The summer sporting bonanza may have given way to rain and dark nights, but let's face it; this is when videogames truly comes into their own. So to help beat off the autumn and winter blues, EyeToy: Play Sports has arrived with its unique brand of camera-driven party game fun, designed to bring the outdoors, indoors. In fact, EyeToy: Play Sports goes the extra mile and provides a colossal batch of 101 mini-games linked to or based around our favourite sporting activities, for up to eight players... in an EyeToy mini-game related style, of course.
Play Sports is broken into several main sections, depending on how many players are taking part. Each one provides a scenario where your ability at any of the 101 given mini-games determines how successful you are. For example, in Par for the Course, you're placed in a golf setting where your character has to putt the ball under par. If you're good at the numerous party games thrown at you, you'll find your little golfer hitting shots Tiger Woods would envy. But if your performance in the games fails to match up, your golfer will either miss the golf ball or hit it into one of the many hazards that litter the course, costing you a stroke and bringing your par closer to its game over limit.
Another one is Tag in Tag Out. This follows a similar principle but has diversions aimed for more players, tossing you in a wrestling ring where you have to win three mini-games to claim the world championship title. Each game after that is a challenge to defend your crown for as long as you can.
There are other scenarios designed for the upper scale of five to eight participants (usually as many as four at a time), such as Parachute Plunge, where your game ability determines how long you stay in the air, or the wonderful Football Fever, where your battles simulate tackling, shooting and goalkeeping efforts.
The 101 games are varied and manic, designed to give you a flash of quick addictive gameplay, and making for some intense bursts of fun. Those familiar with previous EyeToy: Play games will be right at home here, as you find yourself blocking pucks from a goal in Hockey Blocky, pumping barbells as fast as you can for Weight Pumper, and waving your arms manically to spin a ball and smash a batter's stumps in Cricket Bowler.
Other favourites include Knock Out Knuckles (where you have to simulate hitting a punch bag in a short amount of time), Surf's Up (racing against other surfers, trying to make sure they wipe out before you), Photo Finish (using your powers of observation and perception to choose the winning horse at a photo finish race) and Racket Restring (your task being to touch the green lights on a tennis racket at the right time to restring it under a tight time limit).
There are plenty more games to try out, such as the fantastic Table Football (a fast game for four people), the crazed Elephant Racing (steering your trunked racer through a desert while smashing your rival into bushes or other animals) and even the mathematically-tinged Substitute Teacher (completing sums based on the numbers on a sports jersey - don't worry, it's actually great fun).
Designed for a social setting, many of these games truly come into their own in multiplayer, where the score-driven targets of the single player mode are replaced by screams of glory or failure as you get placed into different numbered teams and duke it out.
Having a ball
It all adds up to some marvellously entertaining and varied fun, made all the better - as always - if you're blessed with a fair few willing players. You naturally need a lot of energy for EyeToy: Play Sports, but it's worth the effort. Just make sure you have ample space in your living room and put any breakables away. After all, you wouldn't want to be turfed outside in the cold when you're having this much fun inside...