3D Gaming – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As an avid gamer myself, I’ve inevitably gravitated towards the 3D gaming scene. I actually own a couple of different 3D televisions and all three of the current major gaming consoles, which kind of puts me up there as a true expert. Or you could just call me a pompous jackass – that works too.

Either way, I have a pretty big take on the whole situation and I’d like to share it with all of you. If you’re the type of person who values the opinion of a random blogger, then you should read on! If not, well, then go away!

Equipping Yourself With the Right Hardware

Okay, before we get to the meat of this post, it’s very important that we know what hardware out there best accommodates to the 3D gaming scene. I’ve done my fair amount of research, so I’m going to do this the easy way by simply providing you with a few reviews of the highest rated 3D TV’s (in respect to gaming).

But before we get to that, I will say that in order to get the best 3D gaming experience, you should go with a plasma HDTV. Here’s why:

– They’re faster. Plasma TV’s shape light by electrically charging gas-filled cells, as opposed to LCDs which dictate what’s displayed by using liquid crystals and light-emitting diodes. In layman’s terms, plasma TV’s get the job done faster. Much, much faster.

– They have better motion tracking. This means that the response time is faster, which pretty much is just a follow-up attribute to the point above. When playing an intense 3D game, you will definitely want fast motion tracking.

– They’re more power-efficient. Well, in most cases they are. You see, an LCD/LED television operates with a backlight, which means that the amount of power being used to keep it on is correlated with the backlight setting (which is usually consistent). Plasma TV’s, on the other hand, rarely capitalize on their max power settings because the amount of power consumed is dependent on the (fluctuating) level of brightness. How often do you watch movies or play games that are constantly displaying bright pictures?

Then again, there are some disadvantages to going with a plasma television, mainly pricing. They are traditionally much more expensive than their LCD counterparts, even when comparing screens of the same size. Additionally, they are usually heavier, which makes it harder to transport (but really, who cares?).

Many people argue that plasma televisions are at risk for burn-ins and/or shorter display lifespans, but this argument has lost its merit over the years. Thanks to technology updates such as “pixel orbiting” and other implementations, modern plasma TV’s are exhibiting much longer lifespans and less susceptibility to burn-ins.

So, which plasma television out there is best for 3D gaming? Honestly, I would like to leave that decision up to you, but I do want to provide you with a few reviews that I found. One is of my favorite plasma television and the other two are LED/LCD sets that you may be interested in if you don’t care for plasma. The following reviews and specifications were obtained from TopTenREVIEWS™, so you can thank them for this information. Here we go:

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Panasonic TC-P54VT25 3D TV

Screen Size – 54 inches
TV Type – Plasma
Resolution – 1920×1080
Aspect Ratio – 16:9
Contrast Ratio – 5,000,000:1
Refresh Rate – 600Hz
Viewing Angle – Not Specified

“Your TV is no longer simply a TV. Most flat panel TVs in this class can also double as web browsers, video conference monitors and digital photo viewers. With the Viera Cast feature you can enjoy a variety of online content such as YouTube, Picasa, Pandora Internet Radio, Netflix, Twitter, FOX Sports and Bloomberg. Some of these internet services, such as Netflix, require a monthly membership fee, but no computer is required to use any of these online features. All you need to do is into your network using the built-in Ethernet port, or a wireless LAN adapter plugged into one of the two USB ports.”

“For an eye-popping 3D TV effect, you can’t do better than the Panasonic TC-P54VT25 3D TV. Its 600Hz refresh rate provides incredibly realistic and crisp images when watching 3D or 2D content. If you simply must have 3D television in your home, and if you don’t mind wearing the active shutter glasses for extended periods of time, this TV is an excellent choice for you.”


LG 55LX9500

Screen Size – 55 inches
TV Type – LED
Resolution – 1920×1080
Aspect Ratio – 16:9
Contrast Ratio – 10,000,000:1
Refresh Rate – 480Jz
Viewing Angle – 178 degrees

“The 55LX9500 is a THX-certified 3D TV. This means that the TV has passed a rigorous set of laboratory tests that evaluate all aspects of the TV’s picture quality, including brightness, contrast, color accuracy, viewing angles and video processing performance of the images in the right and left eyes. This certification is evident in the excellent picture quality, the vibrant colors and deep blacks achieved with both dimensions of content.”

“While the overall picture quality is excellent, this 3D TV narrowly missed finishing in first place because its 3D effect is not quite as satisfying or realistic as that of the Panasonic TC-P54VT25. However, its superb thin design and light weight lands this TV in our number two spot ahead of the Sony XBR-60LX900.”

“The technology available today for viewing 3D TV is very impressive and you can bet that it will only get better. However, there is not very much content available to watch, but that is coming and will only get better as directors and producers get a better handle on this technology. Even if you don’t use the LG 55LX9500 to view 3D content, rest assured that it is one of the best HDTVs available on the market today.”

“While its 3D TV capabilities may be slightly lacking, its ability to show vibrant, crisp and crystal clear 2D images is very impressive. However, to get that impressive picture, you are going to pay a premium price. Be sure to check our other 3D television reviews so you can ensure that you are getting the model that best suits your needs.”


SONY XBR-60LX900

Screen Size – 60 inches
TV Type – LED
Resolution – 1920×1080
Aspect Ratio – 16:9
Contrast Ratio – Infinite
Refresh Rate – 240Hz
Viewing Angle – 178 degrees

“Using what Sony calls the Intelligent Presence Sensor with Face Detection, the XBR-60LX900 3D TV watches you to make sure you are watching it. With this technology the XBR-60LX900 uses a tiny camera below the screen to detect when you are watching TV. When you turn your face away from the screen, the TV automatically dims the screen. If the camera does not detect any faces watching, the TV turns off to save power.”

“The sensor camera also detects your position in the room and adjusts the left and right volume balance and optimizes the picture. In addition, this 3D TV sounds an alarm and displays a warning message if children get within about three feet of the screen.”

“The Sony BRAVIA XBR-60LX900 is an excellent HDTV with vibrant colors and snappy images. The 3D TV capabilities are very good and impressive, but didn’t quite live up to our expectations when compared side by side with some of the other 3D TVs reviewed here. The TV is loaded with features and has a very elegant design, but all that technology and beauty come at a fairly hefty price. If you don’t think that this is the right 3D television for you, make sure you take the time to read our other reviews.”

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Again – these specifications and reviews were obtained from TopTenREVIEWS™. I do not claim ownership of, or credit for any of this information.

The 3D Gaming Experience

Hopefully the above information can help you out if you haven’t purchased a 3D TV yet. But enough with the specifications! Let’s move on.

What I really wanted to talk about here is how 3D gaming scales in comparison to 3D films and if investing in it is even worth your time and resources. We usually see modern technology progressing in a very fast-paced manner, with minor additions being implemented on a short-term basis.

However, 3D gaming evolves in a much more unique fashion – the injections are made very infrequently and when they are, they scale massively. Take a look at Nintendo for instance – when you compare the GameCube to the Wii, it’s quite obvious that the two consoles are nothing alike and the latter greatly surpasses the former in terms of graphics, quality and features.

This standard alone makes the development of 3D gaming very enticing. Everybody anticipates the release of the next big system, but we end up waiting years for it to happen (which is a good thing). We want the mainstream companies like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to take their time with the augmentation of their systems, because if they don’t then we will end up paying more money for less improvements.

Anyways, this is fundamental knowledge. If you didn’t realize this before, then congratulations on learning something new! The real point here is that the development of 3D gaming will, as with everything, take time.

Thankfully, patience is (here comes the cliche) a virtue. We’ll end up waiting a while for things to start moving forward, but when we finally get there, I think we’ll be very happy that we waited.

But, but, but… there are already 3D games available!

Really? Where have I been?

Yes, I know there are plenty of 3D games already out there. But let’s face it – they aren’t anywhere near the quality that we desire. And they most definitely won’t scale up to the 3D quality that we can expect a year from now when the new consoles explode out of the starting gate.

The question then becomes – is it worth the money to invest in the current 3D games available?

Well, I wouldn’t have gone through all the effort of providing you with reviews of 3D televisions that are ideal for 3D gaming just to tell you that 3D gaming isn’t worth it, because it most definitely is. Not to mention the fact that getting a head start on things is always efficient.

Soooo…

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Finally, we’ve arrived at the meat of the post! That took way too long, didn’t it?

The point of this entire post is to give you the pros and cons of (the current state of) 3D gaming so that you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it. If you do decide that it’s worth it, you currently have my opinions on what TV to go with (if you haven’t already bought one).

Though, to be honest, it’s very hard trying not to generalize the pros of 3D gaming. I mean, seriously, what possible reason would we have for not wanting to play a game in 3D? Maybe if you have a hatred for technology. If you do, you probably shouldn’t be gaming in the first place (or be a citizen of planet Earth to be quite frank).

In the grand scheme of things, we all really want this to work out, and I promise you, it will. But first we have to consider the way new technology develops: Slowly! And not only slowly, but very spontaneously. Let’s take a look at Nintendo again…

With the release of the Wii, Nintendo had plans to literally revolutionize a new form of gaming. Making the system, they envisioned people interacting with the console by using a remote to manipulate the functions of the games. They even pushed for the concept of the Wii being useful as a way to burn calories and maintain a healthy state of being.

Yeah, okay.

Don’t get me wrong – the system exhibited some pretty decent reception. Nintendo seemingly wanted to target a larger demographic with the release of the Wii and they were successful in doing so. But in terms of actually “revolutionizing” a new form of gaming – did they actually achieve this? Not really.

They did, however, establish some fantastic momentum. Sony and Microsoft became inspired by Nintendo and have been putting in their own efforts to parallel some of the concepts that the Wii brought to fruition. So if Nintendo secretly (uh-huh…) had the goal to push technology in the right direction, then they were indeed successful.

The “Brimming” Conclusion

In the long run, the good – the bad – and the ugly are respectively: The concept of 3D gaming – the slow pace at which it is progressing – and my delusional belief that you actually care about my opinion.

So, assuming that you’ll at least do me the decency of pretending that this post influenced your perspective on 3D gaming, I’ll go ahead and provide you with a list of all the games so far that have technically been established as stereoscopic video games. A lot of people don’t really understand what makes a game 3D, and just because you play a game on a 3D TV does not mean that it will have stereoscopic quality. Take a quick look at your options:

TrackMania Nations/United Forever
CubiCute – The 3D Game
Skate 2
Minecraft
G-Force
Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Toy Story Mania!
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game
MotorStorm: 3D Rift
Wipeout HD
Super Stardust HD
Pain
Call of Duty: Black Ops
The Sly Collection
Prince of Persia Trilogy
Gran Turismo 5 PS3
Attack Of The Movies 3D
Batman Arkham Asylum: Game Of The Year: 3D Edition
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
DLC Pigsy’s Perfect 10
Thor: God of Thunder
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters
Captain America: Super Soldier
Crysis 2
Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Trilogy
MotorStorm: Apocalypse
Killzone 3
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Minesweeper 3D: The New Generation

There you have it – you now have my opinion and a list of games. Quite the gold mine, right? These may not be all of them either – there might be more games out there that are 3D-capable, so do some of your own research for once!

In all seriousness, I think the idea of 3D gaming is going in the right direction but is, unfortunately, moving at a slow pace. So while I ultimately advocate the concept of 3D technology when it comes to video games, it’s up to you to decide if you should wait to get involved or go ahead and dive in right now.

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