||Eyetoy for Playstation 2 Review
January 28, 2004
Summary: Marcus takes a good look at Sony's new gadget for the Playstation 2 and its bundled games. Is it worth your hard earned cash? Read on to find out!
You would think that Microsoft’s Xbox would be the one most friendly with computer peripherals, but that is not the case. Rather, it is the PlayStation 2 with its two standard USB ports can accommodate your computer’s mouse, keyboard, and even modem. Only now in the latter half of PlayStation 2’s reign is Sony putting those handy ports to use by releasing its own USB peripherals. It all started with the first SOCOM game and the bundled headset, which was manufactured by Logitech. Eventually, a USB headset was released on its own with game support from third parties.
| The PlayStation 2 computer||Page:: ( 1 / 6 )|
I, Robot Eye, Toy
Today we are looking at one of the hottest game peripherals since the dance pad – the EyeToy – essentially, a USB webcam – for PlayStation 2. As brainchild of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Western divisions, the camera technology was developed in America and the software driving it is from Europe.
Launched first in the UK during summer of 2003, the EyeToy become a chart-topping sensation. Those of us on the other side of the pond raised our eyebrows, wondering what’s the fun in webcam gaming. I mean, you just sort of stand there and wave your arms! Then again, who thought moving your feet to arrows and beats would be so much fun?
SIDEBAR: Logitech is the manufacturer of the EyeToy.
Included in the $50 US retail package are the USB camera and a Play disc. Setting it all up is just as USB technology promised – plug and play. After plugging the EyeToy into one of the two USB ports on the console and powering up, you’re greeted with a cool blue LED light on the camera that matches the one on PlayStation 2. Then slide the Play disc in, and if there’s no save file detected, it’ll run an introductory video teaching you how to use the EyeToy. It’s so simple that you won’t ever need to consult the manual.
| Here’s looking at you, kid||Page:: ( 2 / 6 )|
On the Play disc are a dozen mini-games, all of which are for use exclusively with the EyeToy. There’s no need for the Dual Shock controller – in fact, it doesn’t even work! Navigating through menus is done with a flick (or many flicks) of the wrist. From the main menu, whatever the camera captures is projected onto your TV. Ideally, that “whatever” should be you (or your clone). Think of the TV screen as a giant mirror clock and your hands are the, well, hands. A menu is overlaid on top of your image with ‘buttons’ that respond to your movements. For example, to rotate through the selection of games, you simply stick out your arm and wave your hand at around 2 o’clock to go right and wave at 10 o’clock go left. The camera reacts to motion, which can be tweaked for sensitivity in the options menu.
SIDEBAR: Logitech also makes the SOCOM and USB headsets.
| The Dirty Dozen||Page:: ( 3 / 6 )|
Choose your track and then use the flying CDs as a guide to hit the loudspeakers in time with the music. It’s accuracy that you’re after so try and hit each loudspeaker when the CD is right in the center. Is it fun? Definitely, especially if you’re the Dance Dance Revolution type.
Use any technique you know, as you take on a relentless wave of martial art opponents. Whether they come running along the ground or leaping in from the top of pagodas, you’ll have to react quickly to stop them getting through your defenses.
Is it fun? Yes. Little people are trying to attack you. You twitch like Jet Li and they go reeling away.
Wipe your way through a series of windows, cleaning off all the soapsuds to progress on to the next level. You’ll have to scrub a bit harder if you come across a patch of bird poo and look out for bonus water droplets along the way.
Is it fun? No. I’d rather wash real windows.
Stop the ball from falling off the bottom of the screen by doing “keep ups” with your head. You’ll have to deal with various characters appearing throughout the game. Avoid the good ones but hit the bad with the ball if you can. <
Is it fun? Not really, though trying to use your arse instead of your head can be mildly entertaining.
It’s time for the main event and you have to take on Big Robo Bro. You’ll have to try to avoid your opponent’s guard if you want to land a proper punch, but remember to keep moving so you don’t become an easy target.
Is it fun? Big Robo Bro isn’t much of an opponent. Where’s my Victorious Boxers 2?
3, 2, 1, Blast Off! Take control of the UFOs as they emerge from their launch bays and give them enough spin to fly off the top of the screen. You’ll have to be careful not to overdo it though, and you had better keep an eye on the weather.
Is it fun? It’s not bad, though Hollywood has trained me to believe that we should be shooting down UFO’s instead of helping them launch.
SIDEBAR: You think that’d actually post screen captures of me making a fool of myself? Hahaha… NO.
| Games, continued||Page:: ( 4 / 6 )|
Watch carefully as a sequence of characters pop out of the four clouds. All you need to do is hit the evil ratmen while avoiding the bunny girls. The faster you get them, the higher your score.
Is it fun? Sort of. Do you like whack-a-mole? Same thing.
Try to keep the plates spinning on their poles. It’ll start with just one but soon you’ll have four on the go. Keep and eye out for the evil monkeys; they’ll try to knock the plates off if you give them a chance.
Is it fun? This one is a bit like UFO juggler, except you get the added bonus of spanking the monkeys.
Select your track and then watch the character Qt as she pulls off some funky dance moves, by triggering a combination of five disco lights. Now it’s your turn to repeat the moves in time with her. The more accurate your timing, the more points will be awarded.
Is it fun? This one is one of my favorites. It’s a rhythm game, but you don’t get any visual cues – you just need to remember the pattern and keep the beat. Ah-ah-ah-ah stayin’ alive… stayin’ alive!
Spot the ghosts as they appear from the graveyard and try to pop them before they escape off the top of the screen. The ghosts will certainly keep you busy but you’ll need to watch out for bats as well; they’ll suck your points away if you’re not careful.
Is it fun? No.
Burst the good bubbles and avoid the bad ones as a series of four appear on screen. Sounds easy. Unfortunately, not only do the bubbles start shrinking as soon as they appear but you’ll have to contend with a rotating screen as well, just to make things a little bit more difficult.
Is it fun? Yes. Is it hard? OH YES. This is the best game for you to make fools of people.
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Make your selection from the rockets fired onto the screen and then hit the detonators to set off spectacular explosions. Additionally, link together chains of like-colored rockets to allow for a more stunning display and higher score.
Is it fun? If you can get your camera set up properly, then yes.
We encountered the most difficulty in getting Rocket Rumble to react to our movements. Rocket Rumble required very good lighting for the, while all the other games would work fine in lesser conditions.
SIDEBAR: Unfortunately, Jakub was unavailable to make a fool of himself. He was too busy rocking out to his favorite Christina Aguilera tunes on his
precious Xbox Music Mixer.
Sony also advertises that the EyeToy can record video messages of up to a minute in length. Supposedly, this is to eliminate the need for post-it notes, for example, in family communication. The problem with this is that all video messages are saved onto the memory card, with a 60-second message taking up nearly all 8MB. Maybe if the EyeToy saved to the upcoming hard drive, then it’ll be of some use. In any case, I’d rather receive an email or a call on my cell phone... or even a post-it note.
| Other uses for EyeToy||Page:: ( 5 / 6 )|
Your face in the game
Currently under development is the import of a player’s image captured by the EyeToy into a game. Here’s the recent announcement of Digimask:
For the first time ever, it will be possible for gamers to incorporate their very own, fully animatable 3-D head into compatible PlayStation®2 games by taking just two photos of their face. Using Sony's EyeToy camera to capture the images, together with Digimask's revolutionary 'Personal Head Creation' technology, the two images are converted into a fully-'muscled' 3-D model of that person's head. The model head can then be saved onto the Memory Card for use in games that support the Digimask technology.
Exclusive to the PlayStation 2 platform, SCEE already has several titles in development that will take advantage of this technology, with the first one expected to be launched in July 2004. Players could become the face of the game's hero, or even have all their friends as a squad in multiplayer games; they could see themselves driving a round of the World Rally Championship or starring in their favourite football team. The possibilities are endless.
Well, they say for the first time ever, but Activision’s Tony Hawk Underground for PlayStation 2 already supports something similar to that. Instead of using the EyeToy, you upload a picture of yourself onto the THUG website and download it using the Network Adaptor.
Having the EyeToy perform that function would be just another way to go about it, with the plus being that there doesn’t need to be any additional support from the publisher. (Once Activision takes down the THUG face uploading server, game over man, game over!)
No matter how it’s done, having your face matched up with the body of Sam Fisher or Lara Croft sounds awfully compelling.
SIDEBAR: What would you do if you had the body of Lara Croft?
Logitech manufactures both the SOCOM USB headset and the EyeToy. One of the great things about the USB headset is that it doubles as a peripheral for your PC. Just plug it in and Windows sets it all up for you. Sadly, the EyeToy does not have ‘bonus’ feature. While Windows correctly identifies that a Logitech camera is plugged in, it requests for drivers that at this time do not exist.
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If someone were able to hack together some EyeToy drivers for use on the PC, then this PlayStation 2 peripheral would be a great value. Imagine, for 50 bones you could get a really cool gadget for your console and a high quality webcam for the PC! For now, we can only imagine.
All the fun without the Richard Simmons
In any case, the EyeToy is the perfect PlayStation 2 activity for non-gamers. Anyone who is able to move his or her arms in relation to the TV (never mind games, people have been doing it to aerobics shows for years) can get into EyeToy. Like karaoke and DDR, it makes for a great party distraction.
The only thing holding the EyeToy back is the current lack of software. A new game disc titled “Groove” is out in the UK, where there are over two million EyeToy owners. (For comparison, Sony claims that more than 400,000 EyeToy units have been sold stateside.) There’s no announced US release dates for any additional game discs, which makes current North American EyeToy gamers wonder “Ok, so now what?”
The EyeToy has proven its entertainment potential. Now it’s up to Sony to keep the ball rolling with more games and new applications like Digimask.
SIDEBAR: Do you Eyetoy? Let us know!