Game Review: The Eye of Judgment

With the release of the card game-video game hybrid "The Eye of Judgment" for the PlayStation 3, Sony is dipping its foot into the very lucrative waters of two of the world's largest entertainment markets: video games and collectible card games.

Teaming with Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, a company well established in the collectible card market, the game's success might be considered a slam-dunk.

But there's not much here to turn card game lovers into video gamers, or to turn video game lovers ... well, you get the idea.

Though the integration of the new PlayStation Eye, a kind of webcam for the PlayStation 3, into the game is relatively seamless, and I did find myself in a few heated battles, the game falls short of re-creating the depth of the more popular and time-tested card games like "Magic: The Gathering," and instead aims for quick games and fast game play.

It also fails to create a compelling reason for card game players to give up the luxury of playing anywhere at anytime, instead of setting themselves up in front of the TV, with enough space -- and light -- for the PlayStation Eye to function properly, all while whipping their heads back and forth as they play cards to see what's happening onscreen.

Still, as Sony expands on the 110 cards available at the game's launch, and as the ever-improving PlayStation online services make it easier for players to hook up and compete, "The Eye of Judgment," which I'll call "TEOJ," represents a great game for solo players looking for a little card-slinging action when no friends are about -- or if you have no friends at all. You know who you are.

Fun Is in the Eye of the Beholder

In "TEOJ," players take on the role of wizard, dueling against one another through the use of spells, represented in reality by playing cards, to take over five of the game board's nine "fields," or boxes.

Using a cloth game board included with "TEOJ," players cast spells in an effort to take over fields and to thwart their enemies' efforts to do the same. The PlayStation 3 re-creates the board onscreen, each field graphically representing one of five elements: fire, water, earth and wood, and the mechanical Biolith.

Starting with five cards from a deck that must be exactly 30 cards deep, players draw one card at the beginning of their turns and can then cast spells. Most of the spells conjure some kind of creature to a chosen field.

Players place their creature card of choice on one of the nine boxes on the game board with the watchful PlayStation Eye looking on from its perch atop the included stand. Like the board itself, each creature has an associated element, and while placing a creature on a field with the same element imbues it with some extra defense, placing one on a field representing the creature's opposite element makes the character weaker. Place a fire creature on a water field and he'll be hurting.

Once the creature is placed, it's time to watch as the game comes to life onscreen.

With a "poof," the creature magically appears on the virtual game board and, if it's able, automatically attacks an enemy within its attack range. Different creatures can attack and defend in different ways. You can turn it off, but the short animations of your creature taking a swing at the enemy once it attacks, and the occasional counterattack from an opponent's creature, are about as graphically thrilling as "TEOJ" gets.

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