Wednesday, December 15, 2021

EyeToy: Operation Spy

One of the many features of EyeToy: Play 2 was SpyToy, which enabled the EyeToy to function as a security camera for your (bed)room. Months later, a follow-up game known as EyeToy: Operation Spy (PAL: SpyToy) was released as the seventh EyeToy game released in the US, building off of this premise. While searching for games to expand my EyeToy selection, this was one that I found cheaply at Amoeba, though I wouldn’t get around to playing it until much later. I will admit that, while I liked the idea behind it, some frustrating design issues prevented me from actually playing it to completion.

The core gameplay consists of a series of spy-based Missions with a framing device where you are an SIA Agent working to help stop the evil Syndicate. Each of these Missions consists of multiple segments, with a combination of face matching, data decryption, skydiving, bomb defusal and location tracking. Successfully completing a Mission also increases your rank and updates your ID card, which you can print out if you have an Epson USB printer plugged into the PS2.

While there is some potential enjoyment in this, the EyeToy isn’t really taken advantage of that much for the most part, with at least two of these segments simply requiring you to use the motion controls to touch arrows in a way that probably could have been done with a standard controller. At least a couple others involve moving your arms on the sides of the screen and the bomb defusal minigame has spotty hit detection and a frustrating playstyle. Even more frustrating are the skydiving segments, which I grew so much disdain for that I was at point of rage-quitting quite a few times. There’s also the fact that failing a single part of a Mission requires you to restart the entire Mission from the beginning rather than that particular segment, with the presence of two skydiving sequences in Mission 7 pushing me over the edge. I will say, however, that the voice acting is overall decent and the menus have a much more tolerable computer narrator voice when compared to the host of EyeToy: Play 2.

This is a lot more frustrating than it looks.

The game also features controller support similar to EyeToy: Groove, however this game actually leans into it a little. When setting up a profile for the Missions mode to allow the mandatory facial recognition scan to work, you also need to use the face buttons to set up a special three-symbol code for use with bypassing inconclusive scans. Being a twin, I decided to also see how well the face scan could discern twins and it seemed to do that pretty well regardless of lighting conditions. As part of the game’s “high-tech spy” theming in the menus, there is also a visible cursor that allows for greater freedom when using the Left Stick to navigate menu options.

Aside from the Missions mode is Security, which expands on the SpyToy portion of EyeToy: Play 2 to create a more robust security device, with additional features such as Night Vision unlockable through completing Missions, and an aforementioned Epson USB printer can print any photos you captured in this mode. Since this mode is presented more seriously than in EyeToy: Play 2, this also necessitates a page in the manual dedicated to warning players not to take this mode lightly and to use it purely for security purposes, as well as telling any friends and family about potentially being recorded while this feature is active. Additionally, while the game lacks a multiplayer function due to not being designed with that in mind, Video Messaging makes a return, though keeping in line with the game’s spy theme, messages require inputting the three-symbol code in order to view them.

While EyeToy: Operation Spy has some interesting ideas, the spotty execution of those ideas makes it a little more difficult to recommend even to those looking to pad out their EyeToy collection, except maybe those who are looking to complete the set. The Security feature may be enough for one to consider this if they want a low-end security system for their room, though those looking for a more serious EyeToy experience may want to look elsewhere.

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