There's a moment when AntiGrav makes every game you've ever played seem ridiculous. It comes when you're explaining the controls to a curious friend, and you find yourself saying, "Jump is jump." But jump is jump. Duck is duck and left is left.
It's a system so simple it ought to take no explaining, but so radical that it needs quite a lot. AntiGrav is a future racer that uses hoverboards, which you control entirely via Sony's EyeToy. On screen, you see an avatar that copies your movements, tracking your hands and face as you move. Lean left and right to steer, perform elaborate arcs with your hands to trick and, yes, jump is jump.
The hoverboards have three modes: ground mode works like a straight snowboard game, with ramps, half-pipes and obstacles. Rails let you lock on, riding their rollercoaster curls while you swipe at passing targets with your hands. Flight has hints of PilotWings, disabling your trick moves while you steer yourself through rings that boost your points or speed. Each 'track' offers dozens of interchangeable routes, letting you swoop down from flight mode to land on a rail, or boost up from a ramp to catch the first in a series of rings.
It's wildly exhilarating, and it's wildly exhilarating because it works, but that's not to say it works perfectly. The usual EyeToy fuss with lighting is required, although the game offers a dim-room setting and constant access to its recalibration system.
When playing, your movements need to be measured and precise or the camera can lose track of the lock it has on your face. Stand up too fast from a crouch and the game will read it as a jump. Practice unquestionably helps, but you'll need to keep a constant eye on the motion tracker in the corner of the screen, which lets you see where the game thinks you are, and adjust your movements accordingly.
Overall, it's a technical triumph. Allowing for the amount of processing the PS2 must be running on camera input, the vast levels which launch you hundreds of feet in the air and dazzle you with neon and sunlight are a remarkable accomplishment. Aesthetically, Harmonix takes another slide away from the bold style of Frequency into generic sci-fi hokum, but it's hard to hold this against the developer. The complexity of the elaborate tracks goes some way to explaining why only five are available. Music, meanwhile, comes courtesy of the studio's close relationship with Apollo 440.
To some extent, AntiGrav is as good a game as you're willing to make it. Persevere to perfect the right lighting conditions and learn the game's slightly idiosyncratic perception of your movements, and it is an unparalleled experience, if a slightly shallow sports game.
EyeToy Antigrav is out now in the US for PS2 and will hit the UK in the spring