In the history of video game consoles, the Sony PlayStation has definitely been the most successful of the lot (leaving out Nintendo's Gameboy handheld series). It is also responsible for single-handedly putting home video gaming on the map as an actual viable form of entertainment. The sheer variety of games that followed up after its much hyped launch in 1995 is quite overwhelming, and now it boasts a software library of well over 1,000 games. That and the fact that Sony is still supporting the original PlayStation in its new "PSone" avatar, says a lot about the longevity of the system.
While there have been a few PlayStation games like Metal Gear Solid and the Resident Evil series that have been successfully ported over to PC format, there are still a lot of brilliant games out there that some PC gamers may never get to experience. Games like Chrono Cross, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4 and Gran Turismo 2 are just a few examples of some splendid games that have been exclusive to PlayStation. But thanks to the ePSXe PlayStation emulator, the scope of your games library has just expanded.
Since we have already covered the topic of console game emulation , I'll cut short the introduction and get right to the point. ePSXe is the best free PlayStation emulator, and by jove it works!
Yes ePSXe is free for all usage and it works well, but getting it started requires more than just a simple download and run; in fact, it requires a hell lot of downloading. First off you need to get the ePSXe program from their official site, then you need to search around for the PlayStation bios without which the emulator won't work.
One thing about ePSXe is that it is very highly configurable, since every aspect of the game can be controlled via plug-ins. If you can't get good results from a default plug-in with your AGP card, chances are there may just be another plug-in out there that can work perfectly for you.
Now that you have these, you need to look around for a bunch of plug-ins that are required for the graphical emulation, and the sound emulation. Phew… that's just about all that's required, unless you don't have your Windows ASPI drivers installed. In case you don't, you can head straight to the official site and get it from their download section. Yes, that's it. Talk about hard work!
Tweak until you succeed
Now that you have all the necessary downloads in place, it's time to configure this baby for optimum performance. After a lot of trial and error, I've come to the conclusion that Pete's Open GL and Direct 3D drivers give the best performance with most graphic cards, but I did have to tweak to different settings for different games. A few games ran flawlessly without working them too hard, namely Tekken 3, WWF Smackdown! 2, Marvel Vs. Capcom and Gran Turismo 2 just to name a few. But I guess, the ePSXe developers kept these popular games in mind when they created it.
It's not that every game was running bug-free on it. Games like Ridge Racer and Duke Nukem: A Time to Kill were a major pain, as I just couldn't get it to go at a decent 60 FPS even with the minimalist settings. For other games like Chrono Cross and similar RPG's I had to reduce the frame rate to get them working.
In short, if you're the type who seeks optimum performance from his games, just be prepared to tweak the plug-in settings every time you switch games.
Function-wise the ePSXe does everything that a PlayStation console will do. It creates virtual memory cards for you to save your games in. It also comes bundled with a memory card manager for you to copy, edit or delete your saved game files. There are also additional goodies like screen grab and game snapshot save.
Though the ePSXe emulator works well with most PlayStation games, it certainly isn't very user-friendly. I wouldn't recommend this emulator to a novice PC user, as one needs to have a significant idea of his PC hardware capabilities before getting down and dirty with it. The good part is that it's free to use and it's the most stable and configurable emulator out there. If you're in the mood for experimenting, get your hands on a PlayStation game and give this one a run.