Home Preview (PS3)

It’s not really fair reviewing something that’s in its beta phase so consider this piece more of a first look rather than a fully considered piece with a score attached. However, I think the tendency of many journalists to rate Home as finished product stems in part from the length of time we’ve had to wait for it. The anticipation has grown to such an extent that many of us simply can’t wait to get our hands on it and try to convey our thought and ruminations on what has been Sony’s Great White Hope for many PlayStation fans out there. So let’s get down to brass tacks:

The first thing I was struck by was how good it actually looks. The character models almost identical to Second Life but somehow smoother and much better animated. The character modelling screen is well put together and easy to follow. It’s simple and is very reminiscent of dressing and customising Microsoft’s Avatars application, but with all the options to tweak your face, height and stature that we’ve come to expect from an EA Sports game – impressive. The only thing that was missing apparently was facial hair however I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that Sony has patched it in v.1.04 – although I’m told you can’t wear a beard and a moustache at the same time, bummer.

When you actually get in inside Home you start in your own living space facing the door. There’s not much in your room to start with as all the action’s going on outside. The first time you experience Home the various areas will load in as you attempt to access them. This is a rather painless affair and loading in each part of the world only takes about two minutes max. As soon as you’re in the other members milling about all form the images of white, transparent generic figures. These are just placeholders until everyone’s character loads in. This is a nice touch, I thought. As seeing people appear at random would have been a jarring experience and seeing the avatars load in this way helps to keep you immersed.

Once you’re in you see speech bubbles above people’s heads. A quick flick of the controller and many pre-set options make themselves available to you. Everything from “Yes” and “No”, to “Let’s Meet up Later”. It’s an interesting idea, but cumbersome in practice - cue lots of standing around whilst you either select the right option or laboriously type in what you want to say using the familiar text key pad. In fact the whole thing would really benefit from everyone using a headset, although judging from the “U give me head” I saw some females being subjected to, everyone being able to say and do as they please isn’t such a good idea. In fact, it seems Sony agrees as voice chat has now been completely disabled in 1.04.

After having a look at some arcade games and wondering why I would want to enter Home, and go through the rigmarole of going from a to b, just to play a game of Endochrome or bowling. Also, now we’re on the subject of usability, why can't I just chat to my friends via the XMB? Why would I want to do dance moves in front them? Why would I want people I don’t know coming up to me saying, “Yo” and then just standing there motionless?

The most bizarre experience I had was I walked past a group of about 8 people, all dancing, huddled in a group saying things like, “life is great” and “be happy.” It was really quite surreal and unnerving. In fact, it made me wonder if these people were paid to be in there trying to liven up the place rather than “real” people finding something as mundane as that to pass their time.

Anyway, if Home is something you like the sound of and you’ve got friends who are like-minded you can teleport to their location as soon as you arrive in Home and join in the dancing, swearing, lewd comments or whatever else it is people are doing. Basically Home is a very well put together…erm…what is it? And there in lies the fundamental problem: what is it and what’s it for? Home is in dire need of an identity, or in the very least offering the average gamer something that they feel is worthwhile participating in, rather than just hanging around dancing in front of strangers saying things like, “I don’t have a headset” or “I don’t have a keyboard.” The fundament is there to launch some interesting ideas, but so far, it’s too thread bare and void of anything fun to do. In this writer's opinion, anyway.

<a href="">Game Advertising Online</a> ad requires flash player.


By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Dec 19, 2008
It only lacks girls... :(
By eloqui (SI Core Member) on Dec 19, 2008
In that case, I'll take my home over this one. 1 beats none... and she has more features.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Dec 22, 2008
Considering this is still beta... There could be much more behind this. What I'm surprised of is that they charge you with real money for the clothes and furniture! How dare they!?
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Jan 04, 2009
That's the whole point...:-/
By jormarakas (SI Veteran Member) on Mar 17, 2009
This could have potential, but for myself, im sticking to my real life instead of a sort of a virtual one.