The Sony Playstation Beta Room event took place on the weekend just gone in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to be invited along with someone who was lucky enough to get in. Not quite a show, the Beta Rooms was a small event which allowed a few people to try out some of the upcoming Sony title and provide feedback to the developers. Honestly, I hope much of the feedback doesn’t get that far – hearing how people wanted Killzone to be ‘more like COD’ makes me despair for the human race.
Let’s start with the main attraction – playing games in 3D. I’m sure there’s a lot of people as curious as I was about 3D and what it means for gaming. I’d seen the rubbish new Clash of the Titans movie in 3D and wasn’t impressed. Apart from being a rubbish remake of an awesome classic, the 3D was all done in post-processing and Avatar was meant to be a much better example. Problem is I really don’t want to pay to watch giant blue freaks in a Dances with Wolves remake. So this was my first taste of some properly done 3D. At the Beta Rooms they had Killzone 3, Gran Turismo 5 and Motorstorm Apocalypse all in 3D.
Killzone offered the three sections of the game that most people who followed E3 should be familiar with, it had the section against the Helghast Jetpackers, the section using the Jetpack and a more straightforward section against tanks. The game plays as good as ever, the controls are slightly more ‘normal’ than the heavy lowdown controls of Killzone 2 and for better or worse it makes it more accessible and easier to quickly get to grips with. The game appeared to be set to easy as enemy Helghast went down to a few shots and I was able to get in and put them to the knife. Melee kills have been enhanced to allow Sev to really go for some gory kills. The graphics still look pretty darn good – not Uncharted 2 or God of War 3 good – but very good.
As for the 3D? It dimmed the screen, gave a slightly blurry effect to the middle of the screen and gave you the correct sense of depth. It looked nice as far as distances were concerned, but it didn’t do much else. It wasn’t any easier to make jumps or shoot the enemy. People may argue that the added depth adds immersion, but at this stage I’m not buying it. Maybe when the 3DS tech is adapted for large screens 3D may become a viable tech, but until then, it’s a pain in the ass. Sony are trying to push for this too soon and I hope it’s not to the detriment of its games.
Motorstorm’s 3D was even better than Killzone, with debris and explosions constantly flying into the screen. The track was a long straight stretch racing across a decaying landscape that looked suitably apocalyptic. Though it was a just a straight track with very few turns or twists it was quite hard to come first, even for racing enthusiasts as the aggressive AI and ever-changing track were quite challenging.
In contrast to Motorstorm’s 3D, Gran Turismo’s 3D was AWOL. There was a subtle effect, but it hardly added anything. I have a feeling that someone has failed to set up the 3D correctly on the demo presentation for GT5. The game looked as expected, very detailed and very slick, and even in 3D the drop in resolution was noticeable.
3D then…I have come away completely convinced that 3D is not a technology that is necessary. Where HD gaming added details and made things look better, 3D adds the gimmick of depth with too high a cost. The dimness, the glasses, the blur, the resolution drop, the price are all cost to dear for the one benefit of depth. In the end, it’s just an illusion after all.
I also checked out DeadNation, LittleBigPlanet2 and few Move titles – which I’ll write about next time.