Is Killzone 3 the Avatar of 3D Gaming?

Besides raking in over $2 billion worldwide, Avatar might best be remembered for making movie audiences aware that 3D has arrived. If the live 3D demo of Killzone 3 really reflects what’s to come, Killzone 3 might do the same for 3D gaming.

It’s hard to ignore.

From the moment Sony booted up the on-screen demo, the game took full advantage of all three dimensions. On-screen display items like target reticules and bloody damage indicators appeared in the foreground, overlaid onto the action. A jetpack afforded an aerial view of roiling arctic seas with a twinge of vertigo as the player leapfrogged from iceberg to iceberg. A final flight sequence sealed the deal with brass shells spilling out of a chaingun in foreground as enemies toppled from airborne platforms in the background.

Gimmicky as it may seem for retelling the story of Pocahontas in space, three dimensions add a missing element to gaming. And in a way, games look even more compelling on screen. As SCEA president and CEO Jack Tretton spelled out himself, “This isn’t content that was adapted for 3D, it was created for 3D.” And it shows.

Not all 3D games give this impression. Demos of face-paced racing games, for instance, made us wonder if our brains could even process virtual worlds at 120 miles per hour, and playing with a puppy in 3D seems like a waste. But one of the first games developed with 3D consumption in mind has us cautiously optimistic.

Killzone 3 won’t be out until February 2011, but Sony already launched four 3D games live on PSN today, and hopes to have 20 by March 2011. As Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars to spool up 3D production capabilities over the next decade, we look forward to the 3D gaming content Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and other companies will be rolling out in less than a year, and sampling more of it here at E3.

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