The Eye of Judgment - PS3 - Review
It was a scene aboard the Millennium Falcon, the ship of Hans Solo. R2D2 and Chewbacca are playing a holographic chess game, of a sort. The commands are given and the holographic characters move along the board, doing ‘physical’ battle with their opponents.
Thanks to SCEA and the innovative use of the new console camera, the Eye, gamers are one step closer to seeing that as a reality. The game is The Eye of Judgment, and it takes the idea of a trading card game to the a whole new level.
The Eye is positioned to the side of a cloth game board, or mat, which has a 3x3 grid on it. Nothing special there, but once you start the game, after aligning the grid to meet what the Eye is asking for, then the board comes to life. You will see terrain types on the TV screen (in this case, a 42-inch Sony Bravia HD television). The terrain comes in a variety of types – forest, water, earth, fire and biomech. The types are important because the cards that you will have (30 in a playable deck) have traits aligning them to a terrain type. You can gain bonuses if you place the right type of card (like elven archers) on the right type of terrain (in this case, forest).
The game’s computer AI handles most of the game’s controls. It will tell you when to draw a card and even if you cannot lay a card on a specific area. (After all, you can’t just throw cards anywhere you want on the map.) Before going any further into the gameplay, it is important to understand the cards a bit more.
In addition to terrain strengths and weaknesses, each card also shows health points, attack rating, defense rating and zones for attacking and defense. Some units may not attack adjacent zones, but rather will attack a unit two tiles over. This kind of ranged attack is useless if you try to place it in the center square. Another unit, consisting of trolls, will attack in 180-degree patterns, and this means they will attack anything (even your own units) on either side of their back-to-back formation. Since you really don’t want your units attacking your own, placement of this unit is vital as well. Some units will defend all around them, while some can be blindsided or are susceptible to attack from behind. With a unit that can defend all the way around, counterattacks are possible, but the units that have blind spots won’t fight back.
Now, once the cards are placed, the computer animates them. That’s right, they come to life and on the screen there are little animated characters. If you place the lycanthrope, there is a chance that the little timid farmer can change into a fearsome lizard-like creature. When there is a battle, the computer will analyze the cards, take into account probability of successful strikes versus defense ratings and animate the result.
If you think this breathes life into the TCG genre, you are absolutely right. The animations are fun, and though the combat cries can get redundant, this is still a great deal of fun to watch and play. The game is highly reminiscent of Yu-Gi-Oh, but given the graphic power of a video game.
There are several ways to play – against the computer, against another opponent (who must have a separate deck of cards) or online (you have to scan in your deck and then the computer will shuffle and draw your cards for you, though you have to place them). There are a couple of other modes, such as a battle mode where you can pit one card against another, but this is just a bit of animation and just by looking at the cards you should be able to tell which will win.
Playing cards depends on mana. Each card has a placement cost, some higher and others lower. Each turn you gain two mana, but should you lose a unit, you can recoup some of the placement mana for that unit. You can also use a certain card to remove a unit on the map, and recoup its unit. Of course, the more powerful the unit, the higher the mana cost.
The Eye of Judgment is not a game for those who are looking for a quick, down and dirty game. This is a strategic affair that relies a bit on luck of the draw. While the game may be a niche title in many regards, because of the technology that successfully blends the flavor of the trading card genre with video games, this is a breakout title that will defy classification as one genre or another.
There were a few problems with the Eye not correctly reading the cards, but this was generally only the case when the camera was not correctly aligned or a shadow was obscuring the light source. The game also purports to follow a story, but that is incidental to the combat and challenge of card game side.
EoJ represents a giant leap forward for the technology of utilizing the Eye. With this as a first step, it should be rather interesting what lays ahead for gamers.
Review Scoring Details for The Eye of Judgment
The Eye has to be aligned right and even then, if you go up against a player that agonizes over every card placement, the affair can be a drawn-out process. There are not a lot of game mode options. Win five of the nine squares and you win the match – that is pretty much what it all boils down to.
The animations and combat cut scenes are fun.
Some repetition, some ominous rumblings of dialogue but generally what one would expect.
If you don’t understand the TCG genre, you might be in a for a bit of a learning curve.
The innovative use of the Eye (the PS3 version of the EyeToy) makes this a game that breaks new technology ground.
The computer will give you a good challenge, but playing against another human is the way to go.
Somewhat of a niche game, The Eye of Judgment nonetheless makes the whole trading card game genre accessible and graphically entertaining. The game comes with the map, the Eye, a starter and bonus deck. New decks will be released as the game ages and players can create their own decks from the cards. The Eye of Judgment is one of those games that will fit a chilly afternoon, gathered around the television with a warm cup of tea at hand. This is a fun title and a breakthrough bit of technology.