Welcome Home, Again

The list of features are as follows:

  • Universal Game Launching: "You can now launch into any PlayStation 3 game directly from Home. Titles that fully support game launching (like Street Fighter 4 and Far Cry 2) will be identified by separate icons that appear over an avatar's head and will have varying degrees of additional multiplayer functionality built in. Simplified game launching will take you from Home to the start menu of your favorite games with ease. Never again will you have to sign out of Home to play with (or against) your friends. Simply insert the disc of your choice while in Home and follow the on screen directions and you'll be good to go."
  • In-store item previewing option: "This feature will allow you to preview items of clothing on your character in 3D (including the ability to check out multiple items simultaneously to see what combinations best suit your taste). You’ll be able to preview all furniture in 3D as well, complete with zoom and rotate options so you can check your potential purchases from all angles, right down to the nitty gritty. We’ll also offer you the ability to rent certain items and purchase “consumables” (limited use items) when available – such as the new Shrink Potion that lets you shrink your avatar to a tiny size."
  • On Portable Objects: "You'll be able to manually hide any portable object that you encounter, and objects placed by anyone on your Ignore or Block list will also be hidden. We think you all will find that accessing certain mini-games and watching videos will be much easier thanks to these additional options."
  • On Avatars: "To start, you'll see that your avatar has additional emotes – including two new action emotes (you can flip a coin with your friends or play the old “pick a number between 1 and 100” game). You will also be able to pose your avatar in a variety of ways (photo op anyone?). We’ve also added some new categories of clothing (composite and outfits) that will allow you to customize your avatar with greater ease."
  • Streamlined Experience: "We've also added some new categories of clothing (composite and outfits) that will allow you to customize your avatar with greater ease. In addition, we've optimized the targeting system, added a new queuing system, fixed quite a few pesky bugs, and are giving you the option to determine your cache size (you can choose from 3, 5, 8, and 12 GB) so as to make navigating Home a much smoother experience."

The incredible shrinking avatar... yay?

Now, granted, this is all great stuff to allow the Home space to be more of a welcome environment for PS3 users. The problem I am finding in all of this, is that it still feels somewhat like window dressing. The improved options in Home are great, and them adding a SingStar space is going to be exciting for some, but there has to be something that really makes Home stand out more than what it currently exists as I think. I applaud the ability to choose the cache size for a more streamlined experience however. I don't want people to come away with me thinking I am simply Home-bashing. I'm genuinely concerned about the experience I get when I boot it up.

  • Media Sharing: I remember this being touted as a feature a long time ago, and with the 360 building on these types of features and ability to share media (like watching movies together), it makes me wonder what Sony is doing with the resources at their disposal - or if it is simply a case of something not being a priority over the aesthetic stuff.
  • Game Spaces: They still feel tacked on somewhat to me. Like it's more or less just a skin and texture change but not really providing anything that feels worthwhile. I like mini-games and objects as much as the next guy, but what I'd really like to see are developers take hold of the environment and have them be influenced more by the games. What I mean is, for instance, there is PS3 specific enemy in RE4, they take that enemy and make him a minigame within the RE4 space. You confront and defeat the enemy, and you get an in-game item, or expanded backstory, or something that enriches the main game. You could really use the space to expans whatever mythology that the space is based on. An Uncharted space could house Drake's library of relics and adventure history. A photo album of events happening prior or between the games, and maybe that leads to a treasure hunt event in home that could unlock game content.

Having a shrinking potion is cool, I suppose, but Home can be more than gimmicks.