home > review > Eye Toy Play 2 Breaks the Party Game Barrier
GamesFirst! Online since 1995
ups: much bigger minigames, creative approaches to just about everything, actually functions as a party game
downs: still suffers from intermittent camera tracking issues, how many EyeToy cameras will I have to buy?

View Image Gallery || Get Prices

Eye Toy Play 2 Breaks the Party Game Barrier
game: Eye Toy Play 2
four star
posted by: Shawn Rider
publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
date posted: 08:18 AM Mon Sep 5th, 2005
last revision: 08:17 AM Mon Sep 5th, 2005

Click to read.Sony\'s Eye Toy is probably one of the best and truest innovations we\'ve seen in mainstream gaming for years. Touch-style interfaces have existed for ages ? we usually call it the \"keyboard and mouse\" interface on the PC, and PDA owners are well familiar with stylus games. Things like bongo and drum controllers don\'t make much sense outside of actual rhythm and music games (witness the needlessly tedious qualities of the recent DK bongo-based platformers). And dance pads are just that, not much use outside of a limited genre.

But a camera: a machine eye. This is possibly one of the most soughtafter innovations in virtual reality development. If a machine eye could track and process information with even a fraction of our abilities, the potential would be nearly limitless. What is not surprising is the feeling one gets playing Eye Toy games that we haven\'t quite got it right yet. After all, the eye itself is a simple machine, and all the fun stuff about seeing happens in the brain, which is much more difficult to simulate. But what often shocks folks about Eye Toy is just how smart the device is, in spite of fairly regular lapses in intelligence.

The first incarnation of the Eye Toy shipped with a collection of minigames and tech demos that were intriguing, but not nearly engaging enough. The super short games couldn\'t sustain most players long enough to break a sweat. EyeToy Play 2 has improved in virtually every possible area. The new games are longer and more complicated, offering a much larger variety of gameplay styles and experiences. There are more modes of play, making the game ideal for single player or party performance. In short, Play 2 pushes the EyeToy from a gaming curiosity to a must-experience new form for gaming to explore.

The new games are made up of multiple levels and interspersed boss battles. They are still short, but now a complete playthrough will take a single player a good half hour to hour, which is generally a long time to play EyeToy at a stretch. (Real work begins quickly in most of the games, leading to a genuine fatigue after a good session.)

The new games include an improved version of Kung Foo called Kung 2, which puts you in the middle of a multilevel playing field fending off wee attackers. New gameplay elements such as dodging cannon fire and boss battles make Kung 2 a much better game. Other big hits include DIY, which has you completing a variety of tasks ranging from bashing down walls to fixing leaky pipes, and Mr. Chef, whih puts you in the role of a short-order chef assembling burgers and plates of food. Each of these games features a variety of different physically-intensive control styles that will require you to wave your arms, touch different virtual elements in sequence, or duck and stretch. It\'s no overstatement to say that Eye Toy is the best thing since DDR for real aerobic videogame-based workouts. A half hour of EyeToy each day would be a better exercise regimen than the average American manages.

The games are all genuinely fun, and a party-game multiplayer mode makes it great as long as you have three or four players. It would have been nice if there could be a more steady mode for head-to-head play in Mr. Chef or Kung 2, but with four players and the Random Game option, multiplayer actually succeeds as a party mode.

At a recent gathering of authors on GF!-friendly website, ElmwoodStrip.com, the game was a real hit. The lack of a controller makes the Eye Toy Play 2 games intuitive and unique, and the goofiness of watching a person actually play Eye Toy lends to a boisterous party atmosphere. This makes Eye Toy Play 2 a casual gamer\'s ideal curiosity: unique enough to break the ice, and quick enough to pick up and put down.

For parties of a different type, the Eye Toy Play 2 Playroom offers some really cool and really trippy tech demos and mini-minigames. These range from audio-based distortion of the camera image (perfect for a bumpin\' afterparty) to totally tripped out tracer-painting interactivities. These little demos show off some of the future possibilities of the Eye Toy and really display a range of imaginative and technical ability.

The drawbacks of Eye Toy are few, but in some cases complete moodkillers. The first annoying aspect of any Eye Toy game is how often you end up buying another camera just to get the game. None of the retail outlets we consulted (EB Games, GameStop, Target) carried the non-camera version of Eye Toy Play 2 (or any other EyeToy-based game), and it\'s unclear if such a vesion is available in stores at all. If this keeps up, Sony had better start doing Eye Toy games that use stereoscopic vision because I\'ll have a little army of EyeToy cameras that I don\'t need.

The real bummer when playing Eye Toy is to hit a minigame that doesn\'t like your room. Generally, if one is dilligent about setting the camera sensitivity and room lighting options, and pays attention to the guidelines in the Eye Toy manual and tutorial, then the camera identifies movement really well. However, there is often a peculiar task or small area of the camera\'s image that doesn\'t register well on-screen.

On rare occasions, these quirks of machine vision are opportunities for creative play styles. A player may find that virtual bricks stick to his shoulder, so he has to use his shoulders to put them in place, or perhaps an open palm is registered more accurately than a backhand, leading to contorted virtual tennis moves. But these cool moments are not common, and, in general, whenever there is an exceptionally dark spot, or uneven lighting qualities, certain minigames are almost impossible to play. Add to that the tedium of making four people go through an unresponsive level (sometimes it is not possible to drag in an extra lamp or a bigger backdrop), and these moments just tank an otherwise vibrant play session.

In general, if you have a well-lit gaming room with plenty of space to wave your arms about, you should also have Eye Toy Play 2. If your dorm room is big enough, this will definitely attract attention. Sadly, if your space doesn\'t accomidate Eye Toy, then any effort to play Eye Toy will only end in frustration. Your task is to improve your gaming situation, and then get Eye Toy Play 2 and enjoy.

Click images for larger version

Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger.