I was surprised to find that most, if not all of the GOW 3 reviews downplay the game's 3D aspect.
Now I know that there is a lot of discussion going on about wether or not 3D is good or bad, or "do games really need 3D?" But there are people out there who for some reason have a 3D enabled television set. I fall into that category, now let me be perfectly clear that I am not endorsing the use of 3D in any way. This post mostly consists of my own personal feelings towards the quality of 3D in GOW 3.
First of all, Microsoft has not pushed the entire 3D bandwagon with the same ferocity that Sony has. The entire part of turning the feature on feels kind of backwards: you have to go into the visual option menu to turn on the feature. Whereas most 3D enabled Sony games "see" that your TV supports 3D and immediately optimize the system, GOW 3 asks you to manually switch on the option and then switch on the 3D function of your TV. This is not that big of a problem, but it is part of a larger one. I will elaborate on this in a bit but for now just remember that the 3D is not as "integrated" as some other 3D games.
The first time I switched on the game I was surprised (not in a good way) at the 3D quality. The game starts with an introduction fmv and small things are really noticeable here. For instance this is the only time in the game where the subtitles are a real distraction, they fizzle in and out of focus and as a result are hard to read. The rest of the video surrounding the subtitles feels defiantly blurry and nauseating. The visuals just don't feel tight. Needless to say the first 4 minutes of the game are very hard to swallow when viewed in 3D. Luckily Epic has not fumbled their 3D experience. The problems I described above only apply to the cutscenes. The gameplay in 3D is just unbelievably tight. Bullet trails are "lifelike" and the open area's feel more vivid with an actual depth element. Effect's such as rockets coming at the player, or charging enemies are rendered beautifully and more importantly they don't take the player out of the experience.
When most people think of 3D they have 2 sub genres: one is the "pop-up effect" where objects are thrown at the viewer to create a 3D effect, and the other is more of a view box, where the image extends into the wall behind the screen. GOW 3's 3D can be described as the latter. As far as gameplay goes it is a fantastic experience that is worth looking into. A couple a levels really felt more engrossing when played with the added depth and I cannot help but have a deeper appreciation for the level design.
However, as a complete package, GOW3 fails, for me at least. During my play through I constantly felt "lost" when the game switched between cutscene and gameplay. This feeling of disorientation does not help the otherwise excellent visuals and cinematography the game displays. The absolute worst problem however lies in the fact that 3D support is not built into the Xbox system itself. This problem goes beyond manually turning on the feature itself. Thing is, no matter how intrusive you think achievement popups are, you have no idea just how annoying they are when seen in 3D. The update itself doesn't pop out of the screen, that's not the problem, the thing is the actual message itself is enlarged to the point where it fills up 1/3rd of the screen. The message depiction itself is not updated to 3D either, so it literally hovers somewhere in between the physical screen and the 3d effect. This is really off putting, seeing as this is probably the only effect that is annoying to the eyes of the viewer. The same goes for friend requests and message updates, everything that notifies the player shares the same visual style of presenting. When playing in 3D you really dread when the moment you hear that intrusive "bleep" and on a subconscious level your eyes immediately brace for the worst.
Nevertheless as I said an amazing gameplay experience, just remember to turn off Xbox Live during your play through.
*Game was played on a Samsung 3D enabled television set (2011 series television and glasses)