Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PlayStation 3 in 3D impressions

There are lots of opinions to be had on 3D, and while lots of of the staff at Engadget could take it or leave it, this particular writer is a firm fan of the idea. Notice the word "concept." 3D is hard to pull off well. We have all had to come to grips with the dimming effect of most 3D tech, due to the fact that we are only seeing about half the potential brightness of a display, and 3D gambling presents a whole different ream of issues. Follow after the break as they walk through some of our experiences with the PlayStation 3 in 3D and see if it can measure up to our hopes and dreams for a world with one additional dimension.

The Killzone 3 gamely demo they saw yesterday at Sony's presser was the top of what we have seen for 3D gambling. Formula: take one of the best-looking games on any process ever and put it in 3D. They were thrilled to try it out on the show floor, but regrettably we are not so sure it lives up to its self-produced hype. The giant issue is that the game runs at a seriously reduced resolution in order to compensate for the doubled framerate of 3D. All the assists and art direction still shine, and the game still looks nice, but there's tons of "jaggiest," and you notice the lost fidelity every time you receive a glimpse of the game jogging in 2D.

There is also the issue dimming caused by the shutter glasses (possibly exacerbated by the show lights they were playing under), which makes some of the darker or more cluttered scenes appear muddy and difficult to discern. But, it is still great playing in 3D. The sense of space is tangible, and they had not one of the issues they anticipated of not knowing where to focus our eyes. Huge scenes felt bigger, danger felt more immediate, and they see the advantage of 3D for first-person shooters. Regrettably, while the technical execution remains lacking, it is hard to see using 3D for anything but the most casual of sessions: for an extended play through or competitive multiplayer, 2D is a must. On a more positive note, Sony says that they are working on getting the resolution to match (or appear to match) to 2D gamely in 3D mode, so perhaps this game will get better with time (it is in pre-alpha currently), but we'll must wait and see.

MotorStorm Apocalypse had similar issues with jaggies caused by a low resolution: let's hope Sony is planning for similar resolution improvements here. With MotorStorm at least they know that Motor Storm: Pacific Rift makes use of the lower quality assets and effects from split screen mode in the coursework of 3D, along with an upscaled low-res render, and it seems similar here. The graphics are not bad, but they not very appear competitive with what Motor Storm looks like in 2D. They also had trouble discerning obstacles sometimes due to the dimness of the display, and some of the reflections on the screen where they were playing caused even more confusion.
One of the much better looking games they saw was MLB 10 The Show. It appeared to be playing at a much higher resolution, and with the higher quality graphics that the relative simplicity of baseball games have always enabled. Also, the cleanness of the field made the screen dimness not as much of an issue, and there is a benefit to 3D in the coursework of hitting... are you able to imagine that? An actual practical use for all these graphical shenanigans?

They also spotted Wipeout HD in all its smooth, high resolution 3D glory, along with a few other titles, but they are all a variation on the same theme: if a game can being played in 1080p at a high frame rate in 2D, then the 3D version will do much better than a game that was already struggling to chug along at 720p (like Motor Storm, for example). If developers cannot manage to squeeze much more power out of the process, they might be waiting until the next generation of consoles for truly premiere 3D experiences, but hopefully games like Killzone and Motor Storm can bump up their resolution and redeem themselves before launch.


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