Guest Author - James Shea
There have been plenty of games that recreated playing collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!, but none of them have done it quite like Eye of Judgment. Eye of Judgment uses an actual camera to view a playing field set out and translate the cards placed down by the player into monsters on the game screen.
The technology behind it belies the fact that, for all intents and purposes, Eye of Judgment is a regular Collectible Card Game. The difference comes from the Playstation Camera - the titular "Eye of Judgment" that's used to watch over a 3-by-3 game mat. The cards - a starter deck is included with the game, and booster packs can be bought separately and scanned in - are marked with bar codes that the Eye recognizes, and thus when they are put into their specific grid of the playing mat, they are brought to life in the form of a 3d model on the game screen.
The card game itself is reasonably simple. Creatures are summoned onto one of the nine tiles by using mana. Each creature has an attack pattern, special abilities, health, and an element. Positioning creatures advantageously (in a good position to strike enemy creatures, on a tile that matches its element) have an advantage over those not placed as well. Attacks do damage based on the attacking and defending creatures, and each creature has a certain number of health points that it can lose before it is destroyed. The objective of the game is to occupy five of the board's nine tiles.
The graphics in the game consist of the monsters "summoned" from the cards and the arena that they fight on (several different types are available). Both are pretty good, though most of the "coolness" of it comes from the fact that the monsters have been called up via cards. By themselves, the graphics aren't particularly incredible. Monsters paired up for combat engage in a little mini-arena battle using their unique attacks and techniques. Besides individual strengths and weaknesses, monsters have their own animations, sounds, and quotes - each monster seems pretty well detailed, even though the cards in the starter pack tend to be lots of the same monster. It encourages you to go out and buy more cards just to see how they look in 3d, which is more than can be said of a lot of collectible card games.
The only difficult part of the game is, perhaps, the Eye itself - the Playstation camera is for whatever reason difficult to align properly so that it can see the entire board, and as such even with a flat playing field the camera was sometimes not seeing enough of the field, or not enough of one side. As such, the cards on that side wouldn't register. Also, the interaction between the hand putting down cards and the field were kind of wonky, as well; putting a hand over a card would sometimes make the game forget it was there (though this is more a problem in short-term modes like the battle arena than in the actual games).
As a whole, Eye of Judgment is a neat idea with a good execution. Online multiplayer and booster packs both add life to the game, and though it does start to feel sort of commercial, the same is true of any other CCG as well. At the very least, Eye of Judgment delivers the long-awaited fantasy of putting down a card and having a computer-generated monster pop up - at least in some form, anyways.