Eye of Judgment Reader Review
I'm a Card Geek
Well this sort of game is right up my street, and its easy for me to see why it causes a lot of excitement, real cards initiating on screen summonings.. move over Yu-Gi-Oh! If you want a totally unbiased and well balanced review, then look away now. I must confess I am a card-a-holic. I love everything to do with cards. I have collected weird and wonderful variations on playing cards, I have buckets of collectable and non-collectable card games. I'm a recovering Magic the Gathering Online user. I've dabbled in Decipher's Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Online. So.. where does this leave me with Eye of Judgement? As a fan, I think. By default.
Assembling the Gaming Arena
I must say I was sceptical about the setup, it seems an awful lot of faffing about to knock out a game of cards... but then the draw of physically performing the summonings was too much to turn away from it. It was easy enough to get the thing hooked up, apart from the folded creases in the material playmat, which irritated me more than the camera. The tutorial videos went through the whole process from setup, to play. Sometimes, being a bit too thorough in their slow paced re-iteration of the same facts. I was dying to jump in and get started, but I forced myself to watch their videos... so I wouldn't hit the game confused in anyway whatsoever.
The cards themselves were a bit of a disappointment, mainly because the artwork is contained in a very small band across the center of the card, with lots of seemingly extraneous fluff and whitespace, with the runic "bar codes" at the top and bottom of the card. The card text is tiny too. A "squinter" as us oldies call it. So I'd prefer more outlandish splash of artwork, but presumably that might hinder the card recognition system. And still, you're seeing all the 3d renderings moving about on screen after a summoning, so you don't need too much artwork on card. I suppose coming from a card loving background, an expectation to see some luscious art in hand was mistakenly there. But I'd have made the text a lot bigger. Because you use that when deciding on which card to lay from your hand.
Getting down and dirty on the field
My first game against the COMP was a bit of a disaster. In terms of strategy and winning. I lost. But I must say, the thrill of laying cards down and performing summonings physically, rather than with the controller, is very tangible. I suppose it takes the best from both worlds, proper card battling at a table, and computer controlled card battling, and melds them together. The game itself, is played out on a small board, made up of 9 square "fields", and comes across as a more complicated version of noughts and crosses really. But the complexities are layered on in terms of elemental field types (each square possessing two elements, one on its upper face and one on its underside) - water, fire, earth, wood - where summons are affected by the elemental type of the field they are placed upon. Other complexities involve direction of attack, and vulnerability of back attacks. Some of the summons have multi-directional attacks, some include direction changing in their attacks. Spell cards add to this by flipping the fields and changing the elemental field type, or changing the direction of a unit. So from such a small play area, there are quite a few options and strategies that can be built upon to make sure you secure the 5 fields out of the 9 to win the game.
The battles themselves are often a simple animation and the resulting attack and defense numbers are resolved. Not as elaborate as one would have liked, but the battle animations are functional, and you do get to see your units rendered and in motion. If a unit is killed, you have to remove the card from the play area. There are four special action cards that you use to perform things like designate a target of attack, or to end your turn. You have 30 cards in your play deck, and you can buy boosters and themed decks (from early November allegedly) to tweak your deck. In the box off the shelf, you get 30 cards in a starter deck and a booster with 8 random cards. So with each box you do have a slight amount of variation from the rest of the people who bought the game. I can't see me delving into buying a lot of booster packs, and what not, trying to compete online, because thats not really where I derive pleasure from such games.
Anyway, Eye of Judgement is a niche novelty product, and in its current state, it has enough going for it, to provide a rather entertaining distraction from your normal console gaming. I can't see it winning over any of the casual gamers, because of the cost, the strategy elements and the involved setup to play it. But it does serve as a card lovers wet dream, and so far with the AI opponents set to beginner, they have given me the run around once or twice, so there is mileage in just the single player experience. I've yet to take it online and play someone who is as daft as me for buying it, but thats planned. For the online experience, you have to scan your cards in to a custom play deck, and then as you are playing an opponent the game itself will shuffle your custom deck and tell you which card to draw next, preventing player cheating at stacking the cards. Having to shuffle through your 30 cards to find the next draw does seem to go against normal play, but I can see in the interest of fairness its the only way it could be implemented easily.
Right, I'm off to have another wet dream, and summon some bikini clad elven archers...
8 / 10