How to Play PS2 Games on Your Computer (PCSX2)

The PS2 is the next console that was released after the PSX. It would be one of the few consoles that could compete with Nintendo’s Gamecube system. In this guide, we show you how to play games that were released on this system via the PCSX2 emulator.

The first thing we need to do is track down this emulator. This emulator can easily be found on the PCSX website. Just head over to the downloads section and download a copy that is appropriate for your operating system.

The next thing we need to do is track down a BIOS. We can’t tell you how or where to find it, but some say that as long as it’s not the Japanese 1.0 BIOS, it really doesn’t matter which BIOS you get. We haven’t tested the validity of this, but we tried a different BIOS and everything seems to work fine.

After this, just install (if you got an installer) or drag and drop (if you got a binaries copy) the emulator into a folder that is convenient for you on your hard drive. We prefer to create a PS2 folder for all of our PS2 needs and put all Ps2 related files in that. In that PS2 folder, it’s advisable to create a folder for your game DVD images. Just put all of the images into this folder – it’ll be convenient for when you direct the emulator to the images.

Now, open up the emulator. As this is likely your first time running this emulator, you’ll be guided through a first run set-up wizard. We opted for whatever default settings it presents us. When it gets to the point where it asks you for the BIOS file, put the BIOS files into the bios folder (found wherever you placed the emulator files or installed the emulator to). Refresh the list of BIOS files in the emulator, select the BIOS, and finish the set-up wizard.

You’ll eventually wind up on a screen that looks like this:


This screen will be accompanied by a program log file window.

The first thing we need to do is configure out virtual controller. For that, we just need to click on the “Config” drop-down menu, then hove the mouse over “Controllers (PAD)” and click on “Plugin Settings…”:


You’ll then get a window that looks something like this:


Click on the “Pad 1” tab along the top and you’ll come to a screen like this:


Click on any button that is on the right hand screen that appears above “Configure Binding” and press the key you want that button to be represented by on your keyboard. Each key you set for your virtual controller will appear on the left hand side after. When you are done, click “Apply” to finish your configuration.

Next, we can boot a game. To do that, click on the “System” drop-down menu and click “Boot CDVD (full)” (we’re not sure if “(full)” or “(fast)” is the most recommended method, but “(full)” worked for us.

Browse to the folder containing all of your PS2 games, pick a game, and load it. The emulator should remember which folder that will be from that point on.

When in game, you’ll also be able to save and load states. These can be accessed in the “File” drop-down menu. Click a slot under “Save State” to save it and click a number in the “Load State” sub-menu to load a save state slot. Each number represents a save state slot.

We should point out that some games may run a little slower than, say, a SNES game being run in a SNES emulator because later consoles require more resources to run. How well the emulator can keep up with the game can depend entirely on your system specs.

Still, if you are wondering about compatibility, you can always head over to the official compatibility list section of the official PCSX2 website (divided up by letter each game starts with as per the top of the left hand column).

To exit out of the emulator after you have quit a game, you can use the “System” drop-down menu and click “Exit” after.

That should be it!

Happy gaming!


I’m playing a game that runs fine, but after a while (i.e. several hours), the game freezes and kicks up an error (i.e. padman: DMA Busy). The compatibility lists say nothing about this issue with my game, what am I doing wrong?
This could be a host of different issues. If you are saving the game via save states and not through the native save game system, this could be one cause of the issue (some games don’t like being run for an abnormal length of time it seems). Try (if you can) exiting and saving the game, then booting the game normally and loading your game through a load screen. This may clear up the issue enough for you to finish playing the game or at least getting more distance into your game.

I’m getting odd lines in the video / the game is running very slow. What gives?
The first thing you need to know is that PS2 emulation is VERY resource intensive. If you are running games through an old laptop or very old desktop, you may never get the best results from some games.

Having said that, there are some things you can try. Go to “Config” > “Video (GS)” > “Plugin Settings…”

From there, you’ll notice a drop down menu next to “Renderer”. There are three different renderers for you to try (with hardware and software versions). Software modes are generally easier on the system, but tend to have more graphical errors. Hardware mode uses more resources, but can deliver better results. The added bonus with hardware mode is the fact that you can utilize the “Enable HW Hacks”. When you tick this, you can click on the “Configure Hacks” button. If general hardware mode doesn’t clear up the issues, try setting Skipdraw to, say, 1 instead of zero. This often clears up a number of issues. A lot of these issues is covered in the compatibility list, but not all games have been tested. So, fiddling with the settings can prove helpful in getting better performance out of your game (assuming the machine you are using can handle it of course).

My memory card is full. How do I manage my files in my memory card?
Even in the emulated environments, memory cards typically stick to the 8MB limitation despite you having far more memory on your computer. To format your memory card, you need to enter the BIOS.

First, you need to click on the CDVD dropdown menu and click on “No disc”. Next, you can click on “System”. In that dropdown menu, you can click “Boot CDVD (fast)”. This will boot the BIOS. From the BIOS menu, select the Browser option with your emulated controller. From there, you can manage your files.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to lose any save data, you can create a new memory card entirely. All you need to do is click on the “Config” menu item and click on “Memory cards”. In the new window, click on the “Create” button below the list of memory cards you have available. Select the 8MB file for maximum compatibility and click “Create”. This will create a new item in your list.

After this, click on the port 1 and click on the “Eject” button below the list. Next, click on the new memory card you created and click the “Insert…” button. In the pop up window, click on the Port 1 option and click OK. It will not be formatted, but you’ll have a new memory card to play with. To format, follow the next questions instructions.

NOTE: If you wish to play a game next, remember to click the “CDVD” menu item and click “ISO”.

My memory card is not formatted. How do I format my memory card?
To format your memory card, you need to access your BIOS. First, if you haven’t already done so, click on the “CDVD” menu item and select “No disc”. If there is a dot next to this option, you have already selected this.

Next, click on “System” and then click on the “Boot CDVD (fast)” item in the dropdown menu. You should see the BIOS boot. When the menu loads, select “Browser” with your emulated controller. Select the first memory card in the subsequent menu. When you select this card, you’ll be asked if you wish to format this card. Let it format. When done, you can exit and you’ll have a brand new newly formatted memory card to use!

NOTE: If you wish to play a game next, remember to click the “CDVD” menu item and click “ISO”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.