Rounding off the analysis of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, we took a look at the stereoscopic 3D modes of the games and checked out their performance levels up against the same areas of gameplay running in 1080p.
For those with access to 3D displays or anaglyph glasses, we have a series of captures available on YouTube 3D, so you can judge for yourself how the 3D effect looks and works (Ico: intro and gameplay, Shadow of the Colossus: intro and gameplay). Ramp up the resolution to 1080p on the YouTube player in order to get the best possible presentation.
The 3D implementation varies between triumph and tragedy depending on which game you play. Ico provides a compromise-free 3D experience that doesn't shift from the target 30 frames per second and actually provides a tangible gameplay benefit: locating enemies and environmental details in 3D space is a lot, lot easier than it is in the 2D game where you sometimes need to use a little trial and error to leap up onto chains or judge the distance between platforms.
While the experience can hardly be called a graphical tour de force - the sparse nature of the visuals is somewhat amplified in 3D - it's a superb example of the kind of natural advantage stereoscopic gameplay should offer.
Here's a performance analysis for Ico comparing the native 1080p mode up against 3D gameplay. As you can see, the frame-rate is effectively locked throughout to 30FPS - exactly as it is on the original PlayStation 2 game. Whether it's 720p, 1080p or stereoscopic 3D, you have to work really, really hard for that frame-rate to falter - the overall experience is extremely solid.
Moving on to Shadow of the Colossus and it's safe to say that the game is something of a disappointment for those with 3DTVs. The actual gameplay benefits of the 3D mode are difficult to quantify, and the sheer scale of the game world doesn't feel adequately represented - there's a very real sense that in this regard, it's actually the 2D version that is more successful in that the brain itself extrapolates out the vast scope of the land you're traversing - something the 3D effect just doesn't seem to convey very effectively to the player.
Performance is the real issue here, though. In many respects, running Shadow of the Colossus in 3D is highly reminiscent of playing the PS2 game. We see the same problems with frames rendered over-budget causing sustained frame-rate drops: the smooth 30FPS of the 720p version regularly drops down to the 20 and 15FPS we experienced with the game's original release. In really stressful scenes, we've actually witnessed it go lower than that. You'll also note that the 1080p mode's performance takes a hit once we're in battle with the second Colossus - disappointing, but not really surprising.
So what's going on? Perhaps the clue is in the cut-down 960x1080 "full HD" mode. This represents a 12.5 per cent increase in fill-rate over the basic 720p output, and the result is that sometimes too much load is put on the GPU, resulting in the performance drops you see in the video below. In stereoscopic 3D mode, the fill-rate burden increases by 100 per cent, impacting frame-rate still further and producing a noticeably sub-optimal experience. In some places, it actually feels worse than the PS2 original: we've even managed to hit 10FPS on the odd occasion.
The recommendation is clear then: whether it's 720p, 1080p or stereoscopic 3D, Ico delivers the goods - full 1080p really is quite lovely, in particular. With Shadow of the Colossus, our suggestion is to manually reset your XMB Display Settings to 720p in order to avoid the upscaling artifacts and the noticeable performance drop.
We've mentioned it in the past but it would really, really useful to be able to have the choice between 720p and 1080p modes in-game if the differences are as pronounced as they are in Shadow of the Colossus. Having to switch XMB modes to ensure the best image quality and performance really is a bit of a pain.
In the final analysis, it's safe to say that Bluepoint has done some solid work in bringing these legendary games to the PlayStation 3. Perhaps we aren't quite seeing the level of attention put into the overall remastering work that we saw in the superb God of War Collection: Volume II, but it's safe to say that the class and quality of the original games more than makes up for it.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are timeless classics that transition beautifully into the high-definition era - and as such, this compilation package is highly recommended.