3D Vision 2 brings a new level of immersion to Batman: Arkham City and Trine 2
In mid-October of this year, Nvidia announced their second generation of 3D Vision 2. It appears that this new technology has addressed the original ghosting and darkness concerns in our mega-review. Since then, we have received a 27″ ASUS VG278H 120Hz 3D Vision Ready display supporting the new Light Boost technology, and 3D Vision 2 Glasses, from Nvidia.
In this evaluation, although we will compare the technical specifications and improvements of 3D Vision 2 over the original, most of this evaluation is subjective. Real improvements are generally noted by actually playing games in 3D. We especially looked to see if ghosting was lessened in 3D Vision 2, as it would make for less fatigue in long gaming sessions.
This new technology is not inexpensive as the ASUS VG278 27″ 120Hz 3D Vision 2 ready display and glasses are $699 at Newegg and $659 at Amazon – much more than the $409 the original 3D Vision bundle with the ASUS VG236 23″ display now costs that we reviewed a few months ago. We want to know if it is worthwhile for early 3D Vision adopters to upgrade to 3D Vision 2 – to the improved glasses and larger and brighter displays.
We replayed some of our favorite games from the original 80 (plus) games that we tested with 3D Vision, and also played from start to finish, both Trine 2 and Batman: Arkham City so as to give the reader our impressions of the new technology in extended gaming sessions.
Of course, we will give a mini-review of Trine 2 and Batman: Arkham City as they are games that benefit from being played in Stereoscopic 3D (S3D). Trine 2 benefits from being one of the most spectacular-looking games visually, and Batman: Arkham City is an extraordinary game that actually uses S3D “depth” to enhance the player’s experience, especially in gliding and aiming.
Make sure to read ABT’s 3D Vision Mega Evaluation – Gimmick or Gaming’s Future? It covers Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) in great detail and it includes an interview with Jon Peddie regarding its future. We are optimistic about S3D PC gaming taking off more quickly than 3DTV because of the large library of hundreds of PC games that already work well with it. And we showed that 3D glasses are a non-issue to widespread adoption as “glasses free” is not yet a practical option.
After our original 6-month and 80-plus game evaluation of 3D Vision, we concluded that 3D is the future of gaming – that it brings a new dimension to the experience. However, we concluded that there are still some technical issues with crosstalk or ghosting that contribute to fatigue in extended gaming and the active shutter glasses’ image is relatively dark. This evaluation will especially focus on these two areas to see if the 3D Vision 2 improvements are worth upgrading to from the original 3D Vision.
We have already determined that the expense of upgrading from 2D to 3D Vision is “worth it”, especially if you already have a 120Hz display which has its own advantages for gamers that prefer twitch shooters. From looking at a worst-case 60Hz display situation compared with a 120Hz display using a fast-paced shooter, the faster display (when driven above 60 frames per second) shows a much better image that is clearer and less prone to tearing (with VSynch enabled).
With a 60Hz display, you have to make compromises with playing faced-paced shooters on a fast PC – there is either (1) built-in motion blur and tearing without VSync enabled, or (2) a 60fps framerate cap with it on. This not an issue at 120Hz. Using a 120Hz LCD, there is no noticeable frame tearing that this editor experienced as VSync remains on all of the time and the 60fps cap is also gone. Hence the motion blur that everyone else experiences at 60Hz and perceives as normal is gone at 120Hz.
Once you have a suitable 120Hz 3D Vision 2 ready display, 3D Vision 2 active shutter glasses will cost you about $150; about the price of two or three PC games. As we found out, 3D opens a new experience and many of a player’s old game library from the past decade reopens for replay. In this way, a PC gamer might find 3D Vision 2 to actually be a relatively inexpensive investment.
The older tech 3D Vision (1) glasses kit with emitter are currently $99.99 over at GeForce.com (with a free digital download of Duke Nukem Forever) and an extra pair of glasses (without emitter) is $69.99. So now we have the situation of whether one should buy the discounted older 3D Vision tech or the very latest 3D Vision 2 for more money. In fact, the ASUS 23″ 120Hz VG236 display with the 3D Vision bundle that we used for our mega evaluation is now $409.99 after a $30 mail-in-rebate at Newegg.com.
One of the major stumbling blocks for general stereoscopic 3D gaining widespread adoption in the home is that there are many suppliers of the S3D technology and no clear standard – not even among active shutter glasses. For example, Nvidia glasses won’t work on a Samsung TV nor will Samsung’s active shutter glasses work with 3D Vision.
Gamers will note that Nvidia’s 3D Vision hardware is completely interchangeable and backward compatible. You can use the first generation of 3D Vision glasses with a new Light Boost-enabled display or the second generation of glasses with the original 3D Vision ready displays. Although you will get incremental improvements over the original tech by mixing and matching, you will gain maximum benefit by using the LightBoost displays with the 3D Vision 2 glasses.
Advantages of Stereoscopic 3D over 2D in PC gaming
Besides “looking cool”, 3D should ideally present a more realistic and immersive presentation, plus the advantages that depth perception can offer in something like a racing or flying game, or even for a shooter. Unfortunately, most games are in the “looking cool” category – which in of itself can be great. This is well-demonstrated by Trine 2 where the already amazing graphics and level design is enhanced by depth.
Since Trine 2 is 3D Vision Ready, each object appears properly in its own layer, and the effects and layered details properly move about in relation to each other which enhances its awesome graphics and extraordinary level design. In a way this game is similar to another platformer, Alice: Madness Returns that we reviewed here.
Almost all of the 3D ads show objects flying out of the screen, called pop-outs. In actuality, there are almost no pop-outs in gaming except for in cut scenes. Nvidia has suggested to game developers that pop-outs will lead to a player’s fatigue, especially if overdone like in the early 3D movies. However, with the advent of 27″ 120Hz displays, it would now be great to use S3D to experience action “in front” of the display. This effect is under-utilized at the moment and leaves room for more experimentation by game programmers.
We already explored the advantages of the 3D look even though other elements of a game may need to be downgraded in order to accommodate 3D Vision. To provide a full 1080p stereoscopic 3D effect, game requirements including fill rate double, and its geometry generally needs to be processed twice. This is why so many 3D games have framerates approximately half compared to playing the 2D version. To get a good experience with 3D Vision 2, you want a fairly decent gaming PC. Although 3D Vision works with a GTX 9800, a GTX 460 or a GTX 560 will probably give the player a good experience in 3D without too many visual compromises compared to 2D.
One of the challenges for S3D to gain mass consumer acceptance is to get people to actually see it for themselves in their homes. It is impossible to demonstrate 3D to someone who has no way to evaluate it properly on their 2D screen. It would be similar to attempt to demonstrate color television to someone with a black and white set. Actually a small percent of the population cannot even see S3D properly and it would be very wise to have a means to return the 3D hardware to the retailer/etailer if the experience proves to be unsatisfactory.
Let’s look at 3D Vision 2 compared with the original 3D Vision