Video games are the latest medium to go 3-D.Following TV shows, films and, yes, even Anna Kournikova (whose eye-popping Maxim spread made headlines last year), video games are making the jump to 3-D. Credit a recent push by electronics manufacturers and software makers alike, who have created systems that support three-?dimensional graphics like Sony’s PlayStation 3 and NVIDIA 3D Vision–ready PCs. But it’s still unclear whether such advances will succeed in extreme doses or just leave audiences feeling nauseated.
An anticipated killer app for 3-D television sets, 3-D gaming (including centerpieces such as Killzone 3, Crysis 2 and Mortal Kombat) is expected to help push supporting TVs into more homes. (Manufacturers? like Toshiba, Samsung and Panasonic are increasingly building 3-D capabilities into high-end 2-D models as well.) But despite offering immediately visible enhancements to new titles like Gran Turismo 5 and Super Stardust HD, 3-D is still a tough sell; the most advanced living-room solutions require the purchase of a 3-D TV and active shutter glasses, while desktop options demand a customized monitor and graphics card in addition to specialized goggles. Low-tech alternatives using traditional red-and-blue 3-D glasses, such as Attack of the Movies 3-D and Batman: Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year Edition, do exist for Wii and Xbox 360. But 3-D software choices are in short supply across the board, and none yet justifies the three- to four-figure cost of a complete upgrade.
While the just-released Nintendo 3DS (see sidebar, below) offers a more practical and compelling everyday alternative with its portable, glasses-free 3-D visuals, all solutions potentially suffer from a tragic flaw: Aside from the fact that 2-D isn’t broken, it may be 3-D controls, not graphics, that represent gaming’s future. For proof, see the gesture-tracking PlayStation Move and Microsoft’s hands-free Kinect, which make your body the controller and, as a result, open entirely new vistas of play.
Given manufacturers’ huge investment in supporting technology, 3-D gaming’s mass onset seems inevitable — but the big question still remains when. Until offerings improve and price points drop, there’s no shame in staying grounded in two-dimensional reality.