One of the latest buzzwords these days is “3D”. Sony is planning on pushing their new 3D firmware update hard at the upcoming E3, Microsoft is rumoured to be working on enabling the 360 to play 3D games, and Nintendo’s next generation of handheld console (the 3DS) revolves around 3D. In short, it seems to be the next big thing in gaming – or so the hype wants you to believe.
The truth, as usual, is hidden somewhere below the surface. If we scratch a little deeper, we will see the reality behind the blurry images, and see that 3D actually sucks. Here’s why:
1. You have to wear dorky glasses. They weren’t cool during the original 50s hey-day of 3D, and their modern revamping to look like cooler, more normal sunglasses are still not cool. Nobody wants to have to wear something stupid on their face just to experience the pseudo-thrill of films, television and games in 3D.
2. It downscales your games. Two games that have experienced the 3D treatment so far, and which have been played by various members of the gaming press, have markedly downgraded graphical performance to their 2D counterparts. Wipeout HD, which originally ran at 1080p and 60 frames per second, gets a downgrade to 720p and stutters along at barely 30 FPS, while MotorStorm: Pacific Rift is confined to a sub-HD resolution.
3. Headaches. While not considered “true” 3D, an implementation of 3D did exist in the Game of the Year edition of Batman: Arkham Asylum. In addition to having to wear cardboard glasses with funny coloured lenses, the game gave me a wicked headache after only a few minutes of playing. No thanks.
4. Expensive. Just bought your shiny new HD-TV, and think you’re on the bleeding edge? Get ready to throw that piece of obsolete tech in the garbage, because there is a new toy that you will need. Its 120Hz, LED, will set you back approximately R19 000 (if you shop around) and will be needed to experience the truest 3D experience.
5. Widespread adoption is far away. The PlayStation 3 is almost set to deliver, and from there we will be able to watch select Blu-Rays in 3D. Aside from that, and a few games, expect to wait a while before there is a decent amount of content for your expensive 3D setup to get any use.
6. People reaching out in real life. The story goes that when the very first movies were shown in 1895 by the Lumière brothers, the audience stampeded to escape the runaway train that was about to crush them. Even now, people reach out and try and grab the scenery that is seemingly right in front of them, seemingly unaware that the train is not going to actually crush them.
7. The current generation isn’t powerful enough. Linked to my second point above, it seems that the current console generation isn’t powerful enough to generate awesome graphics AND 3D graphics at the same time. Oh well, there’s always the next generation…
8. Confusing terminology. Ok, so we had 2D games, and then they started looking like 3D, but they were really 2D. And then they came out with seemingly better 3D, but in reality it was only a kind of 2.5D, which was really 2D. Then they introduced “real 3D”, and even then some were still only really 2D. Now, everything is 3D, even the 2D games, although they are not dedicated 3D. Eventually, everything will apparently be in 3D, all 3D and 2D games. Confused yet?
9. The pile of stuff that you’ll be left with when the fad dies. Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before everybody gets over the whole 3D fad and finds something else expensive and overhyped to cram down our throats. Super-HD, only on Xbox 720 and requiring a new, Super-HD compatible TV and special solid gold cables, coming soon!
That’s my take on the whole 3D trend that is happening in the audio-visual world at the moment. What are your thoughts? Let us know via the usual channels.