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Written by David Ramsey   
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Duke Nukem Forever: The 3D Vision Experience
Forever Is a Long Time
Come Get Some

Duke Nukem Forever: 3D Vision Experience

After a 14 year gestation, Duke Nukem Forever has finally arrived. Those of us who played the original Duke Nukem games after weaning ourselves from Doom and Quake have finally had our patience rewarded, but adding a little frosting to the cake is the fact that Duke Nukem Forever was coded to take full advantage of NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology: it's a "3D Ready"-qualified game. Benchmark Reviews takes a look at this irreverent take on the FPS genre in 3D.


3D Vision

Benchmark Reviews has always been interested in 3D graphics technology, starting with our original review of the NVIDIA 3D Vision bundle. We've covered games that make particularly good use of the technology, like Mafia II, published a 3D Vision Multimedia Resource Guide that you might find useful, and compared it with AMD's competing HD3D system in this article. NVIDIA's 3D Vision will work with virtually any available game, albeit with differing levels of success.

But Duke Nukem Forever is, arguably, special: originally announced in 1997 after the runaway success of the original Duke Nukem 3D (itself an update to the original 1991-era Duke Nukem, which was a two-dimensional "side scroller" game), technical problems and (more significantly) poor management delayed its release for over a decade, making it one of the top vaporware titles of all time. So how does it play now that it's finally here? Before I get into that, I should review how 3D Vision works.

3D Vision requires an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, the 3D Vision bundle consisting of the LCD shutter glasses and IR emitter that drives them, and one or more 120Hz 3D-capable monitors. The system works by sequentially displaying offset "left" and "right" versions of each frame in a game, and blocking the vision from one eye or the other by darkening the shutter glasses in synchronization with the display. The effect is real and convincing: images seem to extened back into the space behind your display, as if it were a window looking into a different world. You can even have objects appear to protrude out from the monitor's screen surface! NVIDIA's software works by examing the "Z" co-ordinates the game sends to the graphics card driver, which means it works with virtually any video game.

But there are limitations. Two frames (left and right) must be generated where only one frame was before, so your game's FPS will drop by 50% or so when 3D Vision is enabled. This is less of a problem that it was when 3D Vision was introduced since moderately-priced yet powerful cards like the GTX560 made their appearance. There are also limitations to some games: to increase FPS performance, developers will often take shortcuts that will affect the 3D appearance of some objects in the game. For example, fire and particle effects like smoke are often rendered without full 3D information, as are heads-up displays for things like character health and weapon status, or gun sights for targeting. Items like this will appear at the wrong visual "depth" relative to other items in the game. In some cases you can disable some of the game's graphics effects to work around these problems, and the 3D Vision driver can even supply its own gun sight in some cases. To help users, NVIDIA defines six levels of game compatibility with 3D Vision.

The highest level is 3D Vision Ready. Games in this category are written specifically to take maximum advantage of 3D Vision. It's a short list: 17 items at the time of this writing, with several being demos or technology examples like NVIDIA's own Endless City. But Duke Nukem Forever is on the list, along with such luminaries as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Mafia II.

Under 3D Vision Ready, in descending order, are Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, and Not Recommended. The majority of games fall into the Excellent and Good categories, wherein you'll have to disable some in-game graphical effects and perhaps use NVIDIA's gun sight for the best experience. But none of these compromises are necessary with Duke Nukem Forever.

For this article, I played Duke Nukem Forever on my personal system; sadly, I have but a single, 1680x1050 3D-capable monitor. I used NVIDIA's newly released 275.33 WHQL drivers, which include the profiles for this game.



# RE: Duke Nukem Forever: The 3D Vision ExperienceDoug Dallam 2011-06-22 22:58
"Damn, I'm looking good!" I sure wish it had gotten better reviews. I'll probably play it anyway, but I don't have 3D equipment. I guess I'm going to have to start saving up for a 3D monitor because "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and I'm all outta gum."

So many memories of blowing my friend up so many times with those remote detonated pipe bombs and those CCD TV monitors. lol
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# I'll bite,....RealNeil 2011-06-23 06:30
I don't have the 3D equipment. But I'll probably buy this game anyway. I loved the prior Duke games, mostly because of the simplicity, and constant action in them. (mindless 'kill it if you see it' action) It was a good wind-down after a long day at the job. I wonder David, did you happen to play this game without the 3D equipment? If so, how did it look?
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# RE: I'll bite,....David Ramsey 2011-06-23 07:19
Yes, I did, on my 27" 1920x1200 Dell monitor. Still very playable!
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# RE: I'll bite,....Adam 2011-06-23 13:02
You're going to be horribly dissapointed then, DN:F has become little more then a crappy copy paste of other (better) games, such as a lot of the 'puzzles' being ripped off from HL2.
What got me most of all though was how thorougly boring it seemed, large sections with absolutely no shooting in whatsoever. Which for a Duke Nukem game seems like the worst let down of all.

Oh, and the graphics are bloody rough and poorly optimised which doesnt help things.
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# RE: RE: I'll bite,....Doug Dallam 2011-06-23 15:15
What a let down. Why ever bother doing the stupid thing only to destroy it? Thanks for posting.
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# RE: Duke Nukem Forever: The 3D Vision Experiencerich1051414 2011-06-24 21:34
Don't bother buying it, play hl2, gears of war, and look at some porn, you'll have a much better time. It seems the reason it took so long to come out is because 3D Realms had no original ideas of how to deliver the game, and obviously it couldn't even be saved by Gearbox. Instead of making Duke Nukem more than a walking 80's stereotype, which don't get me wrong, was quite entertaining when this character was created, they instead just threw us a pathetic shell of a man made up of horrendous one liners that would make the CSI: Miami guy cringe. You could of given Duke some depth, or at the very least, a new script. The only new line I can remember is the one used in the commercials, about it 'taking 13 #ing years...'. The sad part is, that joke is on him. Making Duke the king of the world doesn't make you like a guy who only speaks in comedic #baggery, that was only funny when he surely didn't stand a chance. R.I.P. Duke, i wish i could say i will miss you, but the memories of you are now superseded by the total fail they made you into.
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