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The much-hyped 3D revolution hasn't exactly set the world on fire. One possible exception is stereoscopic 3D for console games, currently supported by both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. On the PC side, stereoscopic 3D has been around for several years, thanks to Nvidia's 3D Vision platform, which uses compatible hardware and active shutter 3D glasses to enable you to at least try and play almost any PC game. On the console side, however, 3D support must be specifically built in, and you'll find it on a case-by-case basis.

The following games represent a many (but not all) of the Xbox 360/PS3 console games with 3D support released in 2011 (and a few holdovers from 2010), and our opinions on how each played in 3D. (Read more on this topic.)

MotorStorm (Pacific Rift and Apocalypse)

Sony Computer Entertainment
To start with a few early console 3D games from last year, the MotorStorm driving games seem like a natural fit for 3D, with their reliance on spacial relationships and generally linear gameplay. This was one of the first game franchises demoed in 3D, and thanks to the decent, but not challenging, graphics, makes for an excellent proof of concept.
Photo by: SCEA

Wipeout HD

Sony Computer Entertainment
Another example of an existing game updated by Sony to demo 3D last year, the blocky graphics and linear style don't overtax the PS3, but the end effect, in a virtual world constructed of slick, flat, textureless planes, is underwhelming.
Photo by: SCEA

Super Stardust HD

Sony Computer Entertainment
Probably the most flat-out entertaining of the early PS3 3D demos, this puzzle game doesn't really need to be in 3D, but the two-player mode is fast-paced and fun, and not too eyeball-taxing for those not acclimated to 3D gaming.

Gran Turismo 5

Sony Computer Entertainment
The 3D mode in this incredibly detailed racing sim certainly works, but the visual fidelity takes a clear hit. However, it provided one of the most immersive 3D experiences ever when played from the inside-the-cockpit view, especially when paired with a racing wheel.
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Sony Computer Entertainment
Several factors come together to make this remake/rerelease package work especially well in 3D. First, the PS2 graphics (rerendered at a higher resolution for modern HDTVs) are simple enough that adding a doubled stereoscopic image doesn't tax the console hardware; and second, both games are built around large, sparsely populated settings that make great use of the sense of depth and scale provided by 3D.

The ruined castle of Ico and the wide-open vistas of Shadow of the Colossus both look great, and the giant monsters at the heart of Shadow--almost sets unto themselves--seem custom-made for this kind of presentation. No real complaints here at all. The God of War: Origins collection, a similar PS3 remake package, is also good, but the PSP source material isn't as well-suited for 3D.

Read more about this game.

Crysis 2

EA Games/Crytek
Of course, it's going to be the technological geniuses behind Crysis and Far Cry, two incredibly influential PC games (yes, they had console ports, too), that managed to do console 3D right. Playing the NYC-set Crysis 2 in stereoscopic 3D, you hardly notice any loss of resolution, and the jagged edges are kept to a minimum. Part of the secret is that the 3D view is designed to only recede into the background, as if your screen were a window into the game world. It leads to less eyestrain and visual confusion, and is probably the single best use of 3D in a console game this year.

Read more.

Resistance 3

Sony Computer Entertainment
Another game promoted as being built with 3D in mind, this is one where we turned off the effect after the first few hours and never looked back. Cross-talk, loss of resolution, and general ugliness made this very hard to play in 3D (and it's part of a pretty lackluster franchise to begin with). Last year's Killzone 3 suffered the same problem; in that game, the 3D visuals were so compromised, we named it the "dirty fishtank effect," as it looked like you were playing the game through smudged glass.

Gears of War 3

A great example of a game that can really benefit from 3D, as Gears of War is all about spacial relationships. Take cover over here, and figure out how to get to some point across the map--the sense of depth really makes the game pop, but at the cost of some visual fidelity. There's also a completely pointless 3D setup screen with a test pattern that looks exactly the same no matter how you set the 3D slider.

Read more about this game.

Photo by: Epic Games

Batman: Arkham Asylum

WB Games
The original Arkham Asylum game was one of the first successful test cases for Nvidia's 3D Vision platform on the PC, so we've been looking forward to the sequel, which adds console 3D support as well (there was a 3D console version of the original game, but it used bundled old-school red-green paper glasses; the effect was, to say the least, uninspiring).

In Arkham City, the wide-open urban vistas benefit greatly from 3D, but the close quarters combat can be uncomfortable, with both the camera and various limbs swinging around violently. The game was much more playable after we turned the 3D intensity slider all the way down (it was set to maximum by default).

Read more about this game.

Photo by: Rocksteady Studios

Uncharted 3

Sony Computer Entertainment
There's been a big push for 3D with this game, but we were underwhelmed by the first 3D demo we saw, back at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. The final game does much better, especially with the exotic locales and detailed architecture that take a starring role. Two complaints: once again, the 3D intensity slider was set to maximum by default, and needed to be pulled back to around 25 percent; and the sun-drenched dynamic lighting that really makes the game pop in 2D doesn't look as good in 3D, with jagged edges and blown-out details wherever the sun hits.

Read more about this game.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters and Captain America: Super Soldier

WB Games and Sega
Two by the numbers movie tie-ins, ranging from mediocre (Green Lantern) to merely average (Captain America). For the former, the 3D adds little, and makes the already cheap-looking graphics look even worse. For the latter, 3D was surprisingly well-implemented, but it still doesn't make this a must-play.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition

This remake/remaster takes a classic 10-year-old game for the original Xbox console and strips away the old graphics, replacing them with brand-new art. You can switch between old and new graphics, and also play the new version in 3D (a feature that wasn't as highly touted as it should be). The effect isn't perfect, as Halo wasn't originally designed for stereoscopic 3D, but it doesn't break the game and it's tremendous fun to see the Halo universe in the third dimension, making it worth a playthrough for serious fans. Read more.
Photo by: Microsoft


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