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No Place like Home - thankfully...

Some thoughts on PS3 Home.
  So, PS3's Home (beta) finally released for the general public's consumption a couple of days ago, how did it's much-anticipated release fare? Well, not so hot. The thing has been in the cooker for a good couple of years now, and as noted there's been a lot of anticipation of the thing - though I wouldn't say it was of the "hot" variety. Xbox live has been getting long in the tooth, the WiiConnect24 is just kinda.. sloppy, and now PS3 has their service to compete.

  In their defense, the overall PSN looks good to an "average user like me." It's ripped-off the Xbox live service appropriately enough (which basically is what we'd had wanted them to do) and it's easily and cleanly accessible. It always seemed a fair question "why do we need a 3D version of this to walk around in?" Home tries to show us why this is cool. The graphics in Home are slick and clean, as expected of a system of this generation - but man! As soon as you touch down, and start wandering the landscape, you realize that there's just nothing to do in here. There's a bunch of 14-yr-olds spouting their shitty gang-speak about noting in particular, and a couple of sad-looking cases trying to explain that they think MGS4 is kewl. Of course, that's what you're probably supposed to WANT to do in an app like home, but something is just getting lost in the process.

  I don't want to condemn Home. I still think it is a genius idea, it's very viable, if handled properly. At this point they've shot it out there just so they could at least say "it's out" and feel like they didn't completely waste their development time and budget - and now they can get honest-to-goodness feedback and supposedly concentrate on constructing a workable 2.0. As it is now, Home is empty and depressing, barely a hint at what could have been if it obviously hadn't misfired due to some (well-intentioned?) politics. No one will argue that the model is full of potential - one need only look at things like Facebook/Myspace, and of course WOW and Second Life. Sony can't expect to just put out "a product" with their label on it, and expect it to sing 'cause it's free. They need to put some minds behind this.

  Walking around in the game it immediately becomes frustrating "oh I can.. I can walk. And what's this? I can sit as well. Oh! I can dance!" That's fine for starters. You know what I want? I want to skateboard! Rollerblade. SOMETHING. Rip off the whole Tony Hawk series, I don't care (it's been done). If ATVI had their heads on straight they'd just make a free online THPS world like this, it would get lots of flack but people would definitely live in it! I would! It's hard to look at a project like this when there's tings like GTA and Saints Row out there, online-ish communities where you can at least... do things. Okay maybe it's not cool to be able ot kill people in Home, but at least put a paintball (or lazer tag) arena in there. A climbing wall/jungle gym. Parkour. Something involving physics. A moonwalk. A weird carnival - something!

  I can't let them get away with their bowling alley either. I didn't bother to try bowling - of course I wanted to see how the arcade looked. Man, it was sad. There were like 7 machines (3 different varieties?) and you had to wait in line to play. You watched someone else's avatar stand in front of a machine while they "played." Not moving, just.. standing there. Then you roll up, if you can get on.. and then wait a few minutes for the freakin' thing to load and play... echochrome? Would anyone "play" echochrome in an arcade? I played about 15 seconds and then quit the arcade. Please, Sony.. license like 500 old-ass arcade games from the early 80s (at least) and stick them in beautifully decked-out retro arcades. The newbs will hate it but us old-timers will love it - besides those old games are tiny (less than half a meg for the oldy-old ones, a couple megs after that) it would be no problem to stream that stuff over. Sounds like Namco is on the ball with getting this started, wisely...

  So, basically the most entertaining part of Home was when I walked into a movie theater. A bunch of bored people were arguing over their headsets, yelling about how fat and stupid each other were. It was all very strange, but.. it was something to watch, and hey it was unique. People got bored and felt like they were wasting their time, so i guess they had to find some way to entertain themselves.

  In closing, Home = not a colossal failure, but for what it is it doesn't measure up. Bring someone new in there and give them some power, for they definitely have some good foundation to build on - the enthusiasm just needs to come in.

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