My family has seen plenty of 3D films in the cinema now, not to mention a handful of home 3D experiences. Those old enough in our family to try this out have really appreciated the novelty of these new screens.
But much more than film, it has been the games we’ve played that have most impressed us. As soon as I tried Gran Turismo 3D and Wipeout 3D, on a Samsung UE46C750, I knew there was no going back. Not only did they have that same depth that 3D films have, but it could be put to much better use. 3D games suddenly have three or four times the amount of screen real estate by virtue of all those layers of information.
I think a friend of mine (Ian Hughes) really captured why this worked so well:
Gran Turismo 5 3D took a long time coming, but now it’s here it can be enjoyed in 3D glory. What’s most impressive though is the amount of restraint shown. It cleverly applies 3D depth only when it makes a different to the driving experience.
The 3D option for Gran Turismo 5 is buried away in the hardware preferences and a couple of scrolls to the right, and does not look like it is expecting many people to look for it. It’s a little odd for such a high profile game, particularly as other games detect a 3D TV automatically and prompt for its use on startup.
Once you have found the 3D option there are a couple of parameters that can be tweaked. Parallax, which sets the strength of the 3D effect from 1 to 10 and Convergence which sets the distance of the Convergence Point of the left and right eye image from 0.00 to 1.00 on 0.01 increments. Then it’s on to the racing.
The most obvious and convincing use of 3D is from the internal driving view. In regular 2D mode this seems to use up valuable screen real estate but in 3D it really comes into its own as it adds depth to the output.
Gran Turismo 5′s 3D places you in the cockpit of the car with the road disappearing into distance. The track and scenery gain added momentum and distance by being framed by the dashboard in the foreground. The rear view mirror provides a convincing look back with a differing reflected depth which adds to the experience.
The combination of restrained application and expert technical delivery make Gran Turismo 5 3D a driver’s experience. Other games may pull off more 3D tricks to impress your friends and family with but this actually puts the tech to good use in the game proper.
If Gran Turismo was a restrained use of 3D I think Wipeout HD is almost the opposite. IT uses every trick in the 3D playbook to make you feel as if you are actually there in the cockpit. In fact it was too real for my Wife, who had to abstain from the racing as it made her a little queasy:
Wipeout HD 3D uncovers just how impressive the game has always been. In 3D, the speed, art design and even sound are magically more engaging, transporting you to another reality with a technical tingle down your spine.
The original Wipeout for the Playstation in 1995 was a revelation. The style and design married to super-fast anti-gravity rocket ships was very special. Many games since have tried to create the almost mind altering stream of visuals.
The increasing technical horse power of consoles means that frames can now be filled and thrown around at pace. But Wipeout still retains its crown, now as Wipeout HD for the PS3 with full stereoscopic 3D built-in. The design style is very similar to the original Wipeout but the 3D elements make it feel fresh again.
The 3D is most effective in cockpit view. The Head Up Display (HUD) is subtle and unobtrusive allowing you to get the full brain-rush speed effect from the races. Launching into the first corner of the first track gave me goose bumps like my first time with the game back in the 90′s.
Now, like then, it differs from a traditional driving game. Here you are bounced around by the antigravity, bobbing and weaving, balancing and counterbalancing. It is this motion in a 3D view that will either create motion sickness or adrenalin depending on your physical makeup. I felt suitably enthralled but still, after about an hour of playing I really had to stop and have a rest.
With the 3DS also getting a lot of attention with games like PES 2011 3D and Pilotwings Resort taking full advantage of the 3D display it looks like 2011 could be the year when 3D gaming comes of age, provided they can get the price of these screens and devices within range of the family gamer like me.
Gran Turismo 5 is available from Amazon for $47.99.