Eye of Judgement: Legends Review

   04/03/2010 at 19:15       Flying_Pig       4 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - Eye of Judgement: Legends, Playing Cards, PSP, Eye Toy, Strategy
Poker Face

The Eye of Judgement was originally released for the PlayStation 3 in 2007. It was seen as something of a technical experiment by Sony; using the PlayStation Eye camera to read the data from physical playing cards causing creatures to materialise in game on you TV screen. Fortunately this merger of physical and digital gaming was simply the interface to a deeply tactical and complex Card Battling game which attracted a dedicated following, despite it being a niche concept.

Eye of Judgment: Legends (EoJ: Legends) on the PSP does away with the need for a camera and physical cards, instead using a more conventional approach by having all cards 'in the game'. In one swift move, the key differentiator of the original EoJ is swept aside, resulting in a much more straightforward and accessible game. This is, however, the only real difference, with the PSP incarnation retaining the unique charm are core gameplay of its PS3 big brother.

Pick a Card

The game commences with each player (i.e. you and your computer opponent) drawing 5 random cards from your deck. You then take it in turns to lay a card on a 3-by-3 grid, with each card either summoning a monster or casting a spell. Both the squares on the board and your cards align to one of the 5 elements: Fire, Water, Wood, Earth or Biolith, with bonuses to be had for placing a creature on a square with a matching element.

As cards are placed, the creature will attack any enemy cards within its attack range, which varies with the card. When a card's hit points reach zero it is removed from the board, essentially freeing up the space it was occupying.

The winner is the first person to occupy 5 spaces on the board; however this is certainly more involving than it sounds. Part of the depth of EoJ comes from mana, which is your essential currency for summoning cards - with 2 mana points generated per go. Weaker monsters require only 1 mana point, whereas some of the tougher cards require 5 or more mana points, making selective use of your mana points a fundamental part of the game.

EoJ: Legends is certainly a game which rewards dedication; the more you play, the more you understand the nuances of the cards and how to best use them to your advantage.

Two Pair

EoJ: Legends offers a story-driven main mode, although the story is frankly slightly bonkers, and pretty hard to follow. Even so, it does help compel you to progress as your opponents get progressively more challenging with most having specific strengths and weaknesses to create variety. In addition, the game offers a more general Battle Arena mode for one-off battles, or allowing you to re-fight the Story Mode battles you've already won. However, the real strength of the original EoJ was the ability to play with a friend, either in the same room or across the interweb. EoJ: Legends does not disappoint in this respect; with multiplayer allowing you to play against a friend over ad-hoc, or a ranked match over infrastructure, with the added option of trading cards in the former.
In terms of cards, the game has something like 300 cards included, with the player starting with a basic pack, but winning new cards as they progress. Additionally, you can 'buy' more cards using money won in battles. This allows you to refine your deck to best suit your style; something which was very much a key part of the PS3 incarnation. There's certainly enough in terms of cards, play modes and content to keep you playing for many, many hours.

Full House

With the exclusion of the physical cards and the PlayStation Eye camera, EoJ: Legends instead focuses on the core gameplay itself, rather than any technological wizardry, resulting in a much more immediate and accessible game. That said the presentation on Sony's handheld is clear and impressive. Particular note should be made of the beautiful hand drawn images which form the story section of the game.

However, EoJ: Legends is tough, and the tutorial mode does little more than cover the basics (although there is a more detailed 'Library' to read through for those who are so inclined). As a result becoming proficient requires considerable patience, practice and a fair bit of trial and error. There is always this frustrating feeling that on occasions the game cheats - somehow snatching victory from the jaws of defeat by laying the perfect combination of cards. Yet, this is matched to a degree by the immense satisfaction you get from finally beating your nemesis.

The Eye of Judgement: Legends is a fun, yet demanding edition to the PSP library and it is unlike anything else on the platform. While there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the game, it's not without its faults and the majority of the issues from the PS3 original remain. As such EoJ: Legends not something I can recommend without hesitation. Many people will be put off by the core gameplay mechanics and the complexity and subtlety of the rules. That said, for those who are willing to put in the hours, learning the rules and honing your deck and strategy, they will discover a deeply involving and rewarding game. Fans of EoJ on the PS3 will love the increased accessibility of EoJ: Legends, but also the fact that all of the complexity and depth of the original has been retained. If you fall into this group - add a star.

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