The Eyetoy titles are coming out thick and fast, and seem to become more prominant around christmas time. Studio London's latest offering themes around the idea of becoming a spy in front of the Eyetoy camera. This game is not to be confused with the bonus Spytoy option, which allowed you to film your friends with the Eyetoy camera, but is a completely stand alone game. With Eyetoy: Kinetic out only a few weeks ago, and Eyetoy: Play 3 out in the next two weeks is it worth picking up another Eyetoy title?
Whilst the premise may seem like a good one, it is the implementation that ultimately fails. There are two main modes of the game, the first one is the option to record your friends using various methods, this is an expansion upon the recording function that was offered in Eyetoy: Play 2, and whilst it is a cool addition, it is really just a novelty, you're unlikely to use it in a real life scenario, as the person being 'secretly filmed' will hear the Playstation 2's disk drive spinning.
The second mode is the mission mode and this is where you're likely to spend the most amount of time. The first thing you have to do before going into the mission mode is to be recognised by the camera, and this is done by standing in front of the camera and calibrating your face. This is where our first frustration from the game came, as the process is really difficult as it requires you to be nearly centremetre perfect or you will be booted back to the beginning. After this is done you're able to put your photo onto a detective card and print from a USB printer if you have one attached.
The actual premise of the game is fairly simple, you are given a mission and you have to solve it, this is done by completing various tasks with the camera, such as collecting voice and photo data and patching it all together to catch the enemy. This may sound like an exciting concept, but in reality it is very tiring. There also isn't a wide range of missions, and the only thing that ultimately changes is the difficulty level, which slowly increases as the missions become repetitive.
The interface is very clunky as well, and you will be doing a lot of moving back and forth, so most people will use the controller in the menus and save their energy for the missions. In some parts of the game you will actually have to use the controller, such as when you login to enter your password.
Spytoy is also one of the first games to utilise a higher resolution for the Eyetoy camera, and it is now possible to increase your Eyetoy camera to a resolution of 640X480, this doubles the previous resolution. Whilst this may seem like it will make a large difference, it didn't appear to make much difference. We're guessing the limitation with the camera now is the hardware, rather than the software.
Visually the game is fairly basic, and takes on a traditional spy look. The menus are basic, but not as easy to navigate as we'd hoped. There are some nearly full screen missions that look relatively good, but none of the visuals are likely to blow you away.
Sound wise the game doesn't deviate from what you'd expect and has very basic spy tunes. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be very many tunes at all, and the sounds became very repetitive after a while. The voicework is rather well done though and is the highlight of the sound.
As we mentioned earlier, the gameplay is very basic and doesn't win any awards for innovation. The problem with focusing on one specific theme is that the missions become very repetitive, and there is only so many missions you can think of for the camera basing around a Spy theme. This leaves the game feeling like a semi expanded mini game from the Play series. Sometimes the mini games are a bit bizarre as well, and don't relate to the Spy genre too much, it feels as if Studio London ran out of ideas for potential mini games.
There are significantly less mini games than in the Play series as well, after you've completed the game (which is unlikely to take very long at all) there is absolutely no reason to come back to the title, unless you're seriously going to utilise the spying features you would be better off with another of the other Eyetoy games, especially because they are likely to be cheaper than this game.
Spytoy isn't a game that we recommend you rush out to purchase. Even if you're a die hard fan of the Eyetoy franchise you're likely to be disappointed by this game, simply because it doesn't have the trademark smoothness and variation we've come to expect from Studio London. Choosing to make the game based just around the spy genre has made the game very limiting. Fans of the Eyetoy franchise would be well advised to wait until Eyetoy: Play 3 arrives in a few weeks time, at least there is a lot more variation in this game, which will make it last a lot longer.