Imagine if Morrowind were on PlayStation 2

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Leyoht's picture
Leyoht
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So any of you who have played Morrowind on console (that being the Microsoft Xbox) would know that sometimes the game would choke due to the machine's restrictions. The lack of a keyboard and mouse alone makes the game feel like a huge step back from the interface on the PC version—but combine this with the fixed framerate (actually kind of inaccurate to say, since there was STILL framerate drops), extra fog, and longer loading times, you have a game that really doesn't meet the standard Bethesda had laid down with the original PC release.

About a month ago, when I started collecting for the PlayStation 2, a thought occurred to me: what if Bethesda had actually tried to release Morrowind for Sony's console at the time? It would make some business sense to do this, since the PlayStation 2 was EXTREMELY popular back in the early 2000s—far more than the Nintendo Gamecube with its limited disc space and the Sega Dreamcast, which had already been discontinued by the time Morrowind was released. However, as many of us know, the PlayStation 2—popular as it was—is very limited when compared to Microsoft's king-sized Xbox when it comes to hardware. Comparing the PlayStation 2 to the Xbox is like comparing the Sega Genesis to the Super Nintendo; sure, their games look similar from a distance—but go in a bit deeper and you start to notice some differences

  Microsoft Xbox Sony PlayStation 2
Memory (RAM) 64MB DDR SDRAM at 200 MHz 32MB PC800 at 400 MHz
CPU 32-bit 773 MHz custom Intel Pentium III 128-bit 295 MHz Emotion Engine
Cache 32KB L1, 128KB L2 16KB instruction, 8KB + 16KB scratchpad
Graphics (GPU) 233 MHz "NV2A" ASIC by Nvidia & MS 148 MHz DRAM "Graphics Synthesizer"

All this info comes from Wikipedia, so it's SUPER trustworthy :D

To be honest, neither of these setups are what I would call "ideal," but it looks like the Xbox's specs at least fall a lot more in line with what we know on PCs today. SDRAM, 32-bit processing, and L1 + L2 cache is the kind of stuff programmers are familiar with. So then what the hell is going on with the Ps2? For the most part, it's a lot of strange stuff.

The thing with the PlayStation 2 is that it was a bit of a tricky machine to program for. I think this video demonstrates some of the frustrations developers were going through when the console first launched. I imagine it wasn't quite as bad as the PlayStation 3 launch—but it when it comes to programming, almost anything is better than the PlayStation 3.

But aside from how weird the PlayStation 2 is in terms of architecture—just look at the numbers. The Xbox has twice as much memory, roughly three times as powerful of a CPU, over twice as much cache, and about 50% more horsepower in the graphics card. It doesn't look so good for my childhood console.

With all that said, it's pretty clear exactly why Bethesda avoided the PlayStation 2 when they released Morrowind. The framerate would have had to take a hit, the polycount would've needed to a significant drop, and the game would be EVEN FOGGIER than it already is on the Xbox. But I wonder: am I the only one crazy enough to want to try to make Morrowind work on the PlayStation 2?

I mean, I'm just a college student at the time I type this little essay, but if I had the time, I'd certainly like to see if I could get Morrowind to run on wimpy PlayStation 2 specs. We've already got a Skyrim mod that makes the game look like a cartoon, thus reducing the load for the computer to handle—but doing it with Morrowind? The game already looks (by today's standards, anyway) kind of crappy—ESPECIALLY on the Xbox, so what would a PlayStation 2 port look like? Would it be something along the lines of King's Field? Actually....if we do, I think I'm going to throw up in my mouth a little.

I don't know, guys; this is just a silly little article for silly tech heads like myself. The prospect of there being a PlayStation 2 port for our favorite elf racism simulator sounds interesting, but is it possible? The modding community seems crazy enough to make it happen; hell, I might even be the one to make it happen just as a proof of concept. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

ConnorJoe's picture
ConnorJoe
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Man, that's a wonderful thought. What if?

MinerMan60101's picture
MinerMan60101
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There are some people in the Morrowind community making optimized meshes, Such as the Morrowind Optimization Patch or the Project Atlas Discord server. This would assuredly make PS2 Morrowind more feasible.

ConnorJoe's picture
ConnorJoe
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"There are some people in the Morrowind community making optimized meshes.. This would assuredly make PS2 Morrowind more feasible."

Man, I didn't even know that. That's amazing!