We all want to improve our existing gaming experiences one way or another. Buy a bigger monitor, a new video card or even a new mouse, anything to get in the game a little further than before. On a whim I requested a pair of 3D Glasses from i-ware for review to see how far we've come in terms of technology. I'd say we're getting closer but we're not quite ready for the main stream just yet since getting these things working properly is a royal pain in the ass.
Hoochie and I have two computers at my place. Mine has a Radeon 9500 Pro and a 17 inch monitor capable of a refresh rate of 85 hertz. Hoochie's system runs a GeForce 3 and has the same monitor. Despite the fact that ATI support for 3D Glasses is dodgy at best I decided to try them on my system first. After some extensive digging I finally found that since ATI doesn't offer 3D Stereo support in their drivers you have to use a 3rd party set made by VRCaddy. Not only was the display with these drivers sub-par, you have to pay $20 bucks US to use them for more than four minutes at a time! Bottom line, if you have an ATI card and you want 3D Glasses I'd suggest gouging your eyes out instead.
I hooked the unit up to Hoochie's computer. Nvidia has been kind enough to provide their own Stereo 3D drivers so there's no need to hunt for a 3rd party solution. The bad part is the current Nvidia drivers don't contain the control panel option to edit your Stereo 3D glasses that you need to enable the buggers. After sniffing around I found a wrapper file on Guru3D that enables the control panel. With that in place I enabled the feature, ran some tests and finally booted up Jedi Knight II.
At first the 3D effect is a bit jarring, you have to build up a tolerance for the new viewpoint showing on the screen. The way these glasses work is they split the image on your monitor up so everything is seen in double. Through the 3D glasses LCD's your viewpoint brings these two images together which tricks your eyes into seeing things differently. The effect isn't everything jumping out of the screen at you, instead it is more like everything inside the monitor has depth so distances between you and other people actually look like real distance rather than your enemy simply looking smaller because he's further away. It's a bit tough to explain but the bottom line is everything inside your monitor looks 3D thanks to the image splitting. While in-game you can adjust how far apart the images are split, the further apart you set it the more 3D everything looks. The problem is you also end up with something called ghosting. This essentially means that even with the 3D glasses on you can still see the ghost image on the monitor. It's distracting to play with the ghosting on the screen and after a while it gives you a headache. Unfortunately, even when everything was optimized to keep the 3D effect alive I still got some ghosting.
From what I've gathered the higher you monitor's refresh rate the better the glasses work. 120 hertz seems to be ideal although going even higher is recommended if you can do it. The effect of playing Jedi Knight II with these glasses on is quite stunning although with a low refresh rate like mine it's hard on the eyes after a while. I plan to test things out on a better monitor before a full review so hopefully in good time I'll truly be tripping the rift and riding the wave of 3D technology.
The rest of you might want to watch from your beach chairs for now.