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In context: There was quite a lot of talk about backward compatibility from both Microsoft and Sony in the lead-up to their next-gen consoles. While Microsoft can boast that the Xbox Series X and S are entirely backward compatible with its previous consoles, Sony has only committed to being able to run PS4 titles on the PlayStation 5.
This shortfall of the PS5 might not be that big of a deal, considering there are over 4,000 PS4 titles that Sony claims will run just fine on the new system. However, retro-gaming enthusiasts wishing to play PS2 games must settle for the few titles already ported to the PS4. That, or purchase a PlayStation Now subscription. However, there is another option.
According to Modern Vintage Gamer, most PlayStation 2 titles are playable on the Xbox Series S. Of course, you have to use an emulator for this to work, but MVG tested several PS2 games on the XBSS using the open-source emulator from RetroArch and reports many of them run just fine.
You first have to install RetroArch on the next-gen Xbox via the console's Developer Mode, which Microsoft has made readily available with registration. The emulator is already capable of running GameCube and other gaming system titles, but it recently added a PlayStation 2 core called "PCSX2."
It is still in early development, but most of the games MVG tested (video above) were at least playable. The biggest issue it ran into was texture quirks. There were also some frame rate problems in some of the games. Given time, these issues may get ironed out. That said, a few titles ran perfectly.
For example, Silent Hill 2 runs nearly flawlessly at 60fps with only a slight distortion in the player character's facial texture. Other games that played excellently include Maximo, Okami, God Hand, Burnout 3, Rule of Rose, and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness.
Of course, with every emulator, there comes the risk of the original IP holder shutting it down. Unlike Nintendo, Sony does not have a history of going after emulators. However, it could view PCSX2 as being in direct competition with its PlayStation Now subscription service, which may bring out the cease and desist letters. So you might want to give it a try while you still can, that is, if you can even find an Xbox Series S.
Image credit: ESOlex