Review - PS3 "Eye" sees world of possibilities

Posted by Mark Raby

Game Review - Even though Eye of Judgment is nothing more than a glorified tech demo, it provides one of the most intriguing console game experiences to date.

Eye of Judgment is the name of a new trading card game jointly created by Sony and TCG powerhouse Wizards of the Coast.  It's a kind of a unique title, at least with regards to regular Playstation 3 (PS3) standards.  The PS3's task in this game is bringing an otherwise mundane experience to 3D life.

How does it work?
The Blu-ray Disc does not really contain a game, but rather an application to assist in overlying a physical card game.  Without the Playstation Eye camera and some cards, there is literally nothing of substance that can be done.  To that end, it is really tough to review the game itself.  What really needs to be analyzed here is the technology that Sony was able to develop for its debut consumer experience for the Playstation Eye (PS Eye).

The PS Eye comes bundled with the game.  It is able to read the cards and bring the characters up in a three-dimensional environment on the TV screen.  It can read the cards simply by placing them under the camera lens.  Sony suggests that users lay out the trading card game mat and move the cards around like in a typical TCG.  The PS Eye remains directly overhead and keeps track of what cards are on the mat.

The structure of the card-playing component will sound very familiar to anyone who has ever played a trading card game.  The aim is to build a team of characters using a strategic mix of physical combat, magic, and pure defense to knock out enough of your opponents' characters and overtake the playing board.  The game also comes with a nine-squared board used in duels.

Bringing the game to life
In the midst of the physical card-playing action, the PS3 will show all attacks and movements in a 3D world on the TV.  The console is needed so users can enter commands.  The sequence of events for each turn is moderated by the PS3 in the form of on-screen instructions.  The real target here is to have two players come face-to-face and play each other.  Action of the various exchanges is brought to life by the PS3 and PS Eye.  There is also an online mode, but that requires players to register their decks and then play without the Eye.  This results in a much different gaming experience.

For the single player it's obvious there wasn't a lot of thought given to this game.  Users can battle a computer-controlled opponent or just lay out random cards and watch them interact on-screen.  Again, there's no real single-player gaming engine embedded in the actual software.  The technology is still pretty cool though, and that's really the only reaction Sony was aiming for with this release.  As such, they succeeded.

I am not sure what exactly the PS Eye is looking for when it scans the cards, but I was unable to copy any of the cards that came included in my pack with my PC scanner and have them be recognized by the game.  Loading times can also be cumbersome every once in a while.  The cards are usually scanned in very quickly, however.  During the review I never had an issue with the camera not recognizing an official card.

This kind of gaming experience was originally promised for the PS2's EyeToy, but apparently it took another generation to really bring it into full swing.  Without question, this bundled application is leaps and bounds ahead of where the EyeToy started with its compilation of overly basic mini-games.

Conclusion
Integration with physical objects in virtual gaming is something that every generation of console has attempted.  From the original NES action pad to Dance Dance Revolution, and the unfortunate flop of the Game Boy Advance's e-Reader, the major concept in Eye of Judgment is really nothing new.  However, it tackles the same goal with a completely new angle.  There is no actual physical link between the cards and the console.  That is, the cards never touch any component of the PS3, which is a radical change from the examples listed above.

The word best used to describe Eye of Judgment is intriguing.  It's not a killer app for the PS3 by any means, because of its structurally limited target audience and the lack of any real backbone to the game.  However, Sony deserves props for actually making good on its promise for some intriguing object recognition capabilities with its next-generation Playstation camera.  Eye of Judgment is a worthy buy simply for this cool technology that it employs.