|NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Gaming Kit|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 09 January 2009|
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3D Stereoscopic Gaming
This section could be divided into two categories: the experience I've had while playing existing video games using the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision product through driver conversion, and the experience I've had with the demo material written specifically for 3D stereoscopic gaming and allows "out-of-screen" effects. By and large, they are two very contrasting experiences, but since it's impossible to show you without having a kit of your own, this section will be a test to my descriptive skills.
So let's begin with what you can expect from the hundreds of PC video games designed with "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" coding. The list of games using 'TWIMTBP' is massive, as the numbers reach several hundred already in existence. NVIDIA leans on their code within 'The Way It's Meant To Be Played' titles, and as a result the 3D stereoscopic data is already hard-coded into many of the games you presently enjoy. For my testing, I used a few of the more popular PC video game titles:
Even though time and game availability were limited, I still feel that my selections were representative of most gamers. After spending at least two hours or more with each game through the Christmas break, I began to see that all of these games were delivering the same approximate amount of 3D stereoscopic vision. Some games, despite NVIDIA's 'excellent' stereoscopic rating, seemed extremely close to the non-3D Vision experience. Other games, with a bit of tweaking and depth adjustment, offered very nice enhancements to the normal experience.
My biggest gripe was the reduced post-processing effects some games needed to have turned off in order to function properly with GeForce 3D Vision. Take for example Far Cry 2, which requires that you play in DirectX 9 mode (even though GeForce 3D Vision is a Vista-forward product) with bloom turned off and shadows set to low. Even then the overall experience was decent, with depth separating the various layers of the screen, but not quite as thrilling as I would have liked. Dialing the depth level higher made the sun (or moon) display two versions of the image.
Other games, such as Battlefield 2, Call of Duty 4, CoD: World at War, and Race Driver GRID, were all very nice to look at and the added depth energized me with new enthusiasm towards the games. While none of the games I tested made use of positive offset images, or what NVIDIA describes as "out-of-screen" effects, they all kept me entertained. Company of Heroes and Spore were not very great, simply because everything you work with is small-scale and not extremely detailed. The Creature Creator in Spore and close-up views within both games changed the experience from mundane to highly-enjoyable. Crysis, a game I would consider to be NVIDIA's software incarnate, did nothing for me. While NVIDIA gives the Stereoscopic experience a '2' which means 'Good' by their standard, I give Crysis a zero for no added 3D experience.
In the long run, every game I played was made more enjoyable by GeForce 3D Vision, but none of them compared to the 'out-of-screen' experience I had with the test demo. Perhaps this was my biggest mistake: watching the NVIDIA Control Panel 3D Vision test scene before playing games. This scene shows (an antiquated version of) the 'nVidia' logo revolving on a static walkway. The logo comes to the screen surface while turning, and then sinks back to the rear of the screen. Okay, so far this is 'neat', and pretty much on-par with every game I played with the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision kit. But then the experience changes. After the casual to-and-fro of the logo, it decides to take a flying leap out of the screen and come within inches of your face. "Whoa!" I said, as I slipped past the charging logo. THAT WAS AN EXPERIENCE!
The problem as I see it, is that this isn't the experience we can expect to have with most of the current games available. NVIDIA Has told me that only a few games currently offer out-of-screen effects. World of Warcraft Lich King is one such game, but I am not aware of any others. NVIDIA Added that no special campaign is planned for 3D Vision games, but developers may feature advanced out of screen effects in one way or another as a result of NVIDIA's relationship. Let's hope so.