Penny Arcade Pwn Me in Eye of Judgment

eojpack.JPG Gabe and Tycho are Eye of Judgement savants. The two have been obsessing over the game since they played it in San Diego at Comic Con earlier this year.

So when they read that I had the game set-up in my gaming room, Tycho pinged me to see if I'd like to play a match. Which was great, because I'm working on a review of the game and really wanted to get more of a taste for the online play, besides what I'd seen playing it against the Sony rep.

Match one ended quickly, the cards barely used as Tycho handed me my arse in the game. The next week, yesterday in fact, Tycho asked if I was up for another game. Sure, I said. Great, we'll set up a game...


Oh, Tycho forgot to mention that Gabe, master of the Pokedeck, was joining him in the pwnage. They play coop you see, sitting around their table wearing velvet robes, I suspect, plotting my demise and cackling over my misfortunes.

I tried a little idle smack talk before we launched into our second match, this one powered by a deck I had recently built just for the occasion. The game was even shorter, and results even juicier in pwnage. Dammit.

While I can't decide if this is a game that will maintain my interest, it's certainly one that has captured it momentarily and it's not because of the visual gimmicks.Eye of Judgement is a solid strategy game, one built around a pretty distinct yet easy to grasp set of rules. You could, with a little effort, probably play this identical game without the help of a high-def camera, game disc and Playstation 3, but there's something almost mystical about sitting down in front of a table and laying out cards that are almost immediately recognised by the console and then brought to life on the television.

Once I found the right settings for my camera, I had no problems at all with card recognition, though I do have a very well lit room.

The game is played in rounds, with each player taking turns first drawing a card and then using mana to use a card on the field or place one there. When a creature card is placed on the field it attacks in the direction indicated on the card. The field itself is broken into nine two-sided rectangular tiles. Each of these tiles are randomly assigned different elements for each side. The cards also have elements. Depending on how you place the card, your creatures can get health bonuses, deductions or be left alone. The object of the game is to capture and hold five tiles.

There are some odd rules, for instance there is a casting lock that won't allow you to summon up the typically powerful Biolith creatures until there are a total of four creatures on the field. Other creatures are destroyed when placed on the wrong tile and some can be forced to attack your own creatures. Learning these nuances is what gives the game such legs, I think.

Of course winning in the game is really all about building a deck and knowing how to use it. In Eye you use the camera, or can, to build your deck, placing four cards at a time down on the mat. The camera auto recognises them and adds them to your deck. One little hitch is that if you place an illegal combination of cards in your deck, like two many of a limited type, it just doesn't allow it but doesn't explain why or which card was disallowed. That's not a huge deal, but it can be a little annoying.

Sony went to great lengths to prevent cheating it seems. No, you can't colour copy cards and then use them in the game, I've been told. And all of your online decks need to be verified with the camera. The console also auto draws your cards for you while playing online to prevent cheating.

The games graphics are interesting, the battle animations aren't so much, but I think the fun of the thing is the fact that you're using so much technology in such a different way.

I found that after the first few matches I actually turned off the battle animations, I didn't want to have to sit through them. But I still like playing the game.

I get frustrated with the occasional connection errors, something only I seem to be experiencing, but I still play the game.

I hate that the camera cord isn't long enough to reach the table where I have the game set up, that I have to put a weight on the camera stand to keep it from flipping off the table. But I still play the game.

The whole thing, the camera, the stand, the cards, the playing mat, is a big mess of equipment I have to store somewhere. But I still play the game.

I don't see Eye of Judgment becoming a smash hit, it's not meant to be, but for those of us who like strategy games, who like card games, Eye of Judgment is a whole lot of fun.


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