When I was at school, the craze with “pogs” was in full effect. Remember those? Pointless plastic discs, which were stacked up along with your mates set. Then you’d get a big hefty plastic (or sometimes metal) slammer and try and flip as many over from the stack as you could, which meant that you could then take those pogs for your collection. Nowadays though, it’s all about Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards.
So it was only a matter of time really before someone decided to combine the multi-player joys of card battles, with the rather large gaming industry – and who better to do it than Sony? Sony Computer Entertainment Japan have taken the first step into a new era of video games, utilising the Playstation Eye technology with material objects; in this case, playing cards. Cue Eye of Judgment.
Before we go into the game itself, it’s worth mentioning the fantastic attention to detail that Sony have gone to with regards to the presentation of Eye of Judgment. The game comes boxed along with the Playstation Eye (PS Eye) itself, a plastic stand (to hold the PS Eye), a playing cloth (to put the cards on), a starter deck and a booster pack of cards. The playing cloth is by far the most impressive. Sure it’s only a piece of cloth, but the attention to detail is great – with a nice pattern making the otherwise standard playing square look great. The plastic stand also look good, with nice attention to detail on making it look and feel like Sony have taken their time on it. The reason these are mentioned is because, in reality, Sony could have just shoved a cardboard playing board with a 3×3 grid drawn in crayon along with a very simple 2 stick PS Eye stand, and it would have done the same job.
The cards too are great. They are really well made, with sturdy plastic coatings to ensure they don’t bend up too easily. The entire presentation of the game itself feels really sturdy, which is of course a great start to your overall opinion of the game. If these elements were shabby, it’s more than likely that the game would follow suit.
The game itself is basically a card game, but set on a TV screen. You have a 3×3 grid with the PS Eye is set to look at. Once you’ve tweaked the camera settings in the game, you can then battle your mates, or the AI, with your select deck of cards. Placing a card face up on the cloth mat will set of the sensors in the game (via the PS eye) and bring that character to life on the screen with a colourful array of flashing lights. This alone is quite impressive, as you finally get to see a somewhat average looking playing card (in comparison) turn into a fully animated CGI character in only a second or two from when you place the card down.
It’s not just a matter of shoving down any old card on a grid and watching it animate however. Eye of Judgment has a great deal of depth and tactics to it. Each character on the card has their own unique traits and strengths, along with each square on the mat having their own rudimentary advantage – so placement and strategy is vital.
Using a turn based sequence, two players battle each other for control of the grid, tactically placing cards down to either hinder their opponents progression, or advance their own. Going into the game mechanics itself would take a long time, as there is a lot of detail. However, it’s not necessarily hard to play; it just takes time to master the basics with the aid of the tutorials. Those of you who may be looking for a quick 5 minute bash at this title will be sorely disappointed as it not only takes time to learn, but it takes time to play.
If you’re a lover of these sorts of games, and you think you’ve mastered it, you can take a dive into the online world of Eye of Judgment, which is of course a welcome edition – especially if you have no mates… or at least none that’ll sit down and play a card game with you!
Cheating could become a significant issue online, if it wasn’t for Sony’s attempt to cut it out. Before starting a game, you have to scan the pack of cards you are using in through the PS Eye, and then the computer will randomly select the cards you will be using, meaning you can’t just select from your entire pack and pick out the best of the best every time. The entire online experience works really well, with no slowdown. It’s actually quite exciting playing a card game with a guy from the other side of the world, and even more so because you’re doing it through the PS Eye.
If you’re not too sure on the online scene just yet, you don’t have an internet connection at home (e.g. you live under a rock) or you’ve not quite grasped the game just yet, you can stick to the offline mode, playing single battles against the AI. Sadly though, that’s as far as it goes. There is absolutely no single-player story mode to this game at all, which is somewhat of a disappointment.
Along with that, comes a rather annoying heavy metal music soundtrack blasting throughout the game. Admittedly, having S-Club 7 sing “Don’t Stop Moving” whilst you placed you army of goblins on the board wouldn’t of fit, but the music will definitely not appeal to everyone.
That being said though, Eye of Judgment still has an element of magnetism to it. The overall presentation of the title, along with the nerdy, but enjoyable element of playing card games on your HDTV is just a fantastic idea – and an original way to develop the PS Eye. If you’re a lover of card battle games, then this title is an absolute must – especially if you have mates to play it with.