Is It Time To Invest in 3D Gaming?
What’s that? No interest for two years on select TVs? Let’s look into that. I don’t have great credit, but I figured I’d give it a shot, and oh no they gave me a $1300 line of credit. So I bought a Toshiba 46WX800u, a 3D TV. I picked that one because Amazon was throwing in two pairs of $100 glasses in free.
It’s a great TV, and a notable improvement over my old 40″ RCA. I’m positively ecstatic that I can now watch Step Up 3D whenever I want, and Tron: Legacy looks so good in 3D on this thing that I don’t care at all how dumb it is.
But not everything looks so great in 3D on this TV, though, although I don’t blame the TV for it, though. 3D TV tech is so all over the place right now that not everything is going to work right on every TV. Allow me to give you a quick lesson on how this s–t works real quick.
Most current 3D TVs use “active” 3D tech. Active TVs display 3D video at 120 frames per second, or 60 frames per eye per second, as it switches between frames intended for each eye. The TVs sync up with active glasses, which opaque the lens in front of the eye that isn’t supposed to be seeing the current frame.
There are also passive TVs that use the same glasses you get for 3D movies at the theater. Because these TVs display the frames for each eye at the same time, the viewer only gets half-resolution 3D video.
However, passive TVs don’t have the big issue that plagues active sets: crosstalk. Also called ghosting, crosstalk is a double image that shows up a whole lot in games. I’ll spare the technical explanation, but it can be blamed for the lack of an industry-wide standard for displaying 3D. Tron: Legacy 3D looks perfect on my TV but other folks see ghosts on theirs, and I see some ghosts on Motorstorm Apocalypse while others do not.
Basically, home 3D content simply isn’t optimized for every display out there. It is standard, at least, for game developers to include an intensity slider that allows you to minimize the ghosts when you encounter them, and that helps.
I’ve played a pile of 3D games in the month since I bought my TV, and here are my impressions on the state of 3D gaming, and whether or not 3D has become an important part of the gaming experience. Here are the games I’ve played, with the consoles I played them on in parenthesis.
Crysis 2 (Xbox 360)
I found crosstalk all over this game, although aside from that it looked pretty great. Derp.
de Blob 2 (Xbox 360)
Slight ghosting, but otherwise the added depth is great.
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
This is probably the best looking 3D game I’ve played, visual hit and all. As you would expect from the folks behind this franchise, the 3D customization options are far more exhaustive than in any other game, although it’s kind of a bitch that you can’t access them during a race. Thus, thanks to the game’s long load times, it’ll probably take a while to settle on settings that work best for you.
Killzone 3 (PS3)
I found minimal ghosting, and for the most part this game looks fantastic and has great depth in 3D. Definitely enhances the experience.
Motorstorm: Apocalypse (PS3)
There is crosstalk everywhere in this one, but it mostly isn’t visible when you’re actually in motion. So the 3D looks awesome when you’re racing, and less awesome when you pause your game.
NBA 2K11 (PS3)
I have no complaints. Looks nice.
Shaun White Skateboarding (PS3)
The visuals take a noticeable hit in 3D, but the effect is quite good and deep and vastly improves the experience of playing what is a very mediocre game. 3D is definitely the way to play this game.
Sly Collection (PS3)
I didn’t see any crosstalk, but the 3D effect is so minimal as to almost be pointless.
SOCOM 4 (PS3)
There’s plenty of depth to the 3D image, but it looks like all the objects within the image are flat. It’s pretty strange looking.
Super Stardust HD (PS3)
Barely noticed that it was in 3D.
Top Spin 4 (Xbox 360)
This game looks so bad in 3D, I felt personally insulted. In most cases, the visual downgrade required to sent out two images at once isn’t that big a deal, but the image in this game is so degraded it’s embarrassing.
Tron: Evolution (PS3)
I saw no ghosts on this game, and it looks pretty fantastic when the camera is still. When I move the camera, though, everything shimmers like crazy, making it almost unplayable in 3D.
WipeOut HD (PS3)
Great depth, and the image looks good. Quality.
And that’s what I’ve played so far. So is it totally necessary that you go drop a grand or two on a new TV so you can experience this thing that Sony has been hyping so hard for the past year? Nah. There are only a couple games that I feel gain something in 3D, and they don’t gain enough to make it worth it to buy a new TV. And although there is more 3D gaming content than any other kind of home 3D content so far, there still isn’t that much out there — the list above doesn’t include every game that you can play in 3D, but it does include most. And since most of the games are simply better in 2D, there isn’t a lot of incentive, currently, to make an investment in this new tech.
Sure, there’s more on PC, but how many of us can afford to get a 3D display AND a 3D Vision PC? Not me, anyway.
Of course, the good thing is that 3D televisions are coming down in price, and in a year or two 3D will be a default feature on all new TVs. So just wait until the next time you were going to pick up a new TV anyway. Or at least until Uncharted 3 comes out in November.