PS2 PRODUCT REVIEW: EYE FX 3D ADAPTER

The idea behind the Eye FX 3D Adapter developed by SplitFish is to deliver true stereoscopic visuals from your PS2 game collection without having to buy "3D" versions of the games. The 3D glasses plug into your PS2 via the controller adapter, while your Dual Shock piggybacks into the 3D adapter hub.

The glasses aren't your usual "Spy Kids in 3D" blue and red headache inducing goggles, but instead utilize a see-thru grey (like sunglasses) liquid crystal display that provides depth by flickering the lenses in rapid succession. I had a pair of 3D liquid crystal glasses like this for Sega's Space Harrier back on the Sega Master System, so the technology itself has been around for quite awhile.

Unfortunately the games SplitFish tested to work the best with the EyeFX3D, are all fairly old and truth be told I had not one of them in my gaming library any longer. Games like 007: Agent Under Fire, Timsplitters 1 & 2, Ace Combat 4 & 5, DropShip, Half-Life, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter etc. This meant I had to take a trip to a few rental places to locate what I could and even then I had a lot of trouble locating the "best" games to test this unit with. The only one I successfully located was last years TimeSplitters: Future Perfect which had been relegated to the 7 day rental area of one of my local video stores. With most games on the list having had their heyday a couple of years ago, with the exception of Future Perfect and Ace Combat 5, either you'll have these games in your collection or like me you may have to try and hunt them out (with varying degrees of success).

Splitfish recommends playing in the dark which significantly increases your chances of depth perception as you do not want any reflections on the TV screen. If you have flourescent lights on while attempting to use the glasses, the flicker will be so intense you'll be hypnotized and doing your little brother's evil bidding in no time flat. "Yesssss master...." Seriously, don't play with flourescent lights on as you don't want to tempt fate into delivering you one of those good old Pokemon seizures that were popular a few years ago. You've been duly warned.

Effect:

So I took SplitFish's advice and loaded TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. The 3D effect was extremely easy to setup. Once the game started, I held down the Select button for two seconds and once I let go, the EyeFX3D kicked into Setup mode - the dongle that plugs into the PS2 controller slot lights up and indicates that the unit is working. While in Setup mode, you can select between 5 settings by pressing either right or left on the d-pad. The system will indicate which setting you have activated if you look at what area is lit up on the dongle. You can also increase or decrease the 3D effect by pressing up on the d-pad. You will instantly be able to tell if the 3D effect is on because the TV screen will flicker quickly. For Future Perfect I used setting 5 which for my eyes, worked the best. Sure enough, the glasses added a layer of depth to the environments which worked best in outdoor settings in my opinion. You won't be seeing explosions fly off the screen or anything of that nature, but you will get an accelerated sense of depth. Explosions, moving behind objects and flashy lighting effects were certainly impressive as you could definitely tell it was enhanced over the original game.

Of course I also connected every game that I have in my PS2 collection with the EyeFX3D, but since I unloaded almost my entire game collection on eBay back in June I no longer have many games left sitting around for it. Klonoa 2 didn't work at all - I couldn't even get Setup mode initiated. However Katamari Damacy actually did work and while the environments don't exactly provide the feeling of depth, the actual Katamari ball does provide the slightest sense of 3D as it interacts with various objects. I wouldn't call it a showstopper by any means, but the illusion of three dimensions was present. Another game I tried was the demo of Rygar (I didn't have the full version) and while the 5th advanced setting gave the best 3D, the effect made Rygar constantly run. I adjusted it to a mode that was more functional and I was quite impressed. When you destroyed monsters who were near the bottom of the screen, the explosion of body parts was kind of cool. Seeing Rygar in action made me appreciate what these glasses could actually do and it's a shame that more games aren't compatible. I would have loved to have tried Ico but alas I didn't have it nor could I locate it for rent.

SplitFish has a convenient list of games (but far from complete) split into 4 categories on their official website www.splitfish.com. The 4 categories are Best, Good, Weak, No 3D. The games listed under Good such as the Enter The Matrix or Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal were listed as working, but in the case of EtM a "sprite" could be seen in the center of the screen that would move by itself and the Ratchet games were noted as suffering from some mobility and control problems when using the 3D glasses. Okay....so what's fun about playing a game in 3D that doesn't control properly? You can try and fix loss of mobility or control problems by entering the 3D setup mode at anytime, but it doesn't always work. The games listed under Weak actually have limited 3D effect but there is no loss of control. That's a toss up right there as to whether you prefer to view your games in great 3D without being able to play them or if you like a little 3D effect now and then with full control.

3D Movies:

The glasses also work with 3D movies although I was not able to test that feature at this time. I own a PlayStation 30001 model and the manual states that true stereoscopic 3D movies may not be possible on this particular cross section of PS2 units. Since I didn't have any 3D movies available to watch anyway, I'll just take SplitFish's word for it.

Durability:

The product is made of plastic and while I wasn't worried about the durability of the glasses, the cord that connects them to the dongle looks like it may not survive a few accidental tuggings. For those of you who wear glasses, like me, the 3D glasses easily fit over my regular glasses without a problem. I can't speak for those of you who have windshield lenses, but my rectangular frames worked without a hitch.

Value:

Ultimately what SplitFish has here is something that has the ability to be very cool, but is extremely limited in its appeal due to incompatability with the majority of the PS2's heavy hitters like God of War, Grand Theft Auto etc. Again, that's not the fault of the EyeFX3D, it's just the way the games were originally programmed. Until more recent games are discovered as compatible - which SplitFish needs to get on immediately - it's unrealistic to think that gamers will shell out a lot of cash for a device that works with games you had in your collection years ago or never had to begin with. The EyeFX3D is cool and it's potential was immediately obvious when I saw Rygar in action, but for it to appeal to the masses it is going to have to be compatible with many more titles in the PS2 library and that especially includes games released in 2005. With an expanded library of working titles, these liquid crystal specs could be just what the game doctor ordered.

System: PS2
Dev: SplitFish GameWare
Release: Fall 2005
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
DURABILITY
3.5
EFFECT
4.0
VALUE
1.0