The 3D Review: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Dirt 2

The 3D Review is a weekly (or more) column that delves the depths of 3D gaming. Whether it’s on the 3DS or 3DTV, or nVidia’s 3D Vision, we’ve got you covered with the 3D breakdowns you need to game your best.

Here’s the thing: 3D kind be kind of gimmicky. You’re probably used to it by now. You go into an IMAX theater and find yourself looking silly-in-public just so you can see some virtual paint blobs float in front of your eyes. Done it once, done it a million times. Not so with 3D gaming.

3D is a revolution in every part of gaming today. No matter if you own a console, a computer, or even a handheld, the tech gods have pronounced that “3D Cometh” and developers should start baking it into their games. Sometimes you get something that feels gimmicky; other times, most times, not. Instead you get depth. You get the “ultra-HD effect,” which makes many games look “more HD than HD.”  This is all because 3D technology tricks you into believing that  the screen is not that; that instead of something being rendered, you have events unfolding, just beyond that, quite literal, fourth wall.

Vagary is prepared to give you best-in-class 3D coverage on every platform. Today we’re going to be looking at a couple of PC games seen through the sharp-looking-yet-strangely-too-large-for-my-head nVidia 3D vision.

These games are Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Dirt 2. Two venerable franchises each with newly released (or soon to be released *cough* Dirt 3 *cough*) sequels on the cutting edge of our budget restraints. NFS and D2 both come cheap at less than $30 each and half that if you can catch a sale. They make for perfect candidates for our inaugural edition.

Note that this column is not for full-game reviews, like some of our other pieces. Here we’re going to focus solely on our three dimensions.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit

Racing games look great in 3D. Let me just state that, flat out: Racing games are by and large made immensely better with the help of nVidia’s 3D Vision Kit. The depth in NFS is great and it amplifies the feeling of speed to a great degree. There’s some very immersive pop-out during rainy races, as well. I should note that the game was pretty finicky for me in getting the depth and convergence just right.  I had to play with mine quite a bit to find a comfortable balance between race perspective and menu/car selection screens.

While the game looks great in 3D, it suffers from several issues. Like many titles, shadows can cause ghosting. Ambient Occlusion is also a likely culprit for this effect, so you’re probably best turning both of these to their lowest settings. Reflections and lighting effects, such as your flashers against garage walls, are also a little wacky and don’t seem to have the right depth compared to everything else in a scene. Unfortunately, night time races only highlight these issues to the point of near unplayability. Be sure to note that these effects can be reduced or eliminated by turning the depth meter all the way to LOW.

Dirt 2

You know what’s pretty great? When this game released, it was plagued by 3D issues. Ghosting was horrible. Depths were all off. It was safely rated low on the 3D recommendation scale.  Patches came in, however, and fixed almost all of these issues and the result is one of the most immersive racing experiences available today.

Now I realize that the Dirt series isn’t about simulation, so much as it is about arcade-style racing, but if ever there was a game that touted a “window effect,” this was it. The depth and clarity of focus are simply stunning. It is a game that, without exaggeration, can easily make you feel like you’re there, behind the wheel of that car. For the first time ever, I played through a whole set of races solely in cockpit mode, just to get more into it.

Like NFS: Hot Pursuit, however, it also suffers from ghosting, though not nearly as severely. I’ve found that I can eliminate most, if not all, of it by turning shadows to LOW and ambient occlusion to OFF. I usually keep my depth on HIGH and my convergence on LOW. There are also isolated incidences where dust particles seem 2D, especially on dusty tracks.

Overall, Dirt 2 is a must-have title for anyone who wants to see what 3D Vision is really capable of.

Final Note

Like many of you, I’m beginning my adventures in 3D this year. I won’t promise to know every hidden gem of a game, or every setting for the best looks, but I will promise to learn with you and share in that growth together. One thing is for sure: The potential of this technology is mind-blowing. As a former skeptic myself, I can honestly say that I didn’t know what I was missing.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn about more great, and not so great, 3D games. We’ll be publishing once or more every week to bring you the best in 3D gaming. See you next week!

Have a recommendation for a game I should try? Send it to or leave a comment below!


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Author: Christopher Coke View all posts by
Chris is a lifelong gamer that brings his writing degree to bear at Vagary TV, Rift Watchers, and Game By Night. His current game of choice is RIFT, though he can often be seen plumbing the depths of Call of Duty, Darksiders, and virtually everything Rockstar.