Speak to anyone about 3D films and you'll get a different opinion. Some people love them, others find their eyes hurt and others just plain don't get what the fuss is about. So, with Batman: Arkham Asylum getting the Game of the Year Treatment complete with a new 3D vision mode, we thought we'd poll people in the office to see what they think. Oh, and if you're wondering about what else is included in the package, you get all the DLC that's been released to date, along with the exclusive challenges offered through retailers and inside the Collector's Edition of the original game. The 3D is the big new addition.
Playing Batman: Arkham Asylum in 3D is an odd experience. This isn't the fancy technology we get when watching Avatar in 3D at the cinema, so the effect is more subtle, but it's certainly a step up from the old-fashioned 3D that graced such classic films as Jaws 3D. To my eyes there's a definite loss in clarity when using the new 3D display mode (switching between back to the standard mode confirms this), but the sense of depth, even if quite subtle, certainly adds something to the game. Wandering through Arkham Asylum's corridors and open rooms with the new vision mode turned on, then running through the same section again without, you lose something. It's hard to put a finger on what, but with the glasses I felt more immersed and the environment appeared more realistic. I'd recommend you play in 3D if you can.
My 3D reference points are Avatar, Friday the 13th Part III, which I remember came with crappy 3D glasses when we rented it from Blockbuster, and James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, which I saw in 3D at a behind-closed doors presentation at E3 last year. So, how does the superb (and now BAFTA award-winning) Batman: Arkham Asylum in 3D compare? Well, it's better than Friday the 13th Part III anyway. But it doesn't quite reach the heights of Avatar. It's probably got something to do with Batman's darker, more enclosed feel. With the camera pitched just over Batman's shoulder, there isn't much scope for stuff to fly at your face, or for bits of the environment to appear closer than others. Arkham Asylum is by design a dark, claustrophobic place, so the depth effect is limited. Oh, and when you wear the glasses, the colour desaturates, making the game look less vibrant than it did. However, there were moments that impressed me, including having a huge muscle-bound monster run at me. I'd say that it's worth a punt - you can pick up the 3D-enabled edition of the game bundled with two 3D glasses (which aren't great) for under 40 quid online - if for nothing else to see what a flying batarang looks like in 3D.
3D gaming with oldschool glasses is lame right? The colours will be nothing like the game designers intended and the actual 3D effect will be slight at best. That's what I thought when Square Enix put out a press release revealing 3D support for Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition, promising 3D visuals without a fancy new TV. To my surprise, the 3D is actually pretty convincing, introducing a depth to the visuals previously absent. Not only do the environments transform into more believable virtual spaces, but character models pop out of the screen. All this with only a small loss in colour clarity, although an element of fuzziness is introduced. The 3D effect isn't always successful, though, sometimes making characters lose any sense of being fully-rendered models, appearing instead as cardboard cut-outs. Wearing the 3D glasses also took its toll, leaving my eyes feeling a little tired after only 20 minutes of game time. Still, given Batman wasn't created from the ground up to utilise the TriOviz 3D technology, the implementation here shows enough promise to suggest future projects will be even more impressive.
Of the many ways to simulate the third dimension on a 2D plane - this is the most basic. Like the 3D comics you could get as a kid, paper glasses with one greenish lens and one pinkish lens sit awkwardly on your face and interpret the faint coloured outlines on the screen into 3D. It must be said, it works better than you might expect. Of course, it's still nothing on the latest big-budget movies striving for the same effect, but you do actually get a real sense of depth right there in your living room. My biggest issue is that a lot of colour information is sacrificed for this extra dimension and after about five or six minutes you'll be sick of seeing everything in a nasty blend of pink and green. I would imagine that beyond 45 minutes you'd be lucky not to have a pounding headache, and you'll notice batman himself appearing out of focus on more than a few occasions. Would I choose to play the entire game like this? Probably not. Arkham Asylum is a gorgeous game in its own right, and adding depth at the expense of colour and comfort seems, to me, pretty unnecessary.