bringing new features, improving emulation speed, and increasing compatibility with available games. GTA Vice City Stories is one of the most popular games to emulate, as it was never released on PC. The PS2 version is a PSP port. While the game really impresses on PSP, it’s doesn’t really bring anything new compared to the previous games of the series. Well, not much, anyway. It’s still a nice game, though at times a very crazy one, and I especially like the business empire idea. That’s something I’m really hoping to see in the next GTA game from the HD consoles era. If we combined the graphics the RAGE engine offers with San Andreas’ world and storyline, adding  the various sideline features from all the GTA chapters, we’d get a perfect game that could be played forever. The emulator itself works really well with this game. There are no visibly significant glitches or problems that would make the game impossible to play. There are a lot of missions to complete and if you’re forced to repeat any of them, it will more likely than not be because of the craziness we have to fight with most of the time. Some missions can really give you a headache. PCSX2 requires pretty powerful hardware to run games smoothly, especially in hardware mode when rendering at high resolutions. Unfortunately it doesn’t support multi-core CPUs very well. It only uses two cores effectively, which means a Sandy Bridge CPU overclocked to 4.5-5.0 GHz is pretty much necessary to maintain a stable framerate.

GSdx is running in DX11 mode at 4x the native resolution scaled to a 1280×720 output. According to the official guide, the scaler multiplies the width and height, and not the amount of pixels rendered, so in this case the resolution should be 2560×1744. It sure looks like it, because there’s very little aliasing present. At this resolution the CPU is still a bottleneck, and the GPU can’t give it everything it’s got. At 6x the native resolution the GPU usage is constant at 99%, but the framerate isn’t acceptable. A GTX 580 should do really well here, so here’s hoping the 28 nm generation will bring a similar card at an acceptable price.

One more thing. You can notice a blurring effect in the video when the camera is moving very fast. That’s because the video had to be recorded at 60 FPS and than chopped to 30 FPS. The hardware in this case can’t maintain stable 60 FPS when playing, and that’s when halving the framerate crates that blurring effect. In-game anything between 40 and 60 FPS is playable and looks rather fluid, but if we drop below 40 FPS the animation becomes really slow. That’s because the rendered framerate is achieved after deinterlacing. So, when the game is running at 60 FPS, the effective framerate is 30 FPS. At 40 FPS it’s 20 FPS, so you understand why anything below 40 FPS looks really slow, as the animation speed is bound with the framerate.

It’s also hard to eliminate screen tearing completely.
Enabling Vsync still leaves some amount of tearing, while drastically reducing performance, so it’s not really acceptable.
The other option is to use the Blend deinterlacing mode, which reduces tearing substantially while creating a slightly blurry image (not a problem at high resolutions) with no negative effect on performance.

Latest SVN build can be downloaded here: Running Vice City Stories on PCSX2 SVN Revision 2540. CPU: Q8300 at 3ghz Recorded Using Fraps

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GTA Vice City Stories PS2

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