Eyepet, the virtual pet...
Eyepet is Sonyís answer to Nintendogs, which in turn was Nintendoís answer to just about every other previous iteration of the virtual pet thatís come before it. From the early infancy of Little Computer People, Creatures and Catz/Dogz to the Tamagotchi, people seem obsessed with this kind of thing.
Project Natal promises Milo and so on...
But Eyepet using the PSEye isnít a bad little stab in the right direction. Itís let down by some recognition problems, both with the camera and the tiny microphone built into the camera. Most notably the microphone has problems with certain things in the various challenges, the singing challenge for instance Ė it canít quite decide if youíre on the right octave or not, so itís very hard to complete that challenge, also, younger players are going to have a hard time holding that note for what seems like eons.
It is fun, thatís the bottom line. Recognition problems aside and troubles with the mic, the game is endearing but appears to be a prototype for the inevitable sequel. For example thereís no online functionality apart from buying gear for your pet from the store and taking pictures for you to upload. Thereís no way to connect with other people and play against them or their pets, and so on.
Thereís also a massive lack of instruction on the various challenges, some of them leave you with literally no clue how to perform the various tasks. Crush watermelons with the aid of a plastic red robot and a baseball bat it seems, but how, how do I do this? Do I pray to the gods for divine guidance, do I ring up Sony and ask them on an expensive hotline (this isnít confirmed) or do I spend hours trying to figure it out before I return sullen-faced to Uncharted 2 and soon forget Eyepet in the blaze of glory thatís Nathan Drakeís latest adventure.
See, I donít have a case of ADHD...but, what were we talking about, ooh shiny.
Seriously though, that kind of thing is inexcusable and itís for this very reason that the game deserves a lower score. You can have all the technical oooh and ahh you like, all the whiz bang and good looking cute graphics, with your knees and lower body inserted on screen. You can have the nifty magic card that you use to interact with the pet in a variety of ways, but if you screw it up by making the game as shallow as an inch of water, you wonít even get a chance to get your feet wet.
As far as the game goes, you have 15 days of Eyepet challenges (60 challenges in all) and you can get about 3 days worth of content before the game puts the brakes on and you have to wait for a new session. The best of these challenges is a simple and really cool game of Snap between you and your pet. If you want to see it in action, hit up Youtube and take a look there for some of the examples. The problem is, itís really the best the game has to offer because as mentioned before the singing challenges and so on suck bigtime.
Graphically, the game looks great. Itís cute and itís got that fun factor to the characters and animations. Watching the aforementioned game of Snap is pretty awesome really, and you can customise your Eyepet with different outfits and addons to add a bit of individuality to it. And this is where I stop praising again and start ranting.
Thereís no sense of being to the pet at all, itís a graphical representation of a funny monkey on screen. The idea that you can build a bond with it through the interactive camera and so on is shoddy at best, because the developers havenít actually thought that far ahead. Even the endless games of Snap become a chore after a while and you see through the rose tinted glasses to find a pretty shallow game itself. The creature doesnít develop any quirks and doesnít seem to change from the default behaviour, so the AI doesnít seem to learn or adapt really.
So roll on Eyepet 2 I guess, because thatís what this game feels like: A demo for a proof of concept idea.
You know just like the shiny new concept car that the makers put out for millions of dollars but you will never get to see beyond the screen, or even have a hope of driving unless youíre James May.
The bottom line is that itís a fun game while it lasts but itís not as deep as it could have been, that is the ultimate kicker.