Why 3D is the new HD

3D is just a tacky hold-over from the 1950s, right? A garish, eye-straining gimmick that makes your brain vomit up a rainbow of fruit flavours in exchange for a few pop-up zombies on sticks. It was cinema’s desperate knee-jerk reaction to the increasing dominance of TV during the chrome-plated days of white picket fences and Godzilla. Today it’s Jim Cameron’s desperate knee-jerk reaction to the increasing dominance of bit torrents.

Yeah, that’s what we used to think too. But not any more.


Above: Impressive cosplay, but not the 3D gaming we're talking about

After a lengthy play with developer Blitz Games Studios’ upcoming 3D tech in Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao, scheduled by publisher Namco Bandai for release this September, our doubts have dissipated. 3D isn’t going to revolutionise gaming overnight, but even at this early stage we can see very definite parallels between it and the beginnings of a certain other display technology ending in “D”. The comparisons to the early days of high-def are obvious, and we think 3D’s future will only compound them. Here’s why.

It makes games better - Fact

It’s easy to be cynical when the man developing the new technology tells you that you haven’t experienced real 3D media before. It’s easy to be nonplussed when he mocks the red-and-blue paper specs of old before presenting you with a chunky pair of plastic sunglasses in replacement. But the fact is that the claims are true. This new 3D just makes games a hell of a lot cooler, to an order of magnitude which will force you to sit back and out-“Woah” Keanu Reeves even at his most bamboozled.

Above: We tried to do a clever Photoshop turning this screen into a 3D model. We failed hard.

Blitz’s tech isn’t the blurry, flat parallax layers of old. It’s a sharp, solid and real-feeling experience; as much like remotely manipulating a 3D diorama as playing a game. The example we played was Invincible Tiger, Blitz’s upcoming 2.5D kung fu side-scroller, but even without a multi-directional world to explore the improvement over a ‘flat’ display was immense. Little men fought in the middle of the screen, the ground they stood on stretched right up to the background scenery, and every building, bridge, rock and tree root fell into multi-directional relief exactly as it should.

And best of all, it never felt gimmicky. Blitz has very stringent rules on how to use this stuff properly, and those rules come from the perspectives of both logistics and taste. Most importantly, the depth of field went into the screen, not out of it, turning the TV into a kind of window frame overlooking the game’s staging area. No cheesy pop-up zombies here.

Above: The depth of field in scenes like this really does make it feel real. Just squint and try to imagine it.

That approach solved the problem of viewers' brains melting down when watching out-of-screen 3D images reach the edge of the viewing area (not a problem in cinemas, but a nightmare at home where viewing angles can vary). But it also made sure that the experience was all about in-game immersion rather than cheap tricks. The only extravagant effect was a smile-inducing out-of-screen throw, which saw enemies’ flailing bodies sail a foot or so out of the TV from time to time. Even the ship we watched sail a few hundred in-game metres from the horizon to the foreground was much more about adding texture and a sense of reality scale to the game world than simply saying “Look what we can do”.


  • JimmyCooldaddy - July 6, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    I haven't been this excited for gaming since I got my 360 and ps3! I don't think I'll want to play non3d after a while
  • Tenfey - July 6, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    I am not gonna lie, I clicked on this article solely because of the guy dressed as Zeke from Zombies ate my Neighbors.
  • griffed88 - July 22, 2009 6:26 p.m.

    @sharkjaws05 about your vibrating jacket, they have one out already I got to test it out at Showdown LAN last year and it was pretty awesome.
  • showdowturbosplat - July 20, 2009 1:35 a.m.

  • penguinsrule3 - July 15, 2009 12:49 a.m.

    i want to believe in 3D but i have been hurt too many times (you know who you are spy kids 3) plus i aint buyin another more expensive hd tv
  • sharkjaws05 - July 13, 2009 7:39 a.m.

    i see a PS4 coming out of this, i reckon it'll be a great idea but like mushroomer said it'll be hard to play with more than 1 person. also what would be good is some kind of suit that sends off vibrations in parts of your body like if you're playing Red Faction: Guerrilla and someone smacks you with a sledge there would be a massive vibnration on you're back, or maybe even an electric shock. what a way totake vengeance on your mates, "hey dave watch out for this", 'ZZZZZZZ' "aaaah you little bast#@!".
  • mattbru2 - July 12, 2009 5:13 p.m.

    sly cooper 3 came with 3d glasses, and optional 3d missions. hardly any of it poped out of the screen, and it made it that much harder to see what you were doing..... anyone here even care about sly cooper? i mean, i thougt he was kinda cool.........
  • baggins - July 10, 2009 5:16 a.m.

    To those who poo-poo the idea of 3D displays out of hand, I'd ask if you remember the way things were before the last 2D to 3D transition took place? Yes- we've already had one. I'm talking about 3D audio. My fellow old school FPS gamers will remember what it was like playing older games like Quake and Doom with stereo audio. You hear a monster roar and, if you're lucky you'll be able to tell if you need to turn to the right or the left to face it. If you're unlucky you'll end up spinning around 360 degrees taking damage the whole time hunting for the damn monster. Even if you guessed right, you had no idea how far you were going to have to turn, so you'd likely overshoot it. And you know what? We were *perfectly happy* playing those games. If someone had said to us then that they were developing 3D audio, we would have said, "Who needs that?". Then Creative came out with their EAX cards and Unreal was released with full 3D audio support. It was the most immersive experience *ever* in an FPS. We were amazed by an experience we never expected. Now it's (almost) taken for granted. 3D visuals are going to be the same way. A slight step up that makes the gameplay that much better. The games will be fine without it but awesome with it. Just like Unreal on a non-3D audio card. And, I expect, the ease of play will benefit in minor ways we don't even expect at this point. Just like 3D audio allowed us to target the monsters more precisely, 3D displays will probably help with things like leading your shots on a moving target. I'm looking forward to it- even if it is 10 years down the road.
  • solsunforge - July 9, 2009 3:44 p.m.

    yeah getting people to actually piss on themselves would be awesome mckillustrator. But then again that could also be the dumbest thing anyones ever said. I sure hope you enjoy pissing yourself though.
  • MacGyver1138 - July 8, 2009 10:07 p.m.

    NinjaKillr, any 1080p TV will not work. It has to have a 120Hz refresh rate in order to properly display. Many TVs are only 60Hz.
  • IronicBob - July 8, 2009 8:35 p.m.

    The only thing I'm worried about is it making Antlions even MORE scary. Dear god, I can just imagine it: `Valve presents: Half-Life: Scary Scary Mandibles in 3-D`. Shiver.
  • phoenix_wings - July 8, 2009 11:02 a.m.

    Hm. I already have glasses--can't you just get a snap-on attachment? Seriously though--3D would be a nice little bonus, but imo not something worth totally buying into. Maybe as an extra bonus mode or something, extending replay value.
  • PCG_Evan - July 8, 2009 6:02 a.m.

    That Zeke costume is shit-hot.
  • JohnnyMaverik - July 8, 2009 1:28 a.m.

    I'll believe it when I see it -_- Personally I think it's just a way of getting us to pay a bit extra for hardly any more game.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - July 8, 2009 12:49 a.m.

    so any 1080p tv will work?
  • fanboyhunter - July 7, 2009 10:41 p.m.

    If they could just hold that thought till the next gen of consoles I'll be happy. What with multiple red rings, xbl charges and my HDTV. I've spent enough on tech this gen. I think it's time they start working on something new sound wise as well. I'm getting tired of Dolby Digital.
  • doomdoomdoom - July 7, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    nintendo doesn't deserve 3d ps3, pc, and xbox deserve 3D because they try to give realism to gaming 3d will help a lot. The Wii should die and burn for it's sins like taking realism away and trying to make fat people sit in front of tv more by make them think they are losing weight. They are as bad as Diet drinks, have you ever seen a fat person lose weight from those?
  • pedro - July 7, 2009 10:20 p.m. These people may be on to something
  • iKOemos - July 7, 2009 10:13 p.m.

    GODDAMN IT! A new TV upgrade already? Well hopefully it'll be worth it and not some useless gimmick that people don't buy into.
  • garnsr - July 7, 2009 7:54 p.m.

    Do you need to have glasses to even look at the screen while 3D is on? It's impossible to watch 3D movies without the glasses, but everyone in the theater has the glasses going in. Not everyone in the living room will have glasses, so bystanders (especially girlfriends) are even more likely to bitch about you playing games, since it will make them sick watching the screen with no glasses.

Showing 1-20 of 49 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000