Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: NHL Heritage Classic In 3D

Feb 20, 2011

NHL Heritage Classic in 3D: Montreal Canadiens vs. Calgary Flames

Rating (4.5 out of 5)

I finally had the chance to watch my first live 3D sporting event tonight. Well technically that's not true - I did watch part of a 3D golf broadcast last month - but golf doesn't really count as a sport does it?

I'm not sure if it's the way the 3D was shot, or if hockey is just a more natural subject for this medium, but the 3D effect in the Heritage Classic was much better than what I remember from the golf broadcast.

I watched the game on my Sony Bravia 55" HX800 3D TV. It was broadcast by CBC, shown on Rogers Channel 900 in side-by-side 3D format.

Overall the 3D broadcast was a huge win. The picture look great, the colors were bright and vivid, and the depth was absolutely incredible at times. The 3D really added to the enjoyability of watching the game. It's a bit of a cliche, but it really was almost like being there. A truly immersive experience.

Even little things, like a shot of the players from the side of the bench, suddenly became breathtaking 3D images that seemed to go on forever behind the TV. And other events, like the live music before the game and between the 2nd and 3rd periods, both looked and sounded awesome.

On the downside, there were definitely a few glitches along the way (primarily during the first period). On several occasions the picture blacked out, or started scrolling up and down like an old VHS tape. There were also some losses in the audio early on. I can only assume these issues had more to do with CBC still trying to figure out this new technology, as well as the challenges of broadcasting from an outdoor location, than anything else.

As well, my Sony TV seemed to have problems properly displaying some of the overlays near the bottom of the screen (such as a player's name or other statistic). These overlays appeared to show a lot of ghosting. But yet if I closed one eye I still saw the ghosting effect. Which leads me to believe the problem is either a result of the way these images were broadcast, or a problem with the way my TV is decoding these images. This all has me a little confused, since similar displays at the top of the screen (such as the score) looked fine.

But glitches aside, watching the NHL in 3D is truly a step forward and a huge improvement over standard 2D. All I have left to say is...


Monday, February 14, 2011

3D Review: James Cameron's Avatar: The Game

Game: (3 out of 5)

As far as movie-based games go, this game is actually pretty good. Sure, it's no Killzone or COD, but it's not bad. The story line itself is almost non-existent. And if you haven't seen the movie then you really won't have much of a clue as to what is going on.

As well, the game play itself can get a little tedious at times. I'm not a big fan of games where you are sent off to complete a mission. Then when you return, you are sent off to complete another mission. That's pretty much what the entire game is. But the graphics are very well done which makes the game bearable in that respect.

3D Effect (5 out of 5)

This is where the game really shines. The 3D effects are absolutely stunning. The first 20-30 minutes doesn't really do the game justice. But once you get deeper into the game the 3D becomes truly immersive. For example when your flying one of the dragons it literally looks like it's flapping its wings right in front of your face. If you're looking to find a game that can showcase your new 3D TV then this is definitely the one. Plus you can usually find used copies on the cheap on eBay or at your local used game store.

(Click on the image below to read more customer reviews at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3D Review: Killzone 3 (Multiplayer Beta)

Game (3 out of 5)

I know this is just a beta, with no campaign mode and limited multiplayer modes, but my initial reaction is that it is just "ok". I was hoping for a little more. Hopefully I am more impressed when I get the opportunity to play the full game later this month.

3D Effect (3 out of 5)

The first thing I noticed about the 3D in this game is that it felt very natural. That is, it succeeded in showing increased depth, but at the same time it didn't really feel like I was "watching 3D". On one hand, that is a good thing, as the 3D is not distracting. On the other hand, this is a first person shooter fighting game. I WANT to see crazy 3D effects. The other problem I found is that much of the screen menus seemed somewhat dimmed and difficult to read in 3D mode. The game designers were obviously going for a certain "look", but in 3D mode I found it distracting.

EDIT: I was giving this game a second chance last night. As I was running into one of the rooms a robot shot some sort of missile at me from across the room. It literally looked like it was coming right at my face. Enough so that I actually jumped for a second. This has made me a little more optimistic that once I get a chance to play the full version I will be more impressed.

3D Review: Super Stardust HD

Game: (2.5 out of 5)

What can I say, this game is basically Asteroids on steroids. It is pretty, but there's not a lot to it.

3D Effect: (5 out of 5)

Wow, this is what 3D is supposed to look like. The 3D effects are simply stunning in this game. It takes a very basic game and actually makes it playable. The visuals are crisp and clean. I saw virtually zero ghosting. And when your ship explodes, little bits and pieces of it come flying out of the screen at you. I can't wait until I see these types of visuals on a more enticing game.

3D Review: Call Of Duty: Black Ops

Game: (3.5 out of 5)

3D Effect: (1 out of 5)

The 3D in this game clearly felt like it was an afterthought to me. There are times where the 3D looks cool, but it rarely if ever adds to the game. One area which I definitely think needed some tweeking was the aiming. While the aiming in 3D looked cool, it made it very difficult to actually see what you were aiming at. That might be ok when you're shooting at a bunch of AI bots, but don't even think about playing multi-player in 3D. You will be at a huge disadvantage.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Active vs Passive 3D TVs

Currently there are two types of 3D TVs available on the market:
  • Active
  • Passive
Active 3DTV

Active 3D TVs work by alternately displaying a frame for the left eye and right eye in sync with the 3D glasses. The active 3D glasses ensure that each eye only sees the picture it is meant to see by simultaneously blacking out one eye then the other. This is all done at a rate of at least 120 times per second so that the person wearing the glasses in unaware that this is happening.

Active shutter glasses are typically powered by a battery and are generally are a little heavier than the passive glasses.

Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and LG manufacture active 3D TVs.

Passive 3DTV

Passive 3D TVs work by simultaneously displaying the frame for both eyes at the same time. The passive glasses are able to discern between the two frames and ensure each eye sees the picture it is supposed to see. Passive glasses are the same type of glasses that are used at most movie theatres in North America. In fact, you can use the glasses you get at the movie theatre with passive 3D TVs.

One of the disadvantages of passive 3D TVs is that since the TV must display both images at the same time, the resolution of the picture is halved. Therefore passive 3D TVs are unable to display full HD 3D picture quality.

Currently LG and Vizio are the only companies that manufacture passive 3D TVs. Passive 3D TVs just started hitting the market in Q4 2010.

What Do I Need To Play 3D Games On My TV?

To play any of the exciting new games coming out in 3D you will need:
  • 3D TV-Ready TV
  • 3D Transmitter (sometimes already built into the TV)
  • 3D Glasses
  • 3D Capable game system (PS3, XBox)
Note that as of today, 3D glasses from one manufacturer will not work on another manufacturer's TVs. For example, Sony 3D glasses will not work on a Samsung 3D TV. Although just last month several 3rd party manufacturers have announced glasses that apparently work on any 3D TV.