While the influence of card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon has long been felt in video games, Eye of Judgment represents the first time to our recollection that the marriage of the two mediums has evolved beyond gameplay to take on a more literal meaning. With real cards you hold in your hand, and a playing mat unfolded on the table, it's entirely possible to play Eye of Judgment with no PS3 involvement whatsoever, and even have a good deal of fun doing so. However, as the game comes bundled with the PS3's new PlayStation Eye camera, it seems a shame to leave such shiny new hardware ignored, so when the game showed up at Joystiq proper, we were inclined to put the new device through the wringer.
The cord itself is about 77 inches in length, or about 6.5 feet, which may sound like a lot, but when the camera is slotted into the stand and then tethered from wherever you happen to be playing to the front of the PS3, the setup begins to have all the markings of some Home Alone-style booby trap.
The camera itself features a lens that can be adjusted for either 50hz or 60hz display settings as well as for both regular and wide angle capturing, though honestly the difference between the two capture modes is negligible. Still this is essentially a webcam we're talking about here, and not a Nikon D3, so all things considered we were happy just to see recognizable shapes moving on the screen.
The PlayStation Eye delivers on expectations in terms of features and capture quality, which ranks marginally above its EyeToy predecessor, with a smoother frame rate and slightly crisper on-screen image, as well as a nice auto-focus capability that does a reasonable job at keeping up with what's going on in front of it. In addition, the camera does boast an integrated '4 Microphone Array System,' making its use in games, such as the forthcoming PS3 edition of SingStar, seem positively frightening. Our voices came over well enough when testing during a chat session, negating the need for a headset, though doing so means that voices are instead routed through the television speaker, making the device's use during online play seem decidedly less attractive.
The PlayStation Eye hits retail on October 23 in two flavors: as part of the Eye of Judgment package for $69.99, as well as by itself for $39.99, which promises to include the EyeCreate editing software, as well as a collection of mini-games and screen savers. We're also hopeful that Sony will take full advantage of the camera after it is released, possibly through a future firmware update, though nothing has yet been announced.