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3D Gaming on PS3 – Hands-On Impressions

Develop 2010: We share our first hands-on impressions of 3D gaming on PS3.

Putting on the oversized 3D lens we blinked experimentally, waiting for the moment that would leave us open-mouthed in amazement. It wasn’t what we expected, but, despite our predispositions, the effect of high definition 3D images on games is actually quite thrilling.

Of course, we’ve got no 3D screenshots to show you, but perhaps you can try blinking really fast. No? Well, allow us to use the power of words to explain further.

Sony set up several demo stations at Develop for attendees to experience 3D for themselves. The displays were all from Sony’s new range of premium priced 3D ready Bravias, which sync with the equally advanced, and expensive, active shutter glasses. Within moments of adjusting our 3D specs an attendee beside us encountered a pair that failed to operate – despite assurances that prices will be more affordable, the many technical demands will likely remain a barrier to 3D home entertainment for the foreseeable future.

There was a show reel running short snippets of first-party titles in 3D. If anything, the video confirmed the varying levels of quality that 3D inflicts on games: WipEout HD looked fabulous with ships gliding out of the screen smoothly; Gran Turismo 5 was pretty underwhelming from the in-car view, especially with no cars ahead and only the flat, inch-perfect trackside grass for scenery; Tumble didn’t fare much better with the block collisions causing things to go distorted; finally the pre-rendered US advert for Killzone 2 had the bullet extruding right across our vision to great effect.

Glancing over at another station we glimpsed MotorStorm Apocalypse. The version on show was pre-alpha, but we still couldn’t shake the feeling that the dust and debris of its art direction isn’t doing it any favours as far as 3D is concerned.

Super Stardust HD 3D Impressions
Seeing Super Stardust HD in 3D for first time was strangely unmoving for several moments as the 3D is subtle. Not everything on-screen is 3D, rather specific objects that are part of the gameplay. The asteroids appear to have more definition, and as they shatter and crumble under the might of your energy beams, the play area becomes almost like a bowl of moving sediment.

It’s not really a good demonstration of 3D’s ability to aid in-game peripheral vision as the action is centred around a spherical moon in the middle of the screen. Asteroids are propelled towards the planet from the front and sides of your vision. The effect isn’t as good as you might imagine, with rocks on the fringes of your vision seeming flatter than they should.

From a gameplay point of view, there is scope for 3D to improve your performance as a result of the visual depth. As the blinding firework spectacular continued to engulf the play environment, we found it marginally easier to anticipant our ships distance from asteroids. Then again, we’ve play this before… a lot. Playing in co-op, a fellow attendee soon obliterated himself, but from it we witnessed the visual highlight of the demo – debris and sparks exploding outwards in a beautiful sunburst. When your ship flies out towards you or there is a sufficiently large explosion the effect is similarly exhilarating.

SSHD in 3D is quite stunning, because the chaotic visuals are made all the more delicious. However, it doesn’t make its gameplay any more approachable for the uninitiated and the subtle detail it adds will realistically hold your attention for a dozen plays before it becomes subliminal or you have to rest your eyes.

In all, 3D certainly kicks the visual flair up a notch or two for games, but, based on what we’ve seen, it’s still not as revolutionary as the jump from SD to HD.

Aaron Lee

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