NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision

Review

posted 12/9/2009 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
I decided to run through a few different genres and games to test how well the glasses work ranging from brand new games to games of old. Since you just need the game to support DirectX, I had plenty of games from various genres to test the GeForce 3D Vision kit out on. My test system consisted of:

Intel Quad Core Duo E9400
4 GIG PC3200 RAM
ECS PN2-SLI+ motherboard
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 reference video card
EVGA GeForce GTS 250 for PhysX
Windows 7 64-Bit

I started with one of my current favorites in my collection, Left 4 Dead. I actually played the game at CES with the glasses so I knew what to expect. For Left 4 Dead, The GeForce 3D Vision adds depth to the screen making it a truer 3D image. The sparse HUD looks like it's floating in the plane of the screen while everything else falls back. Seeing it in action, it's really effective when a horde comes rushing at you. From far back, you'll see a group of zombies rushing but as they get closer you can actually see separation between each one a lot, lot more with the 3D Vision glasses. When the zombies get up close, you can really see them as a true 3D model. They won't pop off screen though when they lunge at you but it can sometimes throw you off a bit seeing one swing at you. I've played the game since a few weeks before release and I actually got startled a few times when I swung around to see a zombie trying to punch me. That hasn't happened since the first week or so of me playing Left 4 Dead and the 3D Vision kit did this to me in only a few sessions of me playing.

Not all Valve games worked as well even though it uses the same engine. Team Fortress 2, for example seemed really jerky and the amount of text and HUD made it hard to focus on the game. When there are so many items that are sitting on the top plane that don't move as in Team Fortress 2, it just makes the experience really hard to enjoy. Half Life 2 Episode 2 had its good moments but there were a few areas where anomalies showed up. For example, in the beginning with the train lying in some water, there were bad clipping issues and the water just didn't really fit well when viewed through the glasses. It made playing less enjoyable as the visual artifacts were pretty distracting. Even Left 4 Dead 2 needs some tweaking and a new profile as the crosshairs are off in the game.

Fallout 3 would have worked pretty well but I had to make a few adjustments to get VATS to not be as obstructive. Everything looks great as you are wandering around the wasteland and like Left 4 Dead, the depth added made the game looked really awesome. Bringing up the Pipboy, it looked like an actual real product where you just want to reach out and touch some of the buttons. There is a problem when you bring up VATS though. All the boxes that show the percentages of a successful hit sit above where the cursor is so it can be hard to tag things at times when the percentage boxes are close together. I had to turn down the amount of depth to a minimum so my eyes weren't going nuts trying to focus on the cursor or the boxes. It did lessen the 3D effect tremendously but there were some depth to be seen at even the lowest level. I have to say it was pretty fun to wander around a desolate Washington D.C. in true 3D.



For Dawn of War II, it was great to see a battlefield that looked like a table top game with miniatures. I mean seeing a battle take places on a 3D field, you can get a greater sense of troops being on different levels when standing on different height landscapes. As with Fallout 3, I had to reduce the depth in order to get a good visual experience out if it. Again, it's the combination of where the cursor sits in the 3D plane compared to the troops and HUD which can throw your eyes off. Once the depth was turned down to a minimum, it was pretty playable but sort of defeats the purpose of having a good 3D visual using the glasses.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was one of the better games I tested and I'm hoping the experience translates well to Modern Warfare 2. The cursor for aiming sat at a plane on the screen where it was useful and there were very little anomalies I encountered in my few hours of testing with the game. It's one of the few older games I tested out with that worked out really well and improved the gaming experience. Two old games gave somewhat OK results in Halo 2 and Gears of War 2. Released two years ago, Halo 2 exhibited a LOT of separation on the default settings so I had to turn the amount of depth down some to get it so it wasn't hard on the eyes. At normal levels things were just popping and fading off into the distance at extreme levels making it hard to really enjoy the game. The aiming reticule in Gears of War really hampered my playing and there was no way to turn it off so I could use the driver based reticule, which worked out better. While the rest of the game looked pretty good, the annoyance of the reticule dampened the gaming experience with Gears of War.

One of the games that really popped out was Dungeons and Dragons Online, in a literal sense. Your character on screen actually sits a few centimeters in front of the monitor and as you traverse around the environment you can see some things come out as well. One of the coolest things I saw was when it was snowing in an area I was in and I actually saw  little bits of snow floating in front. As I walked through a few areas where there were large plants, the leaves actually came up out of the screen. To make sure that the objects were popping away from the monitor, I did what many people do at 3D movies and put my hand in front to try and touch the objects. Sure enough, my hand phased through the items in front of me. It can get distracting when a lot of items are coming at you on the screen but the effect is pretty impressive. I'm hoping more games in the future can harness this feature to a more useful level should the GeForce 3D Vision take off in popularity.
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