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Subjective Tests: The Hard Part

GeForce 3D Vision: Gaming Goes Stereo
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We’ll present the benchmarks shortly. Arguably more important to a product like this is how it actually looks, though. Amazing visuals might be a reason to tolerate a less-than-ideal frame rate. At the same time, a weak implementation would render great performance pointless.

Far Cry 2: Would Play In 3D

Far Cry 2 is one of those games with lush graphics, wide-open environments, and plenty of moving around to appreciate the depth of a stereoscopic solution like Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision. Overall, the visuals are compelling and there wasn’t any serious eyestrain to report while playing through the first several "go find this, kill that" tasks.

However, you do make some sacrifices in playing Far Cry 2 with the glasses enabled. We had to drop from DirectX 10 to DirectX 9 rendering, while turning post-processing effects to low and disabling Bloom in the name of compatibility. And because Far Cry 2 is normally such a "bright" game, it becomes all the more apparent that you’re wearing dark glasses when you play through the title and notice the tint.

The 3D technology was especially appreciated in the Jeep, where you really get a sense of the action inside the vehicle and everything else outside. Also, in a field of tall grass, the contrast between environmental objects near and far is impressive. The technology’s weaknesses surfaced when looking at clouds, which took on a shimmer around the outsides and when looking at the fire effects, which didn’t seem as receptive to depth as the other environmental components did. Of course, there’s also the fact that you have to turn down settings in order to get stereoscopic display working properly.

Crysis: TBD

For one reason or another, our 64-bit Core i7 rig would load Crysis, but the game wouldn’t kick into stereo mode. As of this writing, there is a Crysis profile and Nvidia’s driver team apparently hadn’t seen any issues with the game, so this is one we’ll need to revisit.

World In Conflict: Would Not Play In Stereo

Perhaps less an issue with 3D Vision and more representative of the genre in general, World in Conflict, from our graphics test suite, isn’t really suited to stereoscopic play. Nvidia rates it a “Good” in its compatibility list, correctly observing that troop icons render at screen depth. When you consider how many characters may actually be on the screen at any given time, not having those icons at the right depth is actually distracting. It’s also necessary to turn off certain graphics features for maximum compatibility.

If you like to play RTS games with the bird’s eye view of the battlefield, there’s very little to gain by playing World in Conflict in stereo. If, on the other hand, you scroll farther into the action and play primarily from the ground-level, the depth does make some difference. All pluses and minuses considered, we’d just as soon skip this one with the 3D Vision glasses.

Left 4 Dead: Would Play In Stereo

This is the title Nvidia was using to showcase the 3D Vision technology when we previewed it a month ago—and we absolutely know why. Left 4 Dead is already a dark game, so the loss in brightness is hardly perceptible. Moreover, the effect of enabling 3D seems to be amplified when you’re in a dark room shooting zombies that are jumping up in your face. Because a lot of the action is close at hand (and not firing from across a ravine, as it is in Far Cry 2, for example), the addition of real depth is much easier to feel.

Again, the benefits don’t come without a couple of sacrifices, though. Two graphics settings have to be de-tuned in order for the game to work properly in a stereoscopic mode. Nevertheless, if there’s one title to make 3D Vision a must-have, it’s this one.

Call of Duty: World At War: Would Play In Stereo…

…especially if I were a more competitive gamer. You see, the in-game crosshair doesn’t get rendered correctly in stereo, so Nvidia builds in support for its own laser sight, which gets enabled by default (the alternative is running and gunning with no aim whatsoever). On top of always being on, even when you’re setting up options before firing the game up, the Nvidia crosshair is tightly grouped and deep into the monitor, resulting in what amounts to a true last sight on WWII-class weapons. This is great if you try to snipe with a Garand. But it is not so great if you’re on the receiving side wondering how the guy with the sidearm keeps picking you off from 100 yards away. The whole issue of problematic crosshair systems simply illustrates the challenges Nvidia faces with titles already shipping. In scrolling through the software-compatibility list, you'll notice that a number of games with some sort of targeting work better with Nvidia's properly-separated crosshair enabled instead.

Otherwise, the latest Call of Duty works well. You do have to turn off a couple of graphics quality settings, as with most of the games we’ve tested so far. And while we’re not fond of compromising available options in the name of simply working correctly, our (your) hands are tied on this one. In order to get stereo looking as good as possible, certain problematic features have to disabled. This is something Nvidia’s developer relations folks have committed to addressing in upcoming titles, but it remains a point of contention in today’s software.

Fallout 3: Would Play In Stereo

This was the first title we played that didn’t require any special settings in order to work properly. However, we’d recommend playing the title using Nvidia’s own crosshairs instead of the game’s. It’s hardly a surprise that Fallout 3 tends to be a fairly dark game given its post-apocalyptic setting. As with Left 4 Dead, that seems to be one of the key ingredients in a compelling stereo configuration. Overall, Fallout 3 looks superb in stereo with the 3D Vision glasses.

However, you’ll probably want to notch up the brightness. The glasses dim things far too much at default settings.

Unreal Tournament 3: Would Not Play In Stereo

Nvidia lists compatibility in Unreal Tournament 3 (UT3) as Excellent, yet you’ll still need to turn your World Details down to 3 (from a max of 5) before realizing what the company considers to be optimal compatibility. With that said, UT3 runs great in stereo mode. It’s not perfect, though.

The game is fast enough that this writer, who's fine on small ocean crafts, never had a problem with Half-Life 2 when it first came out, and doesn't mind the back seat on winding mountain roads, found himself disoriented after a run-and-gun death match session. There’s just too much going on to process the fight, the speed, and the extra depth. Given a choice of playing with 3D Vision or not, I’d as soon forgo the glasses for a shooter as quick as UT3.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    gmt325gh , January 9, 2009 7:03 AM
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :p 
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , January 9, 2009 5:30 AM
    Interesting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.

    nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so.

    Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.

    I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma... ;) 
  • 11 Hide
    gmt325gh , January 9, 2009 7:03 AM
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :p 
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 7:32 AM
    Nice article, but you're forgetting about something...Pc's are not only used for gaming, and if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect. Also...besides providing their own hardware and a new Vista compatible driver, what did NVidia came up with that surpasses all the other 3D shutter glasses on the market(eDymensional..etc.), giving to account that all the titles you tested work with/the same(look,FPS etc.)with any stereoscopic glasses?
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , January 9, 2009 8:11 AM
    TheGreatGrapeApeInteresting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so. Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma...


    Grape,

    It's coming. I sent all of the hardware to Thomas, who has a second GTX 295, which means we'll be able to deliver benchmarks of two 295s versus a pair of X2s and so on down the line. I'm over at CES, so all of this had to be finished up before the show. Should be worth the wait. I'm looking forward to see what four-digits worth of graphics horsepower is capable of, to be sure.

    I had the chance to check out Nvidia's competition tonight at the show and am currently working on a news story about it. Not. Impressed.
  • 2 Hide
    enewmen , January 9, 2009 8:12 AM
    This brings be back to the Asus V6600 GeForce Deluxe card I got in 1999. At that time, the 'Dagoth More Zoological Gardens' with the VR-Glasses was the most awesome sight I've ever seen on a PC. This worked with Ultima9 as well as a nice surpirse :) 

    I'm surprised I havin't seen (mainstream) 3-D displays without glasses yet. I've seen some samples of this in the past with small screens.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , January 9, 2009 8:47 AM
    Totally remember that myself. That was actually one of the first video cards I ever reviewed =)
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 9:32 AM
    This reminds me that Sony showed a stereo version of Gran Turismo 5 running on a PS3 AND that the RSX is a NVidian board...
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 12:13 PM
    LCD shutter glasses again??? Really? Yawn. Where are the glasses that beam images directly onto my retinas or even a set of lcd glasses that are actually 2 tiny HD monitors but still light enough to wear comfortably...
  • 0 Hide
    Fadamor , January 9, 2009 12:24 PM
    I need to point out an apparent error in nVidia's statement regarding TV's... I purchased a Samsung 40" LCD TV (Model number LN40A650) just prior to the holidays that has 120 Hz HDMI ports (4 of them) AND has 120 Hz refresh rate. So there ARE large screens out there that should be able to support the 3D technology.
  • 3 Hide
    GlItCh017 , January 9, 2009 12:48 PM
    gmt325ghnice... just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!!


    I would guess that it fits over glasses.
  • 0 Hide
    hixbot , January 9, 2009 2:30 PM
    120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.
    The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , January 9, 2009 2:36 PM
    Does it work with other 3d capable apps. Scientific stuff, 3d desktop, media player visualizations/screensavers etc?
  • 1 Hide
    roofus , January 9, 2009 2:42 PM
    Wow it's been a while since I have seen Elsa mentioned. They made some really good video cards back in the day.
  • -2 Hide
    coldmast , January 9, 2009 3:20 PM
    so what, Tom's is telling me I need 2X 295 and then everything is good right?

    darn! I think I'll have to stick to a red-blue and rad racer
  • 1 Hide
    Fadamor , January 9, 2009 3:54 PM
    hixbot120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.

    So you're saying the problem is based on the fact that the display is an LCD display? Then why were two LCD monitors listed as compatible?

    The TV I purchased lists a 4ms response time for the pixels. That translates to approximately a 250 Hz refresh rate. The requirement for these glasses is 120 Hz which means it is less than half of the TV's rated capability. Are you SURE it's not going to work?
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , January 9, 2009 4:23 PM
    It's god to know that if I ever have enough money I can get something guite interesting to my desktop! Even if this will be a niche solution for some time, at least it's nice to know that there is something that you can put your sli cards really to do something usefull. But I really hope that even this feature should be "open" standard to all GPU makers...
  • -1 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 9, 2009 4:23 PM
    looking from nvidia's perspective, this feature must work really good in order to sell more GPUs since this obviously requires SLI more than crysis.
    I wonder how amd's stereo solution will work, probably performs almost the same but cheaper. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 9, 2009 4:45 PM
    k_meleon1982....if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect.

    3D is the next big thing in movies after digital projection and HD. Check out Wikipedia's list of future releases in 3D for more info.



    Go see Bolt in Disney Digital 3-D
  • -2 Hide
    Balshoy , January 9, 2009 5:56 PM
    "and you’ll need a fairly potent graphics subsystem in order to really enjoy it. "

    You people always complain about performance issues... well gotta tell you that things aren't so black and white... well not so black anyway :p 
    I have a HD4870 video card, a phenom 9950 processor and 5 GB RAM @ 667Mhz... and I can play Crysis with all the settings turned to VERY high at a 1680x1050 resolution with a playable frame rate. So what I'm trying to say is that with a fairly standard gaming rig you can play the latest games with all the settings turned on/set to very high... just imagine what you can do with just a little more (a 4870x2 instead of the simple 4870... or a tad more ram)
  • 1 Hide
    knickle , January 9, 2009 5:58 PM
    I used a pair of shutter glasses a long long time ago. They were pretty cool, but far from perfect. One of the issues I experienced was ghosting (a faint image of what the opposite eye was seeing). This was on a CRT. I would expect such an affect to be more apparent on an LCD.

    So my question to the author is, was there any noticeable (or negligible) ghosting during your tests?
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