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Call of Duty : Black Ops 3D Impressions

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One of the least publicised  features of Call of Duty Black Ops is that it has full support for stereoscopic 3D – yeah, the sort that requires those incredibly expensive new TV’s. Sony have been pretty heavily pushing the fact that their console does 3D, while Microsoft have not.

Both though, are capable of running Black Ops with that extra dimension. PC gamers will have to use an NVIDIA solution. At a recent Black Ops event I had the opportunity to play various sections of the game in stereoscopic 3D. What did I think?

As most of you know, I’ve dismissed 3D gaming as an unnecessary gimmick. I played the previous PSN offerings like the rather excellent Super Stardust HD in 3D – and thought that’s the sort of 3D gaming we’d get this generation; mostly simpler arcade games. They were cool, but hardly reason to lay down the wads of cash demanded.

My opinion though, has changed quite drastically. 3D in Black Ops is nothing short of incredible. The extra information you’re presented with makes playing the game an almost otherworldly experience. When aiming, the gun seemed to extend quite deep in to the TV. turning off the game’s crosshairs, you can actually rely on the 3D information, using the gun’s iron sights or scope. It was strangely empowering, making it feel more real – and enhanced my appreciation of each gun’s firepower, model and subtle designs and textures.

It also made the game’s brutality just that much more vivid. A section where you sneakily knife an enemy’s throat produced a spray of bloody red mist that I actually physically tried to avoid. I certainly don’t want red ick on me. So no, it doesn’t drastically change the way you play the game – but does increase the level of immersion dramatically. Black Ops may just be the “Killer App” that the 3D TV industry is looking for.

I played for two roughly half hour sessions, and much to my surprise I didn’t walk away with a headache, feeling nauseous. The glasses for the particular TV I played on – a Samsung 3D LED beast – were light and unobtrusive, and viewing angles were much greater than anticipated.

I spoke to Robert Sanchez, the game’s 3D director about their implementation. He said it was added quite late in the game’s design – and he’d given strict instructions to the coders that if it wasn’t running up to par the feature would be scrapped. They’ve obviously wrought digital magic, because it runs beautifully– never noticeably dipping below 60fps, and visually not much degraded from the main game. If you know how stereoscopic 3D works, it’s quite a technical feat; essentially, the console (or PC) has to draw everything twice, combining the offset images to produce 3D information.

I walked away impressed. Not enough to get myself in to debt for the immediate acquisition of a 3D TV…but I have started putting pennies aside for one. If this is the calibre of 3D gaming we’ll be getting this generation, count me in.

Last Updated: November 9, 2010

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