Friday, December 10, 2021

EyeToy: AntiGrav

Following Sega Superstars came EyeToy: AntiGrav, the fifth EyeToy game to be released in the US. Developed by Harmonix of Rock Band fame, this was also the first (at least in the US) to be designed for a more hardcore demographic rather than the casual focus of earlier EyeToy titles. Of the games released for the peripheral beyond EyeToy: Play, this is one I vividly recall seeing ads for on TV when it first came out, and was one I found cheap at a local games reseller when I was on my initial hunt for more EyeToy content. After finally getting to play it, I found the experience worth it, even if it was a little more difficult for me.

While previous EyeToy games were a collection of minigames, EyeToy: AntiGrav uses a decidedly different approach, with the core gameplay consisting of riding hoverboards on a track as you constantly move forward. Rather than placing you in the game, your body serves as a controller for your character to move and perform tricks, and as such requires your head position to be calibrated before starting the game and between rounds. The way you move your body matters greatly, with your upper body movements reflected in the character, whose turns are determined by how you tilt your head. Jumping or moving your head up fast makes your character jump while grinding and crouching activates a Turbo Meter while grounded.

You can also perform midair tricks based on your arm movements, though I had a very hard time trying to get a down position to work. On that note, while the concept is otherwise very well-executed, the motion tracking seemed to be a little spotty, though I have no idea how much of that was the game or my play area.

You can move your arms to perform tricks in mid-air.

The Solo gameplay is divided into Style and Speed. Between them, there are five Arenas to pick from, though you must unlock four of them by fulfilling the requirements for one of the two modes, though any that you unlock in one can also be accessed in the other. I will admit I was only able to unlock three of the five Arenas due to hitting a wall with my skill level, however I think what I was able to play was enough to give me a general idea of the game. Style involves playing for points, where you have to beat a given score before time runs out in order to progress. Speed is a race against three AI opponents and divided into three Heats, where you must average 1st Place to advance.

Multiplayer functions similarly to Solo, except two to four players compete by switching off between rounds. Additionally, rather than the Heat structure, Speed mode involves racing to get the fastest time, determined by the previous players who manifest as ghosts for the next player to race against.

The visuals hold up well for a PS2 game, helped by a more stylized and consistently futuristic art direction. As Harmonix is known for their rhythm-based offerings, it makes sense that the music is also great to listen to during gameplay, with the main menu having a relaxing and inviting beat that will stay in your head after you stop playing. Interestingly, this game also predates one of the studio’s best-known creations, Guitar Hero, by a year almost to the day.

The environmental detail works well with the art direction.

Compared to the other offerings for the peripheral, EyeToy: AntiGrav delivers a more unique motion-controlled experience that innovates on the concept in its own way. If you own the EyeToy and are looking to expand your options, this is a must-own.

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