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The Eye of Judgment Review

31 October 2007
A monster card spits flame onto your finger as your hand hovers over it. Despite all the pain, you’ll feel more connected and alive to any card game than you ever have. The Eye of Judgment is a uniquely structured card game from Sony Computer Entertainment that makes elements that are inscribed in games such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering come alive.

Through the use of the newly released Playstation Eye included within the package, players are made to experience something wonderful from a realistic card game experience unlike any other. In its own respect, the game makes certain elements of previous strategy card game iterations come to life, and slightly misses the strategic depth, which can make it wonderful.

There are winners and there are losers, but the main objective is not to make your opponent lose by destroying their units. Instead, the aim is to control five squares out of 9 fields represented on the wonderfully crafted battle mat. In the Eye of Judgment, the main game mechanic consists of controlling areas with cards featuring specific directions of attack. With such a concept as the main primary thought of play, gamers will be left defending themselves on every corner and every move. There is a depth of strategy than a simple 5 way tic tac toe game.
 
 
To prevent total chaos on the battlefield, there are mana costs for every unit, spells and attacks that can change the outcome of the game, and in succession deeper gameplay mechanics through a decent concept and interface. Every specific field on the map can be described by elements. Elements are primarily attributed to special monsters sharing the same element type.
 
The fields can either consist of: fire, earth, wood, water, and biolith. From placing a monster that takes a liking to a specific element on a square within the play mat, players will strengthen up their bad boy with an addition of 2 health points. Beware if a monster is placed on an element to which it is not suited for, it can suffer the consequences of a loss of 2 points.

Biolith fields are primarily neutral areas, where on is always near the center of the field on the mat. The mechanical biolith units are more flexible than element and turn restricted units. To make for a nice little twist during battle, there is a summoning lock, which can’t be broken. Within this time, players are unable to summon Biolith units, but as soon as it’s over interesting things come to take form. For players to truly experience this magic, they will need to optimize their deck as such. So, let’s turn our attention to the main focus of the game by starting from the beginning.
 
 
To create a strategy and participate in a game, players need to build a deck of 30 cards. Luckily, the game is bundled with a starter pack, which the players in turn use to start off. The gamut of monsters range from cheap creatures that provide minimal offense, to unbelievably rare monsters that can break an opponent in half. Creatures are defined by attack power, health ratings, and attack and defense powers located at the bottom of the card. Units can attack or defend themselves from clawing in primarily specific directions noted on the cards. With each monster directions, come different modes of attack. Some cards have only frontal attacks while others can use magical powers and reach spaces miles away. As any collectible card game, to make a deck takes time and is a game in a game, where many people can spend hours producing a deck.

Every turn gives a player two mana, so it’s not wise to stuff the deck with the strongest cards. It is here where the game mechanic takes on a strategic element and moreover provides a fun interface between player and deck. The White Cubic, included in the starter deck, only costs one mana to play, and if it lives for a full turn, can be sacrificed for one more mana to summon any creature from your hand into play, although it doesn't get to attack on its first turn like most other creatures.

Primarily, players will want to have a variety and a blend of different unit types since the objective is to control a majority of the field---and one type of the same monsters won’t do justice. Through having this interconnection between themselves and the deck, the players get the same experience they do with any card building game such a Yu-Gi-Oh.
 
 
Just as magic and trap cards, some cards in the Eye of Judgment focus on the same aim: to shift and twist the gameplay to their advantage strategically. There are spells that trigger a field quake, which changes the field type to a secondary type located in the bottom left corner of the card. If a wooden creature is sitting on a wood field with a secondary type of water, field quaking can be a very efficient way of sending that unit to the graveyard of the opponent. Such an outcome can take a toll on anyone the player comes across, whether CPU or another person.

To play offline, gamers are pitted against a CPU opponent with the same starter deck that's included with the game’s purchase. Through defeating the CPU, players can unlock additional CPU-only decks, which are pre-constructed decks. Having these pre-constructed decks as unlockables against the CPU is actually a smart decision that can bolster sales of cards. After seeing what certain cards can do, players will most likely be more inclined to go out and attain them.

What fun would unlocking the power of such a dueling game be without any human interaction? Online competition is the major factor of the Eye of Judgment. The leaderboards take an interesting twist. There are multiple regions online and each has their own leaderboards and one that encompasses the whole map. The rankings are in no particular ladder system, which highly involves the players to play more games, as losses don’t affect the player score negatively.
 
 
Every win will provide a total of four honor points, whereas all the losses don’t contribute as much, gaining the player with one honor. In essence, the win to lose ratio isn’t the deciding factor of honor, so the top players are those who spend more time and money on the game.

Playing against human players who actually encompass a sense of logic and reason in their matches unlike the AI, is definitely the most gratifying and fun experience anyone can have with the Eye of Judgment—whether through online play or two players from one system.

Despite the excitement of the experience, Eye of Judgment has a considerable number of negatives that skid the mark of a perfect collectible card game experience---elements left in the dust. One of the biggest gripes any card game lover will have is there is no card draw online. Instead of a random card draw, the computer states which card from the player’s registered deck pulls up on each turn. It’s interesting to note that although there is an interconnection element between player and deck in the Eye of Judgment, there is a severe disconnection between the player and the process of drawing cards. Sorry Yu-Gi-Oh fans---no “Heart of the Cards” here.
 
 
A seriously depressing aspect of the game is primarily rooted into the offline play. It’s not a bad idea to fight against the computer in single player, but exactly is there any true motive or in such a light, storyline? As soon as the player pops in the game, they are greeted with one heck of an intro scene that would remind some of crazy Yu-Gi-Oh underground tablet dueling. Unfortunately, anyone will be left wondering the magical question: “Why?” What was the purpose of an intricate display if it was to serve no purpose whatsoever? In any case, such a scene only serves to detract from the overall concept of the game than add to it.

Thankfully, the interface of the Eye of Judgment is great. The mat is intricate, being dabbled by fanciful icons that are representative of the PS Eye collaboration and the video game. The menus are easy to browse through and the descriptions of the cards are easy to access and utilize. The only possible downside to the Eye of Judgment is that some of the ultra rare cards are gained only through unlocking them---and most of them don’t contain any game information or card artwork at all.

The visuals in The Eye of Judgment are unique as the monsters spring into life when the player puts a card in front of the Eye. Watching them becoming realistic monsters on-screen feels like a great step towards making a link between paper-based gaming that is based on imagination and videogames that catch a person’s eye on graphics. The character models aren't incredibly detailed, but the very fact of seeing them come to life is more than appeasing.

Despite all these oddities in gameplay and interface, Eye of Judgment remains remarkably an amazing card game experience---even if not a complete one. Players will have an extraordinary time playing through the game, and moreover have fun seeing the cards come to life and interact with them in front of their very eyes.

-The Final Word-

The Eye of Judgment blends realistic animations and helps cross the gap between paper playing gaming, which serves its purpose only through imagination, and a game which truly captures the essence of something on a camera which not even the brightest imagination can produce.
  • Realistic card gaming adventure
  • Great in-depth strategy play
  • Brilliant and addictive online play
  • No storyline
  • Mediocre offline play
8.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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