In a lot of ways we’ve come a long way since 3D was first announced for the Playstation 3.
First, with the coming of the PS4 this year, the days of the PS3, of course, are numbered. Back when the PS3 was launched, there were 155 million PS2 units out there, and ensuring backwards compatibility with PS2 games was a major demand. But with barely less than half that number of PS3, it’s likely we’ll be seeing the end of the line for a lot of our favorite PS3 games.
Second, Sony’s experiment a few years ago to make 3D a household word just like they did with Blu-ray, by selling a deeply discounted 3D monitor, was largely a bust. I, of course, was one of those who ran out and bought it at full price, only to find out months later that they couldn’t move units at a fraction of the price I paid. The monitor was (and is) still a great one, but there were too many idiosyncrasies about it–it didn’t come with a built-in tuner for TV or cable, it didn’t have a remote control, the volume control and configuration buttons were annoying as heck to use, and so on. A shame, because to this day I use the monitor as a secondary monitor for my PC and love it, and of course it’s still the primary monitor I use to watch 3d Blurays and play 3D games.
In celebration of the denouement of 3D on the Playstation I decided to try to put together a definitive list of the all time best stereoscopic 3D games to ever grace the Playstation 3. I scoured dozens of review sites, retail sites, and blogs dating from the first 3D games, and compiled this list based on which ones were mentioned the most times, which ones elicited the most positive comments, and which ones were mentioned consistently time and time again. These are the ones that have stood the test of time.
10) Zen Pinball 2 (PSN download) – This PSN title is a relatively new one, and yet the 3D effects are eye-popping amazing. Zen Pinball was always a good pinball simulation, but the effects in these tables are nothing short of amazing. I admit, I’m a bigger fan of Pinball Arcade, which does realistic simulations of real-life pinball machines instead of the fantastical, sometimes over-the-top-in-realism pinball machines that Zen Pinball has, but its support of 3D made me feel for the first time that I was actually playing a real pinball machine rather than a 2D simulation. I’ve heard that Pinball Arcade is working on a 3D version of its tables, but chances are slim we’ll see them on the PS3, so Zen Pinball 2 is the only game in town for true 3D pinball action.
3D demo available on PSN? Yes
9) Killzone 3 – With both Playstation Move and 3D support, Killzone 3 brings combat simulation to a whole new level, to a point where some have reported that it’s almost too realistic. You walk through the scenes, past buildings, vehicles, and even debris floating around you. There’s a great sense of depth whether you’re walking or driving. Killzone 3 has been called one of the great first-person shooters for the PS3, and if you’ve never experienced a FPS in true 3D, it’s an amazing one to try out.
3D demo available on PSN? Yes (as Killzone 3 Single Player 3D Demo)
8) Resistance 3 – Another great game on its own in 2D where the added depth of the 3D takes the gameplay to another level. Some have said that it makes shooting the sniper rifle feel real, as you scope out your target with real depth of field that helps your aim and your shots. The scenery and environment are done exceptionally well, as are the explosions and creepy alien monsters.
3D demo available on PSN?
7) God of War Origins
– The God of War series is of course critically renowned, but the 3D support lets you play the games with amazing depth and realism, from judging distances to jump, to watching as Kratos seems to swing right out of your TV screen at you. To see what I mean, download the excellent free demo from PSN and try it out for yourse.f
3D demo available on PSN? Yes
6) Child of Eden – This is by most accounts a “trippy” game that works like a shooter, except that you’re treated to an amazing array of colorful, psychedelic experiences set to soothing electronic music. It works with the Move controller; you point at the screen and shoot multiple targets as you proceed through the world on a rail. Players have described it as breathtakingly beautiful.
3D demo available on PSN? No
5) Gran Turismo 5 – This is another example of a game where graphics and gameplay are excellent to begin with, and adding the 3D just accentuates what’s good about the game. Playing in 3D using a Logitech Steering Wheel is about the closest thing to real driving as I’ve ever experienced outside of a car. Viewing the 3D inside the car puts you right in the cockpit, where you really feel enclosed inside the car looking out at the road outside. I won’t go as far as saying the 3D is the best in the world for a driving game (that nod will go to Motorstorm: Apocalypse, below), but for a realistic driving simulation it’s not bad.
3D demo available on PSN? No
4) Wipeout HD (PSN download) – This is a ridiculously high-speed racing game where like Anakin Skywalker you’re zipping at breakneck speeds in the air in a hovering air ship. The effect is something like a roller coaster, where you’re speeding in conduits, looping around, and twisting and turning every which way. The result is a heart-pounding experience.
3D demo available on PSN? Yes
3) Super Stardust HD (PSN download) – If you’re a fan of the game “Asteroids” from the 1970s, you’ll appreciate this 21st century version of it. You’re a ship circling around a planet, destroying floating space rocks along the way. As enemies chase you, you can navigate the field of asteroids a la Han Solo to try to destroy them. The outer space effects in this game are excellent, from the star fields to the rotating asteroids of different shapes and sizes to the amazing effect as things explode and you see flashes of light and debris hurtling toward you.
3D Demo available on PSN? Yes
2) Motorstorm Apocalypse – The 3D in this game is phenomenal. You’re a driver in a brutal street race in San Francisco after the Big Quake. As you’re driving down the streets of the post-apocalyptic city, you can’t help but admire the dystopian details all around you. The physics are great, and the demolition derby environment makes for some interesting races. Unlike with GT5, the 3D in this game was built from the ground up rather than cobbled on, and it shows.
3D Demo available on PSN?
1) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – By virtually all accounts, this is the 3D game on the PS3 by which other games are judged. The story, action, and gameplay are of course top notch, but the 3D really lets you experience the lush scenery in a way that you’ll truly immerse yourself in the story. There are times I’d just walk around as Drake admiring the various scenery and attention to detail.
3D Demo available on PSN? No
The great news is, as the world prepares for the PS3, some of these PS3 games are cheaper than they’ve ever been. Most were $59.99 at one point, but now you can get 3-4 of these games for that price. Time will tell whether 3D will continue to be embraced in the PS4 as much as it was in the PS3, but if it isn’t then at the very least you’ll have a great showcase of titles to play if you have these titles and keep your old PS3 around.
As we got to the latter part of the Olympics, we got to see the US women’s 4×100 relay team of Tianna Madison, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, and Allyson Felix set a new world record.
We also saw the start of team synchronized swimming, which I’m starting to get, sort of.
Platform diving kicked off. Somehow looking at the 10m platform in 3D makes you realize how high 10 meters really is (it’s about the roof of a 3-story building).
We also saw 3D basketball coverage kick off. As with the other sports, there were some fascinating 3D perspectives. Here’s what it’s like to be a basketball rim ready to take a free throw from Kobe.
On days 10 and 11 we were treated to Usain Bolt once again proving that he is the fastest person in the world.
We also got to see a brand new sport in 3D: Synchronized Swimming. Once again the combination of the 3D and the innovative camera placements and angles gave me a whole new appreciation of the sport–and of how freakishly long these ladies have to hold their breath and do everything upside-down.
Although I admit, I still don’t get it all the time, although now I can not get it in 3D.
We saw a number of new Track and Field events that had added a whole new perspective on familiar activities. Here’s what the pole vault looks like.
Some more highlights of day 11…Epke Zonderland’s thrilling performance in the high bar.
And Ally Raisman’s brilliant gold medal performance.
Days 9 and 10 of the Olympics 3D coverage saw the end of the swimming competition.
The last swimming competition of the day saw the 4×100 men’s swimming team for the USA win gold, which happened to be Michael Phelps’ 22nd and last Olympic medal. Here are the guys celebrating after their win.
A ton of coverage was given to the trampoline competition, one that most people would normally skip but which I suspect was chosen for 3D coverage because of the heights the participants reach.
One very, very cool thing was seeing the 3D view from the top, which is cool enough in 2D but even more interesting in 3D where the gymnast literally popped out at the screen toward you.
There were more track and field events that got the 3D treatment, including the long jump where one of the camera shots has the jumper running toward you and literally jumping out of your TV.
Hurdles were also pretty neat. Again, the cameras seemed strategically placed to give you a feeling of depth.
I’m getting a kick out of Bob Costas’s introductions. Today he made a hurried introduction to the action, very quickly ratting through the day’s events and then getting a little obsessed with repeating the name “Aliya Mustafina”. I get the sense that the 3D intro is probably the last thing he does before he gets out for the night, so he gets a little punchy. I’m a big fan of his humor, so I definitely appreciate it.
One thing that NBC/Panasonic also did was add in what sounds like the BBC’s coverage of the action, which quite frankly I prefer to the American coverage at times. I get the sense that NBC’s announcers get paid by the word and get paid double for superlatives. The British announcers just seem a lot calmer and lets you draw your own excitement from the action itself.
I admit, there are still moments I see the 3D and gasp. I think so far in the first couple of days, the most spectacular shots have been of the gymnastics and the kayak/canoeing.
Here are some more 3D shots of the kayak.
And another 3D shots of gold medalist Gabby Douglas in her floor routine, popping right out of the screen at you. I have to say, I have a whole new appreciation of the sport, seeing the lengths, depths, and heights the gymnasts really have to go through that a 2D TV doesn’t quite give justice to.
Swimming is coming to a close. here’s Missy Franklin in the Woman’s 200M backstroke shattering the world record.
And finally, with the start of the track and field events we get a few new scenes to admire. Here’s the stunning Olympic stadium by night.
The track events also got underway. Again, 3D gave a really unique perspective on the events. Here’s a shot of runners lining up for one of the ladies’ races.
And Tomasz Majewski of Poland getting the first track and field medal with this shot put throw.
Overall, I’d say the 3D was effective in two ways. First, it really made you feel like you were there. Second, it really helped in understanding perspective that’s lost in 2D, such as the length of the track and the heights and distance of the shotput.
3D coverage continued on the NBC 3D channel. Looks like NBC may be waking up to the fact that people are watching this channel–they actually have Bob Costas starting the coverage at 5 AM explaining the events of the day that’ll be featured, instead of just throwing viewers into random coverage. They’ve also been better about putting announcers on.
On days 5 and 6, coverage continued to focus on swimming, diving, gymnastics, and canoeing. I’ve been enjoying NBC’s live streaming coverage during the daytime, and have started to watch sports like archery, volleyball, water polo, fencing, and table tennis, but for the 3D coverage it’s clear that they’ve selected only the most popular sports and the ones that translate to 3D the best.
I’ve gotten into my routine of watching the same-day coverage on regular TV and then tuning in to my favorite moments in 3D the next day. What’s cool is that I’m getting over the “whoa this is cool” factor of the 3D and just enjoying the coverage for what it is. I would much rather them have edited the footage down to the top moments instead of showing unedited action (after a while the swimming heats all start to look the same).
But hey, no complaints. I got to relive great US moments like the US Women’s Gymnastics team taking the all-around gold.
…and the US 4×200 team getting gold as well…
By now I’ve gotten a bit used to the raw and unedited stream of 3D content from NBC. At first I tried to watch the 3D action instead of regular Olympics coverage, but I found myself constantly seeing spoilers on random Web sites and social networking sites. So, I figured I’d watch the coverage live during the day, watch some of NBC’s primetime coverage, and then for any “special” moments I’ll tape the 3D action and watch it the next day.
Days 3 and 4 of the Olympics brought us some new sports in 3D. The first was women’s gymnastics. Here’s Gabby Douglas in the preliminaries on Team USA’s way…spoiler alert…to the team all-around gold.
The 3D really helps you appreciate how very narrow that balance beam is.
They also aired some canoeing. I normally don’t watch this sport at all, but watching the water splashing out from the TV made it fascinating television.
Finally, there was synchronized springboard diving. Again, fascinating to be able to watch the divers in sync in full 3D. You could see every twist and turn.
Overall, not a bad selection of events to be shown in 3D. I’ll be DVRing the whole day tomorrow to watch…spoiler alert…the women’s gymnastics team and men’s relay swimming team take the gold
Well, since I’m officially obsessed with 3D Olympics coverage, I thought I’d give some more observations.
NBC started broadcasting again today (Sunday, July 29) right on time at 5 AM. They covered swimming (including Michael Phelps’ stunning loss), as well as men’s gymnastics. While the NBC 3D Schedule is now completely filled out until the closing ceremonies, it’s clear that there’s very little production that went into scheduling these events. You’ll basically see a block of several hours of one event, followed by several hours of another event, a few random rebroadcasts in between, and even some random 3D general interest segments. And of course the same commercials over and over and over again. What the advertisers don’t realize is that after watching the same commercial 50 times in a row, it puts a pretty bad taste in your mouth. Also, I kind of wish that NBC would have given more detail than “you’ll see swimming and gymnastics for 8 hours”, especially since we’re on 24 hour tape delay. But we’ve already covered why they don’t.
Once again the coverage started with no commentary, just the ambient noise from the arena, which I loved. It really made me feel like I was there. I’m also watching a lot of the streaming commentary-less events on the Web, and I’m really struck about how little I miss the commentary. Although I think some of the people at NBC are just realizing that their 3D coverage doesn’t have any commentary, as by the time 3D gymnastics started to be aired they started to superimpose the audio from regular announcers on the 3D footage. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
The 3D, again, was stunning, adding a whole new dimension (no pun intended…okay pun intended) to the telecast. With swimming, being able to see all the lanes in perspective gave a much, much better feeling of being in the action and a much more precise view of how each swimmer was doing. Here’s a picture of the men on the starting blocks–notice how much difference seeing the perspective makes (again, use the “cross-eyed” method of viewing).
Similarly, the men’s gymnastics really came alive. It seems that they have fewer cameras than the 2D telecast, but they’re placed very strategically so you can see gymnasts from the best angles. On floor exercises, you can see them running right at you.
It’s funny, taking these screenshots is making me flash back to the 2004 Athens game, when NBC broadcast a special OTA channel of its HD footage, and I was frantically recording and taking screenshots of the amazing HD picture Time will tell if eight years from now 3D will be relatively ubiquitous to the point where I’ll look back and think all these screenshots I’m taking are silly
I wish I could stay home and watch all the 3D footage, but of course I’ve got my day job tomorrow. So I set the Tivo for 13 hours, which should just about fill it up each night. I’ll check in from time to time over the next few weeks.
3D Olympics Coverage on FIOS is spectacular. Reason 1 – No Yapping Matt Lauer. Reason 2 – Brilliant 3D
Right now I’m watching the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies on FIOS Channel 1003 (if you have Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, etc. you’ll find it on different channels).
It took me a while to get it to work right. I had component cables going from my Tivo to my PS3 Display, but the Display annoyingly wouldn’t allow me to switch into 3D mode–the 3D option was completely greyed out on the Display. After a bit of fiddling, I realized that I needed to connect my Tivo via HDMI.
Now on Friday night, I’d watched the NBC coverage “live” (actually, no one in the US could watch it live because NBC blocked access to everything except its tape delayed coverage). I watched about 10 minutes of it before I had to shut the sound off. I have nothing against Matt Lauer or Mededith Viera, but I found their constant need to provide non-stop commentary to be utterly annoying to the point of my wanting to throw something at the TV. It was impossible to enjoy the beautiful music and the wonderful sounds of the Opening Ceremonies because they felt a need to constantly explain to the viewers what was going on. The worst of many bad moments of the night, when Matt Lauer saw a scene of British nurses and children recreating classic English storybook scenes and decided to interject “while the healthcare debate is going on in the US, Britain is proud of its universal healthcare and wanted to proudly display it to the world”. Uh, thanks Matt.
The one bright spot of the evening was Bob Costas, from whom we heard painfully little compared to the always-on Viera and Lauer. It was touching to hear his “audible” where he called for a moment of silence for the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich massacre, an event for some strange reason the Olympic committee decided to put on the back burner.
Overall, I give London’s Opening Ceremonies an “A” and NBC’s Friday night prime-time coverage a solid “F”. I hate to break the news to NBC, but the reason the Today Show’s ratings are plummeting was not because of Ann Curry. It’s because no one wants to wake up in the morning and hear the painful and endless drivel the likes of which we heard Friday night.
Okay, this is a blog to talk about 3D coverage, so I’ll talk about NBC’s coverage of the same event on the NBC 3D Olympics channel.
The coverage stated at 5 AM sharp. After a montage of videos of Olympic athletes, we cut to Bob Costas, who gave a brief, one-minute introduction to the Olympic coverage. Then, the Opening Ceremonies began.
I braced myself for the annoying commentary. But it never came. Instead, I heard the beautiful voices of children singing. I heard the rich sounds of the orchestra. And I could see the most stunningly beautiful images that have ever come out of my Playstation 3D display, in glorious and deep 3D.
It turns out that NBC decided to air Panasonic’s raw footage untouched. From their point of view, they probably knew that very few people would be tuning in, so it wasn’t worth their time to get on-air “talent” to provide running commentary. For me, this was the most brilliant decision the boneheads at NBC made yet. Because even though it was 24 hours later, I thoroughly and immensely enjoyed this coverage from start to finish.
NBC did find ways to ruin even this experience. Every 10 minutes, and in some cases during pivotal moments in the action, NBC abruptly cut to commercials right in the middle of the action, making us miss key moments. For example, during the point in the festivities when the ironworkers forged the beautiful Olympic rings, we jump from the scene where the red-hot rings are being lifted to the ceiling, cut to commercial, and come back to see that the rings are lit up, presumably as part of an impressive pyrotechnics display that happened when we were enduring the 50th airing of Matthew Perry’s new show on NBC this fall (which I will boldly predict will not last the season). Still, what they did show was stunning (use the “cross-eyed” method to view these and other 3D images).
The one saving grace was that most of the commercials themselves were for movies and Blu-Rays in 3D from the Avengers to Finding Nemo in 3D, but of course NBC put in 2D commercials for its own shows.
Another very annoying thing is that it seems every three minutes they’d superimpose an animation of The Lorax with silly sound effects, sometimes during the most dramatic or emotional moments.
You’d think that they’d get a college intern to putting commercials in the right places, and to make sure that their annoying animations didn’t interfere with the show. But the message from NBC was clear. We don’t care about 3D viewers, and we’re going to milk as much as we can out of them. Thanks NBC.
Still, that couldn’t put a damper on the excellent quality of Panasonic’s 3D. Colors were vibrant, the camera angles really maximized the quality of the 3D and made you really feel “part of the action” in a way that traditional 2D never could. Watching the Parade of Nations (again, thankfully without constant commentary) was a really fun experience. Here’s a still of the US team entering the stadium:
Scenes like the fireworks displays over the stadium were truly jaw-dropping (unfortunately, the one thing NBC decided to do was to cut into the fireworks to splice in a montage of scenes from past Olympics, ruining perhaps the single most impressive 3D images of the evening).
The Opening Ceremonies went from 5:00 AM to about 10:00 AM, at which point NBC started looping the coverage again through the day. Tough to tell if they’ll be doing that for the other Olympic action, or if they will be providing commentary for the sporting events. But I have to say, the great anticipation I had for the Opening Ceremonies (as you can see from all my posts leading up to it) was well warranted. Even though I know it was out of laziness and an utter lack of concern for its 3D viewers that NBC decided to not invest any production costs into its 3D coverage, for me that turned out to be a positive. I grade their 3D coverage of the Opening Ceremonies an A+ for the way it let me experience the Opening Ceremonies in an unprecedented way. It just makes me wish there were a mute button that should shut up some of their on-air “talent” on their regular 2D coverage.
If you have a 3D display and FIOS, tune to 1003 and check it out for yourself over the next few days. If you don’t have FIOS, sign up here with referral code IWANTFIOS to get it now with a nice gift card to boot! And if want to experience beautiful 3D for yourself at the cheapest price possible, Best Buy has the PlayStation 3D Display Bundle for only $199–that’s $400 less than suckers like me paid for it!
I have to say I’m really excited about watching the Olympics in 3D on FIOS channel 1003. I got my PS3 display too late to enjoy the US Open tennis, so this will be the first time I’ll watch broadcast signal on the PS3 Display.
If you haven’t done it yet, make sure you have an HDMI cable going from your cable box or Tivo to the PS3 monitor. Then, change the settings to “side by side”. Charge up your glasses, and enjoy the festivities.
I noticed a few days ago that the satellite feed changed from a test pattern to a graphic of the Olympics Logo, in 3D no less. I’m looking forward to the next 16 days.