Television manufacturers would have you believe that 2010 is the year of 3D. The cynical among us may put this down to simply having new, more expensive gadgetry pushed on us, while conspiracy nuts may think it's a government campaign to make us all look silly in 3D glasses. Regardless of the reasons, more dimensions are coming, and Square Enix has jumped on board by combining the vast open world of Just Cause 2 with NVIDIA's stereoscopic 3D vision technology for the PC. The already-large sense of scale conveyed in Panau's 400 square miles of geography is magnified into a depth-filled world that is complete with sprawling vistas and huge draw distances.
Taking control of protagonist Rico Rodriguez in 3D is a satisfying experience, and leading him across the expansive terrain is a feast for the eyes. Rather than appearing to come out of the screen, objects have the effect of added depth. Walking down a road, for example, we could see it stretch off into the distance, and there was a real sense of height added to tall buildings. There were times when objects stuck out of the screen, but this was mostly restricted to certain events, such as controlling gun turrets where the metal armor around the gun appeared to wrap around us. The 3D effect really came into its own in some of the esoteric stunts that you can pull off in the game. For instance, we leapt onto a flying helicopter using the grappling hook, proceeded to shoot the pilots, and then crashed it into a nearby building. The 3D made the experience of being up in the sky that much more exciting because not only did the ground look farther away, but the resulting explosion was also much grander as the flames seemed to leap out of the screen.
The PC version of Just Cause handles much like its console cousins, except for the addition of keyboard and mouse controls. Like most shooters, aiming is touch easier using a mouse than an analog stick, though there is full pad support should you want it. We did notice that the 3D effect used significantly more processing power, and when we turned it on, there was a frame rate hit. However, we were told that the game was running on beta NVIDIA drivers, and were given no information on the specification of the PC running the game. Though 3D is perhaps not as game changing as many would have hoped, the technology did broaden the already-large sense of scale that has been created in Panau. At certain moments, it even made us fear for our lives as we leapt out of a helicopter at 30,000 feet. Whether that's enough for people to invest in 3D and put up with the goofy-looking glasses remains to be seen.