Thanks for the replies, however various versions of the driver do not change the behaviour. I have used both the RPMFusion 173xx drivers as well as the actual .run pkg from nVidia for 180.44 and 177.82. All work just fine for all other video elements, just not accelerated 3D. I have not yet tried 180.37 as it doesn't seem to be available from the nVidia driver download pages.
kwizart: My /proc/cpuinfo flags are as follows (indicating sse is available):
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 syscall nx mmxext 3dnowext 3dnow up
I have attached an nvidia-bug-report.