At E3 2000, Metal Gear Solid 2 absolutely stole the show when its first real-time game footage was shown running on the PlayStation 2.
It looked incredible in its era, but time marches ceaselessly on, and by 2021 standards it’s obviously not so incredible. Some of the technical tricks used at the time to get around the PS2's limitations, like all that fog, now stops us from enjoying its finer details.
Which is where AI upscaling comes in. Rather than have modders painstakingly go in and remake every texture in the game, Digital Foundry let some deep learning software loose on just the trailer, which looked at every single frame and figured, OK, that looks like a fuel tank, let’s clean it up and fill in the gaps and redo it at 4K resolution.
And it did a hell of a job! While not perfect (some things are too sharp, while others were never meant to be seen cleaned up), most scenes here greatly benefit from the application, with the trailer itself able to maintain its wet, heavy vibes while at the same time improving the overall fidelity. (And it should be noted here, emulators have been doing a pretty good job of upscaling whole games for years, just not this well.)
If this has got you in the mood for more Metal Gear Solid 2, there are worse things you could do next than catch up on Heather’s excellent retrospective of the game from last year:
Sons of Liberty isn’t a story about espionage and betrayal. Not really. It’s about one person learning to be his best self. The most dangerous threats to our lives aren’t bullets or bombs or government censors, even if those things are undoubtedly vile. The most dangerous things are the things we do to ourselves. The lies we tell ourselves, the love we deny, and the dignity we trick ourselves into thinking we don’t deserve.