|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE London||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 7 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
October 7, 2009 - As long as there have been pets, it seems there have also been pet substitutes. From the pet rocks of the seventies to the Tamagotchis of the early millennium, there have always been creative ways to give kids (and sometimes adults) the simple pleasure of pet ownership without all the fur. Next year, Sony is taking fake pet ownership to the next level with EyePet, a pet simulation unlike any other before it.
The biggest feature of EyePet is its use of the PlayStation Eye. The PlayStation 3's peripheral camera will be your chief interaction tool and is necessary for play. The camera uses your living room as the pet's play area, and you will be able to stroke, bathe, and play with your pet using your hands as well as a special card that you can transform into different toys or tools. Certain actions will also require the Sixaxis controller, but this is minimal, and is designed to augment the gesture-based control rather than replace it.
When you start up the game, you'll be able to design how you want your pet to look with some basic accessories, and fur choices, and then your pet will be ready to play with you. When you first start out, there will only be a limited amount of things you can do with your pet, as you haven't developed a relationship yet. But don't worry; developing your relationship is plenty of fun!
The chief way to bond with your EyePet is to go on special missions with it. These missions will be fairly simple and involve such tasks as figuring out what kinds of treats the pet likes and posing for a photo. Once you have done a few missions and gotten the basics down, you'll be ready to really get into the meat of the game, which, as you might expect, involves playing with your pet in various ways.
The centerpiece of the game's pet interaction system involves playing with various toys. Basic toys, like a ball or a deck of cards will be available immediately, but more advanced toys will need to be unlocked. One of the coolest toys shown off recently was a stereo that will play back songs that you sing to your pet. Singing to your pet instantly calms it and puts it into a good mood, so taking out the stereo and playing back recorded tunes is a great way to instantly soothe a rambunctious pet.
However, even though a plethora of toys will certainly be available for you and your pet will play with, one of the defining features of EyePet will be a creation aspect: you will be able to make your own toys for your pet. Simply grab a piece of paper, draw a specific symbol on it, and then draw the components of your toy. Then hold it up to the PlayStation Eye so that your pet can "see" it. After the pet sees it, they will whip out a notebook and replicate your drawing. Young pets will not be able to reproduce your drawings that well, but the more it grows, the better its drawing skills will become.
Once the drawing has been replicated accurately, your pet will then try to figure out what it is, and then build it to play with. Early demo footage has shown EyePets building cars (from two wheels and a body) and airplanes (from wings, a propeller, and a fuselage.) These vehicle-based toys can then be directed around the screen with the Sixaxis controller. They can also be customized with skins, custom designs, and stickers to make them ideal for your EyePet.
In addition to all the play possibilities, EyePet will also offer players a deep community experience. Players will be able to share toys and other customizable objects through the PlayStation Network. Although it has not been confirmed, one can only hope that EyePets that belong to friends will be able to "visit" other living rooms and play with EyePet pals near and far.
Although the PlayStation Eye has been used successfully in games like Eye of Judgment and to a lesser extent in LittleBigPlanet, it has yet to be featured in a title like EyePet. Although EyePet is being targeted towards the casual market, I think there is plenty of potential here for both core and casual audiences. The deep customization aspect of the game, including the creation mode for toys, will certainly make this a title with plenty of depth and gameplay possibilities. The PlayStation Eye hasn't exactly been a must-have peripheral for the PS3 yet, but something tells me that the release of EyePet early next year could change that.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor