Eyepet

Despite having been available for more than a year, games making good use of the Playstation Eye are an extreme rarity. Even novelty applications like Burnout's photo capture at race finishes and takedown moments haven't been embraced by most games. However, one game taking full advantage of the camera's capabilities is Sony's new title Eyepet, featuring your very own little fuzzball to adopt, look after and, erm, dress up in silly costumes. Like Nintendogs and Tamagotchi, Eyepet sees you doing all the fun pet-lovin' stuff, without the cute and cuddly feel of the real thing, or perhaps more importantly, the risk that you might mess up a poor creatures life.

EyePet

So, the game's in, the camera's on, you've sat through a ten-minute intro by a cliched science geek and you've seen your fluffy mammal unexpectedly emerge from an egg (perhaps watching a live birth would have been too shocking for the tots). Now what? It was the key question that would dictate the success of Eyepet - would the game swiftly get pushed to the back of the pile thanks to a lack of depth? To some extent, that fear has come true, in that the game can do nothing to match the epic adventures unfolding in the likes of Uncharted 2, but for a pet care game, there's a surprising amount to do, and thanks to some neat algorithms, the game has a reasonable amount of potential. The game begins with the basics: you'll need to feed your pet, wash it, style it (potentially blinging it up with clothes and other accessories if you want to take the degree of humanization even further), but that's only the start. For a truly perky pet, you must play with your new furball. A large amount of time can be spent just stroking and tickling the Eyepet, by waving your arms gently around in front of the camera, positioned so that you're touching the fluffy on screen. As advanced as technology has become, the interaction between person and pet is still restricted to the screen, but if you're happy to accept your screen iteration as the real you, you're literally there with the happy hamsterling running around you, allowing you to pet and poke your little parsnip. Of course, you look quite odd to observers who can't see the screen, but what do they know? They probably don't even know all the lines from Star Wars.

EyePet

The real play though, providing more fun for both gamer and pet, lies with the challenges and mini games. Split into Days, groups of activities can be selected, usually involving some sort of peskiness. For example, you can teach your pet to draw. Initially, it'll be rubbish at it, and you'll wonder if the image-processing tech is failing, but soon the little prankster picks up his game and produces accurate recreations of any clear drawing you show to the camera. In special modes, 3-D models can even be made from the drawings, with wheels and jets that provide your pet a somewhat more interactive toy to chase or pounce on. Other activities include bowling and trampolining, each requiring gamer participation (moving the trampoline to help or hinder, aiming your pet to bowl down pins, that sort of thing) and also photography sessions where you are required to gain particular shots of your mischievious pet.

Graphically, the summary revolves entirely around the foreground characters and objects, since the rest is entirely down to you. If you play the game set against a wall covered in saucy posters (Dolmio and the like) then you're in for a graphical treat. Set it against a greasy bin though and the results will be quite different. The objects, like trampolines and planes are daftly basic, akin to the more serious Wii games in existence and lacking any real texture, depth or dynamic lighting. However, the feature that really shines (literally, with the right colour fur) is the pet itself, with great animations, superbly realistic furballness and some hilarious expressions. Who said it can't be fun gently swooshing your (electronic) pet to sleep only to clap in the air causing it to wake up with a start, looking around cluelessly and never for a second blaming its owner? Yes, there's scope for a mean side to emerge if you have one (and if you're reading this, you're probably human, so that guarantees that you do, since we are, after all, a deeply flawed species), but it's testament to the successful design of the tiny puffcake that it's incredibly hard to be truly mean. Okay, the occasional clap in the air might provide entertainment for a second, but the miniature conjures a strong sense of loyalty and caring and only the coldest of beings will find a place for cruelty.

EyePet

So you've decided you're not mean, that you have a sufficiently saucy backdrop and that you'd like to take on the challenge. Either that or you have a young child that needs entertaining between bouts of Dead Space and Grand Theft Auto. Either way, a question of interest is no doubt: how long can the game hold ones interest? Sadly, the answer is: not long. However, it's highly entertaining for a short while, provides a glimpse of the true capabilities of the Playstation Eye, and for fans of domesticated monkey pooches, there's probably plenty of fun to be had simply petting. For the right audience, younglings I suspect, Eyepet could be just right, and might be an interesting first test before unleashing a child on a real pet, but for gaming addicts of an older generation, this will not rival Uncharted 2.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

London Studio

Players:

1-4

Online:

Downloadables

Release:

2009-10-23

Trophies:

35

Review summary

Gameplay:

A reasonable range of mini games and entertainment

Graphics:

Fun image processing and a well-animated pet

Sound:

Daft voicework and mild effects

Lastability:

Fun for a while but lacking in long-term challenge

6.8

Aurora

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