Black Ops Brings Call of Duty Franchise into 3D

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In a surprise move, Activision and Treyarch have announced that one of the year’s most anticipated games will have stereoscopic 3D functionality at launch. Call of Duty: Black Ops will feature a 3D viewing mode for the totality of the single-player campaign and all game types in multiplayer, as well.

I got a chance to check out Black Ops in 3D last week and came away impressed. Jay Puryear from Treyarch played through two single-player missions–titled WMD and Numbers–and ran through the game’s Combat training to simulate how 3D multiplayer would behave when the game comes out.

Jay Puryear–senior manager at Treyarch–demoed COD:BO and the decision to implement 3D, “This feature’s something that had been looked at maybe a few months ago. Activision’s R&D team were working at it in the back, and they said, we think we can do it. And we’re like ‘hey, that’s great, we’d love to see it.’ But, this is Call of Duty. Expectations are always high so we really want to make sure that it’s going to work. We’re not going to force anything, just to say, ‘Everybody’s doing 3D, we want to do it as well.’ We found that the immersive nature of 3D really adds a lot of detail and depth to the title as you’re starting to play and an FPS like ours is really screaming out to show off 3D effects. And as you’re walking through the environment, and you start to look at the attention to detail that all the artists have done in the worlds. Look at the cover, and it actually has some depth. And, I think you’ll find, that you play in 3D slightly differently. Your eyes scan the environment slightly differently.”

That was true as I watched Puryear play through the snowy WMD level. The added depth made the experience seem like a vivid, moving diorama of violence and the slightly zoomed-in camera angle from sighting down the gun really shows off the 3D. 3D also turns the sniper rifle zoom into a tunnel of death. When flying a plane between locales, the instrumental looked detailed and layered in perspective. During the Combat Training, the mini-map, killcam graphic, HUD and reticule all seemed to float at different depths. Now, as I watched Treyarch’s work unfold in 3D, I have to admit that I saw very little loss in graphical detail. Particle effects, character animations and camera movement all occurred with the same level of clarity, speed and focus as in non-streoscopic views. And switching back and forth really is as easy going into the options menu and toggling the setting off and on.

Puryear’s comments echo some of the things said by Hermen Hulst of Gureilla Games when I spoke to him about 3D gaming. When I saw Guerilla’s work on Killzone 3 in May, my eyes did hurt after about 15 minutes of play time on KZ3, whereas they didn’t after the same amount of time looking at KZ3 Black Ops. But, there’s a number of variables at play–from the TVs and glasses used to the stage of development each game was at. For COD, Activision showed off the game on a Samsung TV with corresponding active shutter glasses. (For the PC version of Black Ops, Puryear says that the game will depend on Nvidia’s 3D video cards and glasses.) Apparently, Treyarch game testers have finished the single-player mode in one sitting without significant eye fatigue.

You’ll be able to judge for yourself how well Call Of Duty: Black Ops‘ 3D works when the game comes out early next month.