GR's guide to the new age of 3D

Remember a year or so ago, when everyone was arguing over whether the LCD TV or the plasma TV was the next big thing? And then after that, when everyone was arguing over whether HD DVD or Blu-ray was the future of home entertainment? Remember how dumb you felt when you sat down with your HD DVD player in front of your DLP TV and realized you’d backed the wrong horse both times? Well, guess what? You have a chance to redeem yourself, because the new format debate is starting, and it’s aaaalll about the 3D.

Above: Quick, which of these TVs is going to be completely obsolete in three months? Answer: Maybe both!

As the technology behind “stereoscopic” 3D imaging progresses (real pop-out-of-the-screen 3D, not just polygons or Wolfenstein 3D), companies are coming up with more and more ingenious ways to trick your eyes into seeing depth. Our guide will tell you how it all works, as well as which untested gizmos to start saving your pennies for. And just in case you didn’t think this was relevant to gaming today, guess what? Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao comes out for XBLA and PSN later this month, and aside from being one of the most fun beat-em-ups we’ve played for a while, it also features support for nearly all of the 3D modes we’re about to explain to you.

How it looks on Han Tao:

We put “convincing” in scare quotes up there because anaglyph 3D is really the bottom of the barrel in terms of modern 3D effects. The images do “pop,” sure, but if you’re using colored filters on your eyes, everything you see will be a disgusting soup of reds and blues. Simply put, you don’t want to play games in anaglyph 3D. It’s dizzying, ugly, and will give you serious eyestrain. Be extra careful when buying “3D” games like G-Force or new 3D DVDs like Coraline - the box will try to sell you anaglyph 3D and pass it off as the real thing. It’s not. Watching a current movie in outdated anaglyph 3D will make you miserable and a little bit queasy. Don’t say Uncle GamesRadar didn’t warn you.

How it looks on Han Tao:

If you have the means to split up your display onto two separate monitors, Invincible Tiger’s side-by-side 3D mode produces pretty convincing effects using parallax. You’ll have to play the game with the displays pretty darn close to your eyes, though, and we’re pretty sure you can only pull that off with a specialized VR helmet. You’ll probably feel sick and look like a complete dork, just like you did when you played Virtual Boy.

Next up: 3D that actually looks good!