Let’s start with what 3D Vision Surround does well. In games that are “3D Vision-ready,” the experience is as profound as going from a 2D VGA card to a 3D graphics accelerator. I BS you not. If this technology didn’t have such a steep barrier to entry in its cost, I can guarantee you’d be all over it. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Just Cause 2 are perhaps the two poster children of what 3D Vision Surround can do. They’re simply stunning. Trying to describe going from 3D gaming on a 2D screen to a three-dimensional experience is really an exercise in futility. You have to experience it. And if you have your doubts, find someone with the setup and try it yourself.
And while I might sound like a flowery fan boy after that paragraph, the technology is of course not without its faults—the most grievous of which is the fact that not all games are as well-optimized as Battlefield and Just Cause. In fact, there are six playable games listed as 3D Vision-ready on Nvidia’s site (others are either demos or not yet available). The rest have varying degrees of issues that require addressing. Sometimes that means turning off quality-oriented features. Sometimes that means putting up with an anomaly that can’t be worked around.
Factor in the fact that 3D Vision Surround is an expensive proposition, indeed. Three monitors, some number of glasses, a pair of GeForce GTX 480s, if you’re doing this right, and maybe even a stand. That’s $2,500+ before you even start in on the rest of your machine (which had better also be beefy, by the way). No doubt that’ll be one the most significant inhibitors. Though again, this is Nvidia’s big “look at me” technology, similar to AMD’s Eyefinity 6 Edition card.
For those of you who don’t mind throwing down big bucks, 3D Vision Surround is a sight to behold in a handful of games. In others, you’ll want to run in Surround (2D) mode. As we’ve already seen from AMD’s Eyefinity capability, that’s cool technology too. It's just a shame that AMD doesn’t have anything to compete with in the realm of stereoscopic gaming. We were told to expect results back when single-screen 3D Vision launched, and have since conceded that this is a one-horse race.
At the end of the day, the conclusion I reached back in January of 2009 about 3D Vision is still eerily applicable:
GeForce 3D Vision reminds us a lot of 64-bit processing, multi-core CPUs, and hardware-accelerated transform and lighting (T&L). It’s a product based on technology with the potential to completely change the way you do something—in this case, game. However, the caveats shouldn’t be ignored. The cost of entry is high, enabling the functionality often means turning off other quality-enhancing features, and you’ll need a fairly potent graphics subsystem in order to really enjoy it.
This next line is going to be flame bait, but the ace up Nvidia’s sleeve has to be its The Way It's Meant To Be Played (TWIMTBP) program. TWIMTBP might just give the hardware vendor enough sway on the software side to not only make sure upcoming titles are wholly compatible with GeForce 3D Vision, but that they also include additional features, such as content able to pop up through the latest 120 Hz screens. GeForce 3D Vision cannot truly succeed without some sort of embrace from game developers, and that's what we imagine Nvidia is working on right now. Until that happens, we’d be inclined to let the prices on those brand-new monitors and glasses come down a bit. The technology is remarkably novel—there’s just so much else you can do with $600 right now.
Hopefully Nvidia is still cranking hard on the developer support it needs to engorge that list of 3D Vision-ready titles. Those are the ones that’ll sell 3D Vision Surround. Once you sit down in front of a properly-optimized game, it’s truly hard to get back up.
- 3D Vision Surround In Depth
- Building It: 3D Vision Surround And Surround 2D
- Using 3D Vision Surround: The Lynchpin
- Benchmarking 3D Vision Surround
- Benchmark Results: Far Cry 2 And S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat
- Benchmark Results: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 And Battlefield: Bad Company 2
- Benchmark Results: Just Cause 2
- Benchmark Results: Surround 2D