This is a mirror of my blog at http://craylon.wordpress.com where you can also find stereoscopic screenshots to this article:
As a hardcore Spellborne Player for the past 4 month now I may be a bit biased towards the game. When I got my 3D Vision glasses I was pretty disappointed about the lack of depth but with the release of NVIDIA’s 1.08 Drivers the game went from “ugly” to “good”. It’s not perfect but perfectly enjoyable in 3D. Prior to this test i spend around 10 hours playing the game with my glasses on (in 4 settings since my old eyes seem to get weary after 2-3hours using the stereoscopic view).
Character/ Environmental Detail
When I first saw screenshots of Spellborne I totally fell in love with the artistic style. This is of course my personal view. If WOW/War uses a typical American art-style and Lineage 2/ Aion is typical Asian then I would say that Spellborne adapts a typical European Style as you would see in French/ Belgian Comics. The game itself uses the Unreal Engine Version 2.5 and the 3D Vision glasses do a very good job transferring that screwy, disproportional art-style into a fantastic “true” 3D scenery.
Characters and environment seem to have a nice polygon count resulting in a world with a lot of detail. The art-style is to “cartoony” to attempt realism but the viewing experience is something you’d expect from from high quality 3D-Animated Movies like “Monsters vs Aliens 3D” and “Iceage”. In comparison to WOW I would say the game’s 3D models are more complex and the world looks more detailed.
With the current drivers the feeling of depth in The Chronicles of Spellborne is pretty good in stereo mode. In the options menu you can adjust brightness, contrast and gamma and I found no significant loss of color quality adjusting those to counter the loss of brightness due to the glasses. I also turned of Gloom there because I felt that it added to ghosting. After playing with convergence and depth a bit I came to a setting where I noticed only some minor ghosting in the far distance that satisfied my wish for a very 3-dimensional look and feel of my character and the scenery close to it. The characters, NPCs and the world look very solid as if you bought brand new toys and placed them in a fantastic diorama. Fires and other bright effects worked for me pretty good and without ghosting although at some places i felt that point-lights from lanterns and light crystals were just a bit to bright but maybe that’sa result of my tempering with the settings to much. Playing the game I didnt noticed any clipping or unusual effects where the models geometry would mess with my immersion into the 3D setting.
The Interface/ Combat
After the introduction of the 1.08 drivers the game seems to utilize 3 “planes”. At the front of your screen, which I like to call windshield, the graphical user interface consisting of chat window, mini-map and some buttons is very much readable and clear. Behind that, into the screen unfolds the 3D-World. The interesting thing I noticed about Spellborne is that there is a 3rd plane similar to the “windshield” but set a bit deeper into the 3D scene. The targeting cursor as well as the NPC’s names and health bars and the speech bubbles from dialog are placed on this 3rd (or middle) plane which works OK for the targeting cursor but doesn’t feel right for both names and health bars. All in all I have mixed feelings about this middle plane. On the positive side, the names of the NPCs for example as well as the speech bubbles are much clearer and more readable then for example in Aion where this information is placed correctly above the head of the NPC resulting in hard to read text for NPCs in a distance. On the negative side I had to turn off health bars completely (which is easily done in the interface options) because I felt they messed up my 3D Vision. The rotating skill deck on the other hand, one of the key features of TCOS, is a 3D-Object itself and looked pretty cool and natural in the 3D setting beside the minor flaw that the bar where you build up combo points is stuck on the windshield.
Being a game where you have to dodge and aim manually I had my doubts at first how this would work in ”true” 3D but after a few minutes the combat and aiming felt pretty natural. Both ranged and melee attacks work fine due to the middle plane even without a real 3D-cursor. Selecting a Target or interacting with it was also no problem. A selected target also spots a white circle around its models base. As far as Effects go, I didn’t notice any misplaced skill-effects and the visuals of these skills are pretty amazing to see in stereo vision.
Overall the game is perfectly enjoyable and looks stunning through the 3D Vision Glasses.
If I were developer for a day (and could work really really fast) i would probably iron out these minor flaws:
The information about the opponents health could be placed at its model base. For example a full red circle means full health and then like a clock if the monster looses health replace the red with white so that a monster with half his hp would have the right side of its base-circle white, the other half red.
With that the “selecting” of a target could be discussed. Maybe the target that I aim at should be selected automatically instead of some target I clicked or “tabbed” to before.
The names of the NPCs as well as their speech bubble should be places at the right coordinates in the 3D-scene even if that means trading of readability.
There should be options to turn off individual GUI items on the windshield plane. I for one would be perfectly happy turning off all, keeping only my rotating skill-deck when it comes to combat.
Some point-lights could loose a bit of brightness and some more ambient light could be used there instead
Anyway these minor flaws won’t keep me in enjoying the world of Spellborne in “true” 3D from now on and I’m hoping to spend many many more hours in that beautifully screwy world.
Next to come: my re-evaluation of Lord of the Rings online, stay tuned