EyeToy AntiGrav ReviewCain Dornan
Sonys innovative EyeToy camera has seen the release of numerous games since its conception several years ago. Using a webcam-like black box that is styled similarly to the Playstation 2 hardware, the EyeToy is a nifty piece of innovative gaming equipment that allows the gamer to insert themself directly into the game. Forget your conventional, hard-plastic controllers your flesh and bone has now been transformed into a controller, offering a world of new possibilities and enjoyment. Using almost any piece of your body as a point of control, you are able to control the on-screen action directly with your bodily movements. Until now, the EyeToy was yet to see a full, solid game that didnt simply consist of numerous mini games. Whilst these games were fun with several friends around, there was simply no life within the game when one wished to play solo, coupled with the fact that a majority of the mini games tired quickly. As a result, many gamers skipped on purchasing an EyeToy purely for the fact that it would only be used when friends or family were around, which simply did not justify purchasing a full-priced game.
Harmonix, developer of the somewhat innovative Karaoke Revolution, is the first to the finish line with a complete, solid game that utilises the EyeToy technology effectively in a game that isnt simply filled with mini games. EyeToy: AntiGrav brings the world of extreme futuristic hover boarding to EyeToy users, and the game works surprisingly well. As one would presume, you are required to stand in front of the camera as if you were riding a hover board. The EyeToy camera tracks your central movement by following the movement of your head; moving your head to the left will turn your on-screen character to the left, whilst turning your head to the right makes your character turning right. Crouching results in your on-screen characters doing the same, which allows you to use boost if you have any available or ducking under objects. Jumping, as you would expect, makes the on-screen character jump, whilst moving your arms around allows you to pull various tricks whilst in the air. The camera generally depicts your actions rather accurately onto the game; however, there are occasions when the camera can be a bit slow to respond to your actions, which results in pickups, points and different routes being missed.
The game can be rather confusing to play for the first time, as the sensitivity of your movements can result in your character turning extremely sharply, causing your on-screen character to go careening off of a ledge or splattering into a nearby wall. After spending around twenty minutes with the game, however, it becomes considerably easier to control, and much more enjoyable to play.
EyeToy: AntiGrav offers both a single player mode and a multiplayer mode for up to four players. Both modes are then split up into two different sections; the Trick mode, which requires you to rack up points by pulling tricks through the air and collecting items, and the Speed mode, which pits you against other characters in an attempt to race to the finish of the stage.
The Trick mode is essentially a freestyle mode that requires you to pull insane tricks with your hover board whilst gliding through the air, all the while picking up the numerous bonus point markers and successfully travelling over grinding poles without hitting any objects. To perform tricks, developer Harmonix has set up a rather clever way to perform a relatively small variety of flips, barrel rolls and board grabs. Moving your arms appropriately results in your character performing a trick according to the motions you use. Combining several tricks within the single jump scores you higher points, with each trick being rated depending upon complexity. Special Combos are also obtainable by successfully completing the sequence of arrows that appear at the bottom of the screen. In addition to the normal combos, easy to perform combos, the Special Combo requires a considerable amount of air time in order to pull-off, making it a difficult combo to achieve. To perform the Special Combo, a series of instructions appear at the bottom of the screen. Following these instructions exactly whilst you are in the air results in the combo being performed. Although the trick system works well, it is extremely basic and quickly becomes a boring affair. A trick system that incorporated the use of more parts of the body, such as the legs, would have added further depth to the shallow trick system.
The Speed mode, on the other hand, ultimately requires you to speed to the finish of the track before your competitors. Scoring a first position allows you to move onto the next round, whereas placing anything afterwards requires you to replay through that level. It can be a frustrating concept at times, however, considering that there are only three other competitors on the track, it works rather well. Colourful pickup items are on offer, which can change the course of a grind pole or reward you with faster hover board speeds. These pickups are usually located to the left and right of the grind poles at different heights, requiring you to move your hands quickly and precisely in order to obtain them. Multiple green arrows are also available to give you an instant boost. Launch pads, which fling your character into the air, are also on offer. Once in the air, passing through hoops in the air gives your board additional speed for a limited amount of time. Using these pickups and items are essential if you wish to achieve the prized position.
The major problem with AntiGrav is the fact that there are only five different courses available in the entire game. Although these five courses offer three variations, the variations are extremely insignificant, adding limited variation between each version. This results in the game becoming boring extremely quickly, as each level offers a relatively limited number of pathways through the level.
Unlike all previously released EyeToy games, AntiGrav offers some solid, clear graphics that successfully produce a futuristic, colourful world. Characters, although sometimes slightly blurry whilst in game, offer some simple yet effective detail and body movements. They duck, reach, jump, lean and pull tricks in a beautiful manner that further immerses you into the experience. Environment detail is also kept to a basic standard, although everything has been presented in a crisp, clear way that it works remarkably well.
The voice acting, although it doesnt occur often, offers some solid quality. Developer Harmonix has sought out decent voice actors to perform the numerous playable characters that are on offer, successfully creating a personality for each character. Sound effects and music also offers some solid quality, with heavy techno beats fitting perfectly into the dangerous futuristic world.
EyeToy: AntiGrav is an enjoyable experience that successfully utilises the unique EyeToy technology. Unfortunately, numerous problems keep the game from receiving a high score. The extremely small number of levels results in the game becoming boring surprisingly quickly. Some other small problems with the EyeToy camera not correctly picking up your movements also dampens the experience, whilst the simplistic trick mode offers virtually no lifetime. It is disappointing, as AntiGrav did have the potential to be the first EyeToy game worthy of a purchase. Nevertheless, if you have the cash to splash out on a unique, yet short-lived experience, AntiGrav is worth a look.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.