LOS ANGELES--Earlier today, during a visit to the oasis-like Sony Computer Entertainment Europe E3 booth, we were invited to sit in on a presentation of The Eye of Judgement for the PlayStation 3. First unveiled earlier this week via a brief appearance in Sony's pre-E3 conference, The Eye of Judgement is a card-battling game that will see you assembling a customized deck of 30 cards and using them to battle against other players' decks on a 3x3 grid. The twist, though, is that you'll be using physical cards that you've collected in conjunction with Sony's next-generation EyeToy to play the game.
The trading cards in question incorporate hidden "cyber code" technology that allows them to be recognized by the next-gen EyeToy so that detailed 3D representations of the monsters or spells that they represent can be transferred to the screen. The cameras being used to demo The Eye of Judgement at E3 are quite unwieldy pieces of equipment mounted on large cranes, but when the game is released you'll be able to play it using a standard next-generation EyeToy mounted on a stand that's bundled with the game.
Your goal in The Eye of Judgement is to take control of the aforementioned 3x3 grid map by having creatures under your control occupy five of the map's nine squares simultaneously. The creature cards that you place on the 3x3 playing surface supplied with the game will automatically attack those belonging to your opponent if they're close enough to do so, and the orientation of the cards that you place on the mat will determine which direction your creatures face in the game. This, of course, will determine which directions they can attack in and how they'll respond to attacks from other creatures. We got to see a creature wielding four swords get attacked from behind by a large mech, for example, and because the target wasn't prepared for the attack it sustained additional damage and offered very little in the way of a response. All of the creatures that we saw boasted impressive visuals and animation, and no two of them even looked similar, much less the same.
Creature information on each card includes health points, attack points, and special-ability information. You'll also notice that each creature is strong in one of five elements: earth, wood, water, fire, or mech. Earth creatures have high defense ratings, wood creatures are able to weaken opponents, water creatures are good at evading attacks, and fire creatures have powerful attacks. Mech-type creatures are basically the most powerful in the game, which is why they'll be rarer and can't be used as frequently.
In addition to creature cards, you'll have spell cards in your deck that can be used to turn the tide of a battle in an instant. The spells in your arsenal, like the creatures and the different areas of the grid, will each be attuned with one of the game's five aforementioned elements. When creatures are placed on squares of the same element, they'll become more powerful, which is why spells with the power to change the element of a square (like the one that we saw) will be useful. Occupied squares on the map will be outlined in red or blue to let you know which player's monsters are there, since things might otherwise get confusing given that there are already more than 100 different monsters in the game, and there's nothing to stop both players from employing the same ones. Additional creatures are expected to be made available after the game's release, though the methods used for their distribution haven't been finalized at this time.
The Eye of Judgement will support up to two players, and the development team at SCE's Japan Studio is currently exploring different ways that it can prevent online players from playing games with a deck of more than 30 cards in front of them. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.