EyeToy: Play 2 Review

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Graphics: 7.5
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.3
Review by Andy Levine
The Eye Toy is easily the most innovative peripheral to make its way to the PS2, but it doesn’t exactly have a large volume of games to offer. Luckily, Sony just released Play 2, a sequel to the hit title Play, which highlighted some of the Eye Toy’s basic capabilities. Play 2 is packed with 12 new mini-games, multiplayer support for up to 4 people, and even a new SpyToy mode. Even though the gameplay isn’t in-depth and doesn’t offer much in the long run, Play 2 is definitely a great choice for a PS2 party game.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Eye Toy, it is a USB camera that allows for the highest amount of user interactivity on a console. Setting up the camera depending on the surrounding environment can be difficult because the contrast sensors aren’t especially forgiving. For instance, a dark and cluttered room with multicolored wallpaper will give the Eye Toy troubles, while, by contrast, a bright room with a white backdrop will be perfect for gaming. The Eye Toy projects an image of the gamer onto the screen, and from then on every movement that the gamer makes will be recorded on the television. From this point on, the gamer can slap, wiggle, twirl, jump, lean, and do anything else physically imaginable to interact with onscreen elements. While the original Play implemented basic gameplay attributes, most of which involved just touching objects, Play 2 manages to revolutionize the gameplay experience with a few added twists.

Play 2 has essentially 12 new mini-games, and within each of these new mini-games are slight variations. The Goal Attack mini-game is one of the most memorable experiences because it transcends the simple touching aspect. Previous Eye Toy releases had the camera display take up the entire screen and then the user could touch different objects. This is not the case anymore, however, because certain mini-games put the gamer in a small window that can move about the screen. For example, in the Goal Attack mini-game, the user is fitted inside a regulation sized soccer goal and must block incoming shots. The user can then proceed to move to either side of the net by waving their hands in the appropriate direction, and ultimately their hands must be used to swat the ball away. The added dimension of movement certainly provides a whole new sense of involvement that the Eye Toy has never seen before. Another interesting mini-game is HomeRun because it all includes in-depth player movement. Residing inside a window behind home plate, the player must first arrange their arms in a bat-like position to send the baseball hurling towards the outfield. Once contact is made, the gamer must then wave their hands in the right direction to head to the correct base. While having a visualization of the gamer running around the infield is certainly enough, the window also obscures into each base, creating a sliding effect. Some of the other mini-games err more toward the basic side, such as the self-explanatory Table Tennis game. Mr. Chef requires the player to assemble an array of different delicacies within the allotted amount of time, while the intense ninja fighting of Kung2 is always a blast. As a whole, the mini-games don’t require a whole lot of skill or thinking in order to achieve a high score, but this instinctive style of gameplay is what makes Play 2 so amusing.

The new Playroom mode truly shows the full capabilities of the Eye Toy. The SpyToy feature allows the Eye Toy to act as a surveillance camera. Whether you have it set to be triggered by sound or motion, or if you have it set to take a picture every minute or so, the SpyToy is a neat feature which—though it probably won’t protect you from burglaries—will still show off some of the Eye Toy’s capabilities. Another feature is the Cutout-Cam, which allows the user to be separated from the surrounding background while superimposing them into a virtual world. You can also make a model of your head, called a Cameo, which can later be altered to your heart’s content. By setting green movement points across the head, you will be able to make the face have emotions and even get smacked around. In addition, different gameplay mechanics can be edited seamlessly to diversify the gameplay. The sound cam can be enabled to play games using voice, the motion cam can be enabled to play games using your movement, and there is even a color cam with which you control the game by holding up different colored objects. Play 2 doesn’t use a binary on/off type of gameplay, but instead it takes into account the physics using CamM motion technology. For example, swinger your arm faster in the boxing mini-game will result in more damage being dealt. Little features like this have been tweaked to make the experience as a whole more authentic, but at times the gameplay can become monotonous. Even though some of the mini-games attempt to provide a storyline to help breakdown the gameplay, some can feel repetitive after just ten to fifteen minutes of playtime. Getting a good feel for the menus doesn’t take too long, but some of the long loading times can be a drag. Nonetheless, Play 2 will give the Eye Toy a much-needed boost in the PS2 market.

The multiplayer feature makes Play 2 an extremely amusing party game. Some of the mini-games involve players switching off turns, and as much fun as it is to watch a buddy flail his arms around frantically, the heart of the multiplayer lies with the face-offs. Gamers can compete head-to-head, making even the simplest of games much more dramatic. Basic feats, such as waving your arms or grabbing for objects, are so much more competitive when the opponent is but inches away. Feeble attempts to push your opponent or interact with his gameplay can lead to hours of childish laughter. After a while the multiplayer mode can become extremely repetitive, but every once in a while it will still be fun to bust out some multiplayer Play 2 action.

The audio and visual presentation in Play 2 certainly isn’t anything remarkable but, then again, it’s never meant to be the center of attention. On the aesthetic side, the main focus is clearly the gamer(s), but the surrounding environments have a comforting cartoon-like feel. Vibrant colors are constantly used to make the game world feel alive. The visuals certainly appeal to the younger audience, but gamers of any age can still appreciate the artistic techniques applied. The sounds are also cutesy and childlike, but at the same time they are always uplifting. The audio is imperative to gameplay, especially in the Air Guitar mini-game, so everything that needed to be included has been. The guitar sound doesn’t exactly achieve authenticity, nor do any of the other effects for that matter, but this does nothing to hurt the overall gameplay. The presentation is certainly fitting to the targeted audience of Play 2; just don’t expect anything revolutionary here.

In conclusion, Play 2 is just what owners of the Eye Toy have been longing for. Its mindless fun will keep gamers intrigued for a good while and even help them sweat off a couple of extra pounds. If you’ve been thinking about purchasing an Eye Toy, then Play 2 is more than enough to convince you to go ahead with your transaction. Certainly there is much room for improvement, but considering the current dearth of Eye Toy titles, Play 2 is an obvious choice for anyone looking for some Eye Toy insanity.