Why Uncharted 3’s 3D Eats Your Eyeballs (And Face)

Sorry, forgive the silly title (especially if you’re you know who) but there’s a serious matter beyond the ridiculous headline – Uncharted 3’s 3D is rather good, and, quite rightly, squares up nicely against our claims that the game itself is the best thing on PS3 right now.

If you’ve got a 3D TV (and you can still find those glasses) then you need to get Uncharted 3.


Well, not need, that’s rather indulgent and ignorant.  You need water, peanuts, Scrabble and Suede (hi, Brett), but if you’ve got £40 spare and you weren’t already convinced by my ramblings on Monday afternoon, then allow me to explain why you at least want to pick up Uncharted 3 purely for its top quality stereoscopic stereo vision-o-vision.  Official terminology, that.

[drop2]For starters, it doesn’t feel like it’s making the console cough up its last breath at every turn.  Sure, it’s having to draw twice the polygons (let’s not forget the need to render Drake’s beautiful body again), twice the textures, twice the shadows, but by subtly dialing down the special effects and the resolution the thing actual still moves quite smoothly.

It’s not perfect – there are frame rate drops and some minor detail is lost – but it’s nothing too serious.

And I mean, I’ve got better things to do than (and a complete lack of the skill required to) count pixels, so it might well be running in resolutions that would make the Amiga buff out its chest, but it doesn’t look like it from where I’m sat. And whilst somehow Resistance 3 managed to look even blurrier in 3D than it did in 2D (a feat indeed) Uncharted doesn’t suffer from the same problems – it’s still sharp, still crisp, and still utterly gorgeous.

There’s a ‘3D strength’ bar which acts a bit like the one on the 3DS (although doesn’t instantly make you sick when you move it past about 20%) and whilst the game doesn’t compensate for the fact that you’re wearing glasses by brightening the display – something that all games should do – it doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference.

Third person shooters don’t normally benefit from the added depth of 3D (Gears of War 3 certainly didn’t, in my opinion) but Uncharted manages to succeed because the game sports plenty of rich, expansive environments that play with close up objects just as much as they do with things in the distance.  Vertiginous drops, long range battles, close quarter brawls – they all work nicely.

It doesn’t get it right all the time, though – a few of the spaces still feel a little flat, especially ones with lots of middle range stuff, and it’s only when Naughty Dog really push the tech that it has that wow factor, but that’s the same situation with most of the best 3D games, only really drawing your attention to it when absolutely necessary.

Smartest of all is keeping Drake in the centre of the 3D field, so you’re never straining or fighting against any ghosting when you’re focusing on him.

Again, we’re not going to spoil anything, so no detailed discussion of which chapters look the best in 3D, suffice to say that there’s a couple that really come alive, and it’s normally the set pieces that work the best.  Yes, running it in 3D has its own drawbacks in terms of detail and fidelity, but overall this is probably the best example of 3D in a game since MotorStorm Apocalypse.

If you’re still looking for that game to show off your new television, this is it.  If your new television is a black and white 14″ shit-o-tron, it’s probably not.



  1. Brilliant piece. Really enjoyed reading that. Wish I could afford a 3D tele even more now.

  2. Good thing there’s a high end 2011 Panasonic Plasma 3DTV in the living room and oh is the screen on it gorgeous :)

    Never tried 3D other than Killzone 3 for 15 minutes before falling asleep as I had been studying the previous night for an exam.

    • Best go and check it’s there again, I don’t think I got the wrong place though… :P

  3. I loved the 3D on the beta it was the best i have seen

  4. the first party games on the ps3 serisouly make me wish i could get a 3D tv. they all seem to push the limits each time. this killzone and motorstorm all sound worth the purchess

  5. I was sold on 3D until I got a 3DTV & now I’m convinced they’re pointless unless you can fill your whole field of vision with a ridiculously large (& ridiculously expensive) TV or preferably a projector as all we’re left with for home use is a window with depth rather than a cinema style 3D experience, however I was impressed with Tumble & Motorstorm Apocalypse for a 3D experience although the colourful landscape of De Blob 2 is the most visceral experience IMO.

    Errrm wow, that was a long way of saying I’ll check this out if the multiplayer mode I’ve already downloaded supports it. Sounds great.

  6. Have played the multiplayer in 3D and it really is fantastic, by far the best 3D I have seen in gaming.

  7. I am not and never will be interested in 3D; I’ve seen plenty of it, and for me it’s a gimmick which has never added anything at all to the viewing experience.

    But here’s a thought: As visually stunning as Uncharted 3 supposedly is, how much better could it have been it they hadn’t had to cater for outputting twice the poly’s to create a 3D image?

    • In response to your last paragraph, the game only makes compromises in the 3D mode. The 2D mode is not negatively affected by the 3D mode and sometimes optimisations made to the 3D mode can have subsequent positive effects for the 2D mode and visa versa.

      “how much better could it have been it they hadn’t had to cater for outputting twice the poly’s to create a 3D image?”

      …pop the game in your playstation and run it in 2D and you’ll find out, in 2D the game isn’t putting out twice the polygons.

      And if you mean it in regards indirect effects on 2D quality due to time/money/resources spent implementing 3D. The amount of resources put into implementing 3D in games is massively overstated.

      • Good post, very well said.

  8. “… and whilst the game doesn’t compensate for the fact that you’re wearing glasses by brightening the display – something that all games should do – it doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference.”

    I don’t know about the 2010 3DTVs, but my 2011 Samsung plasma automatically enables a significant brightness boost in any 3D mode, so an extra non-adjustable one from games could cause disastrous image quality results. 2D and 3D are pretty much equally bright on my TV, and that’s with almost similar image settings and the manual brightness setting just slightly higher in 3D mode.

    I’m fairly sure I’ve seen people on various tech forums mention that the same applies to the TVs from certain other manufacturers, such as Panasonic.

    • Another reason why 3d is struggling then: an already splintered market. Perhaps a setting in the XMB then to tell the PS3 to boost the brightness in software for those of us with a TV more than a year old?

      Regardless, if Naughty Dog tested the game on as many sets as they say they did, this shouldn’t have been an issue.

      • Indeed, another reason to hold off on 3D technology until the industry has stabilised and standardised a little.

  9. Did you existence this on a passive, or active 3DTV?
    This also makes a difference in regards to the brightness.

  10. I played the first MP beta in 3D for a bit and it was good but definitely a bit choppy in places. I take it they must have improved since then

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