January 10th, 2009, 12:58 Posted By: wraggster
At Sony CEO Howard Stringer's keynote address, he underlined a keen interest in developing 3D technology -- specifically, RealD 3D -- and its potential future with Sony. While the discussion primarily concerned the box office, Stringer did allude to its possible use in videogames, as evidenced by a flashed image of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Inside the CES expo hall, though, Sony is going a step further with RealD and the PlayStation 3 by showing off three different technology demos of games using the stereoscopic effect: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, WipEout HD, and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift.
Now, none of these games were playable. They were only shown on a loop and the attendant at the 3D area repeatedly reminded viewers that nothing we were seeing should be taken as a firm plan to create 3D PS3 games. Hopefully, the gentleman's warnings are one day replaced by reality, because by slipping on a pair of RealD glasses, all three games popped to life. The Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo ran replay laps of various races with a handful of different cars. The 3D is effective, giving the replay footage real depth. The car, racing toward the screen in one cinematic camera swoop, did appear to be moving toward you but not overbearingly so. It was actually somewhat subtle, which was in certain contrast to the other two demos.
The WipEout HD clip was only a few seconds long but nonetheless impressive. At least, it was to me. The showgoer next to me remarked that he didn't see what all the fuss was about. Maybe he had one of his eyes closed, because the way the HUD floated in "front" of the television looked almost as if you were staring through a display projected on a windshield. The vehicle hovered over the track, which raced toward you as the ship screamed around a lap. In many ways, I was reminded of some older 3D videogame tech demos because there is a degree of obtrusiveness with the floating HUD. It feels like a mildly forced effect, but the cleanliness of the image versus past efforts is part of what makes it look so cool.
Of the three demos, my favorite was MotorStorm: Pacific Rift because it seemed to exist between the subtlety of GT5 Prologue and the obviousness of WipEout HD. The HUD didn't pop as much as Wipeout HD's gauge, but it certainly existed on a different plane from the action. The sheer amount of scenery the buggy raced through, such as trees or brush, really appeared to take up space. You could see the buggy was in front of, then inside of, and finally behind a bush as it powers through it. And when the buggy crashed, the rolling wreckage really bounced off of the ground and pieces exploded into the air on what looked like real trajectories separate from both the buggy and the track. The sum of the effects gave MotorStorm a true 3D effect that felt organic. Stuff wasn't flying toward you just to call attention to 3D.
While I must stress that these are not planned titles (much like the Sony rep did), I walked away from my RealD PS3 demo with genuine enthusiasm. If deployed properly inside games as a way to enhance the immersion -- such as MotorStorm's depth of field -- this could be an exciting selling point for the PS3 in the future.
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