Reviewing Eye Of Judgement: Legends PSP is a pretty strenuous task, because learning the mechanics of the game itself (which are, incidentally, identical to those of the PS3 Eye Of Judgement game) is only a few shades shy of learning how to play a musical instrument. It is a game of almost obscene tactical depth, and requires patience, endurance and skill to fully master. It’s a title crafted with mathematical precision, and frankly it makes a rock-hard game of Sudoku look like a QTE.

Fans of the PS3 original will doubtless want to get involved, if only so they can re-live the experience on-the-go. Although a few of the PS3 version’s graphical flourishes have been down-sized somewhat, it’s a pretty faultless port, and the only differences from its big brother are that there is now no camera support, and there is no need for actual cards to be purchased. All of those can be bought via the Playstation Network instead, and it makes the experience pleasantly hassle-free. Although many of the game’s biggest fans loved those dynamics, they were obvious casualties in the pursuit of making it all portable.

The storyline is almost as headily complicated as the gameplay, but it is a well-written piece (heavily influenced by Tolkien, inevitably) and the basics of the plot involves you, the ‘divine child’, essentially taking it upon yourself to save the world’s four races (they being Fire, Water, Earth and Wood) from the false god of Scion. Even if you skip the cutscenes and ignore the finer details of the story, that fundamental driving narrative will probably stir you anyway, as it has done in everything from Lord Of The Rings, to Star Wars, to The Matrix. One little guy against the world. It never fails.

The game may look simple to a layman – like an Advance Wars / Fire Emblem knock-off on a smaller scale – but don’t let the modest 9-square grid convince you that this is anything other than a monumentally complex playing field. There are 300 different cards available in the game from the off, although tougher ones (like the almighty Bioleth) cannot be used straight away. How and when you use the cards is of paramount importance, as penalties and bonuses are deducted or rewarded accordingly, depending on how you take advantage of each of your foe’s weak spots.

Each card tells you exactly how best to use them. There is a C number indicating the cost and reward of the card’s ‘mana’, a heart meter indicating their strength, and two diagrams; the first highlights the details of how each specific creature can attack (in what direction, amount of damage they can inflict etc) and the second shows where a creature can defend from, and where its weak spot is.

So the information you’ll need to succeed is always present, but casual gamers aren’t going to have a clue where to start. These descriptions of the dynamics of play barely scratch the surface, and the majority of people who pick this title up are destined to be those who’ve already learned the ropes from time spent with the PS3 version. But it certainly shouldn’t remain exclusive to them, because it is nothing if not a true original.

Its a nicely polished production, with distinctive comic-book visuals and an appealingly focused play area, which is commendably uncluttered given the sheer amount of information contained within it. If you love your videogames to be challenging, and like them to demand intensive involvement and dedication, then this is a coherent and rewarding one-of-a-kind that deserves to break the shackles of its current cult status.

Watch The Eye Of Judgement: Legends PSP trailer here…

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