UPDATE: A second demonstration of "Call of Duty: Black Ops" in 3D revealed that there must have been something technically wrong with this first demo. You can read my much-improved second-look impressions here.
ORIGINAL STORY: Activision revealed to the world today that this holiday's cash cow, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," would support stereoscopic 3D graphics for those with compatible televisions and glasses. It's a neat idea for a game that's so cinematic, and since 3D is all the rage these days, it makes sense that Activision and Treyarch would attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, playing "Black Ops" in 3D is a detriment to the game's experience and is a feature that should be ignored.
A couple weeks ago, Activision invited me to check out "Call of Duty: Black Ops" in a darkened hotel conference room in Midtown Manhattan. I was shown two levels, as well as some multiplayer gameplay.
I've seen "Black Ops" a number of times before, and I've always considered it to look visually impressive, with gritty locales and well-animated characters. Introducing 3D into the mix, unfortunately, ruins just about every visual positive the game had going for it.
Now I know what you're thinking: Maybe the jerk's glasses weren't turned on? They were. I know this because the 3D would be decent every once in a while, but for the majority I was seeing a ghosting, doubled-up mess. The tip of my gun barrel consistently had a transparent double floating right next to it, and every time the gun's scope was used, that too was doubled up. After just 30 minutes, I was sporting a pretty serious headache.
By the end of the experience, I asked the Activision reps if this was the completed experience, and they said the game was 100% finished. In the Activision's press release announcement, Treyarch's studio head, Mark Lamia, had this to say about the 3D:
"Development of stereoscopic 3D began as an R&D project, but once we saw what the technology brought to the 'Call of Duty' experience, what a great fit and how immersive it was, we knew that we had to develop it for 'Black Ops'."
I'm not sure what game he was playing, but from where I was sitting, 3D in "Call of Duty: Black Ops" is simply broken. It likely made it into the final game in order to have another bulletpoint for the box and to secure a partnership with Best Buy to sell 3D TV bundles.
On the bright side, the game supports 2D, which looks absolutely terrific.