Flight simming has always been a hobby where we accept that some things that we get with real flight just can’t be reproduced on the PC. That little point, however, doesn’t stop some people from trying. Remember force feedback joysticks?
More recently sound has been employed in a variety of ways including under seats to give a sensation not previously experienced. Various add-ons now add head latency to the mix to give the user the feeling that their head is turning as it would with real life motion. There are some things we just can’t replicate. Like the genuine feeling of turbulence, for example, or the sudden drop an aircraft (particularly light aircraft and gliders) experiences when it hits a patch of ‘sink.’
One other aspect of flight simming that we accept is that no matter how good the graphics, they lack the depth you get with real life. You know, the feeling that there really is several hundred feet between you and the terminal as you roll down the runway, or the feeling that a particular cloud is however far away. And in the cockpit, even in the VC view, you know that you cannot simply reach out and touch the panel. Until now.
The guys at EYECESSORIES, an Australian company who make spectacles, have put their skills to good use for the PC gaming market. Steve Hardacre is the man behind the genius and is offering a discount to AVSIM readers for a period of a month following this review. That’s not something you see everyday. So, if your interested, read on!
What Are They?
In a nutshell, they are a pair of plastic glasses, not much unlike the shape of a pair of sunglasses. One lens is coloured Red and the other a sort of Green/Blue and they have been fine tuned by experts to ensure the sharpest image possible.
Anyone familiar with Jaws 3D or other such 1980’s phenomena will know exactly what I mean. They come in a clear plastic protective case and come complete with a lens cleaning cloth. The glasses come in two styles, the Vipers, which are on review here and the Wasps, which are designed for spectacle wearers as a clip on for your existing glasses.
Now some of you will be thinking this is not new and of course you’d be absolutely correct. I had a pair of wired 3D glasses a number of years back which were, quite frankly, terrible. Add to that, the fact that these 3D “shutter glasses” require a monitor with a refresh rate of 100 Hz or more and it no longer becomes an option for some of us. These glasses though are considerably better and as they are anaglyph glasses, they will work fine with any monitor. My monitor currently runs at 60 Hz without issue when using these. As the saying on the packaging goes “No Wires, No Batteries, absolutely No Fuss.”
How Do They Work?
First, you need to download the NVIDIA consumer 3D stereo drivers (about 5.5Mb) and the MATCHING normal graphics driver. Currently the 3D driver is the 91.31 from June ’06, meaning you must also install the 91.31 main driver. Given that this is over 6 months old and the most current version is the 93.71, some of you would be making a small step backwards.
I must point out though, that this is something totally beyond the control of Eyecessories. Further to that, the more astute of you will be thinking “but what about my ATI card?” The simple answer is that you’ll have to go and buy an NVIDIA card, as the drivers obviously don’t work with any GPU other than an NVIDIA chip.
Assuming you have an NVIDIA card, have downloaded the 91.31 driver set and bought a pair of the specs, you are good to go. It’s that simple. Ctrl-T will split your image in Full Screen mode into two identical pictures, one red, the other green/blue, each with an adjustable amount of separation. Don the glasses and the picture will come together but with an incredible feeling of depth.
The controls for adjusting the amount of separation and gamma are found under your normal NVIDIA controls. Because of the two pictures, the 3D stereo image requires double the fill rate, which in turn means, if you have a low end GPU (like mine) and are operating high settings or complex scenery / aircraft etc, then you WILL notice a frame rate hit. Not massive, but it is there.
As for the technicalities of how it all works, I’ll leave that to the extensive documentation written by NVIDIA which can be found on their site.
Are They Any Good?
The amazing thing about these glasses is the versatility. This is not just an add-on for FS, but in fact for anything you want to view on your PC in 3D. Train Sim, Falcon 4, Halo, Far Cry etc etc.
Now I will say this, I don’t use my PC for any form of gaming, that’s what I have a Playstation 2 and Xbox for. But if you do play these games on your PC, you could well benefit from this product. Add to that the fact that you can use them in conjunction with Track IR and you’re laughing.
Those of you who have read this far will already have ascertained one drawback; the issue with the drivers. We, as a community, get pretty hung up about the latest this and the latest that, but one of the few things we can get for free is the latest drivers. Unfortunately, that is not a possibility with this product. But let’s be perfectly honest here, how many of you notice a significant difference between driver releases?
I have to admit that I was blown away by the added and quite genuine feeling of depth. To say it added something to my flying is potentially the biggest understatement ever.
Flying VFR, where you are not reliant on instruments is a real joy, particularly through clouds or at low level in built up areas or valleys for example. A flight in the default Bell Jetranger had me actually reaching out to touch buildings and was quite simply awesome. On the flip side though, trying to land the PMDG 744 at night was a complete write off as I couldn’t accurately read instruments or define the runway as easily.
Given the price though, these are definitely worth a go if you’re a daylight VFR junkie. Flying the Real Air Spitfire in these things was tremendous fun but so was walking around the cabin in various aircraft.
I don’t think there is an add-on as cheaply available which adds quite such another dimension (literally) to Flight Sim. Even more incredible, is the fact that it doesn’t matter whether you’re using FSX, FS9 or even FS98!
Is it worth buying, I’d say it is, unless you are a committed long haul IFR pilot, in which case you won’t make use of them. So you’ll just have to miss out and leave the fun to the rest of us. As with all my reviews, I ask myself are you getting value for money and the answer here is yes, you certainly are.
Editors Note: I use these glasses with Train Sim as well,
and they are incredible. Kathryn, AVSIM's Financial Officer, uses
style games such as Neverwinter Nights. The details in the background
with these glasses were amazing yet "invisible" with the naked
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