While 3D viewing technology has its haters, there's no doubting it's here to stay - at least for a while. Nintendo has created a new handheld around the idea of 3D gaming and Sony is pushing the technology hard through the PS3 and a range of compatible TVs. While games like Crysis 2 will deliver 3D gaming to the Xbox 360 and PS3, if you want the largest selection of 3D games on a console the PS3 is really the only option.
3D doesn't come cheep at the moment, though, with sets starting at just under a grand and many retailing for a lot more. With a Sony BRAVIA HX803 set up, 3D glasses donned and a selection of 3D titles ready to go, I headed into the new dimension to see if all the talk has been worth it.
This is the big one. Killzone 2 is widely regarded, alongside Uncharted 2, as the most visually impressive PS3 game on the market, so a lot is expected of the first-person shooter's third outing, this time with full 3D support. I got to try out three levels from an early build (remember, it's not due for release until February 2011), and in truth it's a mixed bag.
The way your weapon sticks out in the middle of the screen is neat, but it also looks a little like it's been pasted into the scene rather than appearing like it belongs. Weather effects, on the other hand, look excellent. The little snowflakes that blow around look amazing as they seemingly float between the screen and your eyes. The biggest effect 3D has, however, is adding depth to the environments. One section featured a fire-fight along a snow-covered mountain path which led up to a Helghast base. This scene, for want of a better description, just looked more impressive in size when played using the 3D mode.
While looking a fair way off in terms of its overall graphical presentation, Apocalypse already features impressive 3D support. I only got to sample one fairly basic track, set in a crumbling city, but debris flew past my car and into my face, a large tanker looked incredibly imposing as it rampaged through the pack and the environment had a real sense of depth. There's clearly a long way to go in terms of development, but I have high hopes that Apocalypse will be one of the leading titles in the 3D arena on its release.
3D Collection pack on PSN
This collection is available to download through the PlayStation Network at just over £20. For the money you get the full version of Pain, SuperStardust HD and WipEout HD, along with a single-track demo of MotorStorm Apocalypse. The first three will update to support 3D if you already own them. Currently this collection is more or less all the 3D gaming available for the PS3 (We couldn't get Avatar: The Game to work), so how do the titles stack up?
Most striking to look at is MotorStorm Pacific Rift, which features the most impressive use of 3D I've seen. The foliage puts you into the world, dirt, dust and water flies out of the screen as your wheels churn up the ground, and there's an excellent sensation of depth. It's a real shame that the entire game wasn't converted to run in 3D.
WipEout HD and SuperStardust HD both have moments, with the ships in WipEout appearing to hover (yes, I know that's what they already do, but the effect is quite pronounced now), and the asteroids in Stardust look great as they protrude from the screen. Neither game really feels more immersive when played in 3D, though, and the less said about Pain the better. The 3D effect in this downloadable torture simulator isn't great and adds nothing to the experience.
It's impossible to make a blanket statement to cover 3D gaming technology, but from what I've seen a lot more needs to be done to make it an essential upgrade. Consider the cost of entry starts at around £1,000, there just aren't enough killer apps on the market at the moment. Titles like Killzone 3 and MotorStorm Apocalypse will help, as will the forthcoming PS3 update that will enable 3D Blu-ray playback. Sony really needs support from every AAA release, though. The likes of Crysis 2 and Ghost Recon Future Soldier are a good start, but I can't help feeling that it's going to take something bigger to make the technology catch on.