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PlayStation 4 gains backward compatibility via community hack

Back in October of 2016, hackers at the GeekPwn conference in Shanghai revealed an exploit that would allow users to run Linux on any PlayStation 4 console if it sported version 4.01 of its firmware, thanks to a WebKit vulnerability which allowed hackers to inject malicious code into the targeted system.

A new exploit - which is exclusive to systems running version 4.05 of the firmware - gives unrestricted low-level access to hackers. However, since this is limited to devices running the outdated system software - latest being version 5.05 - it severely prohibits the spread of the exploit.

As a functional implementation of the exploit was released back in December of 2017, bringing about access to the underlying system and enabling a homebrew project named PS4HEN, there has been an uptick in attempts to bring forward older PlayStation 2 titles.

When Sony launched the PlayStation 4, it announced that none of the games from any of its previous generation consoles would be backward compatible with the new system. However, it has since then moved to make available some of the most popular titles of these eras through PlayStation Now, or by re-releasing them in its store.

The PS2 classics that haven't been made available for the PlayStation 4 officially are now being reverse engineered by several parties in the community, thanks to the tools made available by the aforementioned exploit.

According to the report by Eurogamer, pirated PlayStation 2 games run at a higher resolution, with increased performance compared to the original system. Beyond that, titles which wouldn't run on the PS3 software emulator - most notably Klonoa 2 - ran perfectly fine on the latest console. But not all of them fared too well, with several games suffering from graphical glitches and the like. Moreover, any exploited system might have trouble running some of the latest games released for the PS4, since the PlayStation Network (PSN) requires you to run the latest firmware.

The hacking issue isn't unique to the PlayStation 4, since prior systems launched by Sony suffered from similar exploits. The PlayStation 3 was famous for the ability to run Linux before Sony abruptly blocked all methods to make that happen. A class action lawsuit ensued and resulted in Sony settling in June of 2016.

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